- Zingiber officinale L.
- Ginger family
fresh (Sanskrit name)
dry (Chinese name)
dry (Sanskrit name)
fresh (Chinese name)
Parts Usually Used
Roots and rhizomes
Description of Plant(s) and Culture
Ginger is a perennial plant; the aromatic, knotty rootstock is thick,
fibrous, and whitish or buff-colored. It produces a simple, leafy
stem covered with the leaf sheaths of the lanceolate-oblong to linear
leaves. The plant reaches a height of 3-4 feet, the leaves growing
6-12 inches long. The sterile flowers are white with purple streaks
and grow in spikes.
Indigenous to tropical Asia and cultivated in other tropical areas,
Antispasmodic, antiemetic, analgesic, antiseptic, appetizer, aromatic,
carminative, condiment, diaphoretic, expectorant, febrifuge, pungent,
Topically: increases blood flow to an area
Bisabolene, borneal, borneol, camphene, choline, cineole, citral,
ginerol, inositol, volatile oils, PABA, phellandrene, phenols, alkaloids,
mucilage, acrid resin, sequiterpene, vitamins B3, B5, zingerone, and
Legends, Myths and Stories
Ginger is an ancient herb native to Asia. It is produced commercially
in Jamaica, Africa, Japan, China, India, and the Dutch East Indies;
the best is reputed to be that of Jamaica. The Chinese have been using
ginger for more than 2,000 years. The Japanese serve ginger slices
between sushi courses to clear the palate and aid digestion.
In China, the poorer classes test food by tossing a slice of fresh
ginger into their cooking pot. They claim that if the root turns a
dark color the food is bad.
Marco Polo mentions ginger in his unbelievable narrative of the 13th
century. The Spaniards brought the first ginger plants to the New
World in the early part of the 16th century. The finest roots today
come from Jamaica.
If ginger is grown in greenhouses, it may bloom and produce an exotic
and interesting flower that looks somewhat like a miniature pineapple.
Ginger root adds an agreeable zest to many beverages. The root is
used in wines, liqueurs and soft drinks.
Dry ginger is a better stimulant and expectorant; fresh ginger is
a better diaphoretic, better for colds, cough, and vomiting.
The following is a quote from the book "Old Ways Rediscovered" by
Clarence Meyer."Recipe for ginger beer from The Illustrated London
Cookery book (1852): Pour 2 gallons of boiling water on 1/4 lb. of
cream of tartar, 1 oz. of sliced ginger, 2 lbs. of sugar; let it stand
6 hours, then add 2 tbsp. of yeast, let it stand 6 hours more, strain
through fine strainer, put it into stone bottles, tie down the corks,
and it will be fit for use in 24 hours."
Another old-time favorite was the ginger tissane: made by steeping
1/2 tsp. root in 1 cup boiling water, keep saucer over the cup while
steeping. Strain when only warm and sip as needed. If desired, sweeten
Natives of the West Indies add a dash of nutmeg or 1-2 cloves to
A spicy herb used for colitis,
diverticulosis, nausea, gas, indigestion,
paralysis of the tongue, morning
sickness, travel sickness or motion
sickness, vomiting, hot flashes
and menstrual cramps.
Cleanses the colon, gas
and fermentation, cholera, gout,
nausea, arthritis, stimulates
circulation, and reduces spasms and cramps.
Ginger tea or tincture, taken hot, promotes cleansing of the system
through perspiration and is also said to be useful for suppressed
menstruation. Take it to clear up flatulent colic
or combine it with laxative herbs to make them more palatable or milder
in action. Try it at the onset of a cold,
chronic bronchitis, to ease
the effects of the usual symptoms. Finally, to stimulate the flow
of saliva and to soothe a sore
throat, chew the rootstock as it is. Promotes sweat when taken
hot. Ginger ale is a long time remedy for upset stomach and nausea.
An old-fashioned remedy for dandruff
is to combine ginger with olive oil. (Applied to the scalp after shampoo)
A few drops in the ears, of this oil, will soothe earaches.
Ginger root is used in the treatment of minor
burns and skin inflammations.
Grated ginger can be topically applied externally, as a poultice
or hot fomentation to relieve painful
aches, sprains, and spasms.
Some researchers think that ginger may help prevent strokes,
and hardening of the arteries.
Also, a hematology researcher says it is believed that gingerol, a
substance in ginger, inhibits an enzyme that causes cells to clot.
The same enzyme is blocked by aspirin, effective in preventing recurrence
of "little strokes". These attacks are triggered by microscopic artery
clots, flowing through the blood stream until they block arteries
in the brain, causing the stroke or cerebrovascular accident, known
The Chinese Materia Medica lists the uses of ginger for dyspepsia,
loss of appetite, nausea,
vomiting, and alcoholic gastritis. If the root is chewed and the juice
swallowed, it causes saliva to flow and digestive juices to be stimulated.
This will also relieve nausea and vomiting. A tea made of the root
improves digestion, relieves gas and bloating, and stimulates appetite.
Relief from these conditions: use 1/2 oz. of powdered ginger
root stirred into 1 pint of boiling water. 2 to 3 tbsp. of the tea
should be taken 3 times a day. Capsules of ginger will relieve motion
sickness. Prompt relief from the morning-after "hangover" is obtained
by sipping 1 or 2 cups of hot ginger tea for breakfast.
Formulas or Dosages
Infusion: mix 1/2 tsp. powdered rootstock with 1 tsp. (or
more) honey. Add 1 cup boiling water. If desired, add an ounce of
brandy or other liquor.
Tincture: take 15 or more drops at a time, warm.
Vitamins B3, B5
As a spice in the grocery, fresh root or powdered spice
Capsules: take 1 for up to 3 times daily to relieve symptoms.
Motion sickness (SEE MOTION SICKNESS) is usually helped with 1 capsule.
Extract: mix 15 drops in warm water, taken for up to 3 times
Externally: mix 15 drops of extract in 1 cup of warm vegetable
Mash fresh ginger-root, soak in cotton ball, and apply juice directly
to inflamed area.
Avoid ginger in excessive amounts with a peptic ulcer, bleeding ulcers,
very high fever, inflammatory skin diseases.
Ginger is a safe remedy for morning sickness in small doses. Do not
exceed doses recommended. Other commercial anti-nauseants should not
be taken during pregnancy without consulting a doctor, because of
the possibility that they may cross the placenta and adversely affect