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Ginger or Cannabis for Morning Sickness

Nausea and vomiting are common during pregnancy, affecting 70 to 85 percent of women worldwide—but not in all countries. Population groups that eat more plant-based diets tend to have little or no nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. In fact, on a nationwide basis, the lowest reported rates in the world are in India at only 35 percent.

Sometimes symptoms are so severe it can become life threatening, a condition known as hyperemesis gravidarum. Each year more than 50,000 pregnant women are hospitalized for this condition. What can we do other than reduce our intake of saturated fat––for example, cutting the odds five-fold by cutting out one daily cheeseburger’s worth?

As I discuss in my video Natural Treatments for Morning Sickness, the “best available evidence suggests that ginger is a safe and effective treatment for PNV,” pregnancy-induced nausea and vomiting. The recommended dose is a gram of powdered ginger a day, which is about a half-teaspoon or equivalent to about a full teaspoon of grated fresh ginger or four cups of ginger tea. The maximum recommended daily dose is four grams, no more than about two teaspoons of powdered ginger a day.

“[C]annabis was rated as extremely effective or effective by 92 percent” of the pregnant women who used it for morning sickness, but cannabis use during pregnancy may be  regarded as potentially harmful to the developing fetus. This is not your mother’s marijuana. “Today’s marijuana is 6 to 7 times more potent than in the 1970s” and may cause problems for both the developing fetus and then later for the developing child. The bottom line is that pregnant and breastfeeding cannabis users should be “advised to either decrease or where possible cease cannabis use entirely.”

What do they mean by “where possible”? Under what circumstances would it not be possible? People don’t realize how bad it can get. One woman observed that during her second pregnancy, “I was throwing up first the acid in my stomach, which is yellow, then it’s orange because it’s the outer layer, and then you get to the green bile which is [from] your intestines. Then once you’re past that, you go straight blood.” Indeed, hyperemesis gravidarum can lead to such violent vomiting that you can rupture your esophagus, bleed into your eyes, go blind, or become comatose. So, there are certain circumstances in which cannabis could be a lifesaver for both the mother and the baby, as women with this condition sometimes understandably choose to terminate otherwise wanted pregnancies.


People have long asked me to do videos about medical marijuana. But, because of the stigma, only recently have a substantial number of clinical studies been published. But that’s now changed. I’ve got a whole DVD full of cannabis videos that will be spread out over the next few years on NutritionFacts.org but you can watch them all streaming now if you can’t wait.

What else can ginger do? See:

What’s my favorite way to eat ginger? See Dr. Greger’s Natural Nausea Remedy Recipe.

Other healthy pregnancy videos include:

In health,
Michael Greger, M.D.

PS: If you haven’t yet, you can subscribe to my free videos here and watch my live, year-in-review presentations:

Discuss

Michael Greger M.D., FACLM

Michael Greger, M.D. FACLM, is a physician, New York Times bestselling author, and internationally recognized professional speaker on a number of important public health issues. Dr. Greger has lectured at the Conference on World Affairs, the National Institutes of Health, and the International Bird Flu Summit, testified before Congress, appeared on The Dr. Oz Show and The Colbert Report, and was invited as an expert witness in defense of Oprah Winfrey at the infamous "meat defamation" trial.


54 responses to “Ginger or Cannabis for Morning Sickness

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  1. Many years ago I read an article by a woman who had such extreme vomiting during pregnancy that she couldn’t keep anything down at any time of day. She finally figured out that the only food she could keep down was salad. So that’s what she lived on through the rest of her pregnancy, and delivered a healthy 8 pound baby. It’s just one woman’s story, but it was a dramatic one.

  2. There are so many women who are Keto. I know one who is rabid Keto, who is currently pregnant.

    I already watched the video where saturated fats caused nausea. I can’t even imagine that people would get that gravely ill and a doctor wouldn’t be saying, “Get off the saturated fats!”

    The information whether she had intense morning sickness hasn’t trickled down. I usually see her 3 or 4 times per year and she tries to sell everybody on Keto every gathering.

    This next one may be interesting.

  3. Oh Doc, I enjoy your info so much but why did you have to go there?
    “Understandably Choose to Terminate”?
    This made me so sad.

    1. Melissa,

      This is the sentence:

      “Today’s marijuana is 6 to 7 times more potent than in the 1970s” and may cause problems for both the developing fetus and then later for the developing child. The bottom line is that pregnant and breastfeeding cannabis users should be “advised to either decrease or where possible cease cannabis use entirely.”

