Motion Sickness

Not Ginger as a Motion Sickness Remedy, Again?

For hundreds of years, ginger (a.k.a. Zingiber officinale for those of you that want to get fancy) has been used to treat all sorts of medical problems from morning sickness to heartburn.  It can be found in gingersnaps, gingerbread, and even hiding next to the wasabi paste at your favorite sushi restaurant.  But did you know that ginger can also serve as an anti-motion sickness herbal remedy?[1][2]

Why Ginger May be so Effective – One Theory
There are numerous theories that have been proposed as to why ginger may be an effective sea sickness treatment.  One interesting theory goes something like this:

  • Vasopressin is a hormone and is released by your central nervous system (translation:  your brain) during motion sickness.
  • Vasopressin then causes your gastric system (translation: your guts) to go into gastric dysrhythmias (translation: things start moving in a rhythm that will soon make you feel nauseous).  What’s interesting here is that these dysrhythmias start 1 to 2 minutes before you even experience nausea.
  • What’s also fascinating is that the stronger your gastric dysrhythmias are the worse your nausea will be.
  • What scientists propose is that ginger may interfere with vasopressin release and thus help to limit gastric dysrhythmias which can cause nausea and vomiting (I bet that sentence makes perfect sense now, right?).[3]
  • You might be asking, “How can scientists propose that vasopressin has anything to do with causing nausea”?  Great question.  Thankfully for us, test subjects volunteered to have vasopressin injected into them.  Shortly after that, gastric dysrhythmias occurred accompanied by nausea.

Ginger Forms and Dosage:

  • Fresh — Cut a small piece (2 to 4 grams) of fresh peeled ginger root and chew on it preferably 30 minutes before traveling or up to three times per day while traveling.  If you have any ginger root leftover, you can store it in your freezer for later use.
  • Pickled — For those of you that love your sushi, try pickled ginger (a.k.a. Gari in Japanese).  It should provide you with the same effect at the same dosage (2 to 4 grams up to three times per day).
  • Teas — Like all teas, the longer you leave the herb to steep in boiling water the stronger your tea will be.  Since ginger has such a strong taste, a little bit can go you a long way.  Our advice, start with a small piece of whole ginger (1/4 of an inch or roughly 6mm) per cup of boiling water and work your way up from there.  If you are looking for an even stronger taste, you can grate 2 teaspoons worth of ginger and add it to a cup of boiling water.
  • Capsules — Ginger capsules vary in potency and dosage so follow the directions that are provided.
  • Powdered — You can take a half teaspoon of powered ginger, stir it into a glass of water, and drink it thirty minutes before you plan on traveling.  NOTE:  This method might not be as effective as fresh ginger.
  • Tablets — Try chewable ginger tablets one hour before you travel and every three hours while traveling.
  • Candied — If you have a sweet tooth and the texture of raw ginger just isn’t your thing, you can try candied ginger (a.k.a. crystallized ginger).  Place a small piece on your tongue and let it dissolve in your mouth.
  • Oils & Juice In some speciality stores, you may be able to find both ginger oil and ginger juice that you can also try.  Regardless, with both ginger oil and ginger juice start with a small dosage (i.e. a teaspoons worth) and work your way upwards if symptoms do not improve.

Side Effects of Ginger:

The FDA classifies ginger as “generally recognized as safe” while Germany’s Commission E has classified ginger as a nonprescription remedy for motion sickness.[4][5]

  • Like any other herbal treatment out there, you should be on the lookout for any allergic reactions that you might have when taking ginger.
  • Ginger may interfere with your blood’s ability to clot properly (translation: you may experience prolonged bleeding after suffering from a wound).  Consult your doctor first if you are taking blood thinning drugs such as aspirin and Wafarin (a.k.a. Coumadin) OR if you will be undergoing any surgery. [6]
  • If you are pregnant and wish to take ginger to help prevent morning sickness, you should also consult your doctor first.
  • If you are diabetic, ginger may also lower your blood sugar levels [7][8]

Although the effects of ginger on humans haven’t been studied extensively, it does appear that ginger may help to reduce both nausea and vomiting which is great for people that suffer from motion sickness.[9]

While we let the scientists continue to debate exactly how ginger can provide such great benefits, why don’t go and see for yourself if ginger can help you.  Either way, let us know by commenting in the box below this post.

[1]  Ernst, E., Pittler, M. H.  “Efficacy of Ginger for Nausea and Vomiting: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials”.  British Journal of Anaesthesia.  Issue 84(3) (2000) : 367-71.  Print.
[2]  Grontved A., Brask T., et al.  “Ginger Root Against Seasickness.  A Controlled Trial on the Open Sea”.  Acta Otolaryngol (Stockh). Issue 105 (1988) : 45-49.  Print.
[3]  Hasler, William, Owyang, Chung.  “VI. Pathogenesis and therapeutic approaches to human gastric dysrhythmias”.  American Journal of Physiology.  Volume 283(1) (2002) : 8-15.  Print.
[4]  Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Substances Generally Recognized as Safe.  Web. September 30, 2011.
[5]  Blumenthal, M, Busse W.R., et al.  “German Commission E by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices”. German Commission E. Monographs.  (1998).  American Botanical Council.  Print.
[6]  Ghayur, M., Gilani, A.  “Ginger Lowers Blood Pressure Through Blockage of Voltage-Dependent Calcium Channels”.  Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. Volume 45(1) (2005) : 74-80.  Print.
[7]  Oboh, G., Kinyemi, A.J., et al.  “Inhibitory effects of aqueous extract of two varieties of ginger on some key enzymes linked to type-2 diabetes in vitro”.  Journal of Food and Nutrition Research.  Volume 49(1) (2010) : 14-20.  Print.
[8]  Gonlachanvit, S., Chen, Y., et al.  “Ginger Reduces Hyperglycemia-Evoked Gastric Dysrhythmias in Healthy Humans:  Possible Role of Endogenous Prostaglandins”.   American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (2003).
[9]  Hickok, J., Roscoe, A., et al.  “A Phase II/III Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Clinical Trial of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) for Nausea Caused by Chemotherapy for Cancer: A Currently Accruing URCC CCOP Cancer Control Study”.  Supportive Cancer Therapy.  Volume 4, number 4 (2007).  Print.