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What You Need To Know About Ginger

Ginger Rhizomes Have Long Been Used For Both Food And Medicine

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Updated June 03, 2014

Ginger Root

Ginger has long been used to treat various digestive conditions.

Image © jeff1980

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an herb that is native to southeast Asia and has been used as a food additive for more than 4,000 years, and for medicinal purposes for more than 2,500 years. It is the "root" of the ginger plant (which is actually not a root, but a rhizome) that is most useful for medicine and for flavoring food. Compounds in the ginger rhizome, called oleoresins, have anti-inflammatory properties and are also known to have a positive effect on the muscles in the digestive tract.

How Ginger Is Used:

Ginger is probably most famous for its anti-nausea properties. It has been studied for use in treating nausea after surgery and after chemotherapy. Similarly, ginger may be effective in treating motion sickness and reducing flatulence.

Ginger comes in many forms: powder, crystal, and fresh root. It may be taken as a supplement, in beverages (tea, ginger ale, ginger beer), as a food flavoring, or simply eaten. For relief of nausea, ginger is generally taken in doses of 200 mg every 4 hours. For relief of flatulence, ginger is generally taken in doses of 250 to 500 mg 2 to 3 times a day.

Interactions with Other Drugs:

Ginger may have the following effects:

  • May have an adverse reaction with heparin.
  • May interact with ticlopidine (Ticlid).
  • May have an adverse reaction with warfarin (coumadin).

Use During Pregnancy:

Ginger is generally thought of as safe for use during pregnancy. Guidelines recommend that ginger be used in moderate amounts (in doses of 250 mg taken 4 times a day) during the first trimester.

 

Warnings:

Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding during surgery, and should be discontinued before any surgical procedure. This herb may also increase bile flow, and therefore should not be used by people with a history of gallstones.

Some people report that they experience heartburn after taking ginger.

Overall:

Ginger is generally thought to be safe when taken in the proper doses.

 

Sources of ginger:

Tea: ¼ tsp grated ginger steeped for 5 to 10 minutes contains 250 mg
Ginger ale: 8 ounces contains 1 g
Ginger crystal: 1 sq inch contains 500 mg

Sources:

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. "Ginger." Sloan-Kettering Institute 25 Sep 2013. 26 Sept 2013.

National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. "Ginger.” National Institutes of Health Apr 2012. 26 Sep 2013.

Natural Standard Research Collaboration. "Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe)." Natural Standard 25 Jun 2013. 26 Sep 2013.

University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing, Family Nurse Practitioner Program. "Evaluation and management of nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy (less than or equal to 20 weeks gestation)." University of Texas at Austin, School of Nursing May 2002.

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