||Ginger Root (English)|
Zingiberaceae (Plant Family)
Ginger root relieves nausea and emesis and may prevent or reduce the symptoms
of motion sickness and seasickness. While nausea is currently the main
indication for use, inhibition of cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase inflammatory
pathways and related prostaglandin synthetase and platelet aggregation support
the use of ginger in colds, sore throats, flus, headaches, and some types of
arthritis and muscular pain.
As a culinary spice, ginger was known for centuries to reduce flatulence,
bloating, and indigestion, and to stimulate the appetite. It was highly sought
after by Europeans, who traded with China and India during the sixteenth and
seventeenth centuries and used it fresh, powdered, or crystallized in cooking.
In 1884, England is said to have imported more than 5 million pounds of ginger.
Native to Asia where its use as a culinary spice spans at least 4,400 years,
ginger grows in fertile, moist, tropical soil. It was transported as far west as
Jamaica, where it became an export crop as early as 1547. Explorers and settlers
brought it to southern Florida and further west to Mexico.
Ginger can be grown at home by planting rhizomes in soils of mixed loam,
sand, peat moss, and compost in bright sun with plenty of water. Within a year,
gnarled, branched rhizome spread throughout the soil, bearing numerous
White, yellow, or greenish-yellow flowers, which may have a purplish tint at
the edges, form at cone-shaped, three-inch spikes, off erect 6- to 12-inch
stalks (cultivated ginger rarely flowers). Above ground leaves are dark green,
narrow, lanceolate or linear-lanceolate, with a noticeable rib. The rhizome is
light beige, aromatic, and has a sharp, spicy flavor.
Volatile oil containing sesquiterpenes (zingiberene, bisabolene); oleoresin
with pungent principles (gingerols, shogaols)
Fresh or dried rhizome prepared as aqueous, aqueous-alcohol, glycerite, or
dried powder liquid extracts including tinctures and syrups; oil; rhizome tea;
dried, powdered tablets, capsules; crystallized ginger
Traditional herbal actions: carminative, diaphoretic, antispasmodic,
antiemetic, cholagogue, circulatory stimulant, peripheral vasodilator,
expectorant, antiseptic, topical rubifacient
Conditions: intestinal colic, flatulence, indigestion, headache, sore throat,
arthritis, common cold, flu, delayed menstruation, pelvic congestion, menstrual
Clinical applications: motion sickness, nausea, vomiting, indigestion,
flatulence, common cold, flu, dysmenorrhea; also used topically for arthritis,
sore joints, and muscle sprains.
Ginger root increases gastric motility, stimulates bile secretion, and is
carminative and antiemetic. It promotes bile flow and reduces inflammation
through prostaglandin inhibition.
In studies in animals, ginger or its oleoresin or volatile oil components are
hypoglycemic, hypo- and hypertensive, anthelmintic (Anisakis larvae) in
vitro, and positively inotropic. Ginger inhibits cholesterol absorption after
time, increases bile flow, and inhibits hydrochloric acid/ethanol-induced
gastric lesions. It also inhibits prostaglandin biosynthesis and platelet
aggregation in vitro.
In humans, ginger relieves motion sickness comparably to dimenhydrinate
(Dramamine), most likely through actions within the gastrointestinal tract and
not on the central nervous system, at doses of up to 2 g every four hours or as
needed. Its superiority to dimenhydrinate remains equivocal. Currently, at least
one formulation awaits FDA approval for over-the-counter status for treating
nausea and motion sickness.
High doses of ginger (10 to 20 g of fresh ginger per day, or 500 mg of dried
ginger four times a day) were found to significantly reduce migraine intensity
and rheumatoid arthritis pain, respectively. Rheumatoid arthritis patients
receiving either 5 to 50 g of fresh ginger or 0.1 to 1.0 g of powdered root
experienced significant reductions in joint pain and an increase in mobility.
These effects may be due to cyclooxygenase and lipoxygenase pathway
|Dosage Ranges and Duration of
- 2 to 4 g daily of fresh root (0.25 to 1.0 g of powdered root)
To relieve nausea, flatulence, or indigestion:
- 2 to 4 g daily of fresh root (0.25 to 1.0 g of powdered root) or 1.5
to 3.0 ml tincture daily, relative to the strength and processing of the
To prevent emesis:
- 1 g ginger (½ tsp.) every 4 hours as needed
- 2 ginger capsules (1 g) tid
- ¼ oz. piece of fresh ginger, chewed
To relieve cold symptoms, fever associated with flu, sore throat, menstrual
- Steep 2 tbsp. of freshly shredded ginger in boiled water, bid to
- Place a drop of ginger oil or a few slices of fresh rhizome in
steaming water and inhale.
To relieve arthritis:
- Fresh ginger juice, extract, or tea, 2 to 4 g daily
- Use oil or fresh root in a warm poultice or compress and apply to
painful areas. Place a drop of ginger oil in massage oil and rub into painful
joints and muscles.
