Ginger root effectively counters the nausea of motion sickness and morning sickness and relieves common gastrointestinal discomfort. If you're not accustomed to the spicy heat of fresh ginger, a piece of raw root could be too strong for your tender stomach. Tea brewed from several thin slices of fresh root delivers a milder dose. Large doses of ginger could irritate your stomach and cause diarrhea.
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In the United States, the most familiar use for ginger is as a flavoring in candies, drinks and pastries. In other parts of the world, Zingiber officinale, or ginger, has a long history as medicine. The plant probably originated in Asia where farmers in both China and India first cultivated it thousands of years ago. Traditional uses for ginger root include treating an upset stomach, relieving the pain of toothache and rheumatism and calming diarrhea. Physicians in ancient China also prescribed ginger for cholera. Scientific testing confirms ginger's effectiveness in treating many gastrointestinal problems, including the relief of nausea.
Volatile oils in ginger create the herb's flavor and its medicinal effects. Testing on both animals and humans shows the oils in ginger relieve the nausea of morning sickness and motion sickness as well as nausea from chemotherapy and anesthesia, according to Dr. Kathi J. Kemper of the Longwood Herbal Task Force. Testing does not confirm ginger as an effective treatment for stomach ulcers or flatulence. In laboratory testing, ginger demonstrates antibacterial and anti-fungal effects. Ginger contains significant amounts of the anti-oxidant zingerone and could protect body tissues from oxidation damage. Many traditional claims for ginger's effects lack scientific validation.
Too much ginger root could increase stomach upset. The amount needed to treat nausea depends on body mass. If you weigh 150 lbs., don't take more than 4 g of ginger in one day, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. The daily total includes ginger in food. If you take standardized ginger extract, use up to 2,000 mg daily, in small doses taken with food. Take no more than 1 g of powdered ginger root at one time, up to four times daily. Tea made from 2 tbsp. of fresh ginger safely relieves head colds and flu symptoms, but drink only three cups in one day.
Too much ginger could temporarily disrupt the layer of mucous that protects your stomach wall from digestive juices. Children under 2 years of age should not take ginger root treatments. For older children, scale the dosage according to body weight. A 50 lb. child needs only a third of the dose appropriate for a 150 lb. adult. Since ginger could prevent blood from clotting normally, don't take ginger with any medications that thin the blood, such as aspirin or warfarin. Using ginger for more than 4 days could cause diarrhea and irritate sensitive tissues. To be safe, consult your physician before using ginger as medicine.