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Clinician’s Corner: Ginger

Latin Name: Zingiber officinale

Ginger can be found in our kitchens as spice for “ginger snaps” and in “ginger ale”. Ginger, which is found in the tropics has green-purple flowers and a rhizome (a bulky underground stem) that is the basis for its use in the kitchen.

Ginger has been used since antiquity, especially in Asian medicine, dried ginger has been used for thousands of years to treat stomach ache, diarrhea, and nausea.

Foods containing ginger as a flavoring agent, like ginger ale or ginger snaps are not effective in treatment of nausea.  Ginger has been studied for nausea for a variety of situations, such as motion sickness, post op nausea, and chemotherapy.  It is more effective than placebo, however prescription medications are more effective for treatment of vomiting. Ginger provided little benefit in treatment of nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy. Ginger’s most common strengths are 250mg and 550mg per capsule.

Nausea of Pregnancy: the usual dose of ginger is 250mg four times daily.  The ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) list ginger as a treatment option for nausea of pregnancy. Safety in pregnancy has not been adequately proven.

Side Effects

Heartburn: For non-pregnant patients, GI reflux has been commonly reported with ginger. In a study of the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting, 8% of subjects had heartburn after taking 1 gram of ginger.

Bleeding risk: advise caution if the patient is currently taking any anti-platelet drugs (aspirin, clopidogrel) or anticoagulants as ginger could possibly increase bleeding risk.

As with all herbal supplements in the United States there is variation between products due to lack of standardization.

If you are not feeling well, our Thompson Pharmacist is a great resource to get you back on your feet.  Ginger, although better than placebo is not nearly as effective as the medications your doctor can prescribe for nausea and vomiting. We also have some over-the counter treatment options that are quite effective. Go ahead and ASK, at Thompson Pharmacy it’s all for YOU!