American Herbal Products Association (AHPA) safety rating: fresh root, class
1 (safe with appropriate use); dried root, class 2b (not to be used during
pregnancy). May cause mild heartburn.
Because ginger increases bile flow, gallstones contraindicate use.
The use of ginger to control morning sickness during pregnancy is
controversial. Ginger obtained through food is not considered risky during
pregnancy. Doses of 1 g dried ginger root to relieve morning sickness has not
resulted in any reports of miscarriage or toxicity to either the fetus or the
mother. The AHPA does not advise dried root during pregnancy.
Two Japanese studies showed in vitro mutagenicity for one of the pungent
principles of ginger. Subsequent studies showed that risk to humans is
diminished significantly by antimutagenic properties of other ginger
constituents. Some Chinese sources claim that 20 to 28 g of ginger will cause
miscarriage, presumably due to its effects on uterine smooth muscle tissue.
Pregnant women are advised not to ingest more than normal dietary levels of
ginger, such as those found in ginger ale, cookies, breads, and main
No clinically significant interactions between ginger and conventional
medications are known to have been reported in the literature to date, including
the German Commission E monograph (Blumenthal 1998). Although ginger inhibits
thromboxane synthetase, interactions with anticoagulants have not been
documented. Patients taking ginger while on anticoagulant therapy should be
monitored closely (Miller 1998).
|Regulatory and Compendial
Ginger is a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) food additive in the United
States and the FDA categorizes it as a dietary supplement. Recently published
United States Pharmacopeia (USP) Information Monographs do not recommend
therapeutic use of ginger, citing insufficient scientific evidence; OTC approval
by the FDA has not yet been granted. In England, ginger is licensed through the
General Sale List, and in Germany it is approved as a nonprescription drug for
dyspepsia and motion sickness by the Commission E.
Awang DVC. Ginger. Can Pharma J. 1992:309-311.
Blumenthal M, ed. The Complete German Commission E Monographs Therapeutic
Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston: Integrative Medicine Communications;
Blumenthal M, Riggins CW. American Botanical Council's Popular Herbs in
the U.S. Market: Therapeutic Monographs. Austin, Texas: American Botanical
Bremness L. Herbs: The Visual Guide to More than 700 Herb Species from
around the World. London: Dorling Kindersley Limited; 1994.
Duke JA. The Green Pharmacy. Emmaus, Pa: Rodale Press; 1997.
USP publishes information monographs on ginger and valerian. HerbalGram.
1998;43:30, 57, 71.
Grontved A, et al. Ginger root against seasickness: a controlled trial on the
open sea. Acta Otolaryngol. 1988;105:45-49.
Kowalchik C, Hylton W, ed. Rodale's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Herbs.
Emmaus, Pa: Rodale Press; 1998.
McGuffin M, Hobbs C, Upton R, Goldberg A, eds. American Herbal Products
Association's Botanical Safety Handbook. Boca Raton, Fla: CRC Press;
Miller L. Herbal medicinals: selected clinical considerations focusing on
known or potential drug-herb interactions. Arch Intern Med.
Nagabhushan M, Amonkar AJ, Bhide SV. Mutagenicity of gingerol and shogoal and
antimutagenicity of zingerone in salmonella/microsome assay. Cancer Lett.
Nakamura H, Yamamoto T. Mutagen and anti-mutagen in ginger, Zingiber
officinale. Mutat Res. 1982;103:119-126.
Newall CA, Anderson LA, Phillipson JD. Herbal Medicines: A Guide for
Health-care Professionals. London: The Pharmaceutical Press;
Schulick P. The many roles of ginger. Natural Foods Merchandiser's
Nutrition Science News. 1995:6-7.
Schulz V, Hänsel R, Tyler VE. Rational Phytotherapy: A Physicians' Guide
to Herbal Medicine. 3rd ed. Berlin: Springer; 1998.
Yeung H. Handbook of Chinese Herbs and Formulas. Los Angeles, Calif:
Los Angeles Institute of Chinese Medicine; 1985:1.
Copyright © 2000 Integrative Medicine
CommunicationsThis publication contains
information relating to general principles
of medical care that should not in any event be construed as specific
instructions for individual patients. The publisher does not accept any
responsibility for the accuracy of the information or the consequences arising
from the application, use, or misuse of any of the information contained herein,
including any injury and/or damage to any person or property as a matter of
product liability, negligence, or otherwise. No warranty, expressed or implied,
is made in regard to the contents of this material. No claims or endorsements
are made for any drugs or compounds currently marketed or in investigative use.
The reader is advised to check product information (including package inserts)
for changes and new information regarding dosage, precautions, warnings,
interactions, and contraindications before administering any drug, herb, or
supplement discussed herein.