The roots and stems of ginger have had roles in Chinese, Japanese, and Indian medicine since the 1500s. The oil and resin of ginger is often contained in digestive products, cough suppressants, anti-gas products, and laxatives.
Research supports ginger for reducing the severity and duration of nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy. Effects appear to be additive when used with prochlorperazine (Compazine®). The optimal dose remains unclear. Ginger's effects on other types of nausea and vomiting, such as postoperative nausea, chemotherapy-induced nausea, or motion sickness, remains unclear.
Ginger is taken by mouth, applied to the skin, and injected into the muscle for a wide array of conditions, without clear scientific evidence of benefit.
The most frequent side effects from ginger use are upset stomach, heartburn, gas, and bloating. Ginger may theoretically increase bleeding risk.
1-(4'-Hydroxy-3'-methoxyphenyl)-2-nonadecen-1-one, 1-(4-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-3-methoxyphenyl)-3,5-dihydroxydecane, 1,7-bis-(4'-hydroxy-3'-methoxyphenyl)-3-hydroxy-5-acetoxyheptane, 1,7-bis-(4'-hydroxy-3'-methoxyphenyl)-5-methoxyheptan-3-one, 1-dehydrogingerdione, 1-hydroxy--paradol, 3-acetoxy--gingerdiol, 3-acetoxydihydro--paradol methyl ether, -gingerdiol, 5-acetoxy-3-deoxy--gingerol, 5-acetoxy--gingerdiol, 5-methoxy-[n]-gingerols, 5-O-beta-D-glucopyranosyl-3-hydroxy-1-(4-hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)decane, 6-(4'-hydroxy-3'-methoxyphenyl)-2-nonyl-2-hydroxytetrahydropyran, 6-dehydro--gingerol, 6-dehydrogingerdione, 6-gingerdiol, 6-gingerol, 6-gingesulfonic acid, 6-hydroxy-[n]-shogaol, -isoshogaol, 6-paradol, 6-shogaol, 8-gingerol, 8-shogaol, 10-gingerol, 10-shogaol, aadaa (Assamese, Bengali), acetoxy-3-dihydrodemethoxy--shogaol, adarak (Hindi), adrak (Urdu), adraka (Urdu), adruka (Hindi), aduvaa (Nepalese), African ginger, allaama (Telugu), allaamu (Telugu), alpha-copaene, alpha-curcumene, alpha-phellandrene, alpha-zingiberene, Amomum zingiber L., ar-curcumene, beta-bisabolene, beta-pinene, beta-sesquiphellandrene, bisabolene, black ginger, bordia, calcium, cây gung (Vietnamese), Chayenne ginger, cochin ginger, curcumene, curcumin, diacetoxy--gingerdiol, diarylheptanoids, EV.EXT 35, galanolactone, gan jiang (Chinese), gember (Dutch), gengibre (Portuguese), geranial, geranyl 6-O-alpha-L-arabinopyranosyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside, geranyl 6-O-beta-D-apiofuranosyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside, geranyl 6-O-beta-D-xylopyranosyl-beta-D-glucopyranoside, (+)-germacrene D synthase, gingembre (French), ginger BP, ginger oil, ginger oleoresin, ginger power BP, ginger proteases, ginger root, ginger trips, gingerall, gingerdione, gingerglycolipid A, gingerglycolipid B, gingerglycolipid C, gingerly, gingerols, gingesulfonic acid, green ginger, g?ng (Vietnamese), gyömbér (Hungarian), halia (Malay), imber (Slovenian), Inbwer (German), ingefaer (Danish, Norwegian), ingefära (Swedish), inguru (Sinhalese), Ingwer (German), inji (Tamil), inkivääri (Finnish), iron, jahe (Malay - Indonesia, Sundanese), jahya (Malay - Bali), Jamaica ginger, jamveel (Persian), jengibre (Spanish), jhai (Madurese), jiang (Chinese), kankyo, khing (Laotian, Thai), lahya (Malay - Bali), methyl -shogaol, methyl -isogingerol, methyl -paradol, methyl diacetoxy--gingerdiol, Myanmar ginseng, oleoresins, race ginger, rhizoma Zingeberis, (R)-linalool, saeng gang (Korean), sheng jiang (Chinese), shogaol, shogasulfonic acid, shokyo (Japanese), shouga (Japanese), shukku (Tamil), sindhi (Hindi), sonth (Hindi), sonthi (Telugu), tangawizi (Swahili), terpinolene, vanillyl ketones, vanillylacetone, verma, Z. officinale Roscoe, Z. zerumbet Smith, zanjabil (Persian), zencebil (Turkish), zencefil (Turkish), zentzephil (Turkish), zenzero (Italian), zenzevero (Italian), zerzero, zingerone, zingibain, Zingiberaceae, zingiberene, Zingiber blancoi Massk, Zingiber capitatum, Zingiber majus Rumph., Zingiber officinale Rosc., Zingiber officinale Roscoe, Zingiber zerumbet Smith, Zingiberis rhizome, Zintona® EC.
