Common Names: ginger
Latin Names: Zingiber officinale
- Ginger is a tropical plant that has green-purple flowers and a fragrant underground stem (called a rhizome). It is widely used as a flavoring or fragrance in foods, beverages, soaps, and cosmetics.
- Ancient Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek, Roman, and Arabic texts discussed the use of ginger for health-related purposes. In Asian medicine, dried ginger has been used for thousands of years to treat stomach ache, diarrhea, and nausea.
- Today, ginger is used as a dietary supplement for postsurgery nausea; nausea caused by motion, chemotherapy, or pregnancy; rheumatoid arthritis; and osteoarthritis.
- Common forms of ginger include the fresh or dried root, tablets, capsules, liquid extracts, and teas.
How Much Do We Know?
- There’s some information from studies in people on the use of ginger for nausea and vomiting.
- Much less is known about other uses of ginger for other health conditions
What Have We Learned?
- Some evidence indicates that ginger may help relieve pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.
- Ginger may help to control nausea related to cancer chemotherapy when used in addition to conventional anti-nausea medication.
- It’s unclear whether ginger is helpful for postsurgery nausea, motion sickness, rheumatoid arthritis, or osteoarthritis.
What Do We Know About Safety?
- Ginger, when used as a spice, is believed to be generally safe.
- In some people, ginger can have mild side effects such as abdominal discomfort, heartburn, diarrhea, and gas.
- Some experts recommend that people with gallstone disease use caution with ginger because it may increase the flow of bile.
- Research has not definitely shown whether ginger interacts with medications, but concerns have been raised that it might interact with anticoagulants (blood thinners).
- Although several studies have found no evidence of harm from taking ginger during pregnancy, it’s uncertain whether ginger is always safe for pregnant women. If you’re considering using ginger while you’re pregnant, consult your health care provider.
Keep in Mind
- Tell all your health care providers about any complementary or integrative health approaches you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health. This will help ensure coordinated and safe care.
The NCCIH Clearinghouse provides information on NCCIH and complementary and integrative health approaches, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.
Toll-free in the U.S.: 1-888-644-6226
tty (for deaf and hard-of-hearing callers):
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org (link sends e-mail)
A service of the National Library of Medicine, PubMed® contains publication information and (in most cases) brief summaries of articles from scientific and medical journals. For guidance from NCCIH on using PubMed, see How To Find Information About Complementary Health Approaches on PubMed.
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), National Institutes of Health (NIH)
ODS seeks to strengthen knowledge and understanding of dietary supplements by evaluating scientific information, supporting research, sharing research results, and educating the public. Its resources include publications (such as Dietary Supplements: What You Need to Know), fact sheets on a variety of specific supplement ingredients and products (such as vitamin D and multivitamin/mineral supplements), and the PubMed Dietary Supplement Subset.
Email: email@example.com (link sends e-mail)
- Ding M, Leach M, Bradley H. The effectiveness and safety of ginger for pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting: a systematic review. Women and Birth. 2013;26(1):e26-e30.
- Ginger. Natural Medicines Web site. Accessed at naturalmedicines.therapeuticresearch.com on April 15, 2015. [Database subscription].
- Ginger root. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckmann J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Integrative Medicine Communications; 2000:153-159.
- Heitmann K, Nordeng H, Holst L. Safety of ginger use in pregnancy: results from a large population-based cohort study. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology. 2013;69(2):269-277.
- Low Dog T. Ginger. In: Coates PM, Betz JM, Blackman MR, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. 2nd ed. New York, NY: Informa Healthcare; 2010:325-331.
- Matthews A, Haas DM, O’Mathúna DP, et al. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. 2014;(3):CD007575. Accessed at https://www.cochranelibrary.com on April 16, 2015.
- Pillai AK, Sharma KK, Gupta YK, et al. Anti-emetic effect of ginger powder versus placebo as an add-on therapy in children and young adults receiving high emetogenic chemotherapy. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2011;56(2):234-238.
- Ryan JL, Heckler CE, Roscoe JA, et al. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea: a URCC CCOP study of 576 patients. Supportive Care in Cancer. 2012;20(7):1479-1489.
This publication is not copyrighted and is in the public domain. Duplication is encouraged.
NCCIH has provided this material for your information. It is not intended to substitute for the medical expertise and advice of your health care provider(s). We encourage you to discuss any decisions about treatment or care with your health care provider. The mention of any product, service, or therapy is not an endorsement by NCCIH.