What Is Ginger Good For? Health Benefits, Side Effects & Drug Interactions


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Ginger is more than just a common spice found in your kitchen; it's also a popular ingredient in alternative and holistic medicine.

Have you ever wondered about the benefits of ginger for your health?

In this article, D. Craig Hopp, deputy director of the Division of Extramural Research at the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), will share what ginger is, its potential health perks, possible side effects, drug interactions and, most importantly, whether it's safe to use.

What is ginger?

Ginger, a spice cherished for its delightful aroma and taste, is a favorite in both sugary and savory dishes. An article from Johns Hopkins Medicine says the distinctive zing you feel when consuming ginger comes from the root of the ginger plant, scientifically known as Zingiber officinale. This root is the magic behind the taste of ginger ale, ginger tea, candies and various Asian cuisines.

With a history spanning over 2,500 years, the NCCIH states that ginger has long been a popular medicinal ingredient in China. Its role in Chinese, Indian and Japanese medicine dates back to the 1500s.

Potential health benefits of ginger

"Aside from using ginger to make food taste better, the spice has historically been used for medicinal purposes, and most specifically for treating nausea," Hopp said. "When my wife was pregnant some time ago, she would snack on ginger snaps to help keep her morning sickness at bay.”

Still, “while ginger can be effective in helping with nausea as well as menstrual cramps and pain, there really is no scientific data to support it," he added. "Much of these claims are anecdotal, as no substantial or definitive trials indicate specifically what conditions to use ginger for and in what doses.”

However, besides its use for nausea, another article from Johns Hopkins Medicine shares that ginger may help with the following conditions:

  • Nausea resulting from chemotherapy

  • Morning sickness

  • Motion sickness

  • Bloating and gas

  • Wear and tear on cells

Safety of ginger

“From what we know, ginger is safe in whatever dosage you consume related to your diet. If anything, the strong taste is likely self-limiting, preventing you from consuming too much," Hopp said. "This is different than, say, cinnamon. Too much cinnamon can be dangerous due to its high concentration of coumarin, which can cause liver damage. But with ginger, we’re not aware of any specific safety concerns.”

The NCCIH adds that certain studies examining ginger's use during pregnancy indicate its potential safety, though the findings aren't definitive. If you're contemplating ginger during pregnancy, it's wise to consult with your health care professional. Also, limited information exists regarding ginger's safety while breastfeeding.

Side effects of ginger

Side effects from ginger are uncommon, says Mount Sinai, but in elevated amounts, it might lead to mild heartburn, diarrhea and mouth irritation. To minimize slight stomach-related effects such as belching, heartburn or upset stomach, consider consuming ginger supplements in capsule form or ingesting ginger in your meals.

However, this brings up the issue of ginger as a dietary supplement.

“The challenge with dietary supplements is that we don’t have good visibility to the actual dosages or what else might be in the supplement," Hopp said. "When taking any kind of dietary supplement, let your doctor know. Don’t assume that taking a supplement is irrelevant to what your doctor needs to know. Communicating with them about what you are taking is good health care management."

Potential drug interactions of ginger

Mount Sinai suggests that ginger has the potential to interact with both prescription and over-the-counter medications. If you are taking any of the medications listed below, it is essential to consult your health care provider before incorporating a ginger supplement into your routine.

  • Blood thinners: Ginger might amplify the possibility of bleeding.

  • Diabetes medications: Ginger can potentially lower blood sugar levels, which may heighten the risk of hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar.

  • Blood pressure drugs: Ginger could lower blood pressure, increasing the chances of experiencing low blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat.


“There really isn’t any evidence suggesting a maximum dose that you can take of ginger. As we said, eating it tends to be limiting in and of itself because of the strong flavor. It’s not common for people to simply want to eat a knob of ginger. It’s more likely to be added to an Asian dish you are making, or taken as a supplement,” Hopp said.

"To enhance and reap the benefits of a natural herb such as ginger, the dosage should be optimized,” according to StatPearls. However, the article also suggests that patients who consume ginger root to alleviate joint inflammation or as a daily antioxidant should tell their physician.

What a doctor says

“It’s important to reiterate that there isn’t much in the way of research at a significant level that supports the use of ginger as a wellness remedy or nutritional supplement. However, there is plenty of anecdotal evidence about ginger benefits, especially for those suffering from varying forms of nausea,” Hopp noted.

Bottom line

Understanding what ginger is good for entails recognizing its rich history as a spice and a healing agent. While ginger's potential health benefits are promising, such as aiding digestion and reducing nausea, consulting a health care provider is crucial to assess whether ginger is good for you, especially considering its interactions with some medications.

SOURCE: D. Craig Hopp, PhD, deputy director, Division of Extramural Research, U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health


Johns Hopkins Medicine: Ginger benefits

U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health: Ginger

Mount Sinai: Ginger

StatPearls: Ginger root

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