It is unfortunate that side effects of cancer treatment can be so debilitating as to cause the patient to make the decision to stop taking treatment. A new study presented this week at the 2009 Annual Meeting of the American Scociety of Clinical Oncologists (ASCO) shows that ginger is useful for treating chemotherapy associated nausea.
This study involved 644 patients who were already taking drugs (antiemetics) to help reduce nausea. These antiemetic drugs were 5-HT3 receptor antagonists including ondansetron and granisetron. In many patients these drugs are not effective enough. When ginger was taken in addition to these drugs ginger was able to further reduce nausea by 40%.
The study researchers (from the University of Rochester) suspect that ginger acts by reducing inflammation in the GI tract. This study is consistent with other smaller studies that have found ginger to be effective in reducing nausea. The lowest dose used was 0.5 g capsules which were found to be effective. This is equivalent to ¼ to ½ teaspoon of ground ginger.
Ginger is a spice often used in Indian and Chinese cuisine. It refers to the root of the plant. Ginger has been traditionally been used to treat nausea as well as colds and flu. It has antibacterial properties, antipyretic and analgesic properties and can sooth coughs and sore throats. It can be drank as a tea but its rather spicey taste can be too hot for some. Ginger can also be found in capsule form.
Ginger is probably most commonly ingested as ginger ale. The actual amount of ginger found in some ginger ales however may be too low to be effective as an anti nausea treatment. Researchers suggest that patients who are interested in trying ginger themselves to be sure they use real ginger and not just ginger flavoring that might be found in some foods.