You may be able to count on ginger for your stomach woes because it has been a natural remedy for treating indigestion, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting for more than 4,000 years. The Chinese were the first to use this spice -- Zingiber officinale -- as medicine. Today, it is readily available for purchase as ginger root, powdered ginger or in liquid form. Before you start popping pills for an upset stomach, talk with your doctor about adding ginger to your diet.
Nausea and Vomiting
Unfortunately, nausea and vomiting are par for the course when dealing with surgery and other illnesses. Prevent these side effects from bringing you down by spicing things up with a little ginger. Medline Plus reports that 1 gram of ginger taken an hour before surgery staved off nausea and vomiting 24 hours post-surgery. Cancer patients have reported nausea caused by chemotherapy drugs is soothed with the aroma or taste of foods and beverages containing ginger. The American Cancer Society recognizes that ginger may effectively treat nausea and vomiting, but it recommends that all cancer patients speak with their oncologist before taking ginger, as the herb can also interfere with blood clotting.
Most pregnant women can attest to the woes of morning sickness. One gram of ginger a day for no more than four days may alleviate the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness. In a study of 70 pregnant women, those who took ginger reported less nausea and vomited less than those who took a placebo.
For centuries, Chinese sailors have taken ginger to combat sea sickness, which is good news for those of you who enjoy the luxury of cruise ships but can't always stomach the ocean waves. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that sailors prone to motion sickness who took powdered ginger experienced less vomiting and cold sweats compared to those who took a placebo, but nausea was not affected. Ginger probably won’t work as well as over-the-counter medications, but OTC medications have side effects such as drowsiness and dry mouth that you won’t experience when taking ginger.
You can use ginger to treat indigestion and an upset stomach by alleviating bloating, which no women wants to feel. Ginger increases muscle contractions helping food move from the stomach to the upper small intestine. According to Dr. Rebecca Chollet, a neuropathic doctor, low gastric motility causes stomach discomfort. By speeding the digestive process, ginger alleviates those feelings of discomfort.
Buy ginger fresh, dried or as juice or oil. Use fresh ginger root to cook and make tea and use powdered ginger in dishes such as stir-fry. Don’t take more than 4 grams of ginger per day, including from food sources, and if you’re pregnant, don’t exceed 1 gram per day. Side effects from ginger are rare but can include heartburn, diarrhea and mouth irritation. If you are currently taking medications for blood thinning, diabetes or high blood pressure, speak with your doctor before taking ginger because this herb may interfere with the effectiveness of your medication.
Michelle Fisk began writing professionally in 2011. She has been published in the "Physician and Sports Medicine Journal." Her expertise lies in the fields of exercise physiology and nutrition. Fisk holds a Master of Science in kinesiology from Marywood University.