Ginger – Zingiber Officinale
In the orient ginger is commonly used to enhance digestion and utilization of all other nutrients, to reduce gas, and as an overall tonic, and to improve circulation and lower cholesterol. Especially supportive of bronchial health. Repulsive to intestinal and other parasites. Phenylalkylketones (Gingerols, Shogaols, Singerone), Aromatic Oils (Zingiberone, Bisabolene, Camphene, Geranial, Linalool, Borneol) and some 400 other identified Phytonutrients. Ginger root is widely used around the world as a spice or food additive. Ginger is fried and eaten plain, and used in curry pastes and other sauces in India; it is grilled and used to flavor fish and meats or for making ginger tea in Indonesia; it is boiled or fried in Chinese cookery; used to baste chicken or eaten as pickled ginger (beni shoga) and served with sushi in Japan; and used in Jamaica to make Jamaican jerk paste. A ginger extract with carbonated water makes the popular drink we call ginger ale.
Ginger was used in the Middle Ages in Europe to flavor beer. Ginger has been used in Asia for thousands of years for relief from arthritis, rheumatism, sprains, muscular aches and pains, catarrh, congestion, coughs, sinusitis, sore throats, diarrhea, colic, cramps, indigestion, loss of appetite, motion sickness, fever, flu, chills, and infectious disease. The Lancet, a highly respected British medical journal, reported excellent results in scientific tests using ginger to treat nausea: “The powdered rhizome of Zingiber officinale has been found to be more effective than dimenhydrinate (Dramamine?) in reducing motion sickness in individuals highly susceptible to this malady (Mowrey and Clayson, The Lancet, 1982).” Other reports from medical research indicate that ginger is effective in reducing the effects of morning sickness in pregnant women. The Latin name Zingiber is derived from the Sanskrit word, shringavera, which means “shaped like a deer’s antlers.” The word ginger evolved in English from the Latin zingiber as “gingifer” and “gingivere.”
|Ginger, Zingiber officinale|
|Botanical Name||Zingiber officinale|
|Essence||Warming & Cheering|
|Function||A spicy aroma that warms and fortifies the psyche. Stimulating, cheering when one is lonely and listless. Sharpens the senses. Helps with colds, flu, sore throats and runny noses. Use for digestion problems may also help feelings of nausea, hangovers and travel, sea sickness. May relieve arthritic, rheumatic, lower back pain.|
|Usage||Bath – 5-6 drops will warm and cheer on those dull cold winter days.|
Diffuse – or inhale while traveling to alleviate travel sickness.
Massage – 10-15 drops in 60 ml of carrier oil, can be applied to stomach to soothe indigestion.
|Aromatherapy||warming, strengthening, anchoring|
|Caution||Skin irritant. A small amount goes a long way.|
Habitat: Native to S.E. Asia but cultivated in India, China, the West Indies, Nigeria and elsewhere in the tropics.
Collection: The rootstock is dug up when the leaves have dried. The remains of the stem and root fibers should be removed. Wash thoroughly and dry in the sun.
Part Used:The rootstock.
- Volative oil, l-2% or occasionally more, containing mainly zingiberene and bisabolene, with zingiberol, zingiberenol, curcumene, camphene, citral, cineole, borneol, linalool, methylheptenone and many other minor components
- Pungent principles; a mixture of phenolic compounds with carbon side chains of 7 or more carbon atoms, referred to as gingerols, gingerdiols, gingerdiones, dihydrogingerdiones and shogaols. The shogaols are produced by dehydration and degradation of the gingerols and are formed during drying and extraction. The shogaols are twice as pungent as the gingerols, which accounts for the fact that dried ginger is more pungent than fresh.
Actions: Stimulant, carminative, anti-spasmodic, rubefacient, diaphoretic, emmenagogue.
Indications: Ginger may be used as a stimulant of the peripheral circulation in cases of bad circulation, chilblains and cramps. In feverish conditions, Ginger acts as a useful diaphoretic, promoting perspiration. As a gargle it may be effective in the relief of sore throats. Externally it is the base of many fibrositis and muscle sprain treatments. Ginger has been used world-wide as an aromatic carminative and pungent appetite stimulant. In India, and in other countries with hot and humid climates, ginger is eaten daily and is a well-known remedy for digestion problems. Its wide-spread use is not only be due to flavor, but to the anti-oxidant and anti-microbial effects, necessary for preservation of food, essential in such climates.
Ellingwood describes this herb thus: This agent is mentioned in but few therapeutic works, although it occupies an important place, and should not be neglected. It is a profound and immediate stimulant, an active diaphoretic, an anodyne in gastric and intestinal pain, and a sedative to an irritated and overwrought system when there is extreme exhaustion. An infusion of the powder drunk warm produces immediate but mild emesis and active diaphoresis. Ginger is an emergency remedy. In every case in which brandy or whisky is given to produce an immediate stimulating influence, the tincture of ginger can be given with even better results. From half a teaspoonful to a teaspoonful will produce greater stimulation than half an ounce of brandy. It may be stirred into half a glass of cold water, but is much more immediate in its action if given in hot water. The tincture does not produce emesis.
