Ginger is an herb indigenous to southeastern Asia. It is cultivated
in the U.S., India, China, West Indies and tropical regions.
Ginger is a creeping perennial on a thick tuberous rhizome. In the first year, a green, erect, reed-like stem about 60 cm high grows from this rhizome. The plant has narrow, lanceolate to linear-lanceolate leaves 15 to 30 cm long, which die off each year. The flower scape grows directly from the root and terminates in a long, curved spike. A white or yellow flower grows from each spike.
The dried rhizome of ginger contains approximately 1-4% volatile oils. These are the medically active constituents of ginger; they are also responsible for ginger's characteristic odor and taste. The aromatic principles include zingiberene and bisabolene, while the pungent principles are known as gingerols and shogaols.
Traditional Chinese medicine has recommended ginger for over 2,500 years. It is used for abdominal bloating, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, and rheumatism. Ginger is commonly used in the Ayurvedic and Tibb systems of medicine for the treatment of inflammatory joint diseases, such as arthritis.
For over 2,500 years, ginger has been an important herb in Asian medicine. Traditionally it has been used to promote cleansing of the body through perspiration, to calm nausea (
Action: Aromatic, carminative, stimulant to the gastro- intestinal
tract, diaphoretic, expectorant, antiemetic, and stomachic, also
sialagogue and digestive; Externally, a local stimulant and rubefacient.
Ginger is used for:
Atherosclerosis, heart disease
Nausea and vomiting following surgery
Digestive System Actions:
Ginger is a classic tonic for the digestive tract. Classified as an aromatic bitter, it stimulates digestion. It also keeps the intestinal muscles toned. This action eases the transport of substances through the digestive tract, lessening irritation to the intestinal walls. Ginger may protect the stomach from the damaging effect of alcohol and non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (such as ibuprofen) and may help prevent ulcers.
Allergies and asthma:
Dried ginger can help in the management of allergies and asthma by offsetting the effect of the platelet-activating factor (PAP). PAP initiates inflammatory processes in allergy and asthma. It was found to become more active after changes in blood chemistry that occur in a high-fat diet.
Atherosclerosis and high cholesterol:
Arthritis, bursitis, fibrocystic breasts, lymphedema, and pain.
Ginger inhibits the production of immune-system components called cytokines. These chemicals are believed to create a long-term tendency toward inflammation. Ginger also stimulates blood circulation. These effects of ginger are taken advantage of in treating a number of disorders marked by swelling and pain, such as arthritis. Studies have also shown that ginger can relieve pain without the side effects typically found when using nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and steroids.
Research is inconclusive as to how ginger acts to alleviate nausea. Ginger may act directly on the gastrointestinal system or it may affect the part of the central nervous system that causes nausea. It may be that ginger exerts a dual effect in reducing nausea and vomiting.
Colds, influenza, and strep throat:
Ginger contains a chemical called zingibain that dissolves parasites and their eggs. In laboratory trials, ginger extracts have been shown to kill the anisakid worm (a parasite occasionally found in raw fish) within sixteen hours. Ginger tea is useful as a supplement in treating schistosomiasis, a parasitic disease.
Ginger protects the body from the hepatotoxic effects of valproic acid (Depakene), a common treatment for seizure disorders. Ginger, when used on a daily basis, was found to improve the elevated levels of the liver enzymes alanine amino- transferase (ALT) and aspartate aminotransferase (AST).
Action and Uses in Ayurveda and Siddha
Ginger is an important herb used in Ayurveda. Ayurveda takes advantage of the following medicinal properties for ginger:
Analgesic, anti-emetic, aromatic, aphrodisiac, carminative, diaphorelic, digestive, expectorant, nervine, sialagogue, stimulant.
Ayurvedic practitioners consider ginger to be a truly a wonder drug, having so many healing properties. It was called the universal medicine. Taken with rock salt it reduces vayu; with rock candy it reduces Pitta; with honey it reduces Kapha. Thus it can be used to influence all tridoshas.
Ginger is used in the following ayurvedic remedies: katu rasam, ushna veeryam, vata-kapha-haram, katu- vipaka, lagu, snigdam, pachanam, ruchyam, vrishyam, swaryam, vibhanda haram, in grahani agnimanthyam. amavatham, chardhi, swasam, soolam, arsas, anaham, hrith-rogam, udhara rogam. It is used externally in kapha, swellings, headache.
Action and Uses in Unani
The following actions of ginger is taken advantage of in Unani Medicine:
aphrodisiac, Carminative, digestive, removes obstruction in the vessels, removes viscid matter, and strengthens memory. In addition, ginger is used in nervous diseases, and for incontinence of urine.
How To Use Ginger:
For treating indigestion, flatulence, colic, vomiting, spasms, stomach and bowel pains with fever, colds, cough, and asthma:
How To make the Jam
Mix the juice from fresh ginger with water and cane sugar.
Boil it to a syrup like consistency.
Add saffron, powders of cardamom, nutmeg, and clove.
Pour into hot jam-jars while still boiling, so that the domes get pulled down, and use when needed.
For indigestion with want of appetite:
Mix together equal parts of ginger juice, lemon juice and rock salt. Mix well and take it before meals.
Alternately, combine equal parts of ginger and rock-salt. Mix well. Take it just before meals. This cleanses the tongue and throat, increases the appetite and produces a pleasant sensation.
For sciatica and other forms of rheumatism:
For bile and delirium due to biliousness:
Mix 2 parts of ginger juice with 7 parts of cow's milk. Boil to half volume. Add rock-candy powder. Take this before going to bed.
Alternately, combine two parts each of ginger juice, mango-juice, fine sugar and cow's ghee. Mix well. Melt it down to half the quantity. Take in the morning and evening daily.
For sore throats, hoarseness, and laryngitis:
Chew a piece of fresh ginger. This produces a copious flow of saliva.
Rub ginger juice on navel.
Take ginger juice with rock candy twice daily.
For dyspepsia, loss of appetite and piles
For nausea, and vomiting
Take a combination of ginger juice and onion juice.
For nervous headache
Mix ginger juice with milk. Let dry. Use as snuff.
For indigestion and low appetite:
Mix ginger with ghee or hot water.
For painful bowels or stomach:
Make an infusion of dry ginger. Mix it with 1-2 tbs. castor oil.
You can also take a mix of asafoetida and ginger powder.
For chronic rheumatism
Make an infusion of dry ginger (Sonth) (combining 1part dry ginger with 24 parts water ). Take this warm just before going to bed. Cover the body with blankets to induce perspiration.
For Dropsy and Cirrhosis of the Liver:
Ayurvedic doctors from India believes that drinking the juice extracted from fresh ginger in gradually increasing doses acts as a strong diuretic that is useful in cases of general dropsy.This remedy, however, was not effective in treating dropsy of chronic Bright's disease and chronic heart disease. In fact, these conditions got worse when this remedy was administered. The Ayurvedic literature goes on to state that "fresh ginger juice, when properly administered, will be found beneficial in cases of early cirrhosis of the liver with ascites and dropsy of the lower limbs."
Make a ginger paste by mixing dry ginger powder with a little water or aloe gel . Apply and rub this paste to the forehead before going to sleep
For neuralgic head ache
For tooth or face aches:
Make a paste of ginger powder and aloe gel or water. Apply the paste to the face.
In the collapse stage of cholera, powdered ginger is rubbed to the extremities, to check the cold perspiration, improve the local circulation, and to relieve the agonizing cramps.
Mix powdered dry ginger well with castor oil or with the paste of castor-root. Apply this to the painful parts
Most people take 2-4 grams of the dried rhizome powder two to three times per day or a tincture of 1.5-3 ml three times daily.
For treatment of nausea, people try single doses of approximately 250 mg every two to three hours, for a total of 1 gram per day.
For prevention of motion sickness, many people start taking ginger tablets, capsules, or liquid herbal extract two days before the planned trip.
Perhaps the most versatile of all herbs, fresh ginger can be
topically applied as a warm fomentation to relieve spasms pain
and cramps. Simply cut several slices of the fresh root and place
them in a pan of boiling water. Saturate a flannel cloth with
the tea and apply it topically as warm as the body will bear.
This is an ideal treatment for stiff neck and shoulders. The herb
is cooked with meat to aid its assimilation and detoxify it. Fresh
ginger tea is the most ideal herb to use for the first signs of
mucus, cold, cough, and so on. To make it taste better, add honey.
Drinking ginger tea with meals will greatly aid digestion and
assimilation and is useful for those with weak, cold digestion.
Ginger is one of the most widely available and widely used herbal remedy on the planet. Billions of people use ginger safely daily as food and medicine. A few precautions should be followed, though.
Ginger should not be used by those with heat signs in the lungs or stomach.
Side effects of ginger are rare when used as recommended. However, some people may be sensitive to the taste or may experience heartburn. Persons with a history of gallstones should consult a nutritionally oriented doctor before using ginger.
Ginger can prolong the sleeping time induced by barbiturates. Use ginger with extreme caution if you are taking any kind of medication to induce sleep.
Ginger is contraindicated in morning sickness. Because of its cholagogic effect, ginger should not be taken in the presence of gallstone conditions except under the supervision of a doctor. The daily consumption of ginger root may interfere with the absorption of dietary iron and fat-soluble vitamins. Avoid taking ginger for two weeks prior to undergoing elective surgery.
Short-term use of ginger for nausea and vomiting during pregnancy
appears to pose no safety problems; however, long-term use during
pregnancy is not recommended.
Ginger can increase the potency of prescription medications used to prevent blood clots, such as aspirin, clopidogrel (Plavix), ticlopidine (Ticlid), or warfarin (Coumadin). Combining ginger with these medications could result in unexpected bleeding. Discuss with your physician before taking ginger to control nausea after surgery. If bleeding is a major risk, ginger should be avoided.