People experiencing frequent acid reflux may turn to alternative and complementary medicines, such as ginger, to try and manage their symptoms. However, there are conflicting results on the use of ginger for acid reflux.

Acid reflux is a common condition that occurs when the stomach contents flow back from the stomach to the throat via the esophagus, which is the food pipe. Doctors may refer to it as gastrointestinal reflux (GER).

Acid reflux causes heartburn, a burning sensation in the chest that rises toward the throat. It also causes the regurgitation of stomach contents into the throat and mouth, which may taste acidic.

When over-the-counter or prescription medications do not significantly reduce a person’s symptoms, individuals may look for other strategies to treat acid reflux. Some people claim that ginger helps reduce acid reflux-related symptoms.

This article examines how ginger can help acid reflux. It looks at the scientific evidence for and against its use for acid reflux, the health benefits of ginger, and its associated risks. It also discusses conventional treatments for acid reflux.

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Research indicates that ginger has several benefits for gastrointestinal health.

Aiding gastric functions

Studies show that ginger increases gastrointestinal motility and accelerates gastric emptying. Gastrointestinal motility refers to the movement of food through the gastrointestinal tract. Gastric emptying is the time it takes for food to empty from the stomach to the small intestine.

Reducing nausea

People frequently use ginger to reduce nausea. Research suggests that divided daily doses of around 1,500 milligrams (mg) of ginger may reduce pregnancy-related nausea and vomiting.

Although studies show the potential of using ginger to help digestion and nausea, little evidence concludes that this spice relieves acid reflux.

One small 2019 study on people with advanced cancer mentioned that taking 1,650 mg of ginger daily for 14 days improved nausea, digestion, and reflux. However, most evidence reports the opposite, finding that ginger may worsen acid reflux and gastrointestinal discomfort.

Potential drawbacks

Research indicates that ingesting more than 6 grams (g) of ginger may exacerbate acid reflux and heartburn.

Scientific studies also show that ginger relaxes the lower esophageal sphincter (LES), which could significantly contribute to acid reflux. The LES is a band of muscle fibers that closes off the esophagus to the stomach. It allows food to pass into the stomach and prevents the stomach content from entering the esophagus. When the LES relaxes at the wrong time, stomach acid may flow into the esophagus.

Many studies report that ginger consumption may be unsuitable for people susceptible to acid reflux due to heartburn being a common side effect.

Learn more about the health benefits of ginger.

Ginger reportedly contains more than 100 compounds, including:

  • gingerol
  • shogaols
  • zingiberene
  • zingerone
  • terpenes
  • vitamins
  • minerals

Mounting evidence suggests the compounds in ginger have the following properties:

  • antioxidant properties, which can prevent or slow damage to cells from free radicals
  • anti-inflammatory properties, which can help manage inflammation in the body
  • anticancer, which means foods that contain nutrients that may lower the risk of cancer
  • antiviral, which means something that protects against viruses
  • cardiovascular protective properties, which can prevent the development of cardiovascular conditions
  • respiratory protective properties, which can prevent the development of respiratory conditions

The properties of ginger may help various health conditions. However, more research is necessary to determine the effects it has and at what dosage.

A 2022 review of studies found that ginger may:

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) classifies ginger as “Generally Recognized as Safe.” A daily intake of up to 4 g should be safe for most people, but large doses could cause:

  • gastrointestinal discomfort
  • prolonged preexisting bleeding
  • allergic reactions
  • irregular and atypical heart rhythms, known as arrhythmia
  • central nervous system depression

Research indicates that ingesting 6 g or more of ginger may worsen gastrointestinal reflux, heartburn, and diarrhea. The spice may also interfere with blood clotting and affect blood-thinning medications, such as warfarin, potentially leading to bleeding. Research also shows that ginger causes arrhythmia in some people.

Ginger root is a whole food. People can peel it, then slice or grate it to use when cooking. They can also eat it raw or use it as a spice in curries, soups, and salad dressings. Individuals can make ginger tea by crushing or mincing the root and steeping it in hot water.

People can also use ginger in powder form as a supplement, juices or smoothies as flavoring, baking, or crystallized candy form for colds and sore throats.

Learn more about the benefits of ginger tea.

Doctors may recommend a combination of lifestyle changes and medications to manage acid reflux symptoms. These may include:

  • maintaining a moderate weight
  • using extra pillows to elevate the head by 6–8 inches during sleep
  • quitting smoking, if applicable
  • altering diet to minimize acidic, high fat, and spicy foods
  • antacids
  • H2 blockers
  • proton pump inhibitors

Learn more about other foods for acid reflux.

Ginger has many properties that may prove helpful for several health conditions. Studies indicate that this spice may help manage nausea and improve digestion. However, there is little evidence ginger improves acid reflux or its symptoms.

Experts consider small amounts of ginger up to 4 g safe. However, it may cause gastrointestinal disturbances at high doses, such as acid reflux, heartburn, and diarrhea.

Researchers need to conduct more studies before doctors recommend using ginger to benefit any health condition.