Ginger and Migraine

Reviewed by: HU Medical Review Board | Last reviewed: January 2024 | Last updated: February 2024

Ginger is a plant native to parts of Asia. It is an important herb in Indian, Chinese, and Japanese medicine. In China especially, people have used ginger in their folk medicine for thousands of years.1

Ginger is used to treat many symptoms and conditions, including migraine.,2

What is ginger?

Ginger has a long history in traditional medicine. People take ginger for a wide range of health reasons, including:1,2

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Arthritis
  • Menstrual pain
  • Weight loss
  • Motion sickness
  • Morning sickness

Ginger root contains chemicals that may have a wide range of health benefits. But research has not found that ginger helps with all of these purposes.1,2

Fresh ginger root can be found at most grocery stores. You can also buy ginger in pills, as a tea, and as an oil. There is a limit to how much ginger you should take. But that limit depends on the form you use. Your doctor can help you figure out how much is right for you.3

Ginger and migraine research

Ginger may help treat migraine attacks and symptoms. But research shows it does not prevent migraine attacks. Several studies have shown ginger can help with nausea and vomiting caused by migraine. One study found that taking ginger for migraine lowered the risk of nausea and vomiting by half.4,5

One study also found that taking ginger lowered the pain from migraine after 2 hours. Additionally, the number of people who felt no migraine pain at 2 hours was higher for people who took ginger compared to a placebo (which looks like medicine but is not). However, other studies have shown no major difference in outcomes between ginger and a placebo.4,5

The results are promising, but the size of existing studies is small. More research is needed to determine if ginger is effective for migraine. When used properly, ginger should be safe for most people. But talk with your doctor before taking ginger for migraine.4

What are the possible side effects of ginger?

Ginger has few side effects when it is taken in small doses or cooked in food. But some people feel side effects, especially when taking large doses of ginger. These side effects include:1

  • Stomachache or stomach pain
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea
  • Mouth and throat irritation

These are not all the possible side effects of too much ginger. Talk with your healthcare provider right away if you notice these signs and stop consuming ginger.

Other things to know

Ginger can increase your risk of bleeding and may impact blood clotting. You should talk to your healthcare provider before using ginger if you:3

  • Have a bleeding disorder or take blood-thinning drugs (such as aspirin)
  • Have diabetes, a heart condition, or high blood pressure
  • Are pregnant or breastfeeding

If you are curious about using ginger for migraine, talk with your provider. The best source for advice on treating migraine is your own headache specialist. They can help you decide which supplements to take and explain how to safely take them.1

Supplements are not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) the same way other drugs are. This means that no outside agency confirms the ingredients or suggested dose.6,7

For example, a fish oil supplement may have more or less fish oil than listed on the label. A supplement may also contain ingredients that are not labeled correctly or at all. This can be dangerous. It can lead to taking too much or taking unwanted ingredients.6,7

The FDA created good manufacturing practices (GMPs) to help this situation. GMPs are guidelines for companies to follow when making supplements. The FDA rarely inspects facilities making supplements in the United States. Companies outside the United States do not have these inspections. But many more supplements are sold than are tested. Your doctor can help you decide if a supplement is safe.6,7

Before beginning treatment for migraine, tell your healthcare provider about all your health conditions and any other drugs, vitamins, or supplements you are taking. This includes over-the-counter drugs.

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