About Ginger

NOTE: The following information is from my Materia Medica entry on Ginger, and is meant to be informative only, not to be taken as medical advice.  I am not a medical doctor; readers should verify all information, and consult with their doctor before using this or any other herb.


  • Grieve tells us that the plant was brought to the Americas by Francisco de Mendosa who transplanted it from the East Indies into Spain. Spanish-Americans cultivated it greatly, and records show that by “1547 they exported 22,053 cwt. into Europe” (Grieve).
Latin Name: Zingiber officinale (ROSC.)
  • Genus: Zingiber
  • Species: Officinale
  • Family: Zingiberaceae
Common Names:
  • African Ginger, Amomum Zingiber, Ardraka, Black Ginger, Cochin Ginger, Gan Jiang, Gingembre, Gingembre Africain, Gingembre Cochin, Gingembre Indien, Gingembre Jamaïquain, Gingembre Noir, Ginger Essential Oil, Ginger Root, Huile Essentielle de Gingembre, Imber, Indian Ginger, Jamaica Ginger, Jengibre, Jiang, Kankyo, Kanshokyo, Nagara, Race Ginger, Racine de Gingembre, Rhizoma Zingiberi, Rhizoma Zingiberis, Rhizoma Zingiberis Recens, Shen Jiang, Sheng Jiang, Shoga, Shokyo, Shunthi, Srungavera, Sunth, Sunthi, Vishvabheshaja, Zingiber Officinale, Zingiberis Rhizoma, Zingiberis Siccatum Rhizoma, Zinzeberis, Zinziber Officinale, Zinziber Officinalis (MedlinePlus).


  • Ginger is a herbaceous perennial plant, family of Zingiberaceae, and we eat the rhizome (underground stem) not the root.
  • The rhizome is most often brown with “fingers” coming from it.  It looks like a large twisted root.  One author (Plant Village) described the ginger rhizome as having a “corky outer layer and a pale-yellow center.”  Meat of the rhizome is yellow in color and string in texture.  Spicy in smell and taste.
  • The above ground portion of the ginger looks a bit like a reed with “linear leaves that are arranged alternately on the stem” (Plant Village). Ginger is a tropical plant and Plant Village further describes it as being: “The shoots originate from a multiple bases and wrap around one another. The leaves can reach 7 cm (2.75 in) in length and 1.9 cm (0.7 in) broad. Flowering heads are borne on shorter stems and the plant produces cone shaped, pale yellow flowers. The ginger plant can reach 0.6–1.2 m in height (2–4 FT) and is grown as an annual plant.”
Cultivation – Birgit Bradtke from Permaculture.com
  • You can grow ginger from a store bought rhizome. Let it start to seed first before planting the rhizome.
  • Ginger likes warm climates and lots of water, but not to soak in the water – good drainage is needed.
  • Ginger normally reshoots early in the spring.  Some folks say to soak rhizomes in water overnight, and others say it is not needed.  It doesn’t hurt, but do not leave it in water to sprout roots, it wants the soil – good soil that can hold enough moisture to keep the rhizome moist but not soaked – free draining and avoid water-logging.
  • Best planting time is the late winter/early spring (late dry season/early wet season – in tropics). Ginger Likes lots of light but not direct sun and protect from wind.
  • Never let soil get to dry, moist but not soaked.
  • Harvest: at least 8-10 months – Anytime after the leaves have died down.
  • According to the Online Etymology Dictionary, Ginger is a word that comes from a mid 14c old English term, gingifer.
    • Medieval latin: gingiber.
    • Latin: Zingiberi.
    • Greek: Zingiberis.
    • Parkrit (middle Indic) Singabera.
    • Sanskrit srngaveram (srngam = horn and vera = body: the shape of the root). The old French term, gingibre (modern = gingembre) means spirit, spunk, temper.  Ginger ale was recorded in 1822, ginger snap (yummm) 1855 (http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=ginger).
  • Color Association – Red:
    • Herbs associated with this color connects us to the earth and our ancestors.  it is considered energizing, and heating.  helps circulation and strengthens blood. Breaks up stagnant conditions (Brighid’s Healing, Kindle Edition 256).
  • Taste identification Acrid or Spicy:
    • Spice warms the blood and brings it to the surface.  Our skin becomes warm while internal organs cool. Stimulates metabolism, libido, circulatory system and breaks up stagnancy.  Brings blood flow to digestive system: Spice acts as a catalyst for the other herbs in the remedy and aids absorption (McGarry, Gina, Kindle Edition, 253).
Chemical Constitutes:
  • Warming and good for chest congestion.
  • Antioxidant, antibacterial, anti-fungal, and antimicrobial protection (Kendrick).
  • Diaphoretics/febrifuge (McGarry, Gina, Brighid’s Healing, Kindle Location 689; Green Magic, Kindle Edition.)
  • Produces perspiration.
Indications and Actions:  
  • Relieve motion and morning sickness – Nausea and vomiting (Skidmore-Roth, 17b; MedlinePlus).
  • Relieve sore throat (Skidmore-Roth, 17b).
  • Treat migraine headaches (Skidmore-Roth, 17b).
  • Antioxidant (Skidmore-Roth, 17b).
  • Nausea and vomiting following surgery (Skidmore-Roth, 17b; MedlinePlus).
  • Dizziness (MedlinePlus).
  • Menstrual Pain (MedlinePlus).
  • Women experiencing late menses (McGarry, Brighid’s Healing, Kindle Location 1692; Green Magic. Kindle Edition).
  • Arthritis (MedlinePlus)
  • Treat burns – fresh juice is used for this and diluted oil is often used to relieve pain when applied to the skin (MedlinePlus).
  • Controlling nausea following surgery.

    Take one gram taken internally, one hour before surgery (MedlinePlus).

    Rubbing oil on wrist was said to help 80% of patients before surgery – larger percentage than those in ingested it (MedlinePlus) – oil must be deluded or it can burn.

    After surgery wait 3-6 hours before administering ginger again (MedlinePlus).

  • For morning sickness:

    250 mg ginger 4 times daily  (MedlinePlus).

  • For postoperative nausea and vomiting:

    1-2 grams powdered ginger root one hour before induction of anesthesia (MedlinePlus).

  • Soaks and compresses.
  • Most Likely safe to take when pregnant but some caution is suggested, especially during the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.
  • Ginger can slow blood clotting and increase chances of bruising.
  • Personal note, my surgeon asked me NOT to take ginger – again this is likely due to blood clotting and bruising.
  • Do not take with Nifedipine as it can slow blood clotting and increase chances of bruising.

    Nifedipine is A coronary vasodilator and calcium-channel blocking agent that reduces calcium ions available to heart and smooth muscle, used in the treatment of angina pectoris.



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