Nausea is one of the most common symptoms during chemotherapy. This side effect should not be underestimated because if it is not properly managed, it can result in a reduction in appetite resulting in weight loss. Proper eating style is one of the key strategies to reduce the perception of nausea. Within the site, this issue has been extensively addressed providing general nutritional indications to alleviate the symptom.

In this newsletter we talk about Ginger.

Ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) is a perennial herbaceous plant belonging to the Zingiberacee family.

It is native to the Far East, of which rhizome is used (fresh, dried or pulverized). In the kitchen it is often used as a spice thanks to its characteristic scent and pungent flavor but at the same time delicate.

It is rich in mineral salts (calcium, phosphorus, sodium, potassium, magnesium, selenium), vitamins (B3, B5, B6, C, E) and bioactive compounds. The bioactive compounds give it its characteristic flavor and are divided into volatile compounds (such as hydrocarbons) and non-volatile (for example, gingerols, shogaols and zingerone). Bioactive compounds vary widely in relation to the type of root variety and where it is grown (1).

Ginger, originally from East Asia, has been used since ancient times both in the culinary field and in traditional Eastern medicine. In recent years there has often been talk of this root, and even in the West it is increasingly appreciated not only for its flavor and versatility in the kitchen, but also for its properties.

In the culinary field it is used in meat, fish and vegetable dishes, but also in sweets or drinks (teas, herbal teas and infusions). Starting from the rhizome, you can also get different preparations: oil, extract, tea, syrup, preserves, candied, capsules, liqueurs and much more.

Ginger is attributed to numerous properties which have also been confirmed by scientific studies. We can observe antioxidant action, cholesterol lowering, anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antiviral (2,3).

Since ancient times this rhizome is known for its ability to fight against nausea. In ancient times Chinese sailors used this precious root as a remedy against seasickness.

Ginger consumption is recommended for pregnant women who suffer from nausea (especially in the first trimester). As proof of this, numerous scientific studies have been conducted to support its effectiveness (4,5). The results show that ginger can help stop nausea during pregnancy.  In recent years there has been a strong interest in checking whether the root can be a valid antiemetic even during chemotherapy treatments.

In the literature there are several studies that relate ginger intake (via capsules, with a dose of about 1-3 gr/day) with nausea which can increase during chemotherapy. The results are not yet totally satisfactory and are often at odds with each other. Some studies show a reduction in the symptom if a capsule containing ginger is administered (on average 1.5 grams/day) with the antiemetic (6). Other studies do not appear to show any significant differences between those who take ginger and those who do not (7).

A very recent discovery has shown that bioactive compounds found in ginger can potentially act on nausea-inducing mechanisms (8).
While new research is on-going, ginger can be a help during chemotherapy against nausea. In addition to decreasing this unpleasant side effect, ginger can work positively on the whole organism, given its multiple properties.

So how can we include it in our diet? A classic ginger herbal tea is a valuable help for those suffering from nausea, or you can consume candied ginger or dishes with the addition of it.

However, it is important not to over-do it (dried max 2 gr per day, fresh max 10 gr per day). Always consult your doctor before consumption.

WARNING: given the fluidizing effect of ginger on the blood, it is always advisable to consult your doctor before using ginger if you are taking anti-aggregator and anticoagulant drugs. In addition, ginger intake is not recommended in the presence of gallstones.
1. Gingerols and shogaols: Important nutraceutical principles from ginger; Semwal RB et al (2015).
2. A Review on Pharmacological Properties of Zingerone (4-(4-Hydroxy-3-methoxyphenyl)-2-butanone); Ahmad B et al (2015).
3. Anti-Oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity: Review of Current Evidence; Mashhadi NS (2013).
4. Effect of ginger on relieving nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: a randomized, placebo-controlled trial; Saberi F et al (2014).
5. A systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect and safety of ginger in the treatment of pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting; Viljoen E et al (2014).
6. Effect of Ginger on Acute and Delayed Chemotherapy-Induced Nausea and Vomiting; Yunes P et al (2012).
7. Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials; Ernst E et al (2000).
8. Ginger – mechanism of action in chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting: a review; Marx W et al (2017).