Report on Ginger Side Effects and Usage


Natural health supplements sometimes have unexpected side effects or interactions with medication that can lead to adverse reactions that are sometimes life threatening. The following is a list of cautions that you should be aware of before using Ginger (Zingiber officinale). These are referred to as drug/herb interactions.

Warning 1 – Contraindications: Ginger is contraindicated in people with gallstones because it increases bile flow. Other contraindications include diabetes, blood clotting disorders or bleeding disorders. The use of ginger during pregnancy is still controversial.

Warning 2 – Anticoagulants: Using Ginger with other anticoagulants may increase the effect of those anticoagulants. Use caution when combining with ginkgo, ibuprofen, aspirin, and other NSAIDs.

Warning 3 – Surgery: The use of ginger supplements should be discontinued at least 2 weeks prior to surgery or dental extractions to prevent excessive bleeding. Experts recommend avoiding use before, during, or after transplant surgery.

Warning 4 – Warfarin: Experts recommend avoiding concurrent use.

Warning 5 – Antihypertensive drugs: People with high blood pressure should discuss the use of Ginger with their doctor. This herb may reduce blood pressure in a way that is similar to some drugs used to treat hypertension and heart disease. Taking ginger with these medications may cause a drop in blood pressure or an irregular heartbeat. The medications for high blood pressure and heart disease that may interact with Ginger include isradipine (DynaCirc), nifedipine (Adalat, Procardia), verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan), amlodipine (Norvasc), diltiazem (Cardizem), felodipine (Plendil), and others. (Calcium channel blockers)

Warning 6 – Diabetes: Ginger may lower blood sugar levels. Using significant amounts of Ginger may result in a need to adjust diabetes medication. These medications include chlorpropamide (Diabinese), glimepiride (Amaryl), glipizide (Glucotrol), glyburide (DiaBeta, Glynase PresTab, Micronase), insulin, pioglitazone (Actos), rosiglitazone (Avandia), tolbutamide (Orinase), and others.

Warning 7 – Antiplatelet agents: Using Ginger increases the risk of bleeding in those using antiplatelet medications.

Warning 8 – Pediatric: Ginger should not be used in children under 2 years of age.

Note: The use of ginger may increase the absorption of all medications taken orally.

Note: The use of ginger during pregnancy is controversial. Some woman use ginger for morning sickness. However, before using ginger during pregnancy, discuss this with your healthcare provider.

Used as a natural health remedy: Ginger is used internally for benefits and relief of:

  • arthritis pain (See other herbs for inflammation)
  • colic
  • common cold
  • cough and bronchitis
  • diarrhea
  • dyspepsia (upset stomach, heartburn, relieves nausea)
  • flu-like symptoms
  • gas
  • headaches
  • inflammation
  • loss of appetite
  • menstrual cramps
  • morning sickness during pregnancy
  • motion sickness
  • nausea caused by cancer treatment
  • nausea
  • reflux caused by menopause
  • sore throat
  • stomach upset and aid digestion
  • upper respiratory tract infections

Fresh ginger is used for treating acute bacterial dysentery, malaria, baldness, poisonous snake bites, rheumatism, migraine headache, and toothaches.

Ginger root is one of the most common herbal remedies for toothaches. The home remedy is to peel off the skin of the root, put the root over the affected tooth and bite it. Eventually, the pain will subside. Change the ginger in your mouth periodically as needed.

Dried ginger is used for chest pain, stomach pain, and lower back pain.

Some people apply fresh ginger juice on their skin to treat burns. The oil made from ginger is sometimes applied to the skin to relieve pain however, it may also cause skin irritation.

Side Effects of Ginger

The side effects associated with ginger are rare. However, when more than 4 grams daily are used this herb may cause:

  1. Belching, gas
  2. Heartburn
  3. Irritation of the mouth
  4. May alter bleeding time
  5. Stomach upset (Gastrointestinal)

In rare cases a severe allergic reaction may occur. Seek medical attention right away if any of these SEVERE side effects occur when using ginger: rash; hives; itching; difficulty breathing; tightness in the chest; swelling of the mouth, face, lips, or tongue, change in the amount of urine produced, drowsiness, or irregular heartbeat. Other side effects may also occur when using ginger. (See form below)

Ginger supplements are also known as African ginger, Black ginger, Jamaican ginger, and Zingiber officinale. These are typically available over-the-counter.

As with any herb, a serious allergic reaction is possible. Seek immediate medical attention if you notice any symptoms of a serious allergic reaction. These may include a rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, or trouble breathing.

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For questions and answers about the side effects of herbs see the Herb Forum

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