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Ginger for nausea

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

My husband is to start chemo this Wednesday (head/neck and lung). I saw a post somewhere on here about taking ginger ahead of time to lower the nausea side effects. CAn anyone tell me, do you have to get capsules from a store or could you just mix ground ginger with some water. My husband is on a feeding tube, so taste is not an issue as I would just put it through the tube.
thanks,
Debbie

johnlax38's picture
johnlax38
Posts: 136
Joined: Aug 2010

Hi Deb,

A friend of mine who had chest cancer recommended the same to me, take ginger supplement tabs/pills before treatments. She claimed it helped her but I mentioned this to my doctors and nurses and they advised me to stay away from herbal and vitamin supplements as they may interfere with treatment drugs, etc... I'd say talk to your doctors and see what they say and make you decision from there. It's just ginger so I don't see the harm in them! I take them now post treatment and it helps with indigestion.

Hope all goes well.

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

John,
I did mention it to the Onco when we first met and he saw no problem with it. Siad he was aware of the properties (said that's why people drink ginger ale when they have an upset stomach). He did warn against other herbal supplements like St. Joh's Wort, etc.
debbie

Skiffin16's picture
Skiffin16
Posts: 8100
Joined: Sep 2009

Not sure of his regime...

On mine during the nine weeks (three week cycles) of Cisplatin, Taxotere and 5FU, I took EMEND. One the day of chemo, then two each following day, never got sick once.

During the seven weekly doses of Carboplatin, I had Zofran just incase as needed. I rarely had problems with nausea though.

Best,
John

Scambuster's picture
Scambuster
Posts: 975
Joined: Nov 2009

For the Nausea, you can make a Ginger Tea with fresh finely sliced ginger, probably slice up a piece about the size of a ladies thumb, and steep in hot water. Fresh is always better. Note ginger might burn his mouth and if so, then taking caps would be easier.

To make a nice soothing brew which is excellent for the dry mouth you can add a tbs spoon of Apple Cider Vinegar and Honey (Malaluka if you find it) and a pinch of salt to the Ginger tea or make separately mixing all in a a glass of warm water. Sip during the day. As said, this is a very good brew for dry mouth. I forgot all about this till digging through some old mails.

Hope this helps.

Scam

Hondo's picture
Hondo
Posts: 5881
Joined: Apr 2009

I know it is good for you but just hard for me to get down

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

Scam,
your brew does sound tasty, especially with the honey. But, unfortunately, as I said, he will have to put it through his tube. He cannot take anything by mouth right now because a fistula has formed just inside his stoma. Liquids seep through from the esophogus into his wind pipe and cause him to choke and cough.

It is interesting that as I now read about everyone's issues with dry mouth and lack of taste, I remember my husband going through that 3 years ago when he was first diagosed with his cancer. I recall that it was a rough time. But now, those days seem like a walk in the park compared to what he has been going through the last few months.

best of luck to all of you.

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

Thanks, John. I'll have to ask about the Emend.
He had 3 doses of carboplatin this summer to go along with the Cyberknife radiation. he got sick from it each time. I forgot what nausea medicine he had at that time. doesn't seem like it did much.
He has recently been given the Zofran to help with some nausea from pain meds so I'm sure we will be using that also.

the regime that we are getting ready to start is Carboplatin and paclitaxel.

Debbie

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

The gold standard for preventing chemo nausea is Emend (you take 1 the morning of chemo and 1 each day for 2 days after) plus decadron (dexomethasone) for the first 5-8 days. Zofran (ondansetron) and decadron are often used together as well - a typical course for someone with your husband's nausea problems would be all 3 for the first 3 days and then zofran and decadron for another 2-5 days. (Insurance companies don't like to pay for Emend, as it is still very expensive).

All of these are preventive - only the decadron will help nausea after it's already started, and it takes a few days to do that (it does other things, such as help prevent swelling and stimulating appetite, especially when taken for weeks).

Ask about immediate-relief drugs if he has nausea despite the drugs (often happens day 5-8) - Compazine helps a lot, Ativan is good but makes you woozy. Decadron often causes hiccups, especially in men. Doug had them the first time, and they were bad; so we skipped the decadron the next time - not worth it, as his nausea was uncontrollable. Thorazine, in place of Compazine, will help with hiccups as well as nausea, and they apparently fade after 2 days anyway.

