Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Settling stressed out tummies with ginger tea - with a caution for pregnancy


Have a cuppa! Courtesy Wikipedia
Last Saturday I went to a workshop on Social Anxiety Disorder run by the renowned anxiety researcher Michael Eysenck, Emeritus Professor in psychology at Royal Holloway, University of London and Professorial Fellow at Roehampton University.

It was a great experience and I'll post a link to a summary article here next week.  However, the talk got me thinking about something I should probably share.

If you know me, you'll know that I'm not into alternative medicine or treatment of any kind. Twenty-five years in Asia haven't converted me to believing in acupuncture, reiki and so on. 

However, when clients tell me they're stressed, I usually start with two things.  First, I advise them start the day with a glass of ginger tea.  Not the crystal ginger flavoured products from the shops! I'm talking about either a slice of the fresh root or some powdered ginger.

Ginger contains oils that fight nausea, which is why some studies have found it's effective against tummy upsets caused by travel sickness, operations and chemo. You can read a paper that discusses these studies here. Equally, other studies have found that ginger is as effective as a placebo, so the idea that it works is controversial.

What tips the balance for me is that ginger tea is a traditional drink. For many of my clients it's familiar because it's something grandma used to give them. So it has good positive associations of comfort.  That's important because I'm looking to help people feel better.

For most people it seems to work. So when anxiety gives you butterflies (or bats, if you're really stressed) I'd say try a cup of ginger tea and see if it helps settle that.


I'm not saying you should drink the stuff all day long!  For one thing, ginger also acts as a mild laxative, so if you're downing it by the bucket, you're going to have a real problem.

As a matter of common sense, anything with active ingredients comes with warnings. Ginger is rated as safe, which is why it's in the spice section of the shops. However, apart from being a mild laxative, it also has some blood thinning properties. If you have medical issues or are pregnant, you must talk to your doctor first! If you're just generally curious, check out WebMD's notes here.

As for the second thing, I'll tell you about that next time. Given what you know about my alternative stance, I bet I'll surprise you.

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