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Ginger

Botanical name(s):

Zingiber officiale Roscoe. Family: Zingiberaceae

Other name(s):

gingerroot, zingiberis rhizoma

General description

Ginger is a perennial plant with grasslike leaves. Ginger, the spice, is produced from the root of the ginger plant and has been used for more than 2,500 years. The root contains essential oils and resins that give ginger its characteristic odor and spicy flavor, and are responsible for its medicinal uses.

Ginger's medicinal uses are due to a class of active ingredients called gingerols. Gingerols have been proved to be cardiotonic in animals. In humans, ginger has been shown to be effective against nausea during pregnancy.

Medically valid uses

Ginger is used primarily to treat nausea, upset stomach, and gastric disturbances. Ginger reduces nausea through a direct effect on the stomach rather than on the central nervous system. There are conflicting reports about whether ginger increases the speed of gastric emptying, but one large study showed it had no effect. However, it does increase motility of the remainder of the gastrointestinal system.

Ginger has been used to treat nausea associated with mild gastrointestinal viral infections, pregnancy, vertigo, post-operative nausea, and vomiting induced by chemotherapy, but studies show mixed results for these symptoms. However, studies do confirm that ginger can safely be used to relieve pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness. These effects are due to oils in the plant called gingerols.

Ginger contains gomgerol and shogaol, which have the potential ability to decrease inflammation and provide pain relief.

Unsubstantiated claims

Please note that this section reports on claims that have NOT yet been substantiated through scientific studies.

Ginger is claimed to function as an anti-inflammatory agent and play a role in treating arthritis and arthralgia, as well as reducing the movement-associated pain and muscle discomfort of arthritis.

Ginger is thought to inhibit production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes. These are naturally produced chemicals that cause inflammation.

Ginger, particularly the gingerols, is being studied as an anti-cancer agent. Gingerols may interfere with tumorigenesis (the generation of tumors or malignancy).

Dosing format

Ginger is available in the form of tablets, crystals, and powder. It is also made into tea and is available as dried or fresh root.

Side effects, toxicity, and interactions

In normal doses, ginger may cause heartburn and bloating. 

Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should consult a physician before taking any herbal medications.

There are no known significant food or drug interactions associated with ginger.

Additional information

Click here for a list of reputable websites with general information on nutrition.