Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) is a common side effect we see at the CCNM Integrative Cancer Centre. Most of our patients are prescribed anti-nausea drugs by their oncology team however there can still be breakthrough nausea and/or vomiting on top of the medication, and in some patients a lot of side effects of those drugs that make them (or high doses of them) intolerable (fatigue, constipation, dry mouth, etc.). Naturopathic medicine can offer support; a recently published study on ginger found it was significantly effective in controlling acute nausea and vomiting due to chemotherapy.
This study is called a meta-analysis – data from 10 randomized controlled trials were combined and statistically analyzed to reach the conclusion. The authors concluded that 0.5 or 1.0 gram of ginger in either capsule or powder form is effective in relieving CINV in the acute phase – within 24 hours of chemotherapy. How ginger works to reduce nausea is still unclear but it’s thought to block certain receptors in the brain that trigger nausea and vomiting, similar to how some common anti-nausea medications work.
We recommend ginger in many forms, depending on your preference – people can take capsules or mix powder in any semi-solid food or shake, or they can consider teas, ginger chews, inhaling essential oil, or even eat the fresh root. It’s important to consider that a small percentage of people may not tolerate ginger, which can bring about symptoms including diarrhea, dizziness, heartburn, rash or flushing.
Here’s a delicious warming ginger tea recipe to consider: 12 slices of ginger, 1 tablespoon of honey (optional) OR 1/8 teaspoon of stevia
Finely chop/grate/pound ginger into small pieces. Put 3 cups of water and the ginger in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 20-25 minutes. Strain out ginger slices, add sweetener if desired, and enjoy!