Ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is extracted and made into tablet form or can be used fresh, dried, or as a juice or oil. Active ingredients include gingerols (which give ginger its flavor and odor) and shogaols.
(See also Overview of Dietary Supplements.)
Ginger is said to be an effective antiemetic and antinauseant, especially for nausea caused by motion sickness or pregnancy, and to relieve intestinal cramps. Ginger is also used as an anti-inflammatory and analgesic and may be beneficial in the management of type 2 diabetes.
Ginger may have antibacterial properties and antiplatelet effects in vitro, but data are inconsistent.
A 2018 meta-analysis of 10 randomized controlled trials (918 subjects) suggested possible benefits of ginger in controlling the severity of postoperative nausea and vomiting (1). A meta-analysis of 13 studies (1174 subjects) reported ginger is significantly more effective than placebo in relieving pregnancy-related nausea but not vomiting (2). A 2019 systematic review and meta-analysis of ginger for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting reported that ginger had no effect on chemotherapy-induced nausea and other related outcomes; however, the authors concluded that this might have been due to heterogeneity of the studies (3).
Ginger’s anti-inflammatory and analgesic properties are less well supported. However, a review of 8 trials (481 participants) indicates a potential anti-inflammatory effect, which may reduce pain in some conditions, such as osteoarthritis (4). A 2015 meta-analysis of 5 studies (593 subjects) found that ginger was only moderately effective for osteoarthritis (5). However, for primary dysmenorrhea, randomized trials report that ginger powder may be beneficial (6). Ginger is being evaluated for type 2 diabetes and emerging evidence has shown a slight decrease in HbA1C (7).
Ginger is usually not harmful, although some people have a burning sensation when they eat it. Nausea, dyspepsia, and dysgeusia are possible.
Theoretically, ginger is contraindicated in patients who have bleeding diatheses or who take antiplatelet drugs or warfarin.
- Toth B, Lantos T, Heygi P, et al: Ginger (Zingiber officinale): an alternative for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting. A meta-analysis. Phytomedicine 50:8-18, 2018. doi: 10.1016/j.phymed.2018.09.007.
- Hu Y, Amoah AN, Zhang H, et al: Effect of ginger in the treatment of nausea and vomiting compared with vitamin B6 and placebo during pregnancy: a meta-analysis. J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med 14:1-10, 2020. doi: 10.1080/14767058.2020.1712714.
- Crichton M, Marshall S, Marx W, et al: Efficacy of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in ameliorating chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting and chemotherapy-related outcomes: a systematic review update and meta-analysis. J Acad Nutr Diet 119(12):2055-2068, 2019. doi: 10.1016/j.jand.2019.06.009.
- Terry R, Posadzki P, Watson LK, et al: The use of ginger (Zingiber officinale) for the treatment of pain: a systematic review of clinical trials. Pain Med 12(12):1808-1818, 2011. doi: 10.1111/j.1526-4637.2011.01261.x.
- Bartels EM, Folmer VN, Bliddal H, et al: Efficacy and safety of ginger in osteoarthritis patients: a meta-analysis of randomized placebo-controlled trials. Osteoarthritis Cartilage 23(1):13-21, 2015. doi: 10.1016/j.joca.2014.09.024.
- Daily JW, Zhang X, Kim DS, et al: Efficacy of ginger for alleviating the symptoms of primary dysmenorrhea: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Pain Med 16(12):2243-55, 2015. doi: 10.1111/pme.12853.
- Huang FY, Deng T, Meng LX, et al: Dietary ginger as a traditional therapy for blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine (Baltimore) 98(13):e15054, 2019. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000015054.
The following is an English-language resource that may be useful. Please note that THE MANUAL is not responsible for the content of this resource.
- National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: General information on the use of ginger as a dietary supplement
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