Ginger ale is a scam
May 15, 2006 1:14 PM   Subscribe

Is it possible to take a dangerous dose of ginger?

I'm suffering from some kind of nasty and persistent stomach virus and can no longer afford to take any more time off work. I've found Gravol Natural Source Ginger tablets to be effective at combating the nausea/vomiting for about two hours per dose, after which it all returns with a vengeance.

I've been to three doctors who've all told me to wait it out, but I can't wait any longer: deadlines loom. I figure if I pop a couple of these ginger pills every other hour, I'll be able to get through a day of work, then come home and feel like crap until it's time to get up and do it again. It's obviously not an ideal solution, but I'm out of options.

The bottle advises not to take more than 6 tablets per day; at 2 every two hours during a ten-hour day, I'll be nearly doubling that. Am I going to do myself serious harm?
posted by Zozo to Health & Fitness (22 answers total)
This seems to be able to answer all of your questions about possible side effects,a s well as advising when you should not take ginger.

For what it's worth, I used to take ginger frequently to calm my stomach with no terrible side effects, but I wasn't taking nearly as much as you seem to be. Good luck, either way.
posted by piratebowling at 1:18 PM on May 15, 2006

I can't answer the dosage question, but I can offer an alternative. How are you with spiciness? Could you peel and suck and/or gently chew chunks of ginger root instead? It would give you a steady trickle of ginger juice into your digestion, might be better than the pills. I've done this in the past as a breath freshening and general enjoyment thing, never tried in for nausea.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 1:20 PM on May 15, 2006

Get a jar of pickled ginger at the sushi counter of your grocery store & try that........
posted by Pressed Rat at 1:28 PM on May 15, 2006

You might also try:
1.) Drinking the juice of a lemon, straight, on an empty stomach
2.) Chopping up a clove of garlic and swallowing the pieces like a pill, also on an empty stomach.
I've found them both to be quite effective for nausea. Maybe you can alternate these with the ginger so you don't have to take so much ginger.
posted by leapingsheep at 1:33 PM on May 15, 2006

Just make or buy candied ginger. You can eat as much as you want.
posted by desuetude at 1:59 PM on May 15, 2006

If you are contagious, is it really such a good idea to (a) go to work and infect your co-workers and (b) put additional stress on your body, which is already fully engaged in battling your illness?

Your doctor's advice may well be worth heeding.
posted by five fresh fish at 2:06 PM on May 15, 2006

I went ahead and did a google search for "LD 50 for ginger root"

LD 50 refers to the Lethal Dose, in this case, the amount that would kill 50% of the time, (expressed as dose per kg of the subject's body weight).

I found quite a range (!)

LD(50) (500 mg/kg)
5 g of ginger oil/kg [oil?]

Some refer to ginger oil, some refer to ginger root. I'd play it low of the lowest number just to be safe. In fact, I wouldn't go within an order of magnitude if I could avoid it, but I don't know how much this thing is bugging you.

I am SNAD (So Not A Doctor)
posted by tiamat at 2:14 PM on May 15, 2006

Response by poster: five fresh fish—Nobody else I've been in contact with since getting sick has caught it, and at this point, it's go to work or lose the job.

leapingsheep—I'm better with sour than I am with spicy (I actually really love lemons); alternating sounds like a great idea.
posted by Zozo at 2:16 PM on May 15, 2006

Hey, I just remembered: you might want to try a product called "Cold FX." It claims to have proven efficacy, though I have my doubts as to just how proven it really is. One study does not a proven conclusion create.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:01 PM on May 15, 2006

Cold FX is a primarily ginseng derivative although it may have some ginger in it. I don't think it would be a wise thing to try on this ailment.

One last item - not everyone likes it, but I have found peptol bismol to be very good at helping out when I get a bad stomach virus. i mention this only as a way of allowing you some alternative to the ginger idea.

