January 16, 2006

Ginger prevents postop nausea and vomiting

NEW YORK -- Medical data suggest that at a dose of at least 1 gram of ginger is effective in preventing the nausea and vomiting that often afflicts patients after undergoing surgery.

Numerous studies have looked at a variety of agents for preventing postoperative nausea and vomiting, yet none have been accepted as a gold standard for this use, according to the report in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Ginger has been used as a traditional medicine in China to treat nausea, vomiting, and other gastrointestinal symptoms. In the last decade, several studies have evaluated the effects of ginger in preventing nausea and vomiting after surgery, which affects about 43 percent of patients.

To look at all the evidence available, Dr. Nathorn Chaiyakunapruk, from Naresuan University in Phitsanulok, Thailand, and colleagues pooled data from five clinical trials that involved a total of 363 patients.

Compared with placebo, ginger cut the risk of nausea and vomiting in the 24 hours after surgery by 31 percent. That said, a substantial percentage of patients in the ginger arm still had postoperative nausea and vomiting -- 35 percent. The only apparent side effect seen with ginger was abdominal discomfort.

"We believe that ginger is an effective therapeutic option in the prevention of postoperative nausea and vomiting," the authors conclude. "Because of its widespread availability, low cost, and great tolerability profile, ginger may be an attractive option ... especially in countries in which cost of care is a major issue."

SOURCE: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, January 2006.