Ginger for Irritable Bowel Syndrome

Ginger is a common home remedy for reducing nausea, especially during pregnancy or after surgery. But new research suggests that ginger can also be beneficial in reducing symptoms of IBS.

Its anti-nausea effects and its ability to reduce the occurrence of diarrhea, loss of appetite, and flatulence are all helpful for IBS. 

In this post, we will discuss how ginger can help treat IBS symptoms, how you can incorporate ginger into your diet, and a few other natural solutions that might also help you treat your IBS.

So, let’s get right into it!

How does ginger help with IBS?

IBS is a functional disorder of the GI tract that causes the digestive system to become highly sensitive and changes how your bowel muscles contract.

Unfortunately, there is no known cure for IBS. However, you can help manage your symptoms by making dietary changes like reducing FODMAP intake and incorporating ginger into your diet.

Ginger contains several helpful natural substances like gingerol and shogaol. These compounds have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that are great for gut health and can even relieve intestinal allergies associated with IBS-D (the diarrhea-predominant form of IBS).

Gingerol also helps prevent gut muscle spasms and can therefore reduce IBS-associated cramping and abdominal pain.

Ginger and its extracts also contain several enzymes that are helpful in breaking down and expelling the gas that forms inside your gut. This can provide relief from bloating and stomach discomfort.

Lastly, studies have shown that ginger aids gut motility and gastric emptying. This means that the spice may help prevent — or at least relieve — constipation to some degree in people suffering from IBS-C (the constipation-predominant form of IBS).

Even though more studies are needed to fully establish ginger’s effectiveness for helping patients with IBS, it’s an all-natural and healthy addition to your diet, which means there’s nothing wrong in giving it a shot.

However, just like any other food addition with IBS, it’s always best to first figure out and evaluate if your tummy can tolerate it.

If it doesn’t help your IBS symptoms, it still has other health benefits like reducing inflammation and discomfort in people with joint pain and osteoarthritis.

To top it all off, the main component gingerol has also been suggested to decrease tumor and cancer cell growth!

What forms of ginger can you take for IBS?

At present, there isn't a consensus on the dose or form of ginger that is the best for IBS. Most studies use doses of 1-2 grams each day.

If you wish to add ginger to your diet for IBS, you can consume it in whichever form you choose. Powdered, fresh root, ginger tea, or supplements/capsules are all commonly used options.

If you aren’t fond of ginger’s taste, consider giving a 1-gram capsule/supplement a try to see if it helps your symptoms.

Just be sure to buy from a trusted supplement brand as most dietary supplements are not tightly regulated by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). You can ask a nutritionist about how to evaluate safe brands.

 Also, if you want to add ginger to your diet in the form of ginger tea, consider making it with ground ginger so that you can keep better track of how much ginger you’re consuming daily.

How much ginger can you take for IBS?

According to experts, 1-1.2-gram capsules of ginger are safe for consumption. This is roughly equivalent to half a teaspoon of powdered ginger or two teaspoons of fresh ginger. This dosage is often enough to help manage nausea and promote healthy gastric motility.  

For adults, the maximum recommended daily intake amount of ginger is 3-4 grams. Pregnant women are advised not to consume more than 1g of ginger per day. Lastly, ginger isn’t recommended for toddlers under the age of 2.

Are there any side effects of ginger?

While ginger is mostly considered a safe and natural remedy, it can have a few minor adverse effects in some users like:

  • Diarrhea
  • Stomach ache
  • Heartburn
  • Gas

Additionally, there are a few concerns that ginger may interact with certain drugs like anticoagulants. Therefore, it’s always best to speak with your doctor about how ginger may cross-react with the drugs you take before adding it to your diet.

What other steps can you take for IBS?

There are many dietary and lifestyle changes other than taking ginger that you can adopt for alleviating IBS symptoms.

Depending on the severity of your symptoms and what you find practical, you can try a few of the following methods to help manage your IBS symptoms at home. 

  • Try avoiding trigger foods: It’s always a good idea to steer clear of foods that trigger your IBS symptoms. Some of the most common foods that can set off your symptoms include dairy, alcohol, chocolate, and vegetables like beans or broccoli.
  • Curb caffeine: Caffeine-containing products like coffee are known to stimulate your entire digestive system and can worsen IBS-associated diarrhea. 
  • Be more physically active: Physical activity and exercise can reduce your IBS symptoms by reducing stress, improving sleep, and promoting healthy bowel movements.
  • Manage stress: Many individuals with IBS have a flare-up of symptoms during high-stress periods. De-stressing and keeping your stress levels in check by incorporating meditation and yoga into your daily routine may help your IBS.
  • Take smaller meals: Eating smaller and more digestible meals can help reduce your symptoms by preventing overstimulation of your gut.
  • Consume more probiotics: Although more research is needed to understand the effectiveness of probiotics for improving IBS symptoms, some studies have suggested that probiotic supplements can be helpful.
  • Restrict your intake of spicy and fried foods: Deep-fried and spicy meals may irritate your gut’s sensitive lining and can make symptoms of IBS worse.
  • Follow low-FODMAP or Paleo diets: FODMAP stands for fermentable oligo-, di-, monosaccharides, and polyols. Diets that restrict the intake of these sugars — like the low-FODMAP and Paleo diets — have been found to be effective in reducing IBS symptoms.

Medically Reviewed by Onikepe Adegbola, MD PhD

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