Cancer patients find ginger eases nausea

By Sheryl Kay • Published: September 11th, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Since ancient times, the aromatic spice ginger has been used as a medicine by Asian, Indian, Arabic and other cultures to aid digestion, and even treat nausea and diarrhea.

Now modern-day science bears out the old traditions in a study recently presented at a meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncology.

According to the study’s authors, daily ingestion of a ginger supplement significantly helped ease chemotherapy-related nausea, a condition often experienced by cancer patients undergoing such treatment.

The trial, supported by the National Cancer Institute and the largest of its kind, involved more than six-hundred cancer patients who had already experienced nausea after chemotherapy. All participants still had at least three rounds of chemo ahead.

The patients, most of whom had breast cancer, were split into four groups, one receiving a placebo and the other three receiving different amounts of the supplement. All participants also received the standard anti-nausea medication prescribed for chemotherapy patients.

Then, four times a day during chemotherapy, patients were asked to record feelings of nausea using a seven-point scale, ranging from no nausea to extremely nauseated. Researchers found that while all doses of ginger helped reduce nausea, the largest reduction in queasiness occurred for those patients ingesting either one-half or one gram of ginger. This accounted for about a forty percent reduction in nausea.

The findings, said the researchers, are especially important because any mechanisms for reducing nausea lead to improved quality of life in many cancer patients.