We’ve all experienced unrelenting nausea at some point or another. At these times, you’re first instinct may be to turn to over the counter medications; however, ginger works as a simple, effective antidote.
For thousands of years, Arabic, Indian, and Asian healers prized ginger as food and medicine. This tropical plant, in the same botanical family as turmeric and cardamom, was effectively used to relieve nausea and vomiting caused by illness and seasickness.
Thanks to the spice trade, the tradition caught on in Europe. As one sixteenth-century physician put it: “Ginger does good for a bad stomach.” In The Family Herbal from 1814, English physician Robert Thornton noted that “two or three cupfuls for breakfast” will relieve “dyspepsia due to hard drinking.”
Modern research later confirmed that ginger reduces nausea and vomiting from multiple causes: morning sickness, postoperative upset, chemotherapy treatments, and motion sickness.
The studies on whether or not ginger prevents motion sickness are mixed. One study found ginger to be as effective, with fewer side effects, as dimenhydrinate (Dramamine). Other studies indicate that, when added to antinausea medications, it further reduces nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy.
While the best-researched use of ginger is in combating nausea and vomiting, studies have shown that ginger is a multi-faceted remedy with at least six more healing effects:
It reduces pain and inflammation, making it valuable in managing arthritis, headaches, and menstrual cramps.
It has a warming effect and stimulates circulation.
It inhibits rhinovirus, which can cause the common cold.
It inhibits such bacteria as Salmonella, which cause diarrhea, and protozoa, such as Trichomonas.
In the intestinal tract, it reduces gas and painful spasms.
It may prevent stomach ulcers caused by nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as aspirin and ibuprofen.
You can take ginger in whatever form appeals to you.
If you’re pregnant: Try it in tea, soup, or capsules — up to 250 milligrams four times a day. If you chose a carbonated beverage, make sure it’s made from real ginger. You can also nibble crystallized ginger.
To counter motion sickness: Taking 1 gram of dried, powdered, encapsulated ginger 30 minutes to two hours before travel can help ease travel related nausea.
For postoperative nausea: In a recent study on the use of ginger to thwart postoperative nausea, the dose was 500 milligrams 30 minutes before surgery and 500 milligrams 2 hours after surgery. Otherwise, ginger is usually not recommended during the seven to ten days leading up to surgery because of its effect on blood clotting. Discuss the use of ginger with your surgeon or anesthesiologist before trying it.
Here’s a soothing recipe from our book 500 Time-Tested Home Remedies and the Science Behind Them, in which ginger and mint — a general stomach-settler — work together to fight nausea.
Zingy Minty Nausea Fighter (2 servings)
In a saucepan, bring 2 cups of water to a boil.
Add 2 teaspoons of dried peppermint (or 1 tablespoon fresh), and 1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger.
Turn off the heat, cover, and steep for 15 minutes.
Strain out the herbs.
Stir in 1 teaspoon of honey. Sip for a soothing experience.