      It may cause problems for the developing fetus and people shouldn’t use it unless they have something like morning sickness so severe that they are going to end up in a coma or go blind.

      1. This study showed the 2nd cause of brain aging is marijuana use. How would using be good for the baby? A family member adopted a baby whose mother used during pregnancy. Poor baby was born having drug withdrawal, and cried piteously for months.
        Doctors used to give those mothers with extreme morning sickness vitamin B shots, complex and B12. It works most of the time. It’s the first thing I try with patients. Sucess rate is good.

        https://www.j-alz.com/content/largest-brain-study-62454-scans-identifies-drivers-brain-aging

        1. “This study showed the 2nd cause of brain aging is marijuana use.” The Amen study

          https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/think-act-be/201810/scan-measure-your-brain-age-buyer-beware

          https://www.quackwatch.org/06ResearchProjects/amen.html

          Compare to this study of HEAVY marijuana using pregnant women in Jamaica:

          “At 1 month, the exposed neonates showed better physiological stability and required less examiner facilitation to reach organized states. The neonates of heavy-marijuana-using mothers had better scores on autonomic stability, quality of alertness, irritability, and self-regulation and were judged to be more rewarding for caregivers.”

          https://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/93/2/254

  4. Is it even possible to get cannibis that isn’t so strong. I tried a puff of a friends (first time in 25 years) and it was too strong. If one wanted to mellow out but not hallucinate or loose motor function, is it possible to get it like that. I don’t think I would bother if it’s that strong.

    1. Yes! Get some organically grown hemp flowers (check out Tweedle Farms) and mix it with the high THC cannabis, in whatever proportion you would prefer. Cannabis in the 70’s had a balance of CBD and other cannabinoids with the THC.

  5. Some hints on how to eat the ground ginger would be helpful. The only thing that comes to mind for me is in applesauce…. Fresh ginger as a tea i guess?
    Also, does the ginger help other types of nausea?

        1. It took over a year, but I am wanting to try new flavors and bold flavors and dishes that I would never have tried.

          For instance, dijon mustard is another thing, which was on my “hate” list, but mustard seed versus ground mustard versus “Can I find an oil free Dijon Mustard without questionable ingredients?” was what I ended up researching today and I really am finally changing. Not only my mouth taste buds but my mental taste buds.

          I am getting pleasure out of the process now. I still haven’t crossed over to pleasure about berries, but spices, I have broken through to the point where anything goes and I enjoy all of it.

          I don’t think I can explain well enough that I had strong, strong food aversions and now I am buying things and wanting to try them.

          That is pretty good.

          1. What makes me laugh is that I end up buying all 3 and wasting so much money, but I am giving myself grace because I don’t know what I will like and I don’t have logic to make the decisions.

            What I think is that there are multiple layers of logic, which have to exist.

            One is that I don’t have a lot of free time and all of it is going to this process and to my dog and an 8-year-old and work, so I need to have at least one convenience option. (Jar of Dijon gets one vote)

            The second logic is that processed food flavorings and sugars and condiments wrecked my taste buds, and I ended up not liking spices or fruits or vegetables or grains, so I need to not lean too heavily on those things, even when they are convenient (Jar of Dijon gets one warning flashing yellow light, ground mustard gets one vote)

            The third logic is that the purer the form, the more I am learning and the more I am enjoying it (Mustard seeds get one vote, but it also gets a warning flashing yellow light because I got food aversions from having flavors I didn’t like and it took me a year and a half to get to the place of trying any form of Mustard at all. No, there were no jars of mustard and no containers of spice in my fridge or cabinets)

            The fourth logic is that I have wayyyyy too many spices now and I overflowed my cabinet and though I am enjoying this process, I hate that I have overflow bins of spices and it ends up looking cluttered, plus, with my brain confusion, I don’t know which one to use and having 3 forms is what ends up happening and that doesn’t simplify anything, plus, it is expensive and I am still someone who never made $40,000, who lives in a ridiculously expensive State and I am supposed to be a wise steward of my money as a Christian and I am giving myself grace and passes every day right now, but if I am still doing this next year, I will have a spice hoarder’s house and no savings account and I don’t have anything to put in hock, so I have to figure out this logic, this year.

