An herb entry from the Ancient Herbs and Modern Herbs book by James K. Sayre, Copyright, 2001. All rights reserved.


Ginger - Zingiber officinale - Family: Zingiberaceae (Ginger Family).

This plant is a slender reed-like, tropical, deciduous, rhizome-based perennial that grows up to about five feet in height. It has lance-shaped leaves and produces yellow-green-to-white flowers in the summer, which are followed by capsules containing seeds. It also produces the familiar aromatic brown rhizome (or root) which has been used in Asia for thousands of years as a digestive remedy and as a spice. It was used by the ancient Romans as a medicinal herb. It has been used as a traditional Asian folk remedy for colds, coughs, flu, gum problems, indigestion, nausea and vomiting. It is also reputed to be a remedy for intestinal parasites. Modern European and American folk use of roots as a remedy for allergies, anorexia, anxiety, arthritis, atherosclerosis, bad