Ginger: A Complementary Medicine

ginger teaThe internet is replete with mixed information about dietary supplements for patients with cancer. In my blog, I look forward to periodically addressing some of these substances, providing evidence-based information on integrative and complementary therapies commonly used by patients with cancer Today, we turn to ginger.

Overview: Current evidence supports the effectiveness of ginger in controlling nausea and vomiting following surgery and associated with pregnancy and motion sickness. We need more data regarding its efficacy for nausea caused by chemotherapy.

The science: Ginger’s anti-vomiting properties are thought to be due to two of its components, shogaol and gingerol. As noted above, ginger can help with nausea for certain conditions, but we need more data regarding its effectiveness for chemotherapy-induced nausea. There may be some use for it as part of management for osteoarthritis and back pain. Other studies point to its use for helping with stomach emptying for healthy individuals. Studies are even loking at ginger as a potential means to reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s dementia.

Any downsides? Changes in time to clot can lead to nosebleeds (epistaxis). Ginger may also pose problems when used with anticoagulants (blood thinners). Mice studies suggest that ginger can lower blood sugar too much on occasion (hypoglycemia). There is the suggestion from animal studies that ginger can increase blood levels of tacrolimus (an immunosuppressant drug).

 

The small print: The material presented herein is informational only, and is not designed to provide specific guidance for an individual. Please check with a valued health care provider with any questions or concerns. As for me, I am a Harvard- , Yale- and UPenn-educated radiation oncologist, and I practice in the Seattle, WA (USA) area. I feel genuinely privileged to be able to share with you. If you enjoyed today’s offering, please consider clicking the follow button at the bottom of this page. Thanks!

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