            1. Gee Deb, wish we were neighbors, I could sure help you use some of those spices, though my son already thinks I have more than enough. He said I need a kitchen for my kitchen because my small kitchen is overflowing with asst jars of spices, mason jars filled with grains, legumes, fermenting stuff and other assorted goodies; many bottles of vinegar (which I used to despise), sauces, etc… and no pantry besides a tiny closet.

              1. Laughing, and I would gladly give of them!

                It is cliche now, but I have a neighbor who genuinely came over to borrow a cup of sugar years ago and I was so happy.

                Now, the answer would be, “Is date sugar okay?”

                It is so nice to have that.

    1. I use it every morning on my oatmeal. (with cinnamon) I don’t find it too strong. I also put it in smoothies and baked goods.

      1. Ginger-Pear Oatmeal is really delicious. When I discovered how well the flavors went together, I made it every morning while pears were in season.

    2. Maureen, Many people recommend ginger for preventing seasickness. I’m an avid sailor and haven’t gotten seasick yet! There was one time that I almost got seasick, but that was when I was on a sailing trip in the Caribbean and we got hit by a storm and 40 knot winds in a relatively small vessel (45 ft Catamaran). I usually eat some candied ginger before and daily during each sailing adventure. I also eat ginger powder in smoothies on a regular basis for it’s other health benefits, so that may have helped, too.

    3. Hi, Maureen!
      Yes, applesauce and tea are both good options to put ginger in. Ground ginger is also excellent in stir fries, curries, oatmeal, smoothies, and even some salad dressings. I believe Dr. Greger has some recipes with ginger in his cookbook (the How Not to Die Cookbook).
      And yes, ginger is known to help with general nausea as well, not just morning sickness.

  6. I have been plant based for years and still greatly struggled with nausea and vomiting throughout both of my pregnancies. Vegetables were a HUGE nausea trigger but I forced them down by alternating bites with toast. I tried ginger everything and kept peppermint oil close at all times, nothing helped me not lose my lunch though. All to say that even if you’re plant based and organic, pregnancy nausea can still find you.

    1. Yes, the rate for most women give above was: 70 to 85 percent the incidence drops fivefold going low saturated fat, so it didn’t drop to zero.

      I suspect that they didn’t check Whole Food Plant Based, no oil people who eat spices like Ginger, for instance to see if that drops more than fivefold.

    2. Only 1 successful pregnancy and had morning sickness until delivery despite wfpb lowish fat and trying every over the counter, wives tale, acupuncture and reflexology etc.
      Wasn’t gravis but I couldn’t let my stomach get empty or the wretching was hard to control.
      So, I just kept eating!

      I took it as a sign of healthy pregnancy which it was: all my labs were perfect.

  7. “…women with this condition sometimes understandably choose to terminate otherwise wanted pregnancies.” Really? Really? Really? Where is your evidence to support that matter of fact statement which may lead women to end their pregnancy? What about alternatives to support mother and child? Acupuncture, new anti-emetics, IV hydration, etc. ?

    Dr. Greger, I am disappointed in your comments and any recommendations to read your columns from now on will be given with a disclaimer to your bias in favor of induced abortion, …which I hope you will not mistakenly describe as akin to miscarriages that happen “naturally”.

    What about the risks of “termination”? Increased risk of breast cancer for one among many. Angela Lanfranchi MD’s 2018 article is comprehensive review of the studies and mechanisms. She discusses why miscarriage is different. What about the increased of depression, increased risk of suicide and death from all causes, and increased risk of preterm labor in subsequent pregnancies, etc., etc.? No, we do not hear about these and those who study the evidence and attempt to present it are simply summarily dismissed with ad hominem arguments claiming “pseudoscience” without looking at methods, study flaws and strengths, or funding sources. The scientific evidence is there showing bad effects.

    Would that women who choose this would not suffer bad effects from this bad act, however, freely or coerced or deceived they may have been, but many do. They deserve to know the truth or at the very least the ongoing “controversies”.

