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Ginger and the Immune System

In part nine of this series about the immune system, we are going to discuss ginger and the benefits it has on the immune system.

Common Name: ginger (1)

Latin Name: Zingiber officinale (1)

History: Ginger is a tropical plant and has green and purple flowers. Its fragrant underground stem is called a rhizome. Ginger has been used for decades to add flavor and fragrance to foods, beverages, soaps, and cosmetics (1). Ginger is native to the warmer parts of Asia (China, Japan, and India), today it is also grown in parts of South America, the Middle East, and Africa (3). The use if ginger dates back to the ancient Sanskrit, Chinese, Greek, Roman, and Arabic times where it was commonly used for health-related purposes. Thousands of years ago, Asian medicine included the use of ginger to treat stomach aches, diarrhea, and nausea (1). In current times, ginger is used as a dietary supplement for post surgery nausea, nausea caused by motion, chemotherapy, or pregnancy, rheumatoid arthritis, and osteoarthritis (1). Ginger includes chemicals that can help to reduce nausea and inflammation within the body (3). Gingers contains gingerols, shogaol, and paradols which have anticancer properties (4).

Immune (and other) Benefits

  • Anti-inflammatory (4)

  • Anti-oxidant (4)

  • Anti-microbial (4)

  • Stimulates the appetite (2)

  • Relieves indigestion (2)

  • Treat diarrhea (2)

  • Treats nausea and vomiting (2)

  • Treats rheumatoid arthritis (2)

  • Treats respiratory ailments (2)

Side Effects

  • Heart burn (2)

  • Skin irritation, swelling and redness (2)


  • Ginger supplements should not be used at least 2 weeks before surgery due to the potential risk for increased bleeding (2)

  • Ginger supplements should be avoided in people with bleeding disorders (2)

  • Ginger supplements should be avoided during pregnancy or lactation due to lack of data on the effects it can have on a growing fetus (2)

  • People with gallstones should avoid ginger supplements due to potential cholagogic effects (2)

Herb and Drug Interactions

  • Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs): Ginger may increase bleeding tendency (2)

  • Anticoagulants / Antiplatelets: Since ginger can inhibit thromboxane formation and platelet aggregation, use with anticoagulants may increase the risk of bleeding (2)

  • Hypoglycemics / Insulin: Ginger may cause increased reductions in blood glucose (2)

  • Tacrolimus: Ginger increases the plasma levels of tacrolimus (2)

  • Cyclosporine: Use with ginger can lead to decreased blood concentrations of cyclosporine in vivo (2)

If you have an acute or chronic health condition or take medications, you should consult with your health care provider before taking any new herbs or spices.

About the Author: Leanne DiMaio earned her Master’s degree in Applied Clinical Nutrition from New York Chiropractic College in December 2017. She is currently working on her Doctorate degree in Clinical Nutrition at Maryland University of Integrative Health. Leanne is passionate about helping others achieve their optimal state of health and wellness. She is currently earning clinical hours toward the Certified Nutrition Specialist (CNS) credential under Kim Ross's supervision.


1. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). Ginger. NCCIH. Published 2016. Accessed October 7, 2018.

2. Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. Ginger. Published 2016. Accessed October 7, 2018.

3. Web MD. Ginger: Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Dosage, and Warning. 2018. Accessed October 7, 2018.

4. Mashhadi NS, Ghiasvand R, Askari G, Hariri M, Darvishi L, Mofid MR. Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence. International Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2013;4(Suppl 1):S36-S42.

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