The Who, What, Where, When and Sometimes, Why.

Ginger

Ginger

What is it?

Ginger is a plant with leafy stems and yellowish green flowers. The ginger spice comes from the roots of the plant. Ginger is native to warmer parts of Asia, such as China, Japan, and India, but now is grown in parts of South American and Africa. It is also now grown in the Middle East to use as medicine and with food.

Ginger is commonly used for various types of “stomach problems,” including motion sickness, morning sickness, colic, upset stomach, gas, diarrhea, irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), nausea, nausea caused by cancer treatment, nausea caused by HIV/AIDS treatment, nausea and vomiting after surgery, as well as loss of appetite.

Other uses include pain relief from rheumatoid arthritis (RA), osteoarthritis, menstrual pain, and other conditions. However, there is not strong evidence to support the use of ginger for these conditions.

Some people pour the fresh juice on their skin to treat burns. The oil made from ginger is sometimes applied to the skin to relieve pain. Ginger extract is also applied to the skin to prevent insect bites.

In foods and beverages, ginger is used as a flavoring agent.

In manufacturing, ginger is used as for fragrance in soaps and cosmetics.

One of the chemicals in ginger is also used as an ingredient in laxative, anti-gas, and antacid medications.

Natural Medicines rates effectiveness based on scientific evidence according to the following scale: Effective, Likely Effective, Possibly Effective, Possibly Ineffective, Likely Ineffective, Ineffective, and Insufficient Evidence to Rate.

The effectiveness ratings for Ginger are as follows:

Possibly Effective for…

  • Nausea and vomiting caused by HIV/AIDS treatment. Research suggests that taking ginger daily, 30 minutes before each dose of antiretroviral treatment for 14 days, reduces the risk of nausea and vomiting in patients receiving HIV treatment.
  • Painful menstrual periods. Research shows that taking ginger powder 500-2000 mg during the first 3-4 days of a menstrual cycle modestly decreases pain in women and teens with painful menstrual periods. Some specific doses that have been used include 500 mg of ginger three times daily and a specific ginger extract (Zintoma, Goldaru) 250 mg four times daily. Doses were given for approximately 3 days starting at the beginning of the menstrual period. The specific ginger extract (Zintoma) seems to work about as well as the medications ibuprofen or mefenamic acid.
  • Morning sickness. Taking ginger by mouth seems to reduce nausea and vomiting in some pregnant women. But it might work slower or not as well as some drugs used for nausea. Also, taking any herb or medication during pregnancy is a big decision. Before taking ginger, be sure to discuss the possible risks with your healthcare provider.
  • Osteoarthritis. Most research shows that taking ginger by mouth can slightly reduce pain in some people with osteoarthritis. There is some evidence that taking ginger by mouth works as well as certain drugs such as ibuprofen and diclofenac for pain in hip and knee osteoarthritis. But conflicting results exist. Some early research also shows that ginger gel applied to the knee or ginger oil massaged into the knee can also relieve osteoarthritis pain.
  • Nausea and vomiting following surgery. Most clinical research shows that taking 1 to 1.5 gram of ginger one hour before surgery seems to reduce nausea and vomiting during the first 24 hours after surgery. One study found ginger reduced nausea and vomiting by 38%. Also, applying 5% ginger oil to patients’ wrists before surgery seems to prevent nausea in about 80% of patients. However, taking ginger by mouth might not reduce nausea and vomiting in the period 3-6 hours after surgery. Also, ginger might not have additive effects when used with medications for nausea and vomiting. In addition, ginger might not lower the risk of nausea and vomiting after surgery in people who have a low risk for this event.
  • Dizziness (vertigo). Taking ginger seems to reduce the symptoms of dizziness, including nausea

Possibly Ineffective for…

  • Muscle pain caused by exercise. Research shows that taking ginger does not reduce muscle pain during exercise. Also, taking ginger doesn’t seem to help treat or prevent muscle pain after exercise.
  • Preventing motion sickness and seasickness. Most research suggests that taking ginger up to 4 hours before travel does not prevent motion sickness. Some people report feeling better, but actual measurements taken during studies suggest otherwise. But in one study, ginger appears to be more effective than the drug dimenhydrinate at reducing stomach upset associated with motion sickness.

