Can taking ginger for nausea reduce or eliminate nausea and vomiting caused by chemotherapy?
Answers from Brent A. Bauer, M.D.
There is evidence that when taken with standard anti-nausea medications, ginger can be helpful in further reducing or eliminating nausea and vomiting during and after chemotherapy treatments.
Results from two studies of adults who took ginger for nausea showed that various doses of ginger before starting chemotherapy treatments helped to reduce the severity of nausea. In these studies, participants began taking ginger orally three days prior to starting chemotherapy. The ginger was taken in addition to a standard medication prescribed to reduce nausea and vomiting. A small number of participants reported side effects including heartburn, bruising, flushing and rash. In another study, taking ginger root powder was effective in reducing the severity of chemotherapy-induced nausea in children and young adults ages 8 to 21. Ginger in this study was also given along with standard anti-nausea medications.
Earlier studies had shown ginger to be of little or no benefit in reducing nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy.
Many prescription drugs have been proved effective at controlling nausea during and after chemotherapy. Ask your doctor if combining ginger and anti-nausea medications might be right for you.
Aug. 31, 2011
- Ryan JL, et al. Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea: A URCC CCOP study of 576 patients. Supportive Care in Cancer. In press. Accessed Aug. 5, 2011.
- Pillai AK, et al. Anti-emetic effect of ginger powder versus placebo as an add-on therapy in children and young adults receiving high emetogenic chemotherapy. Pediatric Blood & Cancer. 2011;56:234.
- Ginger. Natural Medicines Comprehensive Database. http://www.naturaldatabase.com. Accessed Aug. 16, 2011.
- Ryan JL, et al. Ginger for chemotherapy-related nausea in cancer patients: A URCC CCOP randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial of 644 cancer patients. Journal of Clinical Oncology. 2009;15(suppl):9511.
- Zick SM, et al. Phase II trial of encapsulated ginger as a treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. Support Care Cancer. 2009;17:563.
- Bauer BA (expert opinion). Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minn. Aug. 18, 2011.