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Home Remedies: Ginger

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Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an age-old remedy for a number of diseases, including those affecting the digestive tract. It has long been valued as ahome remedy for dyspepsia, flatulence, colic and diarrhea, as well as being used in foods as a spice.

Fact Sheet on Ginger

Scientific Name: Zingiber officinale
Common Names: Ginger
Part Used:Root

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.

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.

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.

How to Take Ginger

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.

Side Effects of Ginger Herbal Remedies

• 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. Inform your health care providers about any home remedies or other alternative practices you use. Give them a full picture to help ensure coordinated and safe care.

References

• Ginger. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database Web site. Accessed at www.naturaldatabase.comon July 6, 2009. • Gruenwald J, Brendler T, Jaenicke C. PDR for herbal medicines. Montvale, New Jersey: Medical Economics Company; 2000. pp. 212–213. • 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. • Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe). Natural Standard Database Web site. Accessed atwww.naturalstandard.com on July 6, 2009. • Ginger root. In: Blumenthal M, Goldberg A, Brinckman J, eds. Herbal Medicine: Expanded Commission E Monographs. Newton, MA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2000:153–159.