Insufficient Evidence to Rate Effectiveness for…

  • Sudden respiratory system failure (Acute respiratory distress syndrome). Research suggests that administering 120 mg of ginger extract daily for up to 21 days increases the number of days without ventilator support, the amount of nutrients consumed, and reduces the time spent in intensive care units in people with sudden respiratory system a failure. However, ginger extract does not seem to affect death rates in people with this condition.
  • Liver injury from drugs used for tuberculosis. Some drugs used to treat tuberculosis can cause liver damage. Taking ginger along with these drugs might help prevent liver damage in some people.
  • Nausea and vomiting due to cancer therapy. Taking ginger along with anti-nausea medicine does not seem to prevent delayed nausea and vomiting in people treated with cancer drugs. This type of nausea and vomiting occurs a day or more after cancer therapy. The effect of ginger on sudden nausea and vomiting due to cancer drugs is conflicting. Some research shows it helps when used with anti-nausea medicine. Other research shows it doesn’t. It’s possible that ginger helps reduce nausea caused by only some cancer drugs. It’s also possible that ginger helps reduce nausea caused by cancer drugs only when used with anti-nausea medicines that don’t work very well on their own.
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). Research shows that taking two capsules of a specific combination product (AKL1, AKL International Ltd) containing ginger twice daily for 8 weeks does not improve respiratory symptoms in people with COPD.
  • Diabetes. Taking ginger seems to lower blood sugar in some people with diabetes. Doses of at least 3 grams of ginger per day seem to be needed. Lower doses might not help. And it might take about 2-3 months before benefits are seen.
  • Upset stomach (dyspepsia). Research suggests that taking a single dose of 1.2 grams of ginger root powder one hour before eating speeds up how quickly food empties out of the some in people with dyspepsia.
  • Alcohol hangover. Early research suggests that taking a combination of ginger, pith of Citrus tangerine, and brown sugar before drinking decreases symptoms of alcohol hangovers, including nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
  • High cholesterol. Research suggests that taking 1 gram of ginger three times daily for 45 days lowers triglyceride and cholesterol levels in people with high cholesterol.
  • High blood pressure. Drinking black tea with ginger might lower blood pressure by a small amount in people with diabetes and high blood pressure.
  • Insect bites. Early research shows that applying Trikatu to the skin, which contains ginger, long pepper, and black pepper extracts, does not reduce mosquito bite size.
  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Taking ginger alone doesn’t seem to improve IBS symptoms. But taking ginger along with other herbal ingredients might help. Whether the benefit of these combination agents is due to ginger or the other ingredients is unclear.
  • Joint pain. Research shows that taking capsules of a specific combination product (Instaflex Joint Support, Direct Digital, Charlotte, NC) containing ginger for 8 weeks reduces joint pain by 37%. But this product does not seem to reduce joint stiffness or improve joint function.
  • Speeding up labor. Early evidence suggests that bathing in water containing ginger oil does not shorten the length of labor.
  • Heavy menstrual bleeding (menorrhagia). Taking ginger might reduce menstrual bleeding in some young women with heavy menstrual bleeding.
  • Migraine headache. Some reports suggest that taking a combination of ginger and feverfew might reduce the length and intensity of migraine pain. However, it is not clear if the effects are from ginger, feverfew or the combination.
  • Recovery after surgery. Inhaling and applying lavender and ginger oils to the skin before surgery does not seem to reduce distress in children after surgery. Taking ginger by mouth might help reduce pain and improve wound healing in children who’ve had their tonsils removed.
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA). There is some early evidence that ginger might be helpful for decreasing joint pain in people with RA.
  • Trouble swallowing. Evidence suggests that spraying a product containing ginger and clematix root in the mouth improves severe problems swallowing in stroke victims. However, it is not beneficial in people with less severe problems swallowing. Also, taking a single ginger tablet doesn’t help people with trouble swallowing due to aging.
  • Weight loss. Taking ginger alone seems to help obese people lose a little bit of weight. Taking a ginger with other herbs does not result in consistent improvements in weight loss.
  • Anorexia.
  • Bacterial infection of the intestine (Cholera).
  • Baldness.
  • Bleeding.
  • Colds.
  • Discontinuing use of drugs called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs).
  • Flu.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Toothaches.
  • Other conditions.

More evidence is needed to rate ginger for these uses.

Ginger contains chemicals that may reduce nausea and inflammation. Researchers believe the chemicals work primarily in the stomach and intestines, but they may also work in the brain and nervous system to control nausea.

Ginger is LIKELY SAFE when taken by mouth appropriately. Some people can have mild side effects including heartburn, diarrhea, and general stomach discomfort. Some women have reported extra menstrual bleeding while taking ginger.

