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Can ginger ameliorate chemotherapy-induced nausea? Protocol of a randomized double blind, placebo-controlled trial

Wolfgang Marx1102*, Alexandra L McCarthy34, Karin Ried2, Luis Vitetta56, Daniel McKavanagh7, Damien Thomson8, Avni Sali2 and Liz Isenring1109

Author Affiliations

1 Centre of Dietetics Research, University of Queensland, St Lucia, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

2 National Institute of Integrative Medicine, Melbourne, VIC, Australia

3 Division of Cancer Services, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

4 Institute of Biomedical Innovation, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

5 School of Medicine, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

6 Medlab, Sydney, NSW, Australia

7 Oncology & Haematology Unit, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

8 PAH Oncology & Haematology Unit, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

9 Department of Nutrition & Dietetics, Princess Alexandra Hospital, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

10 Health Sciences & Medicine, Bond University, Brisbane, QLD, Australia

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BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine 2014, 14:134  doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-134

Published: 9 April 2014



Preliminary research shows ginger may be an effective adjuvant treatment for chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting but significant limitations need to be addressed before recommendations for clinical practice can be made.


In a double–blinded randomised-controlled trial, chemotherapy-naïve patients will be randomly allocated to receive either 1.2 g of a standardised ginger extract or placebo per day. The study medication will be administrated as an adjuvant treatment to standard anti-emetic therapy and will be divided into four capsules per day, to be consumed approximately every 4 hours (300 mg per capsule administered q.i.d) for five days during the first three cycles of chemotherapy. Acute, delayed, and anticipatory symptoms of nausea and vomiting will be assessed over this time frame using a valid and reliable questionnaire, with nausea symptoms being the primary outcome. Quality of life, nutritional status, adverse effects, patient adherence, cancer-related fatigue, and CINV-specific prognostic factors will also be assessed.


Previous trials in this area have noted limitations. These include the inconsistent use of standardized ginger formulations and valid questionnaires, lack of control for anticipatory nausea and prognostic factors that may influence individual CINV response, and the use of suboptimal dosing regimens. This trial is the first to address these issues by incorporating multiple unique additions to the study design including controlling for CINV-specific prognostic factors by recruiting only chemotherapy-naïve patients, implementing a dosing schedule consistent with the pharmacokinetics of oral ginger supplements, and independently analysing ginger supplements before and after recruitment to ensure potency. Our trial will also be the first to assess the effect of ginger supplementation on cancer-related fatigue and nutritional status. Chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting are distressing symptoms experienced by oncology patients; this trial will address the significant limitations within the current literature and in doing so, will investigate the effect of ginger supplementation as an adjuvant treatment in modulating nausea and vomiting symptoms.

Trial registration Identifier: ACTRN12613000120774.

Ginger; CINV; Nausea