Ginger (Zingiber officinale) does not improve chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) among patients with cancer, according to a study published in the Annals of Oncology.1

CINV is a side effect noted in more than 90% of patients who do not receive a prophylactic antiemetic. Ginger is linked to nausea prevention, though there are limited data about the efficacy of ginger in reducing CINV.

For this randomized study ( Identifier: NCT01887314), researchers evaluated whether ginger improved CINV over placebo among 251 patients receiving cisplatin. Ginger’s efficacy vs placebo was evaluated using “daily visual-analogue scale and Functional Living Index Emesis (FLIE) questionnaires.”

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All patients were scheduled to undergo at least 2 cycles of high-dose cisplatin. Most patients had lung (49%) or head and neck cancer (35%); 121 were assigned to ginger and 123 to placebo.

Thirty-nine percent of patients withdrew before study close, though similar numbers of patients withdrew from each group.

The researchers noted no difference in nausea scores between the 2 groups at baseline or on the first day of the second chemotherapy cycle. Delayed, intercycle, and anticipatory nausea were not improved in the ginger group over placebo.

There was, however, some improvement in CINV among female patients and patients with head and neck cancer.

Patients were similarly compliant and the rate of adverse events was similar between the 2 groups.

RELATED: Chemotherapy- and Radiation-Induced Nausea and Vomiting:  An Overview

The authors concluded that despite the small sample size, this study showed that “ginger did not reduce the impact of nausea due to cisplatin throughout the 2 cycles of chemotherapy, without any benefit in delayed, anticipatory and intercycle assessments.”


  1. Bossi P, Cortinovis D, Fatigoni S, et al. A randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, multicenter study of a ginger extract in the management of chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting (CINV) in patients receiving high dose cisplatin. Ann Oncol. 2017 Jun 28. doi: 10.1093/annonc/mdx315 [Epub ahead of print]