Native to Asia, ginger has many traditional uses. Current scientific evidence supports use of ginger for nausea and vomiting—clinical trials substantiate ginger’s effectiveness against nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, motion sickness, and postsurgery. A few studies of ginger for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting yielded conflicting data, but a recent controlled trial demonstrates that ginger significantly reduces nausea and vomiting during the first day of chemotherapy.
Although ginger by itself is not associated with serious adverse effects, it can increase the risk of bleeding when used with anticoagulants. It may also reduce blood glucose levels when taken with hypoglycemics.
The notion that herbs are safe because they are natural is not necessarily applicable, especially when used with other medications. Relatively few herbs have been studied for safety and efficacy.
ALSO KNOWN AS: Zingiber officinale, Zingiberis rhizoma, zingiberaceae, ginger root, shen jiang
BACKGROUND: Ginger, the rhizome or the underground stem of ginger plant, is native to Asia and has been used as a culinary spice and medicine since ancient times. It is used to treat upset stomach, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, arthritis, and heart conditions.
Fresh ginger root is generally used in cooking and for preparing tea. Ginger is also available in the form of extracts, tinctures, oils, and capsules.
RESEARCH: Studies done in vitro suggest that ginger has antiemetic, anticancer,[2,3] anti-inflammatory, and hypoglycemic effects, and may protect against Alzheimer’s disease.
Clinical trials indicate that ginger can effectively reduce nausea and vomiting due to pregnancy,[6,7] motion sickness, and following surgery. While earlier studies failed to provide conclusive evidence that it can control chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting,[10,11] a recent controlled trial demonstrated effectiveness. Ginger also influences gastric emptying in healthy individuals.
HERB-DRUG INTERACTIONS: Anticoagulants/Antiplatelets: Because ginger can inhibit thromboxane formation and platelet aggregation, concomitant use with anticoagulants may increase the risk of bleeding.
Hypoglycemics/Insulin: Ginger may cause additive reductions in blood glucose.
ADVERSE EFFECTS: Common: Heartburn and dermatitis.