Ginger – Know What Herbs Do What

Latin Name –Zingiber officinale

Ginger - Know What Herbs Do What

Botanical Illustration of Zingiber officinale from Köhler's Medizinal-Pflanzen, 1887


Ginger is a tropical plant that has green-purple flowers and an aromatic underground stem called a rhizome. Ginger is commonly used as a spice in cooking, and is prominent in Chinese, Indian, and Japanese cuisine. The rhizome of the ginger plant is used fresh or dried, and used as an ingredient in tablets, capsules, liquid extracts (tinctures), and teas. Ginger is also used as a flavoring in food and beverages, such as ginger ale.


Traditionally, ginger has been used in Asian medicine to treat stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea. Many digestive, nausea, and cold and flu dietary supplements sold in the United States contain ginger extract as an ingredient.


Ginger is used as an herbal remedy in the hope that it can help alleviate symptoms of postsurgery nausea as well as nausea caused by motion and chemotherapy.


Ginger is the subject of research for its ability to help reduce inflammation, and its effectiveness as a potential herbal remedy for inflammatory conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and joint and muscle pain.


Research studies are mixed on whether ginger is effective for nausea caused by motion, chemotherapy, or surgery.


According to research up to this point, it is unclear whether ginger is effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or joint and muscle pain.


The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) funded investigators are studying:


  • Whether ginger interacts with drugs, such as those used to suppress the immune system.
  • Ginger’s effect on reducing nausea in patients on chemotherapy.
  • The general safety and effectiveness of ginger’s use for health purposes, as well as its active components and effects on inflammation.


Side Effects and Cautions Summary

Ginger - Know What Herbs Do What


  • Ginger side effects most often reported are gas, bloating, heartburn, and nausea. These effects are most often associated with powdered ginger.
  • Tell your health care providers about any complementary and alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture of what you do to manage your health to help ensure coordinated and safe care.  Complementary or alternative therapy should not be used in place of conventional medical care or to delay seeking that care.




  • Ginger. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed July 6, 2007.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed a July 3, 2007.
  • Ginger root. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:153–159.
  • Ginger (Zingiber officinale). In: Coates P, Blackman M, Cragg G, et al., eds. Encyclopedia of Dietary Supplements. New York, NY: Marcel Dekker; 2005:241–248.


For More Information


The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) Clearinghouse


The NCCAM Clearinghouse provides information on CAM and NCCAM, including publications and searches of Federal databases of scientific and medical literature. The Clearinghouse does not provide medical advice, treatment recommendations, or referrals to practitioners.

Using Dietary Supplements Wisely


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NIH Office of Dietary Supplements
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NIH National Library of Medicine’s MedlinePlus
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Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, Ginger fact sheet Created May 2006, Updated May 2008