Ginger

Scientific names: Zingiber officinale Roscoe; occasionally Zingiber capitatum Smith. Family: Zingiberaceae

Common names: Ginger also is known as ginger root, black ginger, and zingiberis rhizoma.

Efficacy-safety rating:

ÒÒ...Ethno or other evidence of efficacy.

Safety rating:

...Little exposure or very minor concerns.

What is Ginger?

A native of tropical Asia, this perennial is cultivated in the tropical climates of Australia, Brazil, China, India, Jamaica, West Africa, and parts of the United States. The rhizome, which is used medicinally and as a culinary spice, is harvested at 6 to 20 months; taste and pungency increase with maturity. The plant carries a green-purple flower in terminal spikes; the flowers are similar in appearance to orchids.

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What is it used for?

Traditional/Ethnobotanical uses

Medicinal use of ginger dates back to ancient China and India. References to its use are found in Chinese pharmacopoeias, the Sesruta scriptures of Ayurvedic medicine, and Sanskrit writings. After ginger's culinary properties were discovered in the 13th century, its use became widespread throughout Europe. In the Middle Ages, apothecaries recommended ginger for travel sickness, nausea, hangovers, and flatulence.

General uses

There are many traditional uses for ginger, but more recent interest centers on the prevention and management of nausea. Ginger may play a role in osteoarthritic pain and cancer. However, there is limited clinical information to support these uses.

What is the recommended dosage?

Ginger has been used in clinical trials in doses of 250 mg to 1 g, 3 to 4 times daily.

How safe is it?

Contraindications

Contraindications have not been identified.

Pregnancy/nursing

Despite trials conducted to determine its effectiveness in pregnancy-related nausea, reasons for caution exist. Avoid use until safety is established.

Interactions

None well documented.

Side Effects

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) considers ginger to be a safe food supplement (“generally recognized as safe”). Large doses carry the potential for adverse reactions. Mild GI effects, such as heartburn, diarrhea, and mouth irritation, have been reported. Case reports of arrhythmia and immunoglobulin E (IgE) allergic reaction are documented.

Toxicities

Toxicologic information regarding use in humans is lacking.

References

  1. Ginger. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons 4.0. April 2008. Accessed April 23, 2008.

Copyright © 2009 Wolters Kluwer Health

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