How Ginger Helps Improve Asthma Symptoms

Herbal remedies are among the most common complementary and alternative treatments for asthma today and the relationship between ginger and asthma is no exception.

Ginger root and powdered ginger
Maximilian Stock Ltd. / Photolibrary / Getty Images

I am sometimes faced with patients asking if they can use ginger as an asthma treatment. With as many as 40% of asthmatics using something other than what their healthcare provider prescribes for their asthma, it is important for you to get as much information as possible.

How Does It Work?

The exact pathophysiology or mechanism is not exactly known but may lessen allergic responses by decreasing IgE levels, or through anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties. Further, ginger may have direct activity on smooth airway muscles as studies have demonstrated ginger, in both human and animal models, to have broncho relaxation properties. Finally, ginger has also been shown in animal models to protect against hyper-responsive airways in a methacholine challenge.

Clinical Trials With Ginger Treating Asthma

Few clinical studies have been performed for the treatment of asthma in actual asthma patients. One case control study of 25 people affected by asthma found that ginger extracts could help control asthma by affecting the primary cells involving the symptoms in the airways.

Is It Safe?

Ginger is safe and without significant side effects when taken in small doses. The most common reported side effects are gas, bloating, GERD, and nausea (interesting as it is also used as a treatment of pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting).

Combining Ginger and Asthma as Part of My Treatment Plan

Right now I would say no. If you decide this is something you want to do make sure you speak with your healthcare provider.

No clinical trials have been designed to look at whether or not ginger might be a good adjunctive treatment. Just because we see basic science studies that appear to have a benefit, it does not mean we will see a benefit in clinical studies. Additionally, there could be side effects or interactions with medications that we do not yet know about.

The National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health is currently funding studies on the safety and effectiveness of ginger as a health treatment and specifically looking at how its active components impact inflammation.

2 Sources
Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Townsend EA, Siviski ME, Zhang Y, Xu C, Hoonjan B, Emala CW. Effects of ginger and its constituents on airway smooth muscle relaxation and calcium regulationAm J Respir Cell Mol Biol. 2013;48(2):157–163. doi:10.1165/rcmb.2012-0231OC

  2. Kardan M, Rafiei A, Ghaffari J, Valadan R, Morsaljahan Z, Haj-ghorbani ST. Effect of ginger extract on expression of GATA3, T-bet and ROR-γt in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with allergic asthma. Allergol Immunopathol (Madr). 2019;47(4):378-385. doi:10.1016/j.aller.2018.12.003

Additional Reading

By Pat Bass, MD
Dr. Bass is a board-certified internist, pediatrician, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Physicians.