One new study compared ginger powder head-to-head with sumatriptan, the generic form of the migraine drug Imitrex. Ginger proved to be equally effective as the prescription medication, but it had a better safety profile than the drug. Minor side effects of Imitrex include nausea, dizziness, drowsiness, and muscle weakness. But it can also cause more serious side effects, including coronary artery spasms, heart attacks, stroke, abnormal heartbeats, and seizures.
A team of neurologists in Iran compared ginger and sumatriptan in 100 men and women who had suffered migraines for an average of seven years. Participants were randomly assigned to either the ginger (250 mg caplet of dried ginger powder) or the sumatriptan (50 mg) group, and neither the participants nor the observers knew which caplets the patient was taking until the study was completed. Patients were instructed to take a caplet as soon as a migraine started.
For each headache that occurred during that month, participants recorded the time the headache began, headache severity before taking the medication, and degree of pain relief at 30, 60, 90, and 120 minutes, as well as 24 hours later. Results showed that ginger was equally as effective as sumatriptan, achieving 90 percent relief within two hours of ingestion. While a very small percentage (4 percent) of the ginger group experienced minor digestive upset, 20 percent of patients taking sumatriptan reported dizziness, drowsiness, or heartburn.