Ginger for Nausea Relief

Root ginger (Zingiber)
Getty Images/Steven Morris Photography

Ginger, a flavorful root used in many different cuisines, has long been a popular remedy for nausea, a type of stomach upset that often results from morning sickness, motion sickness, chemotherapy, food poisoning, migraines, and the use of certain medications. It is particularly popular in traditional Asian and Arabic medicines. Many people use ginger supplements when treating nausea, although fresh, dried, and crystallized ginger may also help soothe nausea when consumed as foods or spices.

While it's not known how ginger might ease nausea, some scientists suspect that certain chemicals found in ginger may influence the nervous system, stomach, and intestines to help reduce nausea.

The Science Behind Ginger and Nausea

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) lists ginger supplements as "possibly effective" for preventing morning sickness and controlling post-surgery nausea. Indeed, a 2005 report from Obstetrics and Gynecology analyzed six clinical trials (with a total of 675 participants) and found that ginger was superior to a placebo and similar to vitamin B6 in relieving nausea and vomiting during pregnancy.

In addition, in a 2006 report from the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, investigators sized up five clinical trials (with a total of 363 patients) and concluded that taking ginger is more effective than placebo for post-surgery nausea and vomiting.

In 2012, another study reported in Integrated Cancer Therapy found that ginger was effective in reducing nausea caused by chemotherapy. Ginger was administered to women being treated for advanced breast cancer; the study found that " A significantly lower prevalence of nausea was observed in the ginger group during 6 to 24 hours post chemotherapy."

On the other hand, the NIH classifies ginger supplements as "possibly ineffective" for preventing motion sickness and seasickness. Additional studies found that it has little or no positive impact on other forms of nausea. Although several small studies suggest that ginger supplements may prevent or treat motion sickness to some degree, other research shows that ginger supplements are of little value in protecting against motion sickness.


Ginger is available in extracts, tinctures, lozenges, supplements, and teas. It can also be purchased in crystallized form and is included as an ingredient in ginger ale and ginger beer. Most of these products are available in ordinary grocery stores, though some may be harder to find.

While ginger is generally considered safe for most people, it may cause some mild side effects (including heartburn, diarrhea, and stomach discomfort). Also, some sources say there isn't enough information about the safety of ginger in pregnant women (in theory, ginger could inhibit an enzyme called thromboxane synthetase and possibly influence sex steroid differentiation in the fetal brain). 

It's important to take caution when using ginger in combination with other medications. For instance, combining ginger supplements with blood-thinning drugs may increase the risk of bleeding, while mixing ginger supplements with diabetes medications may decrease blood sugar.

If you're considering the use of ginger supplements in the treatment of a health problem (or during chemotherapy), make sure to consult your physician before starting your supplement regimen. Self-treating a condition and avoiding or delaying standard care may have serious consequences.

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Article Sources

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