Ginger may help relieve the nausea and vomiting that can occur in early pregnancy, results of a study suggest.

Investigators from Chiang Mai University in Thailand found that a group of 32 pregnant women who took a daily supplement containing one gram of ginger for four days reported feeling less nauseous and had fewer vomiting episodes than a group of 35 women who took an inactive placebo pill. Ginger did not appear to cause any side effects among the mothers or their babies, although more research will be needed to confirm this finding.

According to the researchers, nausea and vomiting during the first trimester of pregnancy, also known as morning sickness, is common but not well understood. Some studies have suggested that morning sickness indicates that a pregnancy is healthy, because a growing placenta produces estrogen. The hormone can heighten a woman's sense of smell and cause nausea. If the placenta is not producing estrogen, there may be a problem with the pregnancy.

Ginger, which has been shown to reduce nausea for motion sickness and after surgery, also appears to work for pregnant women, the study findings suggest. In countries where large amounts of ginger are used on a daily dietary level, there does not seem to be a problem. Ginger supplements that are available in health food stores contain dried, powdered ginger root.

Larger studies will need to determine if ginger has any rare side effects before it is recommended as a therapy for morning sickness.

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