People have used ginger in eastern medicine to treat nausea for thousands of years. It is often recommended as an alternative to over-the-counter or prescription anti-nausea drugs, because it does not cause the unpleasant dry mouth and drowsiness that such drugs can cause. Ginger is also safe for chemotherapy and post-operative patients and pregnant women.
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Why It Works
The University of Michigan Health System system suggests that an antioxidant contained in ginger, called gingerol, may act to reduce the damage that free radicals can cause throughout your body. Gingerol works to remove products that result from oxidative processes in the digestive tract which are a common cause of nausea. Ginger also helps to block receptors in your stomach from binding serotonin, which can result in increased nausea if left to bind freely.
Ginger Candy and Motion Sickness
Many common over-the-counter and prescription anti-motion sickness medications cause unpleasant side effects such as dry mouth and drowsiness. A study comparing the effectiveness of ginger to treat acute nausea symptoms to that of a commonly prescribed medication, scopalomine, and a placebo has shown that ginger is more effective than placebo, but less effective than prescription medication. However, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center, many people choose ginger over prescription medication because it is safe to use and does not cause side effects. Candy, such as lozenges or lollipops, are popular choices, as they are easy to eat and are more palatable than raw ginger.
Use During Chemotherapy
Recently, a handful of studies have been completed to test the effects of ginger on nausea due to chemotherapy. These studies show compelling evidence that it may be helpful to curb the unpleasant feeling of post-chemotherapy nausea, but that it does not reduce the occurrence of vomiting, says the University of Maryland Medical Center. Suzanna Zick, a naturopathic doctor with the University of Michigan Health System, has found through her studies that some chemotherapy patients report feeling increased relief from nausea when ginger capsules are added to their traditional anti-nausea treatments.
Ginger Candy and Pregnancy
Many pregnant women experience mild to severe nausea, particularly during the first trimester. Just as with motion sickness and chemotherapy, ginger may help to settle your stomach and reduce the queasiness you may be experiencing. MayoClinic.com also suggests that sucking on candy or chewing gum, including those containing ginger, may help quell the sick feeling that results from the iron in prenatal vitamins.
What to Look For
Zick suggests that fresh ginger root, when chewed on or put into food, is most effective for treating nausea. Dried or powdered ginger also works rather well, and can be included in easy to eat candies and chews. Zick recommends reading the ingredients list before purchasing ginger products, as many contain only flavoring and do not contain any actual ginger.