The dried rhizome of ginger contains approximately 1–4% volatile oils. These are the
medically active constituents of ginger and are also responsible for ginger’s
characteristic odor and taste. The aromatic constituents include zingiberene and bisabolene,
while the pungent constituents are known as gingerols and shogaols.1 The pungent
constituents are credited with the anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects of ginger.
In humans, ginger is thought to act directly on the gastrointestinal system to reduce
nausea.2 Ginger has been shown to reduce the symptoms of motion sickness associated with travel by boat and, to
a lesser extent, car.3 4 5 Two double-blind clinical trials
have found that ginger may reduce nausea due to anesthesia following surgery,6
7 although one trial could not confirm this benefit.8 A preliminary
trial has suggested ginger may be helpful for preventing chemotherapy -induced nausea. 9
While ginger is a popular remedy for nausea of
pregnancy, it has only been clinically studied for very severe nausea and vomiting known
as hyperemesis gravidarum.10 This condition is life threatening and should only be
treated by a qualified healthcare professional. Because ginger contains some compounds that
cause chromosomal mutation in the test tube, some doctors are concerned about the safety of
using ginger during pregnancy. However, the available clinical research, combined with the
fact that ginger is widely used in the diet of certain cultures, suggests that prudent use of
ginger for morning sickness is safe in amounts up to 1 gram per day.
Ginger is considered a tonic for the digestive tract, stimulating digestion and toning the
intestinal muscles.11 This action eases the transport of substances through the
digestive tract, lessening irritation to the intestinal walls.12 Ginger may protect
the stomach from the damaging effect of alcohol and non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs, such as ibuprofen) and may help prevent ulcers.13
Ginger also supports cardiovascular health.
Ginger may make blood platelets less sticky and less likely to aggregate.14
15 However, not all human research has confirmed this.16 17
1. Tyler VE. Herbs of Choice: The Therapeutic Use of
Phytomedicinals. Binghamton, NY: Pharmaceutical Products Press, 1994, 39–42.
2. Holtmann S, Clarke AH, Scherer H, Hohn M. The anti-motion sickness
mechanism of ginger. A comparative study with placebo and dimenhydrinate. Acta Otolaryngol
3. Grontved A, Brask T, Kambskard J, Hentzer E. Ginger root against
seasickness. Acta Otolaryngol 1988;105:45–9.
4. Ribenfeld D, Borzone L. Randomized double-blind study comparing ginger
(Zintona®) with dimenhydrinate in motion sickness. Healthnotes Rev Complementary
Integrative Med 1999;6:98–101.
5. Careddu P. Motion sickness in children: Results of a double-blind
study with ginger (Zintona®) and dimenhydrinate. Healthnotes Rev Complementary
Integrative Med 1999;6:102–7.
6. Bone ME, Wilkinson DJ, Young JR, et al. Ginger root—a new
antiemetic: The effect of ginger root on postoperative nausea and vomiting after major
gynaecological surgery. Anaesthesia 1990;45:669–71.
7. Phillips S, Ruggier R, Hutchingson SE. Zingiber officinale
(ginger)—an antiemetic for day case surgery. Anaesthesia
8. Arfeen Z, Owen H, Plummer JL, et al. A double-blind randomized
controlled trial of ginger for the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting.
9. Meyer K, Schwartz J, Craer D, Keyes B. Zingiber officinale
(ginger) used to prevent 8-Mop associated nausea. Dermatol Nursing
10. Langner E, Greifenberg S, Gruenwald J. Ginger: History and use.
Adv Ther 1998;15:25–44 [review].
11. Bradley PR (ed). British Herbal Compendium, vol 1.
Bournemouth, Dorset, UK: British Herbal Medicine Association, 1992, 112–4.
12. Yamahara J, Huang QR, Li YH, et al. Gastrointestinal motility
enhancing effect of ginger and its active constituents. Chem Pharm Bull
13. al-Yahya MA, Rafatullah S, Mossa JS, et al. Gastroprotective activity
of ginger in albino rats. Am J Chinese Med 1989;17:51–6.
14. Bordia A, Verma SK, Srivastava KC. Effect of ginger (Zingiber
officinale Rosc) and fenugreek (Trigonella foenumgraecum L) on blood lipids,
blood sugar, and platelet aggregation in patients with coronary artery disease.
Prostagland Leukotrienes Essential Fatty Acids 1997;56:379–84.
15. Verma SK, Singh J, Khamesra R, Bordia A. Effect of ginger on platelet
aggregation in man. Indian J Med Res 1994;98:240–2.
16. Lumb AB. Effect of dried ginger on human platelet function.
Thromb Haemost 1994;7:110–1.
17. Janssen PL, Meyboom S, van Staveren WA, et al. Consumption of ginger
(Zingiber officinale Roscoe) does not affect ex vivo platelet thromboxane production
in humans. Eur J Clin Nutr 1996;50:772–4.
18. Brown DJ. Herbal Prescriptions for Better Health. Rocklin,
CA: Prima Publishing, 1996, 111–8.
19. Blumenthal M, Busse WR, Goldberg A, et al. (eds). The Complete
Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. Boston, MA: Integrative
Medicine Communications, 1998, 135–6.