Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms in early pregnancy. Often called "morning sickness," these symptoms can actually happen anytime during the day—and sometimes all day. They can make mothers feel awful and interfere with day-to-day activities. In some cases, they can lead to dehydration and weight loss. Many moms-to-be look for complementary and alternative therapies to avoid medications that may effect the fetus. Ginger is one alternative approach that is often used to try to relieve nausea and vomiting related to pregnancy.
Researchers wanted to assess the effectiveness of ginger in managing nausea and vomiting in pregnant women. A systematic review, published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that ginger capsules and syrup might improve nausea symptoms in women with pregnancy-associated nausea and vomiting.
In the Cochrane review, researchers reviewed 41 randomized trials evaluating interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy in 5,449 women without hyperemesis gravidarum (a more severe vomiting condition). Eight of the trials compared ginger capsules or syrup to placebo.
Participants in the study reported that:
A few of the studies failed to show an improvement.
The Cochrane review combines a number of trials to create on large pool of participants. The more participants in a trial, the more reliable the outcomes. The review also included randomized trial, which are a very reliable form of research but there were some inconsistencies with results and data is limited.
Ginger is often recommended as an alternative method to reduce nausea and vomiting symptoms. If you are pregnant and have nausea and vomiting that affects your quality of life, talk to your doctor about options including ginger. However, don't expect any major improvements.
Other methods to reduce nausea and vomiting include the following:
American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Matthews A, Haas DM, et al. Interventions for nausea and vomiting in early pregnancy. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2015 Sep 8;9:CD007575. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/14651858.CD007575.pub4/abstract. Accessed December 22, 2015.
Nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated December 21, 2015. Accessed December 22, 2015.
Last reviewed Janaury 2016 by Michael Woods, MD