Ginger is POSSIBLY SAFE when it is applied to the skin appropriately, short-term. It might cause irritation on the skin for some people.

Special Precautions & Warnings:

Pregnancy: Ginger is POSSIBLY SAFE when taken by mouth for medicinal uses during pregnancy. But using ginger during pregnancy is controversial. There is some concern that ginger might affect fetal sex hormones or increase the risk of having a baby that is stillborn. There is also a report of miscarriage during week 12 of pregnancy in a woman who used ginger for morning sickness. However, most studies in pregnant women suggest that ginger can be used safely for morning sickness without harm to the baby. The risk for major malformations in infants of women taking ginger does not appear to be higher than the usual rate of 1% to 3%. Also there doesn’t appear to be an increased risk of early labor or low birth weight. There is some concern that ginger might increase the risk of bleeding, so some experts advise against using it close to your delivery date. As with any medication given during pregnancy, it’s important to weigh the benefit against the risk. Before using ginger during pregnancy, talk it over with your healthcare provider.

Breast-feeding: There is not enough reliable information about the safety of taking ginger if you are breast feeding. Stay on the safe side and avoid use.

Bleeding disorders: Taking ginger might increase your risk of bleeding.

Diabetes: Ginger might increase your insulin levels and/or lower your blood sugar. As a result, your diabetes medications might need to be adjusted by your healthcare provider.

Heart conditions: High doses of ginger might worsen some heart conditions.

Cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Taking ginger two hours before taking cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) might increase how much cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) the body absorbs. This might increase the side effects of cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune). However, ginger does not seem to affect how much cyclosporine (Neoral, Sandimmune) the body absorbs when taken at the same time.

Medications for diabetes (Antidiabetes drugs)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Ginger might increase your insulin levels and/or decrease blood sugar. Diabetes medications are also used to lower blood sugar. Taking ginger along with diabetes medications might cause your blood sugar to go too low. Monitor your blood sugar closely. The dose of your diabetes medication might need to be changed.

Some medications used for diabetes include glimepiride (Amaryl), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, metformin (Glucophage), pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), and others.

Medications for high blood pressure (Calcium channel blockers)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Ginger might reduce blood pressure in a way that is similar to some medications for blood pressure and heart disease. Taking ginger along with these medications might cause your blood pressure to drop too low or cause an irregular heartbeat.

Some medications for high blood pressure and heart disease include nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), diltiazem (Cardizem), isradipine (DynaCirc), felodipine (Plendil), amlodipine (Norvasc), and others.

Medications that slow blood clotting (Anticoagulant / Antiplatelet drugs)

Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Ginger might slow blood clotting. Taking ginger along with medications that also slow clotting might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Some medications that slow blood clotting include aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), diclofenac (Voltaren, Cataflam, others), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin, others), naproxen (Anaprox, Naprosyn, others), dalteparin (Fragmin), enoxaparin (Lovenox), heparin, warfarin (Coumadin), and others.

Metronidazole (Flagyl)

Interaction Rating = Minor Be watchful with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Ginger can increase how much metronidazole (Flagyl) the body absorbs. Taking ginger along with metronidazole (Flagyl) might increase the side effects of metronidazole.

Nifedipine

Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Taking ginger along with nifedipine might slow blood clotting and increase the chances of bruising and bleeding.

Phenprocoumon

Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Phenprocoumon is used in Europe to slow blood clotting. Ginger can also slow blood clotting. Taking ginger along with phenprocoumon might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your phenprocoumon might need to be changed.

Warfarin (Coumadin)

Interaction Rating = Moderate Be cautious with this combination.
Talk with your health provider.

Warfarin (Coumadin) is used to slow blood clotting. Ginger can also slow blood clotting. Taking ginger along with warfarin (Coumadin) might increase the chances of bruising and bleeding. Be sure to have your blood checked regularly. The dose of your warfarin (Coumadin) might need to be changed.

Herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar

Ginger might increase your insulin levels and/or lower blood sugar. Using ginger along with other herbs and supplements that might lower blood sugar might lower blood sugar too much. Herbs that might lower blood sugar include devil’s claw, fenugreek, guar gum, Panax ginseng, Siberian ginseng, and others.

Herbs and supplements that might slow blood clotting

Using ginger along with herbs that might slow blood clotting could increase the risk of bleeding in some people. These herbs include angelica, clove, danshen, garlic, ginkgo, Panax ginseng, red clover, turmeric, and others.

There are no known interactions with foods.

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