    Anything that unnatural is not going to be healthy! Direct induced abortion, is an unnatural act that directly aims at killing an innocent offspring, a little member of our own species; harms the mother, and by the loss of this individual never again to exist, wounds the father and rest of the extended family, and our society. There is much good science and good evidence that is ignored or summarily dismissed when it is not politically correct.

    https://www.bcpinstitute.org/uploads/1/1/5/1/115111905/brind_final_corrected_proof__021118.pdf
    http://afterabortion.org/2012/multiple-abortions-increase-risk-of-maternal-death-new-study/
    http://afterabortion.org/2013/abrotion-has-no-benefits-but-does-have-risks-new-research-shows/
    http://afterabortion.org/2008/abortion-provides-no-mental-health-benefits-even-when-pregnancy-is-unwanted/

    1. Christine, i agree. So much emphasis on ‘save the animals’, which I wholeheartedly support. But, human babies have little value in this warped society. Very Sad!

    2. Christine Zainer MD , in the article today you will find source documents are linked via the words in green/blue lettering. The paragraph to which you refer is linked to this document https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2255258/
      Therapeutic abortions due to severe morning sickness.

      I feel so sad for the women who suffered these horrific bouts of sickness. I don’t think I would have persevered.

    3. Christine,

      I do not believe at all that Dr. Greger is recommending these abortions. He is saying that women who did not want to have abortions chose to have them because of the threat of going blind or ending up in a coma because of how severe the morning sickness was. He is saying that those women who chose their own health is something, which he understands, implying that they shouldn’t feel guilty for having made that decision.

      He is also giving concepts, which could help women down the road who might be faced with the same decision.

      I am not sure that you are understanding his motivation for that sentence properly. He is looking at a PubMed article, which is speaking about that phenomenon and he is trying to not cast judgment on the women who chose abortion when they didn’t want to. That had to be so heart-breaking for them already.

      I am not someone who takes abortion lightly and I am a Christian, who hates the abortion culture where people have used it instead of contraception, but a woman who is in jeopardy for her health, I could not say that she can’t have one.

      Honestly, many of my friends have had abortions and several of them never got over it and felt like murderers for the rest of their lives and it is not at all a light thing to any of them. They felt so condemned and I am going to stand as a Christian and say that when a woman has gone through something horrific and made that decision, I never want to be a person pointing a finger at her.

      Even the young people I have known who just were so young that they didn’t use contraception and had abortions because the young man they slept with didn’t even have a job yet and they just didn’t want their parents yelling at them. My heart breaks over the issue because I know that they might never get over that decision.

      I know people who are elderly who never did get over the fact that they had one.

      The poor women who have had to choose between blindness and coma and a baby.

      1. Dr. Greger and his writing team, it is the word, “understandable” which is what is causing people to not understand.

        It that real irony or an “Isn’t it ironic” fake irony again.

        Feels pretty real to me.

        May I suggest a word like, “tragically” instead?

        1. Using the root word, “understand” it feels like a political abortion rights type of sentence. Tragic doesn’t have that undercurrent. It is purely descriptive.

          It is your site and I am not against what these women did and it grieves me terribly that women had to make decisions like that.

          I am not trying to be political by saying this. I really do tend to want to stay outside of politics and be real.

          I have had so many people who had abortions come to church and hear the topic come up and leave crying and feeling so condemned and guilty and that is not what I think the people wanted. They wanted them to go back in time and not have the abortions and the women wanted the same thing, but couldn’t undo it. Life is so tragic at times and so precious and I am for the same level of compassion for animals and people and I know that we haven’t even mastered being polite on web sites yet and that sentence is not against the people who just brought up topics which clearly are important to them. I wrestle with the larger culture everywhere because people don’t discuss things trying to come to understanding. They power struggle over things.

          Christianity is supposed to be “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” but we are often not like that. I am going to bring it off of that topic because I am not trying to preach. I am trying to say that we blow our message every day.

          Sorry when the tomatoes fly at your head.

          1. I will say it again that I am not talking about other people’s comments.

            I personally wrestle with these issues – as a Christian, and as a woman, and as a person who never had one, but who knows people who did and as a person who has stood with LIFE tape over my mouth at the Supreme Court. Not to try to a power struggle with the people of the country, or the government or the courts, but as a prayer between God and I about this issue, which has destroyed so many people’s lives and which was originally devised to wipe out people like the black community and other groups which I believe in a God who values life.

            I feel the same about animals and children and I just do value life. Strange for a woman who spent 24/7 thinking about killing herself as a young person. But I also do understand that the issues are so complicated and I am not someone who debates things. I am someone who is trying to live as a vegan out of compassion, but who is also trying to not judge people who don’t. A lot of times, I am a great big hypocrite splitting hairs left and right and center.

