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Ginger for the treatment of migraine headaches: an introduction

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 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 root to stop migraine – how does it work

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.

Formulations of ginger available

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
  • Powder
  • Tablets
  • Capsules
  • Tea bags and liquid teas
  • Essential oil

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
  • Heartburn
  • Diarrhea1

Who should not take Ginger root to stop migraine

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



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 physician.

Written by: Emily Downward | Last review date: August 2019
  1. Ginger. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Available at Accessed 5/7/18.
  2. Malhotra S, Singh AP. Medicinal properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale). Natural Product Radiance. 2003;2(6):296-301.
  3. Ginger. The National Headache Foundation. Available at Accessed 5/7/18.
  4. Maghbooli M, Golipour F, et al. Comparison between the efficacy of ginger and sumatriptan in the ablative treatment of the common migraine. Phytother Res. 2014 Mar;28(3):412-5. doi: 10.1002/ptr.4996. Epub 2013 May 9.