Select combination products: Dai-kenchu-to/Daikenchuto (DKT, TJ-100; traditional Japanese herbal medicine composed of ginger rhizome, ginseng root, malt sugar, and zanthoxylum fruit), EV.EXT 77 (combination of Zingiber officinale and Alpinia galanga), GelStat Migraine® (combination of ginger and feverfew), Goshuyuto (Evodiae fructus, Zingiberis rhizoma, Zizyphi fructus, and Ginseng radix), Hochu-ekki-to (combination of astragalus root, licorice (liquorice), jujube, ginseng, white Atractylodes rhizome, fresh ginger, and Chinese angelica root), Keishi-ka-kei-to (a traditional Chinese herbal medicine composed of a mixture of crude extracts from five medicinal plants; Cinnamomi cortex, Paeoniae radix, Zizyphi fructus, Zingiberis rhizome, and Glycyrrhizae radix), KSS formula (traditional folk remedy composed of Zingiber officinale rhizome, citrus tangerine Hort. et Tanaka pith, and brown sugar), LipiGesic™ M (combination of ginger and feverfew), NT (dietary herbal supplement made from ginger, rhubarb, astragalus, red sage, and turmeric, and gallic acid), sho-saiko-to-ka-kikyo-sekko (TJ-109; folk medicine composed of Bupleurum root, Glycyrrhiza root, Pinellia tuber, Platycodon root, Scutellaria root, gypsum, jujube fruit, ginseng root, and ginger rhizome), Si-ni-tang (traditional Chinese medicine composed of Zingiber officinale, Glycyrrhiza uralensis, and Aconitum carmichaeli), Sudantha (herbal toothpaste composed of Zingiber officinale Roscoe., Acacia chundra Willd, Adhatoda vasica Nees., Mimusops elengi L., Piper nigrum L., Pongamia pinnata L. Pirerre, Quercus infectoria Olivier., Syzygium aromaticum L., and Terminalia chebula Retz), Tongyan spray (traditional Chinese medicine spray composed of ginger and Clematis radix), Xiong-gui-tiao-xue-yin (13-herb formulation containing ginger), Zhengchaihu Yin (combination of six traditional Chinese medicines: Chinese thorowax, orange peel, root of fangfeng, Chinese herbaceous peony, licorice root, and ginger), Zinopin® (combination of Pycnogenol® and standardized ginger root extract), Zintona EC®.
Note: Zingiber officinale Roscoe (ginger) is the official drug mentioned in various pharmacopoeias (Chinese, Japanese, British, Indian, etc.). Other Zingiber species such as Zingiber zerumbet, Zingiber cassumunar, Zingiber capitatum, Zingiber blancoi, and Zingiber majus also share some common medicinal properties and uses with Zingiber officinale but are very different species from the official ginger, with different chemical constituents.
These uses have been tested in humans or animals. Safety and effectiveness have not always been proven. Some of these conditions are potentially serious, and should be evaluated by a qualified healthcare provider.
Nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
A few studies suggest that up to 1.5 grams of ginger daily may be safe and effective for pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting. Some publications discourage large doses of ginger during pregnancy due to concerns about mutations or abortions. Additional research focused on the safety of ginger during pregnancy is needed.
Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting
Early research reports that ginger may reduce the severity and length of time that cancer patients feel nauseous after chemotherapy. Other studies show a lack of effect. Additional research is needed in this area.
Ginger and its components have been explored as anti-inflammatory agents. Ginger has been shown to lower the level of some inflammatory markers in the colon. Additional high-quality research in this area is needed.
Preliminary evidence suggests that a ginger root combination product reduces symptoms of alcoholic hangover and improves well-being. Further research on the effects of ginger alone is needed.
Ginger moxibustion or combination ginger medication cakes have shown beneficial effects for asthma. Incorporating ginger into acupoint treatment has improved symptoms, quality of life, and markers of the immune system. Further research using ginger alone is needed.
