Zingiber officinale

PLANT NAMEZingiber officinale Roscoe.

OTHER NAMES: Amomum zingiber L.

COMMON NAMES: ‘Awapuhi päkë, ‘awapuhi ‘ai[Hawai'i]; Ginger [English]; sheng jiang (fresh), gan jiang (dry), jiang ye (leaves), jiang pi (cortex) [China]; aduwa, sutho [Nepal]; ardrakah (fresh) [Sanskrit]; fiu [Samoa]; gember [Nederland]; gemeiner ingber / ingwer [Germany]; gengibre / jengibre [Spain]; gingembre [France]; gingimbre [Caribbean]; imbir lekarski [Poland]; ingefær [Denmark & Norway]; jahe [Indonesia]; jengibre [Bolivia]; khing [Thailand]; saenggang [Korea]; sang geung [Canton]; shokyo [Japan]; shringara [Sanskrit]; sukku [India]; sunthi (dried) [Sanskrit]; sunthi (dry), nagara (dry), shingabera, ardakam, ardraka (fresh) [India]; ziggiberis, giggiberi [Greece]; zingiberis [Ancient Greek].

FAMILY: Zingiberaceae. The family zingiberaceae claims more than 1200 species in 53 genera. There are 85 species in the genus Zingiber.

PROPERTIES: Fresh rhizome: Acrid warm (fresh rhizome). Dried rhizome: Acrid hot (dried). Sprouts: Acrid, neutral [China].

 PLANT PART USED: Rhizome.

PREPARATION OF MEDICINE: Infused, decocted, fresh, powdered. Infused to cause a sweat. I almost always prefer fresh ginger to dried. Dried ginger has more “heating” qualities than fresh ginger. Tincture: Fresh 1:2 90% alcohol.

WESTERN FUNCTIONS REPORTED: Adaptogenic; anodyne; anthelmintic; anti-inflammatory; antiallergenic; antibacterial; anticancer; anticarthartic; anti-coagulant; anticonvulsant; antidepressant; anti-diabetic; antifungal; anti-inflammatory; antimicrobial; antimutagenic; antioxidant; antirheumatic; antispasmodic; antithrombic; antitoxic; antitumor; antiulcer; antiviral; aphrodesiac; benefits digestion; carminative; cholinergic (antagonizes adrenergic stimulation); cleanses the throat and tongue; clears mucous from the lungs; cytoprotective; diaphoretic; diuretic; immune supportive; increases bile secretion; increases circulation; increases saliva; increases urination; inhibits prostaglandin biosynthesis; inhibits gastric secretions; inhibits gastric ulcers; kills germs topically; liver protective; lowers blood pressure; lowers fever; normalizes peristalsis; promotes digestion; promotes saliva; reddens the skin; reduces cough; reduces nausea and vomiting; reduces platelet aggregation; reduces serum cholesterol; reduces spasm; removes obstructions in the vessels; rubefacient; serotonergic enhancement; sialogogue; stimulant; stops pain; strengthens the heart; strengthens the intestines; strengthens the tissues; systemic stimulant; thermoregulatory.

TRADITIONAL CHINESE ENERGETIC FUNCTIONS (~ = extrapolated):

 Dried ginger:

  • Warms the interior, expels cold, rebuilds the yang.

  • Promotes lactation.

  • Transforms phlegm.

  • Warms the lungs in chronic bronchitis.

 Fresh ginger:

  • Causes sweating, releases the exterior.

  • Expels cold, warms the middle burner.

  • Stops nausea.

  • Removes toxins.

  • Modifies the ying and wei qi. (For patients with exterior cold due to deficiency who sweat without improvement in their condition.)

Leaves:

  • Invigorate blood

OTHER ENERGETIC FUNCTIONS: With honey, ginger relieves Kapha, with rock candy it relieves Pitta, and with rock salt it relieves Vata.

TOXICITY: The acute oral LD50 in rats of roasted ginger is 170 g / kg. Dry ginger is more than 250 g / kg [Wu 1990]. To put this into an inter-species perspective and extrapolating to humans, a 160 lb man would have to eat about 40 lbs of dried ginger all at once in order to do himself harm.

CAUTIONS AND CONTRAINDICATIONS:

  • Caution with gastric ulcers or heartburn [Ody 1993].

  • Can aggravate contact dermatitis [Futrell 1993].

  • Some studies show a significant reduction in morning sickness when ginger is used [Keating 2002; Lien 2003; Niebyl 1992]. There is no evidence of teratogenic or embryotoxic effects in pregnant mice at doses of 1000 mg / kg [Weidner 2001]. I still try to avoid giving any herbs during pregnancy, although sometimes ginger may be called for with those who have severe morning sickness such as hyperemesis gravidarum. Many practitioners routinely will give up to 1 gram of ginger per day to pregnant women with nausea. If ginger is given during pregnancy, fresh is preferred over dried.

ENERGETIC CAUTIONS: Not with vomiting from stomach heat. Not with lung heat. Practically speaking, however, it can be easily balanced with other herbs. Traditionally not used with gua lou ren or tian hua fen (both Trichosanthes kirilowii).