Effects of Ginger for Nausea and Vomiting in Early Pregnancy

A Meta-analysis

Maggie Thomson, MD; Renee Corbin, MSc; Lawrence Leung, MBBChir, MFM(Clin)


J Am Board Fam Med. 2014;27(1):115-122. 

In This Article

Abstract and Introduction


Background: Nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy (NVEP) is commonly encountered in family medicine. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a popular nonpharmacological treatment but consensus of its use is lacking.

Methods: We conducted a meta-analysis of clinical trials using ginger for NVEP as published in PubMed and EMBASE, CINAHL, Cochrane Library, and all EBM reviews. Studies satisfying 3 criteria were selected: (1) randomized placebo-controlled design; (2) use of ginger or Z. officinale; and (3) extractable data on improvement in NVEP. Data were synthesized into pooled odd ratios based on the random effects model, and results were tabulated with the aid of Forest plots.

Results: We identified 135 potentially relevant records; only 6 studies met the final criteria. Of the total 508 subjects, 256 and 252 subjects were randomly assigned to receive ginger and placebo, respectively. The use of ginger (~1 g daily) for at least 4 days is associated with a 5-fold likelihood of improvement in NVEP. Heterogeneity among the clinical studies were acknowledged in the final interpretation of results.

Conclusions: Despite the widespread use of ginger in the diet, its clinic value and safety profile in treating NVEP is still unknown. Our meta-analysis suggests that ginger is an effective nonpharmacological treatment for NVEP.


Pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting is commonly seen in family medicine, and 50% to 90% of pregnancies are affected by nausea with or without vomiting. According to a recent study, up to 63% of women experience nausea and vomiting up to 24 weeks' gestation.[1] While only 0.3% to 2% of these cases are considered severe (called hyperemesis gravidarum, leading to a loss of >5% of prepregnancy body weight), all forms of pregnancy-related nausea can affect quality of life.[2] Compared with the volume of literature regarding the pathogenesis and treatment of pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting in general, few studies look at nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy (NVEP).