Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a very popular Ayurveda herb used for centuries to treat many common ailments. However, this medicinal herb has some adverse effects too. It may interact with certain medications and supplements.
Excessive intake of ginger may cause diarrhea and heart issues and increase the risk of miscarriage. The herb may also lower blood pressure way too much.
Though the side effects of ginger largely occur due to its over consumption, it is important to be aware of them.
Table Of Contents
11 Side Effects Of Ginger
1. May Cause Heartburn
Ginger, when taken in higher doses (more than 4 grams per day), may cause mild heartburn. As per anecdotal evidence, other likely side effects include an upset stomach and belching.
In case you are using ginger as an alternative remedy and are experiencing heartburn as a side effect, you may want to try ginger in the capsule form. This might not result in side effects.
2. May Cause Bleeding
Ginger may aggravate bleeding issues (3). This applies not only to the herb, but also to any ingredient present in the herb.
Certain experts believe that ginger could cause bleeding due to its anti-platelet (blood thinning) properties (4). Some believe ginger can further increase the risk of bleeding when taken along with other herbs like clove, garlic, ginseng, and red clover. However, more research is warranted in this aspect.
3. May Lead To Diarrhea
If taken in large quantities, ginger can cause diarrhea. Gingerols, the active ingredients in ginger, speed up the passage of food through the intestines and may cause diarrhea (5). While this was confirmed in animal studies, more studies in humans are warranted.
Diarrhea can occur when the stool moves too rapidly through the gastrointestinal tract. Abnormal gastrointestinal motility and excessive fluid secretion of the gastrointestinal tract cause diarrhea.
4. May Upset Stomach
There is less research in this regard. Ginger stimulates the secretion of bile, which benefits digestion. But if your stomach is empty, this may lead to excess gastric stimulation, causing digestive distress and an upset stomach.
The gingerol in ginger (which is similar to capsaicin, the active ingredient in many spices and chili peppers) is thought to irritate the stomach, making it produce more acid. This may leave you feeling unsettled.
However, some evidence states that ginger could actually help treat an upset stomach (6). Hence, more studies are needed to understand how ginger may cause stomach upset.
5. Might Not Be Safe During Pregnancy
Though ginger can reduce nausea in pregnant women, it is important to note the herb’s dark side as well. According to certain experts, consuming ginger can increase the risk of miscarriage (7). It may not be dangerous if the dosage is below 1500 mg per day (8). Anything beyond this could be unsafe for pregnant women.
Taking ginger supplements in large doses can also cause miscarriage and other complications. Though ginger is safe when used in amounts found in food, it can cause problems during pregnancy. Excess intake of ginger during pregnancy may also lead to acid reflux and heartburn (8).
Ginger can increases the bleeding risk by decreasing aggregation of platelets (9). Hence, mothers who have lost a significant amount of blood during childbirth must abstain from ginger during the early days following childbirth.
6. May Cause Gas And Bloating
Ginger tea may cause certain mild digestive side effects. It most often impacts the upper digestive system and causes upper digestive gas. Replacing ginger with supplements could be one solution to this. But make sure you talk to your doctor before using them.
According to the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, ginger may cause gas (10).
Some believe the same could happen with ginger ale, the carbonated drink. The drink may aggravate bloating in certain individuals.
7. May Lower Blood Sugar Way Too Much
Ginger is usually known to aid diabetes treatment by lowering blood sugar levels. However, taking it along with diabetes medication may cause problems (11). Ginger may enhance the effects of the medication and cause hypoglycemia or excessive lowering of blood sugar.
8. May Cause Mouth Irritation
This is also called Oral Allergy Syndrome. Certain allergies occur when you consume certain foods. The symptoms are generally specific to the ears, skin, and mouth. One such allergy occurs when you consume ginger (not in all individuals, though), where your mouth starts to itch.
Mouth irritation might also lead to an unpleasant taste. Though switching to a ginger supplement might help, this is not always the case. Other related allergies include tingling and swelling of the mouth. However, limited research is available in this aspect, and we need further studies to understand why ginger may cause these allergies.
9. May Cause Skin And Eye Irritation
According to an Iranian study, the most common allergic reaction to ginger is a skin rash (12). Other allergies to ginger include itchy eyes, skin redness, and skin inflammation.
These are the major side effects of ginger. But there are certain other ill-effects of ginger (or of the different forms of ginger) that you need to be aware of.
Side Effects Of Eating Ginger In Other Forms
Consuming ginger root in excess can cause stomach upset and a bad taste in the mouth. It might also cause nausea (3)
Turmeric Ginger Tea
Anecdotal evidence suggests that turmeric ginger tea may cause complications in individuals with a history of kidney stones or gallstones. The tea may aggravate the condition by increasing the levels of uric acid in the blood. It may also cause stomach cramping and bloating. However, there is less research in this regard. Hence, consult your doctor.
Lemon Ginger Tea
The only side effect of this tea that was noted was frequent urination. Excess consumption of lemon ginger tea (or any beverage for that matter) may cause frequent urination. Hence, limit the intake of this beverage.
This is also known as ginger tea in certain regions. The side effects are similar to that of ginger, which include heartburn, stomach ache, gas, and a burning sensation in the mouth.
Another side effect of ginger water (the tea) is that it may disturb your sleep. This means that it can keep you up for a long time at night if you consume it before hitting the bed. However, limited information is available to support this point.
Research is limited in this area. One dangerous side effect of ginger ale could be its possible interaction with cancer medications. It can also aggravate gallbladder disease.
Side Effects Of Ginger Capsules
The major problem with ginger supplements is their tendency to interact with prescription medications. Most of their side effects are similar to that of raw ginger.
Ginger was found to have anti-diabetic properties. If taken along with anti-diabetes medications, ginger (or its capsules) can lower blood sugar levels way too much (13).
Ginger has been closely related to turmeric (also called yellow ginger) for its therapeutic properties. However, turmeric too may have side effects, if taken in excess amounts. Turmeric may interact with certain medications. These include cardiovascular drugs, antibiotics, anticoagulants, chemotherapy drugs, and anti-histamines (14). Though research is limited to conclude the medical interactions of yellow ginger, it is important to exercise caution.
Ginger also interacts with other drugs like phenprocoumon (a drug used in Europe to slow blood clotting) and warfarin (another drug to slow down blood clotting). Consuming ginger along with these medications might increase your risk of bruising and bleeding (3).
Dosages of around 1500 mg per day were found to treat nausea (12). Going beyond this dosage may cause adverse effects, though information is unclear. Hence, it is important to consult a doctor.
If it is ginger root, the following dosages may be ideal (these are just guidelines; for ideal values, please consult your doctor):
- For children between the ages of 2 and 6 years, not more than 2 mg of ginger root in a day.
- For adults, not more than 4 grams of ginger root in a day.
- For pregnant women, not more than 1 gram of ginger root in a day.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years for medicinal purposes. However, excess consumption of ginger may have some serious side effects, such as lowering blood pressure way too much, diarrhea, and heart problems.
Hence, limit the intake of this root and consult a doctor if you have observed any side effects after consumption.
Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions
Can ginger cause heart problems?
It is believed that excess ginger intake can lead to irregularities in the heartbeat. However, direct research is lacking in this area. As ginger can interact with certain medications, it is wise to consult your doctor before taking ginger with medications pertaining to heart health (including anti-hypertensive medications).
Can ginger increase blood pressure?
No. Eating too much ginger while you are on blood pressure-lowering medication may lead to lowering of blood pressure way too much. However, research is limited in this area
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- Ginger, National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health.
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