Ginger May Improve Digestive Symptoms Associated With Anorexia-Cachexia Syndrome In End Stage Cancer Patients

BACKGROUND: Anorexia-cachexia syndrome (ACS) is a complex condition in advanced cancer patients, defined by disproportionate loss of skeletal muscle mass, and a lack or loss of appetite. This condition greatly lowers the quality of life and limits the treatment options. ACS is commonly associated with gastrointestinal symptoms such as nausea and vomiting. Ginger has been successful in treating these symptoms but has not yet been tested on patients with advanced cancer. Electrogastrography is a technology that allows the direct recording of the gastric myoelectrical activity (GMA).

PURPOSE: The aim of this study is to (1) determine the effects of ginger on the GMA in these patients, (2) evaluate the subjective symptoms using 3 validated scales, and (3) correlate the level of inflammatory factors and ghrelin in this patient population.

METHODS: Patients with ACS and advanced cancer were recruited from the Palliative Rehabilitation outpatient program at Elizabeth Bruyère Hospital. Patients were instructed to take a daily capsule of 1650 mg of ginger for 14 days and outcome measures were recorded at pre- and post-intervention, which included a blood test for analysis of CRP, albumin and ghrelin levels, 3 self-administered surveys (DSSI, PG-SGA, ESAS), patient-reported symptoms, and an EGG diagnosis.

RESULTS: Fifteen patients with a median age of 58 and varying cancer diagnoses were enrolled. EGG diagnosis showed that 9 of the 15 patients had a direct improvement in their GMA, and all patients showed improvement in reported symptoms, most notably nausea, dysmotility- and reflux-like symptoms. There was no correlation found for ginger administration and inflammatory factors.

CONCLUSION: These findings suggest that ginger may improve GMA as measured by EGG and may have a notable effect on symptom improvement.

Bhargava R, et al. The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) in patients with advanced cancer. Support Care Cancer. 2020 Jul;28(7):3279-3286.