Ginger is a tropical plant that grows a fragrant underground stem called a rhizome. The Latin name of the plant is Zingiber officinale. Ginger is a commonly-used cooking spice and has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for nausea, diarrhea, upset stomach, and to aid digestion.1 Ginger is an important herb in Ayurvedic medicine, which is practiced in India.2
Ginger and migraine
Ginger has also been used to treat headaches, including migraine. Because nausea and vomiting are common migraine symptoms, ginger may be helpful in offering some migraine sufferers relief of their stomach upset.
Ginger contains more than 200 substances in its oils and seems to have anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and antihistamine actions, which may be why it may help with migraine.2,3
Studies on ginger and migraine
Most of the research on ginger has been conducted for its benefits on nausea and vomiting. Less research is available for ginger's potential benefits on other conditions.
One small study on ginger and migraine compared the prescription drug sumatriptan to ginger powder in 100 patients with migraine without aura. Two hours after receiving either treatment, the average severity significantly decreased in both patient groups. The effectiveness of each treatment was similar, but side effects were more pronounced in the sumatriptan group.4
While this research is promising, additional studies with more patients are needed to confirm the results before any recommendations can be made regarding using ginger for migraine attacks.
Fresh ginger root can be found at most grocery stores. Ginger can also be purchased as a supplement in many forms, such as:
- Ground ginger root
- Tea bags and liquid teas
- Essential oil
Was ginger effective in relieving your migraine symptoms?
Side effects and other precautions
There are not many side effects linked to ginger when it is taken in small doses or used as a spice.
Some people experience mild side effects, such as:
- Gas, belching
- Abdominal discomfort
These are not all the possible side effects of ginger. Patients should talk to their doctor about what to expect with treatment with ginger.
Who should not take ginger?
Women who are pregnant should not take ginger, along with people who have bleeding disorders and people with gallstones. A doctor should be consulted before beginning to take ginger.1
It's best to discuss all medications, vitamins, and supplements with your doctor, as some may interact badly with each other. Experts caution that ginger can interact badly with blood thinners (anticoagulants).1
How would you rate the side effects you experienced with ginger?
As always, the best source for advice on treating your migraines is your own migraine specialist. These descriptions of natural remedies are provided only for informational purposes. You should begin no medication or supplement without first checking with your health care provider and should let them know of any other prescriptions, OTCs, and herbals you are taking to ensure there are no interactions.