Ginger
Ginger
This information describes the common uses of Ginger, how it works, and its possible side effects.

Common Name

Ginger root, Shen jiang

How It Works

Studies on ginger for nausea and vomiting are generally positive, but there are instances in which it may not be effective or should be avoided.

Ginger root contains compounds that may help relieve or prevent nausea and vomiting. These substances can increase the flow of saliva and digestive juices and may also help calm the stomach and intestines. Some studies have found ginger may help nausea caused by chemotherapy, but larger studies are needed to confirm these effects.

Eating fresh ginger in high doses can have blood-thinning effects by preventing platelets from sticking together. Laboratory studies suggest that ginger can protect brain cells from the plaques that cause Alzheimer’s disease, but this effect has not been studied in humans.

Purported Uses

  • To stimulate appetite
    Ginger is known to stimulate saliva flow and digestive secretions, but clinical trials are lacking.
  • To relieve indigestion
    Compounds in ginger are known to stimulate saliva flow and digestive juices, reduce gas, and calm the digestive system, but human data are lacking.
  • To treat diarrhea
    Compounds in ginger are known to calm the digestive system, but scientific evidence is lacking.
  • To treat nausea and vomiting
    Several clinical trials support the short-term use of ginger for chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting and motion sickness. However, because of blood-thinning effects, ginger supplements should not be used around the time of surgery. It is also not suggested for use during pregnancy because of possible unknown risks to the developing embryo.
  • To treat rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis
    A few studies have been conducted with positive results, but more research is needed.
  • To treat respiratory ailments
    Certain compounds in ginger may improve inflammation and protect against certain viruses, but human studies are lacking.
  • To treat drug withdrawal symptoms
    A small animal study suggests that ginger may help ease withdrawal symptoms from drugs like morphine. However, studies in humans are lacking.

Patient Warnings

  • Due to its blood-thinning effects, ginger supplements should be stopped 2 weeks before surgery, and should not be used immediately after surgery to control nausea or vomiting. Other types of medications given by your healthcare provider can be used to control these symptoms.
  • Ginger supplements should be avoided in patients with bleeding disorders.
  • Ginger supplements should be avoided during pregnancy or lactation.
  • Ginger supplements should be avoided by individuals with gallstones.

Do Not Take If

  • You are taking warfarin or other blood thinners: Ginger supplements may increase the risk of bleeding.
  • You are taking NSAIDs, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: Ginger supplements may increase bleeding tendency when used with these drugs.
  • You are taking insulin or medication to lower blood glucose: Ginger supplements may cause larger reductions in glucose levels.
  • You are taking tacrolimus: Ginger supplements increase the blood levels of this drug and may increase side effects.
  • You have a bleeding disorder: Ginger supplements may increase bleeding time.
  • You have gallstones: Ginger supplements may increase the flow of bile.
  • You are having surgery: Ginger supplements may increase bleeding risk.
  • You are pregnant or lactating: The effect of ginger supplements on the human gestational development are unknown.

Side Effects

  • Heartburn
  • Skin irritation, swelling, and redness

Case Report

  • Nosebleed, slow blood clotting: In a 76-year-old woman on long-term blood-thinning therapy who took ginger products. Clotting returned to normal after discontinuing ginger and with vitamin K administration.