Ginger, Zingiber officinale Roscoe, is increasingly consumed as a food or in food supplements. It is also recognized as a popular nonpharmacological treatment for nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). However, its consumption is not recommended by all countries for pregnant women. Study results are heterogeneous and conclusions are not persuasive enough to permit heath care professionals to recommend ginger safely. Some drugs are also contraindicated, leaving pregnant women with NVP with few solutions. We conducted a review to assess effectiveness and safety of ginger consumption during early pregnancy. Systematic literature searches were conducted on Medline (via Pubmed) until the end of December 2017. For the evaluation of efficacy, only double-blind, randomized, controlled trials were included. For the evaluation of the safety, controlled, uncontrolled, and pre-clinical studies were included in the review. Concerning toxicity, none can be extrapolated to humans from in vitro results. In vivo studies do not identify any major toxicities. Concerning efficacy and safety, a total of 15 studies and 3 prospective clinical studies have been studied. For 1 g of fresh ginger root per day for four days, results show a significant decrease in nausea and vomiting and no risk for the mother or her future baby. The available evidence suggests that ginger is a safe and effective treatment for NVP. However, beyond the ginger quantity needed to be effective, ginger quality is important from the perspective of safety.
Keywords: CAM; NVP; Zingiber officinale R; adverse effects; food supplement; ginger; pregnancy; safety; toxicity.