Ginger Extract Print Page

Common Namesginger, black ginger, ginger root, ginger essential oil
Scientific NamesZingiber officinale 

Bottom Line


Effectiveness: Currently there is a lack of reliable evidence to suggest benefit of oral ginger for osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis; however, there is some evidence for topical use of ginger in knee OA.

Safety: Likely safe when used orally in appropriate doses; long term safety is unknown.


What is ginger?

  • Ginger is a plant with leafy stems and flowers. Ginger spice comes from the roots of the plant. It is often used to flavor drinks and foods.

What it is it used for in people with rheumatic conditions?

  • People have used ginger for the management of rheumatoid arthritis (RA) and osteoarthritis (OA) to relieve pain and improve function.

How is it thought to work?

  • Ginger is thought to reduce inflammation and to reduce pain when used orally.
  • Some chemicals in ginger may decrease the release and action of substances (pro-inflammatory messengers) that increase inflammation in the body.

Does it Work? What the Science Says:

Ginger extract 250mg 3–4 times daily

  • Studies of ginger extract in RA and OA are limited. Some trials suggested a small pain reduction in patients with OA while others demonstrated no benefit compared to placebo after 4-12 weeks of use.
  • Most of the trials are small and of poor quality.  
  • Supplements with ginger extract likely provides little or no significant benefit in RA and OA.

Topical ginger extract 1g 3 times daily OR ginger oil twice weekly with massage

  • Studies of ginger extract used topically are limited. A preliminary study of ginger extract in a Nanostructure Lipid Carrier used 3 times daily for 12 weeks by patients with knee OA used showed a decrease from baseline in pain score (4.3 to 2.1) and Lequesne Index (4.4 to 2.6). 
  • A randomized study of 68 patients with knee OA were trained on massage and administered topical NSAID (etofenamate) twice daily; both groups received meloxicam 15mg daily. The intervention group also applied ginger oil twice weekly for 5 weeks and achieved improvement in VAS pain (6.9 to 3.5 vs no change) and WOMAC score (12 to 8.3 vs. 14 to 12.5).
  • Small preliminary study with some evidence on OA and safety data

What are possible side effects and what can I do about them?

  • Ginger is generally well tolerated when used orally. Reports of side-effects are more severe with higher doses (more than 5g per day). 
  • Some common side effects when taken orally may include: general stomach discomfort, irritation in the mouth and throat, heartburn, diarrhea. Sedation and drowsiness have also been reported. As well as hives, bruising and flushing.
  • Ginger when used as a topically can cause irritation, redness, and/or swelling.


With drugs:

  • Theoretically, excess dose of ginger can reduce the amount platelets clump together (platelet aggregation). This could increase the risk bruising and/or bleeding when taken with anticoagulant/antiplatelet medications. 
    • Common antiplatelet and anticoagulant drugs may include: warfarin (Coumadin), ASA (Aspirin), and clopidogrel (Plavix), ticagrelor (Brilinta), prasugrel (Effient), enoxaparin (Lovenox), dalteparin (Fragmin), dabigatran (Pradax), rivaroxaban (Xarelto), apixaban (Eliquis) and other

With other diseases:

  • High doses of ginger may increase the risk of bleeding in people with bleeding disorders. 
  • Ginger might increase insulin levels and decrease blood sugar levels. People with diabetes should monitor blood sugar more closely.

With other natural health products:

  • Ginger may have additive effect when combined with natural health products that have anticoagulant and antiplatelet effects. This could increase the risk of bleeding.
    • Such as: garlic, ginkgo, certain types of ginseng, and red clover, and others.

What is Rheumatology?

Rheumatologists see over 100 different types of diseases. We are known for seeing arthritis, however, we also see many other conditions.

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