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Medically reviewed by Last updated on Nov 7, 2018.

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 bitterness increase with maturity. The plant carries a green-purple flower in terminal spikes; the flowers are pollinated by insects.

Scientific Name(s)

Zingiber officinale Roscoe; occasionally Zingiber capitatum Smith.

Common Name(s)

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

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, pharmacists recommended ginger for travel sickness, nausea, hangovers, and gas.

General uses

There are many traditional uses for ginger, but more recent interest centers on the prevention and management of nausea. However, information to support ginger’s use for nausea, especially in pregnancy, is limited or lacking. Ginger may possess anti-inflammatory, may ease pain, and has been effective in painful menstruation in limited studies.

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. Essential oils of ginger have been administered as aromatherapy for postoperative nausea.


Contraindications have not been identified.


Avoid use. Despite trials conducted to determine its effectiveness in pregnancy-related nausea, data on fetal outcomes are lacking.


Anticoagulants (eg, warfarin), agents with antiplatelet properties, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory agents, salicylates or thrombolytic agents, antihypertensives, and hypoglycemic agents interact with ginger.

Side Effects

The US Food and Drug Administration 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.


Toxicologic information regarding use in humans is limited.


1. Ginger. Review of Natural Products. Facts & Comparisons [database online]. St. Louis, MO: Wolters Kluwer Health Inc; March 2014.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.