So, whatever, preventive antinausea drugs they prescribe, make sure you take them on schedule (don't skip because you feel better, or take them 2 hours later than you should because it's more convenient). If they give you back-up drugs, like Compazine or Ativan, take them as soon as you get nausea symptoms; if the nausea returns less than 4 hours later, you might need to consider switching drugs. If taking the drugs every 6 hours keeps it under control, then stick to that schedule at least until 8 days after chemo.

The back-up drugs, like compazine and ativan cause constipation. Really. Take your colace and miralax regularly and drink as much water as you can keep down or you will find yourself doing some rather nasty procedures. Really.

A caution about ginger - it works by speeding up gastric emptying (moving stuff from your stomach to your small intestine); some antinausea drugs work by trying to calm down your stomach muscles (thereby slowing stuff moving around) so doctors worry about them conflicting. I would avoid capsules and only consume whatever ginger my taste buds allowed - if they start saying "no" it might mean you are taking too much. There's a ginger gum marketed for motion sickness - I tried it and found it spicy, but effective. Doug's mouth was too sore at that point. My opinion is that it won't be effective for really bad nausea, however.

Consider printing this out and taking it to your doctor for discussion - I am not a medical doctor (I'm a chemist) but I picked up a fair amount of experience with these drugs (don't we all). My brother-in-law the doctor reminds me that this part of medicine is an art, and several approaches can work, so you might end up with a different mixture of drugs, but it's a starting point for the conversation. There are other drugs possible (Doug had to use one) that are saved for uncontrollable nausea (they have worse potential side effects, but most are rare) so don't give up if nothing is working. It took us many tries to get the best combo for Doug.

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

DrMary....thanks for all that info. My husband does have a scrip for Zofran. That was just for nausea caused by pain meds. We see the oncologist in the morning just before we begin the chemo. I will definitely mention these other drugs to see what he says. They may just see how he does this first round with the Zofran and then go from there. It seems like before, that an anti-nausea med was also part of the infusion.

He also has Ativan but I thought that was given to him for anxiety. Does it work for nausea also?

I'll let you know how it goes.
debbie

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

Yes, a lot of anti-anxiety drugs are also anti-nausea (and vice versa - one reason airlines used to be happy to hand out dramamine for air sickness was it also put them to sleep) so Ativan can be used for both. Try to get extra of that - you can take one yourself if it all starts to get to you (although beer works almost as well and you can regulate the dosage better). Or (I'm sure his doctor would prefer) talk to your own doctor - I really underestimated the strain a caregiver goes through and wish I had done so.

I think they gave Doug both Zofran and Decadron in the IV during the infusion and then he continued them orally.

Another powerful anti-nausea drug (for after nausea shows up) you might ask to have handy is Phenargan - you can get it as a suppository, which is useful when someone is barfing various other guts up. It helped us turn the tide one night when Doug was really hurting. (It helps to have gloves handy when doing this - trust me.)

Zofran really is preventive, so you must take it regularly. Doug had sufficient problem with nausea from the pain pills that he finally had to stop taking them, but if the Zofran helps hold that off, great. (Again, the pain pills also cause constipation - I can't stress enough the bad situation you can get in if you let it go more than 2 days or so. Our doctor told us about a guy who went several weeks - they had to hospitalize him to take care of the impaction safely.)

We also found an interesting use for "Magic Mouthwash" - a mix of lidocaine, benedryl and antacid. Usually, folks use this to numb mouth and throat sores before eating. Our doctors didn't really like it, but I talked them into a script when he was throwing up so much. A shot of that right after throwing up helped with the incredible pain in his throat (both from the coughing and from the stomach acid on raw flesh) and also seemed to stop the aftershocks. For some, the worst part of nausea is indeed the pain of throwing up - with that at hand, Doug was willing to keep drinking water and supplements, knowing that if he did vomit, we could make it stop hurting fast.

Know that the day will come when you will not be a walking pharmacy and he will be only taking a few pills, if any. At one point, I think I had 8 pill bottles, 2 bottles of syrup, and 2 syringes on me at all times (plus a few suppositories) - his regular meds and the emergency back-ups. What a difference a month makes!

