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Ginger Was Brilliant Remedy for Post-Operative Nausea

Placebo-controlled studies support a reader's experience that strong ginger tea alleviated post-operative nausea. Have you tried it?
Ginger Was Brilliant Remedy for Post-Operative Nausea

Post-operative nausea can be very troubling. People who have had any type of abdominal surgery definitely want to avoid throwing up. In addition to the usual unpleasantness, vomiting after surgery could be painful or even threaten the stitches.Even those who have had other types of surgery do not welcome nausea following surgery. One reader found that ginger made was extremely helpful in this situation.

Trying Ginger Tea for Post-Operative Nausea:

Q. After a recent orthopedic surgery, I experienced nausea as an after-effect of anesthesia. The anti-nausea meds did nothing, but a neighbor brought me ginger root. She instructed me to chop it and put it in a cup of water and heat it in the microwave. This ginger tea had an almost immediate effect and relieved my nausea for good. I was amazed.

A. Thank you for sharing your experience with ginger. Post-operative nausea is indeed a common reaction to anesthesia. In one study, clinical researchers compared the effects of ginger to those of a sedative, dexmedetomidine (Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, online Oct. 1, 2019).  They found that both treatments eased nausea and vomiting, but ginger was more effective.

Investigators have also done placebo-controlled trials of ginger to prevent post-operative nausea and vomiting following eye surgery (Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, online Oct. 22, 2019). Patients who took ginger had significantly less nausea and unchanged vital signs.

Other Approaches to Alleviating Nausea:

Another intriguing approach to post-operative nausea is sniffing rubbing alcohol. A randomized trial found that when post-op patients sniffed 70% isopropyl alcohol from soaked cotton every half hour, they reported significantly less nausea and vomiting (Journal of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery, Dec. 2018). 

You can learn more about ginger and other strategies for alleviating stomach upset in our eGuide to Digestive Disorders. Since both alcohol wipes and ginger are significantly less expensive than ondansetron (Zofran, Zuplenz), the gold standard medication for treating nausea, we wonder why clinicians don’t have people try one of those first.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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  • Kamali A et al, "The efficacy of ginger and doxedetomidine In reducing postoperative nausea and vomiting in patients undergoing abdominal hysterectomy." Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, online Oct. 1, 2019.
  • Sedigh Maroufi S et al, "Dose ginger have preventative effects on PONV-related eye surgery? A clinical trial." Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine, online Oct. 22, 2019. DOI: 10.5812/aapm.92072
  • Verma DK et al, "Control of postoperative nausea and vomiting in oral and maxillofacial surgery patients with isopropyl alcohol: A prospective randomized clinical trial." Journal of Maxillofacial and Oral Surgery, Dec. 2018. DOI: 10.1007/s12663-018-1094-3
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