Monday, May 18, 2009

A new old remedy for nausea


I am often asked my opinions about herbal remedies. Patients seem more attuned than ever to alternative therapies, but many still want a physician’s opinion about what does and does not work.

Giving an educated opinion is often a challenge, because rarely are herbal remedies tested in traditional medical trials. With the introduction of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, a part of the National Institutes of Health, this was supposed to change. Slowly, but surely, it is.

Last week, in advance of the upcoming meeting of the American Society for Clinical Oncology, results from a number of studies scheduled to be presented were released to the public. One of these was designed to test whether ginger, a traditional folk remedy for nausea, can help with the nausea produced by chemotherapy.

No one suggested that ginger alone was sufficient, but instead, patients were who experienced chemotherapy-induced nausea were randomly assigned to one of four groups: 1) treatment with their regular anti-nausea drug alone, 2) treatment with their regular anti-nausea drug plus 0.5g ginger, 3) treatment with their regular anti-nausea drug plus 1.0g ginger, or 4) treatment with their regular anti-nausea drug plus 1.5g ginger. The ginger was administered in the form of a capsule containing ginger extract, and neither the patients nor their doctors knew who was in what group. Patients reported their daily nausea on a 7 point scale. A total of 664 patients were treated, 90% women, 66% with breast cancer. All doses of ginger significantly reduced the nausea patients experienced while receiving chemotherapy. You can read the original abstract here.

So what does this mean? Ginger may interfere with blood clotting, so patients should still consult with their doctors prior to adding this to their routine, but on the whole ginger is safe and effective. And if the form doesn’t matter (something not tested in this trial), imagine how easy it would be to convince patients to add ginger in the form of ginger ale or cookies! Of course, not all ginger ale contains actual ginger – and artificial ginger flavoring is unlikely to be a good substitute.

What else does it mean? I think it reinforces something I tell all of my patients who ask about herbal remedies. Some work, some don’t. The ones that work should withstand the sort of testing we do for other medical treatments, including the “gold standard,” a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. Just like this one. Ginger passed the test.

I’m going to go make my patients some ginger snaps!

Related Posts:
Medicine from the Sea

16 comments:

outre said...

Back when I was a wee one while in Korea, I remember hearing the adults talk about ginger tea helping with nausea/upset stomach...ect.

They tried making me drink some when I'd get stomachaches, but I couldn't handle the taste. Pretty sure it was ginger steeped... too strong for a kid's taste buds. I'd have opted for ginger snaps!

Nurse Line said...

Ginger has always been a very good home remedy for cold and cough.Good article...enjoyed reading it.

Val Erde said...

I wish there was more research done into these things... I have been drinking a lot of spiced herbal tea for the past few weeks and find that the hypoglycemia I've had for years is lessening. Then I remembered that cinnamon (which is the main ingredient in the tea, along with lesser amounts of cardamom, ginger and cloves)has been used to help with diabetes (I'm not diabetic). I remember reading some research online years ago - can't recall where now. I also read (recently, but unlike the articles on cinnamon, this wasn't a scientific study) that licquorice (which is in another tea I like) raises blood pressure and can cause oedema... hmm, would love to see some actual medical research on that one!

Arps said...

'Dadimaa ke nuskhe' (Grandma's prescriptions) have always been a part of my culture.So, u have a cold, the adults in the house are bound to get u to drink ginger tea. You injured yourself-there's turmeric milk (antiseptic property of turmeric). And believe you me, all these actually help!
So this ginger study should bring the Ayurverdic things into a good blend with modern medicine.

@val erde: dunno about the other things, but licquorice is listed in medical texts as a hypertensive, since it blocks an enzyme responsible for controlling BP :)

ArkieRN said...

As mentioned above, ginger tea is nasty. I couldn't drink it. But I did nibble on candied ginger while I was undergoing chemo. It helped me.

Jay Andrews said...

A health care provider is an organization that provides facilities and health care personnel to deliver proper health care in a systematic way to any individual in need of health care services.Patient safety is the main healthcare discipline

Ravonda said...

There's also crystallized (candied) ginger that is often well received. Sometimes sold in cooking sections, but easily found in health food stores, usually in bins.

Lorin Buck said...

This makes me think of the children's book, "If You Give a Mouse a Cookie." If you give your cancer patients a cookie, I wonder where it will lead ... :)

Docter said...

good thing

Electronic Medical Records said...

For a bad cold the remedy always ginger honey and tulsi...an age old recipe for sure cure.

credit said...

This is a great result ... I have a friend who will be soon undergoing chemo and I'll make sure he knows about this. Researching natural remedies is an important direction for future research. Turmeric has also had some good results in its favor, establishing, for example, its value as an anti inflammatory.

Generic Propecia said...

This is a great tip...will pass it on to as many as can be.

Dental Richardson said...

It's good that ginger is abundant. Nature is the best resources for any remedy.

Rebeca said...

Chemotherapy is a drug treatment that uses powerful chemicals to kill fast-growing cells in your body. Chemotherapy is most often used to treat cancer, since cancer cells grow and multiply much more quickly than most cells in the body.

viagra online said...

oh wait...that really work?? I have suffered nausea for several years and I have tried many things and nothing has worked, but I will try your old remedy, thanks!

Rosy smith said...

This is nice tip but i know one good and great tip Physicians Herbal Formulas are natural, herbal remedies effective for many common symptoms which are neither modern drugs, nor a few herbs/home remedies may not manage well. We have products for nasal allergy and sinus symptoms. This formula treats seasonal or perennial allergic rhinitis or vasomotor rhinitis. Ephedra free.