Ginger has been used as a herbal treatment long before your grandmother ever brewed it for tea. It’s been said to help with arthritis, fever and heart disease.
But ginger is probably best known as an anti-sickness remedy. Around 80% of women have nausea during pregnancy, and nearly all of us will experience motion sickness at some point. Could ginger be the answer?
Fresh or dried?
The active components in ginger are called gingerols. When ginger is dried or cooked, gingerols form substances called shogaols. Gingerols and shogaols have similar antimicrobial, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects, but shogaols are twice as potent.
This means that supplements made from dried ginger may be more biologically active than fresh ginger.
How ginger works
If you’re hit with dizziness, feel sick or are vomiting, the gingerols and shogaols found in ginger may be able to help. They work by blocking the actions of the neurotransmitters acetylcholine and serotonin in the body.
Acetylcholine triggers involuntary stomach contractions, while serotonin can stimulate the vomiting reflex. By preventing these chemicals from working, this is how ginger stops nausea.
Ginger for motion sickness
Several studies suggest that ginger may help with motion sickness. In a double-blind randomized placebo trial carried out in 1988, 80 Danish naval cadets were given 1g of either ginger or a placebo before undertaking a sea voyage. Ginger reduced vomiting and cold sweats significantly better than the placebo over a four-hour period.
In a 2003 joint study by Taiwan’s National Yang-Ming University and the University of Michigan, researchers gave 13 volunteers with a history of motion sickness a 1g or 2g dose of ginger before seating them in a rotating drum. They found that pre-treatment with ginger effectively reduced nausea.
Ginger for morning sickness
Ginger may be an effective natural remedy for pregnant women who experience morning sickness. A 2016 review reported that ginger may stop vomiting for one in three women, or improve nausea and vomiting during the first trimester.
It may also help with the symptoms of the more serious hyperemesis gravidarum, which causes persistent vomiting resulting in weight loss, dehydration and electrolyte imbalance; it is a leading cause of hospital admissions during early pregnancy.
Thirty women with hyperemesis gravidarum took part in a clinical trial in Denmark in 1991. They were given 250mg of either powdered ginger root or a placebo every day for four days. Results showed ginger relieved their symptoms better than placebo.
Check with your GP before taking ginger supplements, as they may not be suitable for everyone.
Ginger for nausea caused by medication
For many people, nausea and vomiting are unwanted yet unavoidable side effects of certain medicines and medical treatments, such as chemotherapy. Could ginger help?
In a study of 576 patients receiving chemotherapy, researchers at New York’s University of Rochester Medical Center found that taking 0.5-1g ginger every day for six days, beginning three days before the first session, significantly helped to reduce nausea.
Talk to your doctor or specialist if you’re interested in taking ginger alongside any medical treatment.
Advice is for information only and should not replace medical care. Please consult a doctor or healthcare professional before trying any remedies.
Shop our Vitamins & Supplements range.