What is ginger?

Ginger is a plant root and dietary supplement that may have some benefits for digestive issues.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger is a leafy plant that is native to warmer parts of Asia and is cultivated in many countries, including India, China, Nepal, Nigeria, Thailand and Indonesia. The plant's root is used widely for both medicinal and culinary purposes. Although it's used most frequently to treat digestive issues, such as nausea, vomiting, gas and indigestion, ginger has also been shown to provide muscle and joint support.*

What are the dietary sources of ginger?

Ginger, either the fresh root or powdered, is a common ingredient in Asian cooking, including stir-fries and marinades. Teas can be made from the powder or fresh root. Ginger is often added to desserts, along with other spices such as cinnamon and nutmeg, while candied ginger can be added to ginger cookies. Although ginger ale carries the name “ginger,” the soda typically contains only ginger flavoring and not a significant amount of the actual herb. Ginger can also be taken as a dietary supplement.

Should I consider taking a ginger dietary supplement?

Ginger is best known for helping to curb nausea. In the form of teas or capsules, ginger can help relieve occasional nausea, vomiting, gas and indigestion.* A lesser known benefit of ginger, according to several studies, is that it can help ease muscle soreness after exercise, as well as occasional achy joints.*

How can ginger affect my health?

As a dietary supplement, ginger can support your health in several ways:

  • Relieves occasional joint aches*
  • Protects muscles from soreness after exercise*
  • Relieves nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy or morning sickness*
  • Relieves pain from menstrual cramps*
  • Relieves nausea from carsickness, seasickness and other motion-related nausea*
  • Provides relief from nausea after surgery*
  • Protects the gastrointestinal tract from irritation caused by medications such as aspirin and other NSAIDs*
  • Curbs nausea associated with chemotherapy medications*
  • Relieves occasional gas or indigestion*

How much ginger should I take?

The amount of ginger to take depends on the form being consumed. For powdered ginger capsules, a typical dose is 500 to 1,000 milligrams (mg) once or twice daily. A more concentrated ginger capsule is available, which is usually standardized to contain active ingredients called gingerols and shogoals. For this type of ginger, a typical dose is 40 mg of a 25-percent extract, which provides about 10 mg of gingerols/shogoals, and can be taken once or twice daily.

To make a tea from powdered ginger, add one-eighth to one-quarter teaspoon to one cup of hot water. To make a tea from fresh ginger root, place one or two half-inch slices of fresh ginger in a pot with two cups of water, bring the water to a boil, then turn off the heat, cover and let steep for 15 minutes.

How long should ginger be taken for it to be effective?

To relieve nausea, ginger can be taken as needed, although taking it before the circumstance that causes the nausea can be helpful also. For joint and muscle support, you might need to take ginger for a longer period of time to see results. For instance, in one study, female athletes who took three grams of ginger for six weeks experienced decreased muscle soreness compared to the group who took a placebo.* Taking ginger before exercising has been found to provide benefit in some studies.*

Are there side effects from taking a ginger dietary supplement?

Ginger is generally recognized as safe by the Food and Drug Administration. However, ginger can decrease the stickiness of platelets, which might contribute to a blood-thinning effect, particularly when used in medicinal amounts. Although known for its benefits for the digestive system, ginger can cause heartburn in some people.

Is ginger safe to take with medications?

Because ginger can have a blood-thinning effect, if you are taking a blood-thinning medication, you should avoid ginger or use it with caution. Talk to your health care professional about using ginger if you take one of these medications or if you are planning to have surgery.

Note: If you are considering taking a ginger dietary supplement, check with your health care professional first, especially if you are pregnant or have a health condition.

*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

Nov. 29, 2016 See more In-depth