How to Fight Nausea: Ginger, Nature's Antinausea Drug

by Gerald Sofinstein

When nausea is a problem, ginger is the best remedy you can find anywhere.

Ginger is the safest, oldest and most effective antinausea remedy known. It appears to work primarily on the digestive system, not the brain, and thus lacks the bothersome nervous system side effects such as drowsiness that you typically get from over-the-counter drugs.

That ginger fights nausea of all kinds is evident from centuries of usage, controlled scientific studies, and raves from people who have tried it.

So if you tend to have motion sickness on boats, planes, cars, or suffer from nausea occasionally, ginger is what you should try next time.

Gingerroot, or more accurately the rhizome, the underground stem of the ginger plant, has been used in China, India and other Asian countries for twenty-five centuries to aid digestion and relieve nausea.

Some health professionals recommend a little ginger to fight morning sickness, nausea and vomiting during early pregnancy. It usually works and appears much less likely to be capable of inducing birth defects than other antinausea drugs used in pregnancy.

How does it work? No one is sure what constituents in ginger are responsible for its antinausea effect. But two compounds, shogaols and dingerols, isolated from gingerroot have had antiemetic (antinausea) properties in animals. General scientific opinion holds that ginger works almost entirely in the digestive tract, although it may have a slight depressant effect on the central nervous system, according to a study on frogs.

To prevent nausea and vomiting from motion sickness, take two 500 milligram ginger capsules about half an hour before boarding a plane, a boat, or another vehicle. Take another one or two if you become nauseated later. The initial dose should ward off symptoms for about 4 hours.

How much doses of ginger is safe? In animals, even at very high doses, ginger does not prove to be toxic. However, research shows that it does have anticoagulant activity, thinning the blood. Thus people with bleeding problems or on anticoagulants should exercise caution in taking high amounts of ginger. Really excessive ginger doses may also raise blood pressure and be detrimental to those with gallstones. Also, those who are undergoing chemotherapy should check with a doctor first before using ginger.

Ginger has versatile pharmacological activity. It acts as an anticoagulant and anti-inflammatory agent. Both fresh gingerroot and the ground spice (less than a teaspoon a day) can relieve arthritis symptoms and help prevent migraine headaches.