Good luck.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 3:21 PM on May 15, 2006

Er, Pepto-Bismol

I hate when I hit the post button before the preview button.
posted by fox_terrier_guy at 3:22 PM on May 15, 2006

I second the people who suggest eating real ginger or candied ginger. The problem with the supplement that you listed is that it's not regulated by the FDA (if you're in the U.S.), therefore it could have any number of ingredients besides ginger in it; and they might not even be listed on the bottle. That's where I'm guessing the danger is in taking more than 6 a day.
posted by katyggls at 4:47 PM on May 15, 2006

posted by arimathea at 4:49 PM on May 15, 2006

Oh, of course...make real ginger ale. Many recipes, some with lemon. Also here. Hawaiian variation (scroll down). A Jamaican version.

Alternately, you can buy good, real ginger ginger ale at gourmet-included grocers, Jamaican restaurants, and sometimes at Mexican restaurants.
posted by desuetude at 5:02 PM on May 15, 2006 [1 favorite]


1. The FAQ for GRAVOL indicates that the active ingredient is dimenhydrinate, which can be toxic in high doses - from what I can tell from the company's website, the product you refer to does not contain this, but I would triple check and call them to be sure or, as others have suggested, just try ginger on its own.

2. if I read this article correctly, it would take about 20 lbs of ginger taken at once to kill you, so be careful about how much of the candied ginger you eat.

3. Good luck with your sickness, please see a (fourth) doctor if your illness persists for too much longer... take care of yourself!

All the best!
posted by gage at 5:24 PM on May 15, 2006

IANAD but, here's my recommendation:

Dump the GRAVOL stuff and try a pure ginger supplement. I have used the "Rexall" brand ginger root supplement bought from Walmart with much success. The only other ingredients are gelatin, vegetable magnesium stearate, and silica. It has no warnings of maximum dosage and we are talking about ginger would take ALOT to kill you. So if you're just taking pure ginger supplements I'd say your plan is fine.
posted by crypticgeek at 5:39 PM on May 15, 2006

Hey, dunno if you can afford to be high, or if you can function normally and work when high, but pot is excellent for staving off nausea. Ask anyone on chemo. You leech the good stuff out into butter, for example, and put that in whatever you're eating. No odor, not as much of a loony high. Might be nice in the evenings at least. Of course, one cannot condone illegal activities. So uhh, you know, it's just a theoretical discussion.
posted by kookoobirdz at 7:14 PM on May 15, 2006

You're probably dehydrated from the vomiting. My ex, who suffered from severe migraines, relied on Pedialyte for fluids. Despite the advertising's focus, it isn't just for kids.
posted by Carol Anne at 6:13 AM on May 16, 2006

My coworker's kid hates pedialyte, her doctor recommended Gatorade as an alternative. They're both loaded with electrolytes.
posted by exhilaration at 9:36 AM on May 16, 2006

Chamomile helps me with nausea and also cramping (like the vomit urge). But it will further dehydrate you.

From a chinese medicine angle (IANA specialist), the things I'd watch out for with ginger are signs of heat or dryness ("deficiency of yin"): fever, thirst, dry cough, constipation, hot palms, night sweats, dark yellow phlegm or pee, constipation, irritability, frustration. You could try to compensate with cooling and moistening foods (mint, citrus, watermelon, cucumber, pears).
posted by salvia at 12:03 PM on May 16, 2006

If you don't like eating ginger root, you can make a good tea out of it.
posted by stavrogin at 9:51 PM on May 16, 2006

After noticing that small cuts were refusing to clot and I was getting inexplicable nosebleeds, I googled ginger and discovered it can have anticoagulant effects. (I'd been drinking medicinal ginger tea and also the fresh juice, diluted with carrot, every day for a couple of weeks.) Never heard of anyone else with similar experiences, but I seem to remember that ginger supplements are contraindicated for people on...warfarin? some bloodthinning rx, anyway.
posted by cybercoitus interruptus at 8:31 PM on May 25, 2006

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