Ginger as a safe herbal supplement for nausea and vomiting of pregnant women (NVP)

by Jamie Duran

Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) is an unfortunate symptom that many expecting mothers experience, with 75% of pregnant women affected from these symptoms (Herrell, 2014). People tend to call this “morning sickness,” however, only about 1.8% of expecting mothers report that these symptoms only occur in the morning (Herrell, 2014). If a non-pregnant individual had such symptoms they could easily take medication to help relieve symptoms, however most pregnant women just have to suffer through them. It is not advised for pregnant women to take certain medications due to the harm that it may cause to herself and the developing baby. Ginger, also known as Zingiber officinale or Zanjabeel, is a very common herbal supplement used as a treatment for conditions such as motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting (White, 2007). Ginger is a reasonably safe alternative to any other pharmaceutical drug for pregnant women with pregnancy-induced nausea (White, 2007). It is a common, natural remedy that has been consumed for years and is known to help with an upset stomach. Natural remedies such as ginger are commonly utilized due to their safety, ability, and infrequent adverse health effects (White, 2007).

There are various pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic treatments used for NVP; however, some lack evidence of safety and benefit (Herrell, 2014). Expecting mothers are advised to seek treatments that pose little to no threat while treating NVP symptoms. Due to ethical challenges, research on drug therapy for pregnant women is very limited (Matsui, 2015).

Ginger is a plant member of the cardamom and turmeric family (White, 2007). It is typically used for culinary purposes as a spice to flavor food.  Bradley (1990) reports, “Zanjabeel is on the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s GRAS (generally recognized as safe) list and the British Herbal Compendium documents no adverse effects”. Zanjabeel is considered a safe alternative to certain medications and has a variety of benefits. Sasidharan and Nirmala (2010) notes, “More than three quarters of the world population rely on plants and plant products for health care”. Natural remedies like ginger have been used all over the world for countless years, exemplifying safety and effectiveness.

            Ginger contains antiemetic properties, but the exact mechanism of action is uncertain (White, 2007). An antiemetic drug is a drug that prevents or treats vomiting. Although the process is unclear, it is assumed that ginger inhibits serotonin receptors and exerts antiemetic effects (White, 2007). The antiemetic effects happen at the level of the digestive system and in the central nervous system (White, 2007). Ginger contains Shogaol and Gingtol, which have local effects on the digestive system (Ozgoli, Goli, & Simbar, 2009).

Nausea and vomiting symptoms are unpleasant side effects of some pregnancies. Finding treatment could be frightening especially when the potential for adverse side effects exist. Ginger is a natural remedy suitable for pregnancy that is safe with little to no side effects. Health professionals should educate women who are or want to become pregnant about the benefits of using ginger for NVP.



Bradley P. British Herbal Compendium. Bournemouth. British Herbal Medical Association., 1990.

Herrell, H. E. (2014). Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. American Family Physician, 89(12), 965-970.

Ozgoli, G., Goli, M., & Simbar, M. (2009). Effects of ginger capsules on pregnancy, nausea, and vomiting. Journal Of Alternative And Complementary Medicine, 15(3), 243-246. doi:10.1089/acm.2008.0406

Sasidharan I, Nirmala MA. Comparative Chemical Composition and Antimicrobial Activity of Fresh and Dry Ginger Oils (Zingiber officinale). International Journal of Current Pharmaceutical Research, 2010; 2: 40-43.

White, B. (2007). Ginger: an overview. American Family Physician, 75(11), 1689-1691.