Ginger is ineffective for hyperemesis gravidarum, and causes harm: an internet based survey of sufferers

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Abstract

Objective:

Ginger is commonly suggested to women experiencing nausea and vomiting of pregnancy (NVP). Evidence for the efficacy of ginger for hyperemesis gravidarum (HG) is lacking despite its well-known status. The aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of ginger for controlling symptoms of HG and to investigate possible negative side effects.

Design:

A self-selected internet-based survey.

Setting:

Participants were recruited principally through social media and were predominantly UK-based.

Sample:

512 women who had been hospitalised for HG within the past five years.

Methods:

Internet survey platform Survey Monkey.

Main outcome measures:

Questions were mostly asked using Likert-Type scales with the option for additional free text responses.

Results:

Women reported that ginger is often suggested for HG and 87% of respondents have tried it. Eighty-eight per cent of those report that it is completely ineffective. Fifty-one per cent of respondents who tried ginger reported that it actually exacerbated symptoms. Eighty-two per cent of women reported that suggestions of ginger caused a worsening of their mood, inducing feelings of anger, lack of validation, isolation, guilt and exacerbating the feeling that they are misunderstood. Seventy-nine per cent of women who had ginger suggested by a health care professional (HCP) reported that it eroded their trust and confidence in the HCP.

Conclusions:

HCPs should stop suggesting ginger to women with hyperemesis. Not only is it ineffective, but it can cause harm to the sufferer and damages the patient-HCP relationship.

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