My wife is treating all cold symptons in the family with a few spoons of freshly ground ginger juice mixed with honey.

While I don't mind an occasional placebo, drinking ginger juice is unpleasant because of the burning sensation while swallowing, especially with an inflamed throat.

But apparently there are resources that appear to back my wife in being right, I could find an article on examiner.com citing whfoods.com. Quote:

Immune Boosting Action

Ginger can not only be warming on a cold day, but can help promote healthy sweating, which is often helpful during colds and flus. A good sweat may do a lot more than simply assist detoxification. German researchers have recently found that sweat contains a potent germ-fighting agent that may help fight off infections. Investigators have isolated the gene responsible for the compound and the protein it produces, which they have named dermicidin. Dermicidin is manufactured in the body's sweat glands, secreted into the sweat, and transported to the skin's surface where it provides protection against invading microorganisms, including bacteria such as E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus (a common cause of skin infections), and fungi, including Candida albicans.

I'm not convinced. Is there any solid evidence that ginger works against the common cold?

I also found an article called "Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines" in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology, but I am not sure how to interpret the results.

  • Don't have time for a proper answer now but, at least for honey see my answer here (towards the end): skeptics.stackexchange.com/questions/7247/…
    – nico
    May 13, 2014 at 11:14
  • Regarding honey I'd refer to skeptics.stackexchange.com/q/6002/16419
    – Twinkles
    May 13, 2014 at 11:24
  • Pro tip: Mix the ginger and honey into a cup of hot tea (no sugar or milk). It will taste better and the hot tea will warm your body.
    – Coomie
    Jun 5, 2014 at 1:02
  • But wouldn't the temperature of the tea also change the chemical properties?
    – Twinkles
    Jun 5, 2014 at 7:33

1 Answer 1


Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It inhibits the induction of several genes involved in the inflammatory response [1]. It mostly modulates biochemical pathways activated in chronic inflammation. It also enhances thermogenesis and reduces feelings of hunger [2].

When it comes to anti-viral effects, it was found that fresh ginger is effective against human respiratory syncytial virus [3]. Although ginger extract inhibits inflammatory cytokines, fresh ginger seems to have opposite effect on anti-viral cytokines. It also stimulates mucosal cells to produce beta-interferon.


  1. Grzanna R, Lindmark L, Frondoza CG. Ginger - an herbal medicinal product with broad anti-inflammatory actions.
  2. Mansour MS, Ni YM, Roberts AL, Kelleman M, Roychoudhury A, St-Onge MP. Ginger consumption enhances the thermic effect of food and promotes feelings of satiety without affecting metabolic and hormonal parameters in overweight men: a pilot study.
  3. Chang JS, Wang KC, Yeh CF, Shieh DE, Chiang LC. Fresh ginger (Zingiber officinale) has anti-viral activity against human respiratory syncytial virus in human respiratory tract cell lines.
  • So ginger does something. But does that mean drinking fresh ginger juice helps? That is not clear to me.
    – Twinkles
    Jun 3, 2014 at 16:00
  • 1
    According to that study, yes, fresh ginger juice has anti-viral effects. And the other types of ginger will have anti-inflammatory effect, so it will make you feel better anyway.
    – Cornelius
    Jun 3, 2014 at 16:03
  • Are there any studies with conflicting results? Is this the best available evidence?
    – user5582
    Jun 4, 2014 at 17:51
  • 2
    p < 0.0001 doesn't mean that there is less than one chance in 10,000 for the opposite to be true. It means that the chance of seeing a test statistic as extreme as or more extreme than the one observed is less than 0.0001 under the assumption that the null hypothesis is true.
    – user5582
    Jun 4, 2014 at 17:53
  • 2
    @Cornelius I could, but what I really meant was, in your opinion, is this the best available evidence.. as in, did you find any studies with conflicting results? If so, were they more or less controlled than [3]? Right now, you cite a single study [3] that is relevant to the question, and it's hard to tell where it sits in the context of the entire body of research. In its favour, it is from 2013, and it obtained a signficant p-value. Against it, is that is an in-vitro study, that doesn't necessarily transfer to in-vivo results. Thoughts?
    – user5582
    Jun 5, 2014 at 15:01

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .