Weekly Herb Review #22 – Ginger

Common Names: Ginger

Scientific Name: Zingiber officinale

Family: Zingiberaceae (1 of over 1400 species in this family, which includes Turmeric and Cardamom.)
Parts Used: Rhizome

Ginger is a creeping perennial that is native to tropical south-east Asia, and is cultivated in the tropics. It grows 24 – 39 inches in height in hot, moist areas with loamy soil. The rhizome can generate new plants when it is split or cut. The sterile, fragrant flowers are white with purple streaks and grow in small dense spikes. The rhizomes are collected in the fall after the leaves have dried, at ~10 months old.


Spicy, pungent, warming, stimulating, drying, aromatic

Volatile oils (which produce antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory actions)
Phenols (producing muscle relaxing and anodyne activity)
High in Aluminum, Fat, Manganese, Magnesium, Potassium, and Silicon.

Circulatory (blood thinning, blood mover, increases heat and perspiration, rubifacient, hypolipidemic, antipyretic, diaphoretic)
Digestion (carminative, increases digestive enzyme secretion, antiemetic)
Respiratory (anti-catarrh, expectorant, antitussive)
Antiseptic (antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal)


Muscle aches and pains, joint stiffness, menstrual cramps, tension (Use topical applications and as a tea)
Colds and fevers, chest congestion, phlegm
Slow or decreased digestion, over-eating, gas/flatulence, intestinal cramps, colic
Nausea and vomiting (motion sickness, ‘morning sickness’, post operative nausea)
Blood clotting disorders, to strengthen the blood vessels and decrease inflammation
Delayed menstruation (increases pelvic circulation)

Folk History/Magical Uses:

First appearing in the writings of Confucius in the 5th century BC Ginger has a long history of use as a food spice in tropical areas. Aside from adding great flavor to dishes, it possesses antibacterial properties that decreases food borne pathogens (including Shigella, E. coli, Salmonella, and many others)
Effective in the treatment of Malaria and Dysentery.
So highly regarded in Oriental Medicine that it is included in almost half of their herbal formulations.
Ginger was traditionally used in Greece wrapped in bread, for upset stomach. This led to the gingerbread cookie. The Gingerbread Man was developed by Elizabeth I, who had her chef make gingerbread portraits of her most honored guests.
Used in bridal bouquets to give good cheer and health to the bride and groom

There are literally hundreds of scientific and traditional experiments on ginger and its constituents. Positive results have been shown with decreasing nausea, decreasing clotting time, increasing digestion, and much more.

Cautions/Side Effects:
Generally very safe to use, but ginger may be too heating or stimulation for those with gastritis or ulcers. Large amounts are not recommended in pregnancy since it is stimulating, though it has been used in pregnancy for millennia.
Potential interactions with blood thinners due to its blood thinning properties.


Infusion: One cup of boiling water poured over fresh ginger root (1 ounce), left to steep for 5 – 10 minutes.

Decoction: Put 2 tsp. dried root in a cup of water and simmer for 10 minutes.

Tincture: A few drops may be all that is needed to stimulate the digestion. But 30 drops (three times a day) can be used for a stronger effect.

Can also be taken as capsules, ginger candy, poultices, foot and body baths, massage oils, compress, and of course, as food!

Old-Fashioned Ginger Ale:
-In a pot add 2 cups fresh, chopped Ginger root to 3 cups of water.
-Bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer.
-Simmer until the liquid is reduced by half (i.e. You have 1 1/2 cups left).
-Strain off the herbs and add 1 cup Honey to the liquid, mixing well.
-Store this syrup in an airtight jar and refrigerate.
-To use: Place 2-3 tablespoons of syrup in 8 oz of sparkling water, mix well and enjoy!

Buhner, S. H. (1999). Herbal antibiotics:natural alternatives for treating drug-resistant bacteria. North Adams, MA: Storey Publishing.

De Bairacli Levy, J. (1997). Common herbs for natural health. Woodstock, NY: Ash Tree Publishing.

Ginger. Retrieved on February 1, 2007 from: http://www.herbs2000.com/herbs/herbs_ginger.htm

Ginger. Retrieved on February 1, 2007 from: http://www.purplesage.org.uk/profiles/ginger.htm

Gladstar, R. (2001). Rosemary gladstar’s family herbal. North Adams, MA: Storey Books Publishing.

Hoffman, D. (2003). Medical herbalism. Rochester, VT: Healing Arts Press.

Onstad, D. (1996). Whole foods companion. Vermont: Chelsea Green Publishing.

Pederson, M. (1994). Nutritional herbology. revised edition. Indiana: Wendell W. Whitman Company.

Tierra, L. (1992). The herbs of life: health & healing using western & chinese techniques. Freedom, CA: The Crossing Press.

Tilgner, S. (1999). Herbal medicine from the heart of the earth. Creswell, OR: Wise Acres Press.

This entry was posted in General.

2 thoughts on “Weekly Herb Review #22 – Ginger

  1. I made some ginger beer a few months back! It was a huge success. My neighbors loved it so much, they have a batch constantly going cause they drink it so quickly. We’re drinking the batch slower, and it seems to be improving with age!

    I have a question: will drinking the ginger beer also be as effective as taking a ginger tincture or a decoction do you think?

  2. No, though I’m sure it has some effect, usually there is less of the herb in a beer of mead than you would get in a tincture or decoction.

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