Commonly used to treat vomiting and nausea, ginger may also reduce complications cancer patients routinely face with chemotherapy, according to a recent study funded by the U.S. National Cancer Institute. As little as a half-teaspoon of ground ginger, researchers say, aided in a significant reduction of chemotherapy-related nausea on the very first day of chemotherapy.
More than 600 cancer patients (largely women and breast cancer patients) received either a placebo or one of three doses of ginger -- ranging from a half-gram to 1.5 gram capsules -- three days before the start of their chemotherapy and for three days afterward for two cycles along with traditional anti-vomiting drugs.
Although all ginger patients enjoyed some relief from chemo-related nausea, those given half- and 1-gram doses felt the most benefit, reducing their symptoms by as much as 40 percent. On the other hand, patients who received a placebo suffered far greater amounts of nausea (rating them a 5 or 6 on a 1-7 scale).
A pair of ginger-related caveats to consider:
* Scientists don't know if powdered or fresh ginger is as effective in treating chemotherapy-related nausea as taking a capsule.
* Because earlier research found ginger may work as a blood thinner, doctors monitored their patients' platelet levels.
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