Have you heard that ginger can calm an upset stomach? Here’s what the evidence says.
“There’s strong evidence that ginger can help with nausea and vomiting from motion sickness, morning sickness, and cancer chemotherapy,” says Suzanna Zick, a research associate professor in the Department of Family Medicine at the University of Michigan.
Researchers sat 13 (brave) volunteers with a history of motion sickness in a large drum one at a time and spun the drum for up to 15 minutes. If the volunteers took 1,000 milligrams of ginger an hour beforehand, they had less nausea and recovered more quickly from their motion sickness than if they took a placebo.
Among 99 pregnant women who were experiencing morning sickness, those who took 125 mg of ginger four times a day for four days reported less severe nausea than those who took a placebo, though the authors noted that the effect seemed to wane after the second day.
In a study of 576 cancer patients—most had breast cancer—those who took 500 mg of ginger every day for six days, starting three days prior to chemo, had less severe nausea during the first 24 hours of treatment than those who took a placebo.
“As a result of studies like this,” says Zick, “the Society for Integrative Oncology will recommend this year that cancer physicians consider using ginger to help control nausea and vomiting during chemotherapy for breast cancer.”
What to do
If you want to try ginger, Zick suggests taking 250 mg (about 1/8 tsp.) of ginger powder twice a day. (You can scoop it right out of your spice container.) More might cause gas, heartburn, or even make nausea worse. Take it with a meal if it gives you GI discomfort.
Finding a good-quality ginger supplement can be hit or miss. One in three products that consumerlab.com tested for its subscribers in 2016 contained lower levels of ginger’s active ingredients than the label promised.
What about ginger ale? “You’d have to drink a lot of it,” says Zick. Canada Dry has no more than 24 mg of ginger per 16.9 oz., according to consumerlab.com.
A good alternative: ginger tea. Grate or thinly slice a piece of ginger the size of your thumb (from knuckle to tip), and steep it in boiling water for 10 to 15 minutes.
The information in this post appeared in the June 2017 issue of Nutrition Action Healthletter.
Photos: © Jultud/fotolia.com, © aboikis/fotolia.com.
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