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How does ginger compare to placebo and vitamin B6?
By Robby Gardner, Associate Editor
Over in Australia, university researchers are assessing the strength of science behind ginger (Zingiber officinale) for nausea and vomiting, specifically when it relates to pregnant women.
Ginger root is thought to relieve nausea and vomiting by encouraging a bodily process called peristalsis, in which muscle contractions help push food through the digestive tract. Because nausea and vomiting episodes are so common in pregnant women, numerous ginger studies have targeted this population.
Researchers from the University of Queensland and the University of South Australia rounded up the best of these studies in order to conduct a meta-analysis. What they found were four randomized clinical trials from three different countries and on 504 women. Each trial varied in ginger format (syrup, capsule, or extract), daily dosage, control (placebo or vitamin B6), and duration (four days to three weeks). But it’s what they had to work with.
With side effects characterized as “generally mild and infrequent,” and comparable to placebo and control, ginger supplementation appeared more effective in lowering frequency of vomiting and intensity of nausea. The results are encouraging; still, the researchers acknowledge uncertainty regarding factors such as the maximum dosage for safety and the lack of information on whether ginger can interfere with any pharmaceutical drugs.
This latest meta-analysis offers new data since a previous 2007 review on the subject.
Another recent study on 239 women undergoing cesarean sections found dry ginger powder to more effectively reduce episodes and incidence of vomiting and nausea over placebo during (but not following) surgery.