In: Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed®) [Internet]. Bethesda (MD): National Institute of Child Health and Human Development; 2006.


Ginger (Zingiber officinale) root contains the pungent principles or gingerols that are considered to be responsible for its pharmacological activity. Ginger is commonly used for nausea and motion sickness. It has no specific lactation-related uses in Western medicine, but is reportedly used as a galactogogue in Turkey and some parts of Asia.[1,2] Ginger is reportedly used as part of a topical herbal mixture to shorten the time to full lactation and or alone or as part of a topical herbal mixture used for breast engorgement.[3-5] A systemic review of 5 studies on ginger as a galactogogue alone or in combinations with other herbals found weak evidence that ginger may increase milk supply in mothers who had a natural delivery, but not in mothers who had a cesarean section.[6] Galactogogues should never replace evaluation and counseling on modifiable factors that affect milk production.[7,8] Very limited data exist on the safety and efficacy of ginger in nursing mothers or infants. However, ginger has a long history of use as a food and medicine and is "generally recognized as safe" (GRAS) as a food flavoring by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, including during lactation.[9] When used as a medicinal, ginger is generally well tolerated in adults, but mild side effects such as bad taste, heartburn, abdominal discomfort, weight gain, headache, dry mouth and nausea are reported occasionally.

Dietary supplements do not require extensive pre-marketing approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Manufacturers are responsible to ensure the safety, but do not need to prove the safety and effectiveness of dietary supplements before they are marketed. Dietary supplements may contain multiple ingredients, and differences are often found between labeled and actual ingredients or their amounts. A manufacturer may contract with an independent organization to verify the quality of a product or its ingredients, but that does not certify the safety or effectiveness of a product. Because of the above issues, clinical testing results on one product may not be applicable to other products. More detailed information about dietary supplements is available elsewhere on the LactMed Web site.

Publication types

  • Review