It’s true! Scientists have found something natural to help lessen the stomach upset often associated with chemo treatments-ginger. Sure, this little herb has long been touted for its ability to settle the tummy. You may even be a fan of ginger tea for that reason. But now, we’re talking real proof behind the folklore, so listen up!
“We were slightly beside ourselves,” said study leader Julie Ryan, of the University of Rochester. Just how much did the ginger cut down on the nausea? Forty percent-nearly half. Can you imagine half the discomfort?
Though other studies have tried to prove the effect of ginger in the past, they’ve been small and inconsistent. Meanwhile, over 70 percent of cancer patients suffer from nausea. This study, however, is the first of its kind to show such startling results (in over 600 patients), and the first to focus on taking the ginger before chemotherapy treatments. Researchers gave different patients different doses, but in the end, it was the .5 grams that worked the best.
Scientists still aren’t sure how it works, but Ryan speculates that the ginger may have some sort of anti-inflammatory powers that help protect the stomach. Whatever the mechanism, holistic healers have long known the effects. Since ancient times, ginger’s been a favorite friend to the stomach. The Greeks ate ginger wrapped in bread to ward off nausea from a huge feast, and Chinese sailors took it to prevent sea sickness. Europe remains a big fan, the Commission E (Germany’s regulatory agency for herbs) having approved ginger long ago for use against indigestion and motion sickness.
This study, released by the American Society of Clinical Oncology, tested a ginger root extract, so don’t expect the same results from teas or powders, certainly not from ginger ale or other products simply “flavored” with the essence of ginger.
So how can you go about trying this natural remedy? Study participants took capsulized supplements once a day for six days, starting three days before their first cycle of chemotherapy. (Everyone also took anti-vomiting drugs, which traditionally help with vomiting but not nausea.) To get the equivalent amount, go for 500 mg a day. You may be able to find the extract in your local health-food store, or you can order online from vitanetonline.com or physiansformulas.com, among others.
Has ginger root helped you make it through treatment? Please share your story.
Photo courtesy of ichimusai, via Flickr.com.