Does Ginger for Chemo Help with Nausea and Vomiting

If you grew up eating crackers and drinking ginger ale to settle your upset stomach, it probably doesn’t sound too far off to you that ginger for chemo is rumored to reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV). While traditional anti-nausea medications have been pivotal in managing CINV, recent studies have shown that ginger may be a promising alternative.

Ginger: An Ancient Medicinal Root

Ginger is derived from the root of the Zingiber officinale plant and has a rich history of medicinal use, particularly in fighting off nausea. Ancient civilizations recognized its antiemetic properties, and now, modern science is starting to take notice of its potential to reduce the side effects of chemotherapy.

Studies on Ginger for Chemo

Several studies have investigated the impact of ginger supplements on CINV, with mixed findings on their efficacy in reducing vomiting and some efficacy in nausea. Research shows that ginger may be particularly effective when taken in doses of 0.5–1.0 grams daily, starting a few days before chemotherapy treatment.

While results are promising, it’s important to take into account the high variability in these results. Additionally, factors such as the type of cancer, whether the patient is male or female, and specific chemotherapy drugs used may influence ginger’s effectiveness. 

Although some studies have reported significant reductions in nausea with ginger supplements, others have had mixed results. This further highlights the need for more research to clarify under what conditions ginger is most effective for chemo.

How It Works

The active compounds in ginger, gingeral and sogaol, specifically, are believed to influence gastrointestinal motility and neurotransmitters in the brain associated with nausea. However, it’s important to note participants in these studies were consuming real ginger supplements. Not ginger ale, which may only contain “ginger flavoring.”

In the most recent research, the most effective dose appears to be 250 milligrams of ginger taken 2–4 times daily.

Ginger for Chemo Considerations and Cautions

Patients should be mindful of potential interactions with current chemotherapy medications and ginger’s effects as a blood thinner. Moreover, ginger should be viewed as a supplement rather than a replacement or substitute for medications prescribed by their oncologist. If you think ginger for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting may be beneficial to you, speak with your doctor first to know if it’s safe. 

Holistic Support at RMC

Cancer and chemotherapy can be a treacherous journey, and having a knowledgeable, empathetic oncologist who listens to you can make a huge difference. At RMC, our cancer care team is dedicated to providing comprehensive care tailored to each patient’s needs. Speak with one of our oncologists today about exploring natural ways to complement your medication and enhance your comfort throughout your treatment.