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Ginger, or ginger root, is the thick stem, or rhizome, of the flowering Zingiber officinale plant, which is native to India and Southeast Asia (1).

The flavorful spice has many culinary applications but has also been used medicinally for hundreds of years.

As ginger is often recommended for its stomach-settling effects, you may wonder whether it’s a proven way to naturally treat nausea.

This article reviews the effectiveness and safety of ginger for nausea and the best ways to use it.

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Ginger is often marketed as a natural way to reduce nausea or calm an upset stomach. In fact, its ability to alleviate nausea and vomiting is its best-supported use (2).

Some studies have found that the spice may be as effective as some anti-nausea medications with fewer side effects (3, 4).

How it works

It’s thought that ginger gets its medicinal properties from gingerol, the main bioactive component in fresh ginger, as well as related compounds called shogaols, which give the root its pungent taste.

Shogaols are more concentrated in dried ginger, with 6-shogaol being its main source of antioxidants. Meanwhile, gingerols are more abundant in raw ginger (2, 5, 6).

Some research has shown that ginger and its compounds may increase digestive responsiveness and speed stomach emptying, which may reduce nausea (7).

The spice has anti-inflammatory properties and may improve digestion and support the release of blood-pressure-regulating hormones to calm your body and reduce nausea (8).

Is it safe?

A lot of research shows that ginger is safe to use for many conditions.

Some people may experience side effects like heartburn, gas, diarrhea, or stomach pain after consuming it, but this depends on the individual, dosage, and frequency of use (9, 10).

A review of 12 studies in 1,278 pregnant women found that taking less than 1,500 mg of ginger per day did not increase the risks of heartburn, miscarriage, or drowsiness (11).

However, doses above 1,500 mg per day appear to be slightly less effective at reducing nausea and may have more adverse effects (11).

Still, pregnant women should avoid taking ginger supplements close to labor, as it may worsen bleeding. For the same reason, the spice may be unsafe for pregnant women who have a history of miscarriage or clotting disorders (12).

Additionally, taking large doses of ginger may increase the flow of bile in your body, so it’s not recommended if you have gallbladder disease (9).

You should also be cautious if you use blood thinners, as ginger may interact with these drugs, though the evidence is mixed (9, 13).

Ask your healthcare provider for guidance if you’re thinking of using the spice for medicinal purposes, including for nausea.

summary

Ginger has shown to be a safe, natural, and effective way to reduce nausea for many people. However, certain populations should be cautious about using it. It’s best to ask your medical provider for guidance.

Studies show that ginger may prevent and treat nausea and vomiting caused by various conditions (7, 14, 15).

Here are some of the best-studied uses for the root in managing nausea.

Pregnancy

An estimated 80% of women experience nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy. As such, most research on this application for ginger has been conducted in the first and second trimester (2).

Ginger has been found to be more effective than a placebo at reducing morning sickness during pregnancy for many women (2).

A study in 67 women who experienced morning sickness around 13 weeks of pregnancy found that taking 1,000 mg of encapsulated ginger daily reduced nausea and vomiting significantly more than a placebo (16).

Research indicates that consuming up to 1 gram of ginger per day appears to be safe to treat nausea and vomiting during pregnancy (2).

According to one study, this amount is equal to 1 teaspoon (5 grams) of freshly grated ginger, 1/2 teaspoon (2 ml) of liquid extract, 4 cups (950 ml) of tea, 2 teaspoons (10 ml) of syrup, or two 1-inch (2.5-cm) pieces of crystallized ginger (2).

Motion sickness

Motion sickness is a condition that causes you to feel sick when in movement — either real or perceived. It often occurs when traveling on boats and in cars. The most common symptom is nausea, a word derived from the Greek word naus, meaning ship (17).

Ginger reduces motion sickness in some people. Scientists think it works by keeping your digestive function stable and blood pressure consistent, which can reduce nausea (18, 19).

In a small study in 13 people with a history of motion sickness, taking 1–2 grams of ginger before a motion sickness test reduced nausea and electrical activity in the stomach, which often leads to nausea (19).

Older research also indicates that ginger alleviates motion-related nausea.

One study found that the spice was more effective than Dramamine, a drug commonly used to treat motion sickness, at reducing nausea. Another observed that giving sailors 1 gram of ginger reduced the intensity of seasickness (20, 21).

However, more recent research indicates that ginger’s ability to ease motion sickness is either inconsistent or nonexistent (22, 23).

Chemotherapy-related and postoperative nausea

Nearly 75% of people undergoing chemotherapy report significant nausea as a primary side effect (24, 25).

In a study in 576 people with cancer, taking 0.5–1 gram of liquid ginger root extract twice daily for 6 days starting 3 days before chemotherapy significantly reduced nausea experienced within the first 24 hours of chemo, compared with a placebo (25).

