Whenever I wake up feeling nauseous, the first thing I do is convince myself that I am either (a) dying or (b) pregnant. Then, after curling up into the fetal position and freaking out for a few minutes, I take some Tums or chug some Pepto-Bismol — and my nausea usually goes away. Recently, though, I was chatting with a friend who told me that I should cut out the chalky stuff and just have a cup of ginger tea next time I feel ill. So I consulted with two experts to see if ginger tea really can help with an upset stomach.
First of all, why ginger tea, specifically? As someone who has been in a grocery store before, I am aware that there are many — nay, countless — varieties of tea out there, each of which seems to purport to have some sort of natural medicinal property on its box. But apparently, ginger might just be one of the best out there, especially when it comes to helping with nausea and pain. Dr. Christopher D’Adamo, an assistant professor at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, told me, “One of the reasons it has benefits is it has really strong anti-inflammatory properties.”
So, in general, what are the benefits of ginger tea? Well, because of those anti-inflammatory properties, studies have found that ginger works as a pain reliever. Meaning, it can help with your menstrual cramps (thank God), joint pain, and other generalized aches. Dr. D’Adamo noted that it isn’t necessarily as effective as popping a couple of Ibuprofen, but it doesn’t have any of the side effects — which range from heartburn to diarrhea — that can come along with taking Ibuprofen. Rochelle Sirota, a registered dietitian with Roc Nutrition, added that ginger has also been found to be good for digestion, circulation, and motion sickness.
Can it help settle my stomach, though? Yes! Well, in most instances, according to Dr. D’Adamo. Of course, it won’t help if you’ve got norovirus or severe nausea — there’s medication for that — but if you’re suffering from a general upset stomach that is making you feel a bit queasy, having some ginger can do the trick. Ginger has also been found to help with morning sickness, so pregnant women whose stomachs are bothering them might want to turn to ginger for some help.
But how much ginger should actually be in my tea? Dr. D’Adamo told me that most studies of ginger have been done on a portion size of just one gram — which is about one-fifth of a teaspoon. So, you don’t need too much ginger to get the benefits. Luckily, most ginger tea contains about one gram, so just check the label of the tea to be sure. But you can also make your own ginger tea, which takes me to …
How can I make my own tea? While I generally lack any semblance of domestic skills, Sirota explained to me that making ginger tea is actually quite simple. All you need to do is go buy some ginger root at the market. Then, you peel the ginger root, and either grate it or dice it. Next, just put a bit of that in a cup, pour in some hot water, and let it steep. Easy.
Is there anyone who wouldn’t benefit from ginger tea? When it comes to herbs, there’s no one size fits all, so ginger won’t help everyone with an upset stomach. In fact, Dr. D’Adamo said ginger tea might actually cause gastrointestinal issues for some people, since it can be quite spicy. So, if you’re new to ginger, he recommends having just a small portion in your tea — one gram, like we discussed. He also said you should drink your tea with food, just to make sure it won’t make your stomach even more upset.