A Brief History of Ginger
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) has been used in China and India as a highly prized herb since ancient times. Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners used ginger as an expectorant, cough suppressant, GI stimulant, anti-nausea agent, and circulatory tonic. Ayurvedic practitioners have praised ginger throughout the ages for its use as a digestive tonic, diaphoretic (increases sweating), mucolytic (break up mucus), and anti-inflammatory. [1,2]
In many different traditional medicine cultures around the world, ginger is one of the most valued herbs due to its stimulant and heating properties. Due to its extreme popularity and worth ginger was once harvested to extinction in the wild during ancient times, and was probably among the first vegetatively cultivated plants as a result. Zingiber officinale is also one of the few herbs that have a significant amount of human studies but not as many pharmacological studies on its constituents.
Here are the top five reasons you will love ginger
1. Gastric upset
As mentioned above there are many different traditional medicine cultures that have used ginger for its effects on the gastrointestinal system. In India, ginger is called Vishwa bhesaj or “the universal medicine.” Many various cultures including China, India, Thailand, Jamaica, and even the Eclectics of 19th century North America used ginger for digestive complaints, including nausea, diarrhea, flatulence, dyspepsia and gastrointestinal spasm. 
2. Nausea and vomiting
Historically ginger has been used to ameliorate nausea and vomiting of various causes. Some of the most popular conditions include pregnancy (hyperemesis gravidarum), post abdominal surgery, and drug induced (antiretrovirals and chemotherapy). Zingiber has been shown to have similar rates of effectivity as some anti-nausea medications. The effectivity may vary tremendously on the dose. It is important to note that although ginger does not seem to increase the risk of major malformations in fetuses, it may be worth avoiding in women who are at an increased danger of having a miscarriage early in pregnancy (first 12 weeks). [2-12]
3. Dysmenorrhea (painful menses)
Several clinical studies have shown that Zingiber may be able to support women with severe pain from dysmenorrhea.  In one clinical study, they were able to compare the effects of ginger, mefenamic acid (Ponstel), and ibuprofen in women with primary dysmenorrhea. This study showed that ginger was just as effective as the nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and carries no severe side effects.  Another study was able to show that women treated with ginger were able to have a statistically significant reduction in both the duration and intensity of pain related to primary dysmenorrhea. 
In clinical research, ginger extracts have demonstrated the ability to improve pain in patients reasonably. In one clinical study patients orally taking the extract was able to see symptomatic relief for osteoarthritis of the knee when compared to a placebo after taking it for three months. There was no significant pain relief during the first few weeks of treatment, indicating the need for patience when using this remedy for OA.  In another clinical trial with patients that had either osteoarthritis of the hip or knee, there was no difference between patients on ibuprofen or ginger extract for symptomatic treatment. It is worth noting that both of the treatment groups (ibuprofen and ginger) were significantly more effective than the placebo group. 
Ginger taken orally has been shown to reduce symptoms of vertigo, including nausea that’s associated with the condition. [8,18]
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Important Disclaimer: The information provided on this site is intended for your general knowledge only; it is NOT meant to substitute professional medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. You should NOT use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem/disease without consulting with a qualified healthcare provider. Please see your healthcare provider with any questions or concerns you may have regarding your condition.
- Zampieron, Eugene R., and Ellen Kamhi. “Ginger Root (Zingiber Officinale).” The Natural Medicine Chest. New York, NY: M. Evans, 1999. 179-82.
- Bone, Kerry, and Simon Mills. “Ginger.” Principles and Practice of Phytotherapy: Modern Herbal Medicine. Edinburgh: Churchill Livingstone/Elsevier, 2013. 578-95.
