Ginger Effective for Morning Sickness
Ginger is an effective treatment for the nausea and vomiting commonly associated with pregnancy, or “morning sickness,” according to a report in Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine (2002;8:89–81). In this double-blind study, 77% of pregnant women who received a syrup containing ginger experienced a significant improvement in nausea, whereas only 20% of those receiving a placebo improved. In addition, 67% of the women in the ginger group stopped vomiting within six days of starting treatment, compared with only 20% of those in the placebo group.
Twenty-six women who were experiencing nausea, with or without vomiting, during the first trimester of pregnancy, were randomly assigned to ingest a tablespoon of ginger syrup (containing 250 mg of ginger per tablespoon) or a placebo four times per day for two weeks. During that time, the women graded the duration and severity of their nausea and vomiting on a ten-point scale. An improvement of at least four points on this scale was considered clinically significant.
This is not the first study to show that ginger is an effective treatment for the nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. However, it is the first such study to use ginger in liquid form. Ginger syrup may be preferable to ginger powder in capsules, because women suffering from nausea and vomiting may have an easier time holding down the liquid form.
The amount of ginger used in the new study (250 mg four times per day) is the same as that used in previous studies of women with morning sickness. This amount was chosen because it is similar to the amount of ginger that has been safely consumed on a daily basis by some populations around the world.
Ginger contains compounds (called mutagens) that cause chromosomal mutations in test tube studies, and other compounds (called antimutagens) that prevent the development of such mutations. The ingestion of mutagens during the first trimester of pregnancy could, in theory, increase the risk of birth defects. It is possible that the antimutagens in ginger would cancel the effect of the mutagens, but it is not known whether such interactions actually occur when people take ginger. Therefore, it seems prudent for pregnant women not to consume more than 1,000 mg of ginger per day. No increase in birth defects has been observed in any of the research studies nor in any of the populations where ginger is used daily as a condiment.
Other nutritional treatments that have been used successfully to treat morning sickness include vitamin B6, vitamin K in combination with vitamin C, and extracts of animal adrenal tissue. Women experiencing nausea or vomiting during pregnancy should consult a healthcare practitioner before taking any of the supplements mentioned in this article.
Alan R. Gaby, MD, an expert in nutritional therapies, testified to the White House Commission on CAM upon request in December 2001. Dr. Gaby served as a member of the Ad-Hoc Advisory Panel of the National Institutes of Health Office of Alternative Medicine. He is the author of Preventing and Reversing Osteoporosis (Prima, 1994), and co-author of The Natural Pharmacy, 2nd Edition (Healthnotes, Prima, 1999), the A–Z Guide to Drug-Herb-Vitamin Interactions (Healthnotes, Prima, 1999), Clinical Essentials Volume 1 and 2 (Healthnotes, 2000), and The Patient’s Book of Natural Healing (Prima, 1999). A former professor at Bastyr University of Natural Health Sciences, in Kenmore, WA, where he served as the Endowed Professor of Nutrition, Dr. Gaby is the Chief Medical Editor for Healthnotes, Inc.
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