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

Thanks for the reminder on the Phenargan. I think someone told me about that quite some time ago and I forgot. It always did seem counter-productive to give someone oral medication when they were puking.

We also have the Magic Mouthwash so I'll remember that one. He hasn't used it much since the laryngectomy because he can't really gargle. Plus he didn't seem to think that it helped the constant pain in his throat but perhaps it could be useful if the vomiting makes things raw.

Ahh, yes....the constipation and impaction. Been there, done that. Only that was 3 years ago when he had the first go around with C. It was just after he got the feeding tube inserted and I thought I was doing something wrong when I would try to inject the fluid through his tube and it would start coming back out of his mouth. He got hospitalized with that also. This time around he hasn't had a problem despite the heavy narcotics. In fact, he has been having the opposite problem with diarrhea. But I spoke with his GP today and ihe thinks it may be because we increased his number of cans of food from 5 to 6. He said sometimes the intestines just cannot tolerate that much.

So, we'll see what tomorrow brings. (Actully, it's usually the day after, but whatever).
thanks for all your input.
Debbie

Clearblue
Posts: 188
Joined: Apr 2010

see your csn mail.

timreichhart
Posts: 195
Joined: Aug 2010

If its not 2 late but I know this sounds stupid but I have used motion sickness wristbands for my nausea and it worked great I used it when I was getting chemo/radiation treatments and I wore them everyday during and after treatments and couple months after all treatments was done because the meds they gave me for nausea was only working half of the time. But with the motion sickness wristbands worked for me.

use these wristbands: http://www.sea-band.com/

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

I considered these but was not able to try them on Doug. It would be interesting to see some studies - it does seem that folks who usually get motion sickness get worse chemo nausea.

Scambuster's picture
Scambuster
Posts: 975
Joined: Nov 2009

If you don't have the wrist bands, you can also administer the treatment yourself quite easily and it has been used for centuries.

If you place a finger on the groove betwen the two biggest tendons on your wrist (inside wrist) about 3-4 finger widths down from the 1st crease in your wrist next to the palm, you will find the pressure point. Press into the point with a finger and you will actually feel the pressure point when you are on the money. When you push in, you feel a strange sensation radiate out with a dull ache type pain. Massage the area for a couple of minutes with the tip of your opposed index finger when ever to get relief. You can do both sides.

There a re few other good points which also help. Google it and you find various sites to explain where and how.

Scam

Dale_G's picture
Dale_G
Posts: 18
Joined: Dec 2010

I had Emend IV the first day, then pills the next two. Also needed the compazine and Kytril. My chemo drug was cisplatin.

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

It is similar to Zofran, but newer. Many folks who don't respond to Zofran respond to Kytril. Again, you might need to fight with your insurance company - ours had no problem with the switch to Kytril (and then back again when it was no better) but some might claim Zofran is "just as good" (which it is, for some).

debbieg5's picture
debbieg5
Posts: 168
Joined: Nov 2010

Well, luckily, Ken doesn't seem to be having a problem with nausea his time. However, he has hardly been out of bed for the last 3 days. he is even taking his feeding bags upstairs and hanging them by the bed for feeding time. I hope he bounces back a little before next week's treatment.

Dale_G's picture
Dale_G
Posts: 18
Joined: Dec 2010

The nurse/angels at the chemo center gave me some samples. Probably enough for my next two chemos. I haven't taken any anti-nausea meds for the past 24 hours and feel pretty good now, 4.5 days since chemo.

Re: Ginger. We had some fresh ginger in the house so I made up a tea by shredding a piece about the size of my thumb, steeping it in a cup of hot water with 2 tsp sugar and straining it. Very good. I'm going to start using it a lot - of for nothing else than as a warm beverage. I like the taste. May also add a couple lemon drops instead of sugar.

Thanks for the info DrMary!

DrMary's picture
DrMary
Posts: 527
Joined: Nov 2010

The next wave (sorry) of nausea often shows up after 5 days (and can last 3-5 more days) - if you don't see it, great, but be ready with the pills and don't let it get ahead of you. Otherwise, it sounds like you're doing really well - good for you!

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