- Fischer-Rasmussen, Wiggo, Susanne K. KjÃ¦r, Claus Dahl, and Ulla Asping. “Ginger Treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum.” European Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology and Reproductive Biology 38.1 (1991): 19-24. (Abstract)
- Vutyavanich, T. “Ginger for Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy: Randomized, Double-masked, Placebo-controlled Trial.” Obstetrics & Gynecology97.4 (2001): 577-82. (Abstract)
- Portnoi, Galina, Lu-Ann Chng, Linda Karimi-Tabesh, Gideon Koren, Michael Paul Tan, and Adrienne Einarson. “Prospective Comparative Study of the Safety and Effectiveness of Ginger for the Treatment of Nausea and Vomiting in Pregnancy.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 189.5 (2003): 1374-377. (Abstract)
- Viljoen, Estelle, Janicke Visser, Nelene Koen, and Alfred Musekiwa. “A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of the Effect and Safety of Ginger in the Treatment of Pregnancy-associated Nausea and Vomiting.” Nutrition Journal Nutr J 13.1 (2014). (Abstract)
- Heitmann, Kristine, Hedvig Nordeng, and Lone Holst. “Safety of Ginger Use in Pregnancy: Results from a Large Population-based Cohort Study.” European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology 69.2 (2012): 269-77. (Abstract)
- Grantved, Aksel, and Erwin Hentzer. “Vertigo-Reducing Effect of Ginger Root.” Orl 48.5 (1986): 282-86. (Abstract)
- Dabaghzadeh, Fatemeh, Hossein Khalili, Simin Dashti-Khavidaki, Ladan Abbasian, and Amir Moeinifard. “Ginger for Prevention of Antiretroviral-induced Nausea and Vomiting: A Randomized Clinical Trial.” Expert Opinion on Drug Safety 13.7 (2014): 859-66. (Abstract)
- Phillips, S., R. Ruggier, and S. E. Hutchinson. “Zingiber Officinale (Ginger)–an Antiemetic for Day Case Surgery.” Anaesthesia 48.8 (1993): 715-17. (Abstract)
- Ernst, E., and M. H. Pittler. “Efficacy of Ginger for Nausea and Vomiting: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials.” British Journal of Anaesthesia 84.3 (2000): 367-71. (Abstract)
- Ryan, Julie L., Charles E. Heckler, Joseph A. Roscoe, Shaker R. Dakhil, Jeffrey Kirshner, Patrick J. Flynn, Jane T. Hickok, and Gary R. Morrow. “Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) Reduces Acute Chemotherapy-induced Nausea: A URCC CCOP Study of 576 Patients.” Supportive Care in Cancer 20.7 (2011): 1479-489. (Abstract)
- Daily, James W., Xin Zhang, Da Sol Kim, and Sunmin Park. “Efficacy of Ginger for Alleviating the Symptoms of Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomized Clinical Trials.” Pain Med Pain Medicine 16.12 (2015): 2243-255. (Abstract)
- Ozgoli, Giti, Marjan Goli, and Fariborz Moattar. “Comparison of Effects of Ginger, Mefenamic Acid, and Ibuprofen on Pain in Women with Primary Dysmenorrhea.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 15.2 (2009): 129-32. (Abstract)
- Rahnama, Parvin, Ali Montazeri, Hassan Fallah Huseini, Saeed Kianbakht, and Mohsen Naseri. “Effect of Zingiber Officinale R. Rhizomes (ginger) on Pain Relief in Primary Dysmenorrhea: A Placebo Randomized Trial.” BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 12.1 (2012) (Abstract)
- Wigler, et el. “The effects of Zintona EC (a Ginger Extract) on Symptomatic Gonarthritis.” Osteoarthritis and Cartilage 11.11 (2003): 783-89. (Abstract)
- Haghighi, Masoud, Ali Khalvat, MD, Tayebeh Toliyat, and Shohreh Jallaei, MSc. “Comparing the Effects of Ginger (Zingiber Officinale) Extract and Ibuprofen on Patients with Osteoarthritis.” Iranian Medicine 8.4 (2005): 267-71. (Article)
- Grontved A, Hentzer E. “Vertigo-reducing effect of ginger root. A controlled clinical study.” ORL J Otorhinolaryngol Relat Spec 1986;48:282-6. (Abstract)
Dr. Giovanni A. Nelson, ND
Dr. Nelson is a licensed naturopathic physician in the state of Connecticut and specializes in a holistic, noninvasive approach to a wide range of chronic and acute conditions. He is the co-founder and medical director at Healing Duo Integrative Family Medical practice. Dr. Nelson is thrilled to be able to share his passion for natural/complementary and alternative health information with individuals to help them live a healthier and more fulfilling life.