Ginger Allergy: Creative Ways to Flavor Foods with a Ginger Intolerance

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Ginger is widely used for culinary purposes. Ginger is also used for health and medicinal benefits. However, if you have a ginger allergy, ginger intolerance, or ginger sensitivity, it is important to strictly avoid ginger.

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Ginger Food Family

Ginger is part of the Zingiberaceae Food Family (source). Ginger may be purchased as fresh ginger root, as a dried spice, as a tea, in part of a spice blend or in other prepared foods.

ginger root with lemon displaying for a ginger allergy

If you are allergic or sensitive to ginger, you may be allergic or sensitive to other foods the Zinbiberaceae Food Family:

  • Turmeric
  • Cardamom
  • East Indian Arrowroot
  • Galangal (source)

Black Ginger (Also known as Thai black ginger, Thai ginseng, black turmeric, Krachai dum.)

Ginger Allergy

True Ginger Allergy is generally rare (source).

Ginger has been associated with delayed reactions such as dermatitis (source).

man itching arm from a ginger allergy reaction

Medical attention may be warranted in case of severe symptoms such as difficulty breathing.

Cross Reactivity to Ginger is not commonly diagnosed (source).

Young adults who are sensitized to mugwort and birch allergens may be at higher risk for allergic reactions to spices (source).

Ginger Allergy Signs and Symptoms

Signs and symptoms of ginger allergy are expected to be similar to other food allergy reactions and may include the following (source):

magazine article on a clipboard with medical instruments displayed
  • Anaphylaxis 
  • Angioedema (Swelling under the skin)
  • Edema (Swelling) 
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Flushing
  • Hives
  • Itching
  • Shortness of breath (Dyspnea) 
  • Sweating
  • Throat Tightness
  • Wheezing

Ginger Intolerance

Ginger may cause excessive bleeding, lowered blood pressure, or upset stomach, especially when consumed in high doses (source).  These symptoms are generally considered to be a side effect as compared to an allergic reaction involving the immune system. Ginger may cause an increased risk of bleeding (source) especially when consumed in large quantities or taken as a supplement.

Help for Ginger Allergy, Ginger Sensitivity & Ginger Intolerance

Like most things in life, when you have more information you can make better choices. Here is some information on how to avoid ginger and how to replace ginger in your diet. Here is some information on hidden and common sources of ginger in common foods as well as a list of flavorful foods that may be used to add flavor and heat to your recipes.

Rosemary, salt, lemon, onion rings, basil and parsley displayed on slate

Hidden Sources of Ginger

Ginger is used in many world cuisines. Sometimes the flavor is very pronounced, sometimes it is more subtle.

indian curry served over rice in a white bowl

Be on the lookout for ginger in the following foods: 

  • Baked Goods
  • Candies
  • Cough Drops 
  • Curries
  • Curry Powder
  • Egg Nog
  • Ginger Ale – (Sometimes used to soothe an upset stomach.)
  • Ginger Beer
  • Gingerbread 
  • Ginger Tea – (Sometimes used to soothe an upset stomach.)
  • Herbal Teas
  • Marinades
  • Root Beer
  • Salad Dressing
  • Sauces
  • Soups
  • Stews
  • Sushi

Ginger Substitutes

Ginger is an aromatic ingredient that adds a deeper flavor (source), pleasant aroma and a bit of heat to flavorful dishes.

Consider the following flavorful and aromatic ingredients as a substitute for ginger:

  • Bay Leaves
  • Caraway
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Chili Peppers
  • Fennel 
  • Garlic
  • Green Onion
  • Lemongrass
  • Onion
  • Parsley
  • Scallion
  • Shallots
  • Thyme

If you want to add a bit of heat to a recipe, consider using one or more of these:

  • Chili Peppers
  • Horseradish
  • Mace
  • Radish
ginger allergy substitutes list infographic with garlic, shallots, and bay leaves displayed

If you are afraid of the cross-reactivity among spices, you may want to stick with pure and simple Celtic Sea Salt, which is gray-colored because it is minimally processed. It is prepared at low temperatures to preserve the mineral quality, sustainably harvested. A little goes a long way.

Be sure to check labels for hidden ingredients.

Bottom Line

If you know or suspect that you can’t eat ginger due to an allergy, sensitivity, or other intolerance, help is available. 

We recommend working with an Allergist, Registered Dietitian, or Certified Leap Therapist to identify which foods are safest for you and which foods you should avoid.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you suspect an allergic reaction, please call your doctor.

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ginger allergy alternatives to try pinterest graphics with bay leaves, garlic, shallots and ginger displayed


Authors

  • Lisa Hugh is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Leap Therapist. She has a Masters of Science in Healthcare Administration. As a a Food Sensitivity Expert, her passion is helping people with complex medical and nutrition needs find food and groceries that are safe and enjoyable. Lisa enjoys helping clients in her private practice.

  • Kristen Rohrer has a doctorate degree in Health Sciences. She is a Certified Nutrition Specialist, a Licensed Dietitian and Physician Assistant. Her specialties are pediatric nutrition, women's health, nutrition as preventative medicine.

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4 thoughts on “Ginger Allergy: Creative Ways to Flavor Foods with a Ginger Intolerance”

  1. About a month ago I took ginger pills everyday for a week and shorter after I stopped taking them I broke out in a rash. Then last week I took ginger pills again and again after I stopped talking them I broke out in a rash. The rash is just little red dots all over my chest and stomach. Is it possible the ginger pills caused this?

    Reply
  2. It seems when I eat some frozen or pre prepared asian dish that has ginger I start to itch shortly afterwards and am wondering if this is possible?

    Reply

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