Effects of ginger on motion sickness susceptibility and gastric function

Stewart JJ, Wood MJ, Wood CD, Mims ME

Louisiana State University Medical Center, Shreveport.

This study was designed to evaluate the antimotion sickness activity of ginger root (Zingiber officinale) and to characterize the effects of ginger on gastric function. Twenty-eight human volunteers participated in the project. Subjects made timed head movements in a rotating chair until they reached an endpoint of motion sickness short of vomiting (malaise III or M-III). Each subject was tested with either ginger or scopolamine and a placebo. A substance was judged to possess antimotion sickness activity if it allowed a greater number of head movements compared to placebo control. Gastric emptying of a liquid was measured by nuclear medicine techniques in normal and motion sick subjects. Gastric electrical activity was monitored by cutaneous (surface) electrodes positioned over the abdominal area. Powder ginger (whole root, 500 or 1,000 mg) or fresh ginger root (1,000 mg) provided no protection against motion sickness. In contrast, subjects performed an average of 147.5 more head movements (p less than 0.01) after scopolamine (0.6 mg p.o.) than after placebo. The rate of gastric emptying was significantly (p less than 0.05) slowed when tested immediately after M-III but was inhibited less when tested 15 min after M-III. Powdered ginger (500 mg) had no effect on gastric emptying in normal or motion-sick subjects. Gastric motility was also changed during motion sickness. The frequency of the electrogastrogram (EGG) was increased after M-III (tachygastria) and the normal increase in EGG amplitude after liquid ingestion was reduced in motion sick subjects. Although powdered ginger (500 mg) partially inhibited tachygastria in motion sickness, it did not enhance the EGG amplitude in motion sick subjects. We conclude that ginger does not possess antimotion sickness activity, nor does it significantly alter gastric function during motion sickness.