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What is it? Overview Usage Side Effects and Warnings

What is Ginger?

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Native to southern Asia, ginger is a 2- to 4-foot-long perennial that produces grass-like leaves up to a foot long and almost an inch wide. Although it’s called ginger root in the grocery store, the part of the herb used is actually the rhizome, the underground stem of the plant, with its bark-like outer covering scraped off.

Ginger has been used as food and medicine for millennia. Arabian traders carried ginger root from China and India to be used as a food spice in ancient Greece and Rome, and tax records from the second century AD show that ginger was a delightful source of revenue to the Roman treasury.

Chinese medical texts from the fourth century BC suggest that ginger is effective in treating nausea, diarrhea, stomachaches, cholera, toothaches, bleeding, and rheumatism. Ginger...

Some evidence suggests that ginger may be at least slightly helpful for the prevention and treatment of various forms of nausea, including motion sickness, the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (morning sickness) , and postsurgical nausea.

Note:If you are pregnant or undergoing surgery, do not self-treat with ginger except under physician supervision.

Scant preliminary evidence suggests that ginger might be helpful for osteoarthritis . And, one small study suggests it may beneficial for high cholesterol . 1 Ginger has been suggested as a treatment for numerous other conditions, including atherosclerosis , migraine headaches , rheumatoid arthritis , ulcers , depression , and impotence . However, there is negligible evidence for these uses.

In traditional Chinese medicine,...

Safety Issues

Ginger is on the FDA's GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list as a food, and the treatment dosages of ginger are comparable to dietary usages. No significant side effects have been observed.

Like onions and garlic , extracts of ginger inhibit blood coagulation in test tube experiments. 2 3 European studies with actual oral ginger taken alone in normal quantities have not found any significant effect on blood coagulation, 4 5 but it is still theoretically possible that a very weak anticoagulant could amplify the effects of drugs that have a similar effect, such as warfarin (Coumadin), heparin , clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine Ticlid, pentoxifylline Trental, and aspirin . One fairly solid case report appears to substantiate these theoretical concerns:...