Is ginger effective for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome? A double blind randomized controlled pilot trial

Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb;22(1):17-20. doi: 10.1016/j.ctim.2013.12.015. Epub 2014 Jan 8.


Objectives: Ginger is one of the most commonly used herbal medicines for irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) but no data exists about its effectiveness.

Design: Double blind randomized controlled trial.

Setting: University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA.

Intervention: Forty-five IBS patients were randomly assigned to three groups: placebo, 1g of ginger, and 2g of ginger daily for 28 days.

Main outcome measures: The IBS severity scale (IBS-SS) was administered, as well as adequate relief of symptoms scale. A responder was defined as having at least 25% reduction in IBS-SS post-treatment.

Results: There were 57.1% responders to placebo, 46.7% to 1g and 33.3% to 2g of ginger. Adequate relief was reported by 53.3% on placebo and 53.3% in both ginger groups combined. Side effects were mild and reported by 35.7% in the placebo and 16.7% in the ginger groups.

Conclusions: This double blind randomized controlled pilot study suggests ginger is well tolerated but did not perform better than placebo. Larger trials are needed before any definitive conclusions can be drawn.

Keywords: Ginger; Irritable bowel syndrome; Placebo; Randomized controlled trial.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Humans
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Irritable Bowel Syndrome / physiopathology
  • North Carolina
  • Placebo Effect
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry
  • Plant Extracts / therapeutic use*
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Zingiber officinale / chemistry*


  • Plant Extracts