            1. I couldn’t tell you how complex my views on abortion are. I genuinely have such a complicated mind.

              I do think it is understandable that women who are that sick would often terminate the pregnancy.

              I do know that some women do choose even to die to have the baby live.

              I just hate that we don’t understand how many desperate people are on every side of these issues.

              Years ago, I listened to an interview of a woman who owned abortion clinics and she admitted to drumming up business by having Planned Parenthood go to school, teach sex and hand out condoms, knowing that the young people would use them and that they would not be responsible enough to keep using them at that age. I remember being handed a condom. She was a business person who was making a lot of money. That is not why everybody who does Planned Parenthood does it though. That is what makes everything so complicated.

              Yes, I am going to just shut up now.

              Laughing, my brain already couldn’t wrap itself around any of these big issues and now it is so much harder to understand anything except that we need to listen to each other and love each other and have compassion whenever we possibly can and that if I point to anyone for not doing that, the finger will eventually point back to me because I won’t be perfect enough at analyzing any of it.

              1. To back away from the moral implications, my issue would be that it is a very lucrative business, which adults who make money do things intentionally to exploit young people and poor people, and was intentionally developed to exploit minorities in the first place.

                I separate the big industry part from the medical part.

                I can’t do the logic for abortion actually because I am so compassion oriented that I understand every side, but I would say similar sentences about it that are said about the smoking pot while pregnant.

      2. To the people who do not like that Dr. Greger included that study, I am curious if you knew that situation was happening?

        I have been around people where the wife died during childbirth, but I had never heard of women’s lives being threatened during morning sickness and I had never heard that they had to choose between their own health and abortion.

        I love that Dr. Greger includes these true things.

        He is like PBS.

      3. Deb, I think your above paragraph gave a very accurate explanation of how Dr Greger presents information on this website. I have been following this website for many years now, and notice that Dr G rarely “recommends” anything. He just reports the findings of research papers in a clear and concise way for us non-medical types to be able to understand what the latest research says.

          1. Hal,

            You are so nice.

            I appreciate you.

            Tonight, I was getting my phone fixed and the woman at Apple was so sweet, I ended up giving her a hug after she told me that the half hour she spent with me was free.

            People just being nice changes the whole world.

            1. My favorite part was that she fixed my SIRI and I tested it and said,”Nutritionfacts.org” and Siri sent me straight here.

              First try!

  8. When I used to accidentally get MSG, I had violent episodes of vomiting and worried about getting injured by it. Didn’t know it was an actual thing to worry about. I just experienced it as so violent. I called it projectile vomiting.

  9. There are no studies of women who actually consumed cannabis during pregnancy and whilst breastfeeding. I did both many years ago and my child is healthy and strong, admit I would not risk it now because the strains of cannabis have changed and become stronger but it would be good to see how it can be used in the future with some science behind it. Not everyone can consume ginger either.

    1. Good point sunnyveg ! Not everyone can tolerate ginger, powder or fresh, and not everyone can tolerate pot either. Accupuncture has been a total waste of time and money for me every time I tried (though even a placebo effect would be welcome). Glad to hear all turned out well for you and your baby!

    1. Will, we have heard that it is coming.

      Though, IMHO, I am not sure that the science is settled yet because of the recent animal studies of it causing insulin resistance and messing up circadian rhythms. I think Tom posted something about liver damage, too, but those are newer studies and some of it was on animals.

      I am pondering it because I end up skipping breakfast a lot without intentionally trying to do intermittent fasting and my circadian rhythms are so far off. Not sure if it will be related.

      1. Wow, that’s interesting I never eat breakfast and my rythems are jacked also. But I could have other reasons for that. However my best sleep is always from 8-10 am.

        End

    2. Hi will – Thanks for your great suggestion and I will certainly pass it along!

      Janelle RD – Registered Dietitian & NutritionFacts.org Health Support Volunteer

  10. I ended up eating some of the new and improved Shirataki nobles tonight because I had bought some before I noticed.

    I went to bed fine, and slept for an hour, but woke up needing to projectile vomit.

    I don’t think it was placebo effect.

    I didn’t think about the reduced iron at all until I woke up sick.

    The flu or the new and improved noodles.

    I haven’t had this since the coconut oil.

    1. The coconut oil was just regular throwing up from nausea.

      I must have just had something with a chemical of some sort.

      MSG or something.

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