Can Pregnant Women Drink Ginger Tea?

In the course of pregnancy, most women experience nausea and vomiting regularly. Herbal preparations such as ginger tea may help you to relieve morning sickness symptoms, although evidence that they work is "limited and not consistent," according to a 2010 review of ginger studies published in "The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews." You should consult your physician before taking herbal preparations for medicinal purposes.

A cup of tea next to some ginger root.
Credit: matka_Wariatka/iStock/Getty Images

About Ginger

The underground stem of ginger is useful both as medicine and as a spice. You can use ginger as a powder, oil, juice or in its fresh form. For many years, people have used this herb to treat ailments such as diarrhea, colic, morning sickness, upset stomach, gas and nausea. Ginger can also help you to relieve pain from muscle soreness, bronchitis, cough, menstrual cramps, chest and back problems, and infections of the upper respiratory tract. In addition, some people squeeze the herb and apply its fresh juice on burns. One of ginger's chemical components is used in the manufacture of antacid, laxative and anti-gas medications.

Nausea and Vomiting

About 50 percent to 90 percent of pregnant women experience nausea and vomiting in their first trimester of pregnancy, according to a 2007 article in "International Journal of Food Properties," though researchers have not established its cause. Nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP) may reduce or increase your intake of food. Additionally, it may affect your appetite and choice of your food, thus compromising the quality of your diet. Currently, most countries have not licensed any particular drug for the treatment of NVP. Two alternative and complementary therapies for NVP are ginger and Vitamin B-6.

Scientific Evidence

A Canadian study pioneered by the Toronto-based Motherisk Program revealed that more than 50 percent of pregnant women use either ginger tablets or tea, according to the "International Journal of Food Properties" article. Other studies have established that between 6 percent and 12 percent of pregnant women use ginger herbal preparations to treat NVP. In these studies, the women who used ginger experienced a significant decrease in NVP. Interestingly, the researchers also observed a reduction in the risk of losing pregnancies among the women who used ginger.

Mode of Action

Researchers have linked ginger's efficacy in treating NVP to its ability to either prevent or to help expel gas. Ginger uses gastric effects to increase rhythmical passage of food down the digestive tract, called peristalsis. Unlike medications, ginger does not act on the central nervous system. Instead, it only acts on the digestive tract and thus avoids the complications associated with stimulating the nervous system. Chemical compounds called [6]-gingerol and [6]-shogaol are thought to give ginger its anti-nausea properties.

Taking Precautions

According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, it is very unlikely that you will experience any side effects from using ginger. But a high dose may irritate you in the mouth and give you a mild heartburn. The center cautions that pregnant women should not take more than 1 gram of ginger a day, and they should always discuss using it with their doctor first. Additionally, in case you have gallstones or you have been scheduled for a surgery, inform your doctor before taking ginger tea.

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