Is Ginger Safe for Expectant Mothers?

Gingers safety as treatment for morning sickness not for everyone

(RxWiki News) Though ginger may be popular and effective for stopping nausea and vomiting, that doesn’t mean it’s good for morning sickness – it could be dangerous for some pregnant women.

Despite many studies focusing on ginger’s effectiveness for treating nausea and vomiting during pregnancy, a recent study that reviews past research raises doubts about whether some pregnant women should use it.

"Consult your doctor before using ginger for morning sickness."

In her review Denise Tiran, a registered midwife and nurse, examines the state of ginger research by looking at over forty studies highlighting ginger's physiological actions. About half a dozen of the examined studies involved pregnancy, showing that ginger can be as effective a treatment as vitamin B6 for treating morning sickness.

None of these studies found that ginger affects fetal development. However, these studies did not put enough focus on how ginger could cause health risks or interact with pharmaceutical medications.

There is evidence that ginger has anti-coagulant or blood thinning effects. Because of this, it should be avoided by women taking blood thinning medications, including warfarin, heparin, NSAIDs, or even aspirin.This also means that women with a history of miscarriage or vaginal clotting and bleeding should avoid ginger.

Evidence also indicates that ginger can lower blood pressure, leading to possible interaction with blood pressure medications. Ginger can also lower blood sugar so diabetics should take caution.

There is evidence that ginger might stimulate bile flow, and should be avoided by people with a history of gallstones. It can also exacerbate heartburn. Other medications that ginger might interact with include barbiturates, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers.

Because of these diverse effects, Tiran suggests that pregnant women considering ginger for their nausea should consult their doctor first. 

The author is an educator on complementary medicine who runs a consulting agency for expectant mothers out of the U.K.

Tiran’s review was completed in 2011 and is published in the February 2012 issue of Complementary Therapies in Clinical Practice. There were no reported conflicts of interest.