Using Ginger to Treat Upset Stomach

A ginger root and chopped ginger in a small bowl on a bamboo mat. With a closeup view.
ŠiStockphoto/James Driscoll

Ginger is another well-documented home remedy for stomach disorders and is a good choice to treat upset stomach.

How Ginger Works

Ginger appears to reduce inflammation in a similar way to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as aspirin and ibuprofen; it slows associated biochemical pathways. Ginger is also a mild stimulant that promotes circulation.


Ginger's root contains chemicals called gingerols and shogaols. When using ginger to treat upset stomach, these chemicals relax the intestinal tract, preventing motion sickness and relieving the nausea, vomiting, colicky stomach cramps, and diarrhea that often accompany stomach flu.

Ginger and Motion Sickness

This herb has been studied as a remedy for motion sickness. The British medical journal Lancet, for example, reported in 1982 that ginger is a "very effective" motion sickness medicine.

Several studies show that two or three ginger capsules taken one half hour before a trip and two to three capsules taken at one to two hour intervals during a trip are effective in preventing motion sickness.

Nausea that is caused by motion sickness is a complex reaction involving various areas of the brain as well as the digestive tract. Although it's unclear exactly how ginger works, it appears to act directly on both the stomach and the brain. For that reason, ginger may be used to relieve dozens of ailments, including any form of nausea, gas, heartburn, flatulence, diarrhea, and vertigo (dizziness).

Ginger and Morning Sickness

The Lancet journal article also recommends ginger capsules, ginger tea, or ginger ale for morning sickness associated with pregnancy. And a few conventional physicians are prescribing ginger for patients who become nauseated after having cancer chemotherapy treatments or after undergoing surgery.

A survey of studies that looked at the benefits of ginger in relieving pregnancy- and surgery-induced nausea found patients got significant relief with almost no side effects.

Ginger has demonstrated a success rate of 75 percent in curing morning sickness and stomach flu. Research in animals suggests that extracts of fresh ginger may inhibit gastric secretions and perhaps play a role in preventing some gastric ulcers.

A bout of indigestion or stomach flu is certainly not enjoyable, but with these home remedies in your arsenal, your unpleasant experience should be easily treated and short-lived.

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. Neither the Editors of Consumer Guide (R), Publications International, Ltd., the author nor publisher take responsibility for any possible consequences from any treatment, procedure, exercise, dietary modification, action or application of medication which results from reading or following the information contained in this information. The publication of this information does not constitute the practice of medicine, and this information does not replace the advice of your physician or other health care provider. Before undertaking any course of treatment, the reader must seek the advice of their physician or other health care provider.


Ginger for Upset Stomach

What are the side effects of ginger?
Even if you don't find that the ginger helps your symptoms, you won't have any of the drowsiness or side effects that over-the-counter nausea drugs can cause.
How do I make ginger tea?
Slice off a couple of half-inch pieces of raw ginger, and steep them in hot water for a few minutes (and you might want to use some honey or lemon to tame that potent ginger taste).
How does ginger help with an upset stomach?
Ginger has been shown to work as a carminative (flatulence inhibitor) and intestinal spasmolytic (digestive-tract soother). It also can help with nausea brought on by motion, pregnancy and chemotherapy.
What are the health benefits of ginger?
Ginger has been shown to have positive effects on arthritis, immunity, colic, heart problems and the common cold, to name a few. It's also possible that ginger could hinder the development of certain kinds of tumors.
How can you consume ginger?
You can add fresh ginger to your food or check out ginger supplements, candies, powders, extracts, capsules and oils.

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ABOUT THE AUTHORS: Timothy Gower is a freelance writer and editor whose work has appeared in many publications, including Reader's Digest, Prevention, Men's Health, Better Homes and Gardens, The New York Times, and The Los Angeles Times. The author of four books, Gower is also a contributing editor for Health magazine.Alice Lesch Kelly is a health writer based in Boston. Her work has been published in magazines such as Shape, Fit Pregnancy, Woman's Day, Reader's Digest, Eating Well, and Health. She is the co-author of three books on women's health.Linnea Lundgren has more than 12 years experience researching, writing, and editing for newspapers and magazines. She is the author of four books, including Living Well With Allergies.

Michele Price Mann is a freelance writer who has written for such publications as Weight Watchers and Southern Living magazines. Formerly assistant health and fitness editor at Cooking Light magazine, her professional passion is learning and writing about health.


Ivan Oransky, M.D., is the deputy editor of The Scientist. He is author or co-author of four books, including The Common Symptom Answer Guide, and has written for publications including the Boston Globe, The Lancet, and USA Today. He holds appointments as a clinical assistant professor of medicine and as adjunct professor of journalism at New York University.

David J. Hufford, Ph.D., is university professor and chair of the Medical Humanities Department at Pennsylvania State University's College of Medicine. He also is a professor in the departments of Neural and Behavioral Sciences and Family and Community Medicine. Dr. Hufford serves on the editorial boards of several journals, including Alternative Therapies in Health & Medicine and Explore.