The agent stimulates the stomach actively, producing a pleasing sense of warmth. It overcomes flatulence and quickly relieves flatulent colic. In atonic conditions of the stomach and intestinal tract, it stimulates the structure to renewed activity and materially assists in the restoration of normal tone. It relieves pain from any cause except inflammatory action, when this remedy must be avoided. In acute colds the entire train of symptoms may be aborted in a single night, by advising the patient to take a hot mustard foot bath at bedtime, while the body, prepared for bed, is wrapped in warm blankets. During the foot bath the patient should drink a glass or two of hot water, each of which contains half of a dram of the tincture of Ginger. Acute inflammations may be aborted by this course. In dysmenorrhoea, ovarian neuralgia and uterine pain from any cause at the menstrual epoch, this agent is reliable. If given at the beginning of an hysterical attack it will often abort the attack, and produce quiet and restful sleep.
Preparations & Dosage: Infusion: pour a cup of boiling water onto l teaspoonful of the fresh root and let it infuse for 5 minutes. Drink whenever needed. Decoction: if you are using the dried root in powdered or finely chopped form, make a decoction by putting l l/2 teaspoonfuls to a cup of water. Bring it to the boil and simmer for 5-l0 minutes. This can be drunk whenever needed. Tincture: the tincture comes in two forms, weak Tincture B.P. which should be taken in a dose of l.5-3ml three times a day and the Strong Tincture B.P. which should be taken in a dose of 0.25-0.5ml three times a day.
This tropical plant, needing plenty of heat and humidity, may find a temporary home in a partially shady spot of your summer garden, but pot culture is more practical for an extended growing period. The best way to start ginger is to purchase a fresh (not dried or frozen) root at a grocery store in early spring. Cut the root (rhizome) into 1- or 2-” sections but long enough to include several healthy-looking, well-developed growth buds. Let the cut ends callous over (dry out) a day or so, then plant just below the soil surface in fertile, well-drained soil. Water sparingly until top growth develops, otherwise the rhizome could rot. Once established, water heavily, fertilize monthly, and keep in a partially shaded location. Provided with adequate space, ginger can reach a height of 4′ with a 2- to 3-foot spread. Bring in before temperatures drop below 50 degrees F. Rhizomes may rot in cold wet soil. Allow several months before harvesting to allow rhizomes to reach adequate size. With care, new sections may be harvested while allowing the remainder to continue growing.
True ginger is one of the oldest known and most widely consumed spices. In China, ginger is mentioned in the earliest of herbals. Dried ginger is first mentioned in Shen Nong Ben Cao Jing, attributed to the Divine Plowman Emperor, Shen-Nong, who lived about 2,000 BC. Fresh ginger was first listed in Ming Yi Bie Lu ( Miscellaneous Records of Famous Physicians) and Ben Cao Jing Ji Zhu ( Collection of Commentaries on the Classics of Materia Medica) both attributed to Tao Hong-jing, published during the dynasties of the North and South Kingdoms around the year 500 AD. Fresh ginger and dried ginger are considered two different commodities. In fact, one author of an early ben cao (Chinese herbal) felt that they were so different that they must come from two different plants!
The dried root is known as Gan-jiang. The fresh root is called Sheng-jiang. The fresh root is used to dispel pathogens via its ability to induce sweating. It expels cold, relieves nausea and “clear away” toxic matter. The dried root treats depleted yang, removes cold, is useful for “cold” pain of the stomach and abdomen, is useful for diarrhea due to cold deficiency, cough, rheumatism and many other uses. Experimental data developed by Chinese scientists verifies the ability of the dried root to “strengthen,” the stomach while acting as a mild stomach and intestinal stimulant. It has also been shown to inhibit vomiting. Studies with fresh root showed that for the first few hours ginger tea reduced gastric secretions, followed by a longer period of stimulation.
Animal experiments have also shown analgesic and anti-inflammatory activity. Even in modern China, while an essential ingredient in almost any meal, it is also one of the most widely consumed drugs. Both fresh and dried roots are official drugs of the modern Chinese pharmacopoeia, as is a liquid extract and tincture of ginger. Ginger is used in dozens of traditional Chinese prescriptions as a “guide drug” to “mediate” the effects of potentially toxic ingredients. In fact, in modern China, Ginger is believed to be used in half of all herbal prescriptions.
The fresh or frozen rhizome is grated and used in Eastern recipes in soups, stir fry, and numerous other meat, poultry and seafood dishes. Crystallized ginger root is a popular Asian confection. The young sprouts are also edible. Dried and ground, the spice has a Western culinary tradition in baking, candies and puddings. Ginger extracts have been extensively studied for a broad range of biological activities including antibacterial, anticonvulsant, analgesic, antiulcer, gastric anti-secretory, antitumor, antifungal, antispasmodic, antiallergenic, and other activities. Gingerols have been shown to be inhibitors of prostaglandin biosynthesis. Danish researchers at Odense University have studied the anticoagulant properties of ginger and found that it was a more potent blood-clotting agent than garlic or onion.
The same research group studied the potential use of ginger in the treatment of migraine, based on the long history of ginger use for neurological disorders by practitioners of India’s traditional medicine system known as Ayurveda. The researchers proposed that ginger may exert migraine-headache-relieving and preventative activity without side effects. Other scientific studies show that gingerol, one of the primary pungent principles of ginger, helps counter liver toxicity by increasing bile secretion. Ginger has potent anti-microbial and anti-oxidant (food preservative) qualities as well. A recent study, furthering ginger’s reputation as a stomachic, shows that acetone and methanol extracts of ginger strongly inhibits gastric ulceration.