Ginger is a tropical plant that has green-purple flowers and an aromatic underground stem (called a rhizome). It is commonly used for cooking and medicinal purposes.
Latin Name—Zingiber officinale
What Ginger Is Used For
- Ginger is used in Asian medicine to treat stomach aches, nausea, and diarrhea.
- Many digestive, antinausea, and cold and flu dietary supplements sold in the United States contain ginger extract as an ingredient.
- Ginger is used to alleviate postsurgery nausea as well as nausea caused by motion, chemotherapy, and pregnancy.
- Ginger has been used for rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, and joint and muscle pain.
How Ginger Is Used
The underground stems of the ginger plant are used in cooking, baking, and for health purposes. Common forms of ginger include fresh or dried root, tablets, capsules, liquid extracts (tinctures), and teas.
What the Science Says
- Studies suggest that the short-term use of ginger can safely relieve pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.
- Studies are mixed on whether ginger is effective for nausea caused by motion, chemotherapy, or surgery.
- It is unclear whether ginger is effective in treating rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis, or joint and muscle pain.
- NCCAM-funded investigators have looked at whether ginger interacts with drugs, such as those used to suppress the immune system, and ginger's effects on reducing nausea and vomiting. Investigators are also studying:
- The general safety and effectiveness of ginger's use for health purposes, as well as its active components and effects on inflammation.
- The effects of ginger dietary supplements on joint inflammation, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoporosis.
Side Effects and Cautions
- Few side effects are linked to ginger when it is taken in small doses.
- Side effects most often reported are gas, bloating, heartburn, and nausea. These effects are most often associated with powdered ginger.