Ginger root powder has also been shown to reduce nausea and vomiting after chemotherapy is completed (26).

Plus, the spice proves to ease nausea due to other medical conditions. A review of 5 studies in 363 people found that a consistent daily dose of 1 gram of ginger was more effective than a placebo at preventing postoperative nausea (27).

Another study in 150 women noted that those taking 500 mg of ginger 1 hour before gallbladder removal surgery experienced less postoperative nausea than those in the placebo group (28).

Certain gastrointestinal disorders

Research shows that taking 1,500 mg of ginger divided into several smaller doses per day may reduce nausea associated with gastrointestinal disorders (14).

The spice may increase the rate at which your stomach empties its contents, alleviate cramps in your intestines, prevent indigestion and bloating, and decrease pressure in your digestive tract, all of which can help ease nausea (14).

Many people with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), a condition that causes unpredictable changes in bowel habits, have found relief with ginger.

A 28-day study in 45 people with IBS found that those taking 1 gram of ginger daily experienced a 26% reduction in symptoms. However, the treatment did not perform better than the placebo (29).

Additionally, some studies indicate that ginger may reduce nausea and stomach pain associated with gastroenteritis, a condition characterized by inflammation of your stomach and intestines, when combined with other therapies (14).

summary

Some of the best-supported uses for ginger as an anti-nausea remedy include pregnancy, motion sickness, chemotherapy, surgery, and some gastrointestinal conditions.

You can use ginger in many ways, but some methods are more frequently reported to reduce nausea.

You can eat the root fresh, dried, pickled, crystallized, candied, as a powder, or in the form of a beverage, tincture, extract, or capsule (2).

Here are some of the most common ways to use ginger for nausea:

  • Tea. The recommended amount is 4 cups (950 ml) of ginger tea to reduce nausea. Make it at home by steeping sliced or grated fresh ginger in hot water. Sip the tea slowly, as drinking it too quickly may increase nausea (2).
  • Supplements. Ground ginger is often sold encapsulated. Be sure to find supplements that have been third-party tested to ensure they contain 100% ginger, without fillers or unwanted additives.
  • Crystallized ginger. Some pregnant women report that this form of ginger helps their morning sickness, but it comes with a lot of added sugar.
  • Essential oil. One study found that inhaling ginger essential oil reduced postoperative nausea more than a placebo (30).

Recommended dosage

Though the Food and Drug Administration says that consuming up to 4 grams of ginger per day is safe, most studies use smaller amounts (2).

There doesn’t seem to be a consensus on the most effective dose of ginger for nausea. Many studies use 200–2,000 mg daily (31).

Regardless of the condition, most researchers seem to agree that dividing 1,000–1,500 mg of ginger into multiple doses is the best way to use it for treating nausea. Higher doses are generally less effective and may have side effects (32).

It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider to determine the best dose for you.

summary

The most common ways to use ginger for nausea are in the form of supplements, essential oils, tea, and crystallized ginger. While there’s no set dosage, most research suggests consuming 1,000–1,500 mg per day, divided into multiple doses.

If you’re not a fan of ginger or it doesn’t work for you, other natural remedies may help settle your stomach.

Some other home remedies for nausea include:

  • Peppermint or lemon aromatherapy. Many people claim that inhaling peppermint, sliced lemon, or their oils relieves nausea, though research is mixed (33, 34, 35).
  • Vitamin B6 supplements. Vitamin B6, or pyridoxine, has been shown to reduce nausea in pregnancy, but more research is needed to confirm this (36, 37, 38).
  • Acupressure or acupuncture. Traditionally used in Chinese medicine, these techniques target certain pressure points in your body that may relieve nausea for some people (39, 40, 41).
  • Breath control. Taking slow, deep breaths has been shown to reduce nausea, regardless of the scent you may be breathing in at the time (42, 34).

If ginger or other home remedies don’t help, see your medical provider to determine the underlying cause of your nausea and find an effective treatment plan.

summary

If ginger doesn’t work for you, you can try other home remedies like acupressure, vitamin B6, aromatherapy, and controlling your breathing.

Among ginger’s many purported benefits, its ability to alleviate nausea is best supported by science.

This spice has been shown to ease nausea due to pregnancy, motion sickness, chemotherapy, surgery, and gastrointestinal conditions like IBS.

There is no standard dosage, but 1,000–1,500 mg per day divided into multiple doses is often recommended.

It’s best to speak with your healthcare provider before trying ginger to ease persistent nausea.

where to buy

You can often find ginger products in your local supermarket or health store, though online options may be more affordable and convenient. Be sure to look for high-quality, certified items in these categories: