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How Effective is Ginger for Upset Stomach?

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  • Written By: Tricia Ellis-Christensen
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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Using ginger for upset stomach has been a time-honored remedy in many cultures that in recent years has been subject to a number of clinical studies. Though these studies are relatively small in scale, they do suggest that old wives tales about ginger may certainly be believable. The ginger root, or actually the rhizome of Zingiber officinale, does appear to be beneficial in resolving some, though not all, stomach complaints. The principal conditions that may respond to ginger include morning sickness, general queasiness, nausea due to chemotherapy and motion sickness. There is some evidence of ginger’s effectiveness in other conditions like heartburn or indigestion.

The different studies on ginger for upset stomach have principally compared it to placebo treatments. Thus far, some of the studies that compare placebo treatment to ginger include those for people with seasickness, mild to severe morning sickness, those who are undergoing chemotherapy, and those recovering from surgery. All, except for the final study, concluded that ginger for upset stomach in these cases was better than placebo. The surgery study is an interesting exception because in it, ginger actually worsened nausea and vomiting.

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One of the reasons that ginger is thought to be useful in most cases where stomach upset is present is because it acts as a mild anti-inflammatory. It has specific compounds that can reduce swelling or inflammatory response. This particular action may reduce symptoms of nausea, and it also makes ginger intriguing to treat other stomach symptoms. Indigestion, for example, may partly be felt because the stomach is somewhat irritated and inflamed. Reducing that inflammation reasonably suggests a reduction in symptoms.

Thus far, the varied studies on ginger for upset stomach fail to account for the best methods for taking ginger. Some people wonder if it is better to consume it fresh, pickled, or grated and dried, or if all methods are equal. This question very much deserves attention when it’s recommended people drink ginger in the form of ginger ale or ginger beer. It’s possible that the addition of carbonation and high sugar amounts could actually act as a stomach irritant, though even in this form, some people find ginger for upset stomach helpful.

There are still some guidelines on how much ginger for upset stomach to use. Generally, it’s thought that people shouldn’t exceed a daily ginger consumption of 4 grams. It tends to be safe for children over the age of two, though maximum dose should be smaller. The biggest advantage of this medicine is that it’s easy to find and it tends to have very few side effects, unlike many anti-nausea medications. It also has few drug interactions, though people who take blood thinners should check with their doctors about use because of its comparable properties to nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs).

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