Ginger for Headaches

With all the modern prescription medicines and over the counter remedies available, researchers have found that ginger, a common spice, is a good way to treat headaches. While it may seem unusual for a spice to be used as a headache treatment, ginger is actually no stranger to the medical profession. For more than 5,000 years, ginger has been used for various medicinal purposes. In Ayurvedic medicine, which is an ancient healing system, ginger is used often as a medicine. In Sanskrit, Ayurvedic means “science of life.” This type of healing is becoming more popular in modern healing as people are realizing the importance of the connection between the body and the mind.

For years, ginger has been well known as a treatment for nausea. Recently, however, it is gaining popularity as an effective remedy for headaches. In fact, ginger is so effective in treating headaches that it has positively endorsed by many doctors and neurologists.

How Ginger Works to Relieve Headaches

While it is not exactly known how ginger treats headaches, it is known that headache sufferers say ginger decreases the incidences of headaches as well as the intensity of the headache pain. These positive effects are attributed to the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger. Initial research shows ginger seems to prevent the blood vessels from becoming inflamed. This is good for headache sufferers because when blood vessels are not inflamed, they do not become enlarged and begin pressing on the nerves, the main cause of headache pain.

One study conducted in Denmark seems to reinforce the idea that ginger is good for the prevention of migraines. These tests, however, were initially intended to determine the effect of ginger on those suffering with arthritis. Results of the study indicated 75% of the people who were tested had less pain and swelling when ginger was included in their diet. How does this show ginger is good for migraines, you may ask. Like a migraine, arthritis is a condition caused by inflammation. It makes since that if ginger will help with the inflammation of arthritis, it would also help reduce the inflammation that leads to migraine pain.

Along with reducing the number of headaches a migraine sufferer has in a particular time period ginger can also help reduce the unpleasant side effects associated with a migraine. One of the main side effects ginger can help control is that of nausea and upset stomach. For more than two decades, ginger has been known to prevent nausea as well as motion sickness. In fact, ginger has been proven to be more effective than Dramamine, a popular over the counter medication for motion sickness. In 1982, The Lancet, a British medical magazine for doctors, published a study whose results indicated that ginger was twice as effective as Dramamine in preventing nausea and motion sickness. Ginger is believed to act either on the digestive or central nervous system in reducing nausea and vomiting. When ginger is taken as soon as a migraine is felt coming on, the spice can provide relief from the nausea.

Ginger Is Not for Everyone

Even though it may seem that ginger is a great cure for headaches and migraines it may not be right for everyone. You should not take ginger to treat your headaches and migraines if you suffer the following conditions.

  • You have gallstones. Those who have a history of gallstones should not take ginger because it can cause more bile to be released, making gallstones worse.
  • You are pregnant. Even though ginger is advertised to relieve morning sickness, there are no tests to show ginger is safe to take during pregnancy.
  • Your doctor has ordered you to take blood thinning medications such as Warfarin, Heparin, Plavix or Aspirin. Taking ginger along with these medicines will further prevent the clumping of blood cells. This could result in a dangerous hemorrhage if you were to suffer a serious cut or other injury.
  • You have heart problems or you are taking any heart medications.
  • You have diabetes or you are taking medication to control your blood sugar. You should not take ginger supplements under these circumstances as they contain high levels of sugar.
  • You take a supplement such as garlic. You should not take garlic and ginger at the same time because garlic also thins the blood.

How to Take Ginger

If you have any question about whether it is safe for you to take ginger, you should talk to your doctor to make sure it is safe for you. If you and your doctor decide ginger is a good option you, there are a variety ways you can take this supplement. It is available in tablets or capsules. Or you can drink your ginger in a tea or tincture form. This supplement is also available in a paste.

Once you start taking supplemental ginger, however, be sure you are not also getting it in from some other source. If you are taking ginger capsules, for example, you wouldn’t also want to drink a tea containing ginger. You should be careful to watch closely how much ginger you are taking as to avoid ingesting too much. An overdose of ginger is indicated by sleepiness, confusion, dizziness or an erratic heartbeat.

A Word of Caution

As the FDA has not done any testing on ginger as a medication for headaches, you should be careful when taking the supplement. In addition, the manufacturing of ginger supplements and products are not governed by any regulated standards so it pays to exercise caution before using these products. There have been reports that some ginger supplements were contaminated. To lessen the risk of buying a contaminated product, make sure that you only buy ginger supplements from reliable and reputable sources.


While ginger has been shown to reduce the inflammation that leads to the pain of a migraine headache, ginger supplements are unregulated and untested by the government. For this reason you should be careful where you purchase your supplements. Also be sure to consult with your doctor before starting a ginger supplement for your headaches to be sure you don’t have health issues that ginger would make worse.

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