Ginger is a rhizome, or root herb of the plant Zingiber officinale used in Asia as a culinary spice for centuries. With a slightly sweet and spicy flavor, ginger is a staple in Asian cuisine. It has also been used in Asian, Indian, and Arabic holistic medicine due to its wide range of benefits. Praised in traditional medicine for its ability to ease infection, ginger is commonly used as a natural remedy for pain.1 Ginger is also a powerful digestive aid, as it has been thought to ease common stomach problems, including nausea, vomiting, cramps, and irregularity.2,3
Can Ginger Soothe My Upset Stomach?
Your digestive system is an intricate series of organs, designed to break down foods into smaller, more absorbable pieces of nutrients. This process provides the body with the energy it needs to remain healthy. However, as it is one of the most hardworking systems in your body, your digestive system can easily become overtaxed. Today, an estimated 70 million Americans are affected by digestive problems. Responsible for about 21.7 million hospital visits every year, digestive upset is nothing to ignore.4,5
How Ginger Can Help Your Stomach Upset
While there are many causes of digestive upset, ginger has been clinically shown to aid in reducing many of the most common symptoms.
Ginger is one root herb that has a carminative effect, which means that it is able to help break up and expel intestinal gas. As such, consuming ginger in any form may help to reduce post-meal gas, bloating, and indigestion.6
2. Irritated Bowels
When the intestines become irritated, many different stomach problems can arise, causing pain and stomach upset. Over time, chronic irritation can become more serious, and lead to a host of problems, including intestinal pain, leaky gut, blood in the stool, and a loss of appetite. One of the most notable qualities of ginger for upset stomach is its ability to reduce irritation, and the associated pain and swelling it can cause.7 The irritation effects of ginger can be attributed to a phytochemical it contains known as gingerol.8
3. Motion Sickness
One of the most well-established uses of ginger for medicinal purposes is its ability to alleviate symptoms of nausea and other common symptoms associated with motion sickness.9 In a systematic review of ginger for nausea and vomiting, ginger was also shown to ease seasickness, morning sickness, postoperative nausea, and chemotherapy-induced nausea.10 Ginger has also been clinically proven to help reduce nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy.11
4. Heartburn and Indigestion
Ginger is known to have a beneficial effect on the Lower Esophageal Sphincter, or LES. If the LES is functioning properly, it helps to prevent stomach acid from traveling back up into the esophagus from the stomach. In one study, just 1 gram of ginger was shown to reduce LES pressure – a major trigger of heartburn.12
Consuming ginger is well known to increase transit time of the gastrointestinal tract. In one study, consuming ginger was shown to stimulate faster waste removal (gastric emptying) in participants with stomach upset.13
How Can I Get More Ginger into My Diet?
Ginger’s sweet/spicy taste adds loads of flavor to any recipe. And there are many ways to get more ginger into your diet. Here are four ways to use ginger in your kitchen:
1. Raw Ginger
Ginger root itself can be used in many ways. Try blending a small piece of raw, peeled ginger into smoothies, juices, dips, and salad dressings to give your recipe a sweet and spicy kick. Ginger can also liven up seasonal recipes, particularly drinks and desserts. Try adding a few pieces to hot cocoa or pies for a wonderful, warming flavor.
Add pieces of ginger to a pot of boiling water to create a potent, healing tea that can be served hot or cold. Sweet ginger tea can be used as a base for other herbal teas, and ginger water is great in smoothies and juices. For quick relief of stomach discomfort, try sipping a cold glass of ginger tea. Add a slice of lemon to the tea, too – ginger and lemon pair quite well together.
3. Essential Oil
The essential oil of ginger can be used aromatically by diffusing the oil either by itself, or in a blend with other favorite scents. Alternatively, you can stimulate the olfactory nerve (sensory nerve in the nose) topically by adding 10-15 drops of ginger essential oil to a carrier oil like olive oil or jojoba seed. Enjoy relaxing aromatherapy benefits.
Ginger can be found in pill and powder form for easy storage, transport, and usage as a supplement. To use ginger supplements for stomach upset, you can blend the powder into juices, smoothies, hot cereals, and more. No time to mix things up? Pop a ginger pill or capsule to quickly unlock powerful stomach-soothing relief. Ginger is one of the most effective ways to prevent stomach upset from a variety of causes. If you are suffering with any type of stomach problem, including pain, cramping, nausea, motion sickness, and other ailments, give ginger a try. Known to offer dramatic beneficial effects to the digestive system, the warm, slightly spicy flavor of ginger may help to ease your tummy troubles naturally. However, if the problem persists, you may need to speak with your doctor, as it could be the sign of something more serious.
- McNeil. NSAID. FDA. Assessment of Safety of aspirin and other Nonsteroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs).
- Micklefield GH, Redeker Y. Effects of ginger on gastroduodenal motility. Int J Clin Pharmacol Ther. 1999 Jul;37(7):341-6.
- Effectiveness And Safety Of Ginger In The Treatment Of Pregnancy-induced Nausea And Vomiting.
- Digestive Diseases Statistics for the United States. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
- U.S. National Library of Medicine. Digestive Diseases Also called: Gastrointestinal diseases.
- Ann M. Bode, Zigang Dong. Chapter 7 The Amazing and Mighty Ginger. Herbal Medicine: Biomolecular and Clinical Aspects. 2nd edition.
- Nafiseh Shokri Mashhadi, Reza Ghiasvand. Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. Int J Prev Med. 2013 Apr; 4(Suppl 1): S36–S42.
- Jeong CH, Bode AM, Pugliese A, Cho YY, Kim HG, Shim JH. gingerol suppresses colon cancer growth by targeting leukotriene a4 hydrolase. Cancer Res. 2009;69:5584–91
- Lien HC, Sun WM. Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias induced by circular vection. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2003 Mar;284(3):G481-9.
- Ernst E, Pittler MH. Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Br J Anaesth. 2000 Mar;84(3):367-71.
- Sripramote M, Lekhyananda N A randomized comparison of ginger and vitamin B6 in the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy . J Med Assoc Thai. (2003).
- Lohsiriwat S, Rukkiat M. Effect of ginger on lower esophageal sphincter pressure. J Med Assoc Thai. 2010 Mar;93(3):366-72.
- Hu ML, Rayner CK. Effect of ginger on gastric motility and symptoms of functional dyspepsia. World J Gastroenterol. 2011 Jan 7;17(1):105-10.