Bleeding (upper digestive tract)
A combination product with ginger may benefit patients with bleeding in the upper digestive tract. However, the effects of ginger alone are unclear, and additional studies are needed.
Blood flow stimulation
The use of ginger in combination with agents that promote bleeding may enhance their effect and increase bleeding risk. Ginger has also been reported to act as an anticoagulant. Additional research is needed in this area.
Cardiac arrhythmia (abnormal heart rhythm)
Ginger-partition moxibustion with acupuncture has demonstrated improved treatment efficacy for cardiac arrhythmias compared to conventional Western medications. Additional research using ginger alone is needed.
Chemotherapy-induced leukopenia (decrease in white blood cells)
Ginger-partitioned moxibustion may be effective in treating low blood cell count from chemotherapy. While the results are promising, the role of ginger alone is unclear. Additional studies are needed to make a conclusion.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
Preliminary research suggests that the combination ginger medicine packs with acupoint sticking may benefit COPD treatment. Further research focused on ginger alone is needed in this area.
In early research, a toothpaste with ginger improved bacterial count, plaque index, and reduced the sites prone to bleeding in the mouth. Additional research using ginger alone is needed before any firm conclusions may be made.
Aromatherapy using both ginger and lavender essential oils demonstrated a lack of effect on distress level and treatment satisfaction. The effect of ginger aromatherapy alone is unclear. Further research in this area is needed.
Early results on the effects of ginger on post-exercise muscle recovery are conflicting. Some research has demonstrated reductions in pain intensity vs. placebo, while others have shown a lack of effect. More well-designed trials are needed in this area.
Preliminary research suggests that ginger exerts some effects on gastrointestinal motility. However, evidence in this area is limited. Further high-quality research is needed to draw a conclusion.
Ginger has been investigated as a cholesterol-lowering agent with promising results. More well-designed trials are needed before a firm conclusion may be made.
Hyperglycemia-evoked dysrhythmias (irregular heartbeat from high blood sugar)
Ginger may prevent irregular heartbeat by reducing production of a substance for muscle contraction. Additional research is needed before a conclusion may be made.
In preliminary research, ginger increased the rate of gastric emptying in individuals with indigestion. Further well-designed research is needed in this area.
Ginger-partitioned moxibustion has demonstrated an effective treatment rate for malaria. Further well-designed research using ginger alone is needed in this area.
Ginger in combination with feverfew has been studied for migraine prevention. Additional studies involving ginger alone are needed.
Research has found ginger to have varying effects on motion sickness. Ginger may reduce vomiting, but not nausea or vertigo. Additional studies are warranted before a conclusion may be made.
Nausea and vomiting (after surgery)
Some human studies report improvement in nausea or vomiting after surgery if patients take ginger before surgery. However, other research shows a lack of effect. Additional studies are needed in this area before a conclusion can be made. Use of ginger during surgery should be approached with caution.
Ginger has been studied as a possible treatment for osteoarthritis. However, results of these studies are mixed. More research is needed in this area.
Research suggests conflicting results regarding the effect of ginger on pain. A ginger aromatic essential oil combined with massage may be effective in reducing knee pain. Further high-quality research with ginger alone is warranted.
According to early evidence, ginger-partitioned moxibustion has demonstrated some beneficial treatment effects. More well-designed trials are needed before a conclusion may be made.
Early research suggests that ginger combined with Tongyan spray may help treat difficulty swallowing following a stroke. Ginger-salt-partitioned moxibustion combined with acupuncture may be effective for urinary disorders following a stroke. Further high-quality research using ginger alone is needed.
Early research suggests that ginger has beneficial effects in some outcomes associated with adult respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Further well-designed research is needed to draw a conclusion.
There is insufficient evidence for or against the use of ginger for rheumatoid arthritis (RA). Additional research using ginger alone is needed on this topic.
Sepsis (deadly infection)
Ginger as part of a traditional Chinese medicine has been investigated in the treatment of septic shock. Further research in this area is needed.
Ginger has a long history of use during pregnancy; it is commonly used to relieve nausea and vomiting. However, additional studies are needed for use in shortening labor.
Tonsillitis (tonsil infection)
A folk medicine that includes ginger reduced the incidence of tonsil infection. Further high-quality research employing ginger alone is needed in this area.
Ginger has been suggested as a possible weight loss aid. However, research has demonstrated conflicting results. Additional studies involving ginger alone are needed in this area.