Ginger’s health-promoting qualities have been touted for generations by a wide-reaching group of people, from the ancient peoples of Asia to modern health gurus. From calming an upset stomach and aiding in digestion to relieving pain and killing off cancer cells, ginger’s beneficial properties run the gamut.
Many people can experience improvements in health by using ground ginger in food or as a dietary supplement, but it’s not the right choice for everyone. Let’s discuss some situations where ginger should be avoided or used sparingly.
When You Should Avoid Ginger (Or Reduce Its Consumption)
According to WebMd ginger can interact poorly with certain kinds of medicines prescribed for health conditions. Diabetic people, people with hypertension and people with clotting disorders may need to use caution when considering use of ginger as a treatment for other ailments.
People who take clotting medications
Ginger can thin the blood, meaning it may be inappropriate for people who take blood clotting medications or have bleeding disorders. Talk about your desire to take ginger with your doctor before using it if you are on medications for blood clotting or blood thinning in order to determine if ginger is the right choice for you.
People on medication for diabetes
Ginger has a natural tendency to lower blood sugar and as such it is one of the top 8 spices and herbs for type 2 diabetes. For people with diabetes and pre-diabetic people who control their condition solely through diet, this may be welcome news.
However, people taking medication (such as Metformin or similar drugs, or using insulin injections to control blood sugar) for their diabetes need to be aware of ginger’s effect on blood sugar and discuss ginger usage with their prescribing physicians before continued use to avoid getting their blood sugar too low.
People using high blood pressure medications
Some medicines used to control hypertension, such as calcium channel blockers (i.e., Norvasc, Cardizem, etc.) can interact with ginger, causing the blood pressure and/or heart rate to drop to unhealthy levels, leading to irregular heartbeat or other complications.
Discuss your use of ginger and the potential for a dosage adjustment with your doctor if you are taking any medications to treat high blood pressure.
Ginger and Gallstones
People with gallstones may find their condition exacerbated by using ginger.
The gallbladder is a small sac-like structure which lies beneath your liver and connected to it by the bile duct. The gallbladder serves as a storage facility for bile which breaks down fat in the intestines.
The gallbladder stores bile until the presence of fat in the digestive system calls for it. Gallstones often form in the gallbladder, where they typically cause few problems. If they migrate into the bile duct and get stuck there, however, they can block bile flow, causing bile to back up in the liver.
When ginger is taken in large quantities, bile production may increase, and the higher level of gallbladder contractions may agitate gallstones and cause them to lodge in bile ducts. A stone stuck in the bile duct can cause serious illness that may require emergency surgery.
It should be noted that not all medical practitioners agree that ginger is harmful if you have gallbladder disease and some Chinese medicine practitioners recommend ginger root as a treatment for gallstones because of its bile-stimulating properties. Follow your doctor’s recommendations for taking ginger if you have gallbladder disease.
If you have gallstones you can consider using lemon water to dissolve them.
Pregnant Women and Ginger Consumption
According to the U.S National Library of Medicine, using ginger during pregnancy is controversial
There is some concern that ginger might affect fetal sex hormones. There is also a report of miscarriage during week 12 of pregnancy in a woman who used ginger for morning sickness. However, studies in pregnant women suggest that ginger can be used safely for morning sickness without harm to the baby.
The risk for major malformations in infants of women taking ginger does not appear to be higher than the usual rate of 1% to 3%. Also there doesn’t appear to be an increased risk of early labor or low birth weight.
There is some concern that ginger might increase the risk of bleeding, so some experts advise against using it close to your delivery date. As with any medication given during pregnancy, it’s important to weigh the benefit against the risk. Before using ginger during pregnancy, talk it over with your healthcare provider.
How Much Ginger to Consume
Most people tolerate ginger very well, and find it handy for combating anything from minor stomach or digestive upsets—including nausea and vomiting—to arthritis pain and menstrual cramps.
According to Maryland Medical Center2, for people who do not have medical or health conditions on the cautionary list discussed above, taking up to 4 grams of powdered ginger root per day is safe, while pregnant women should not take more than 1 g per day. According to Drugs.com3, ginger has been used in clinical trials in doses of 250 mg to 1 g, 3 to 4 times daily.
What’s good about ginger is that you can use it both in fresh or ground form. The ground form is much more concentrated, and usually when converting fresh to ground ginger, a single tablespoon of fresh ginger root is equal to 1/4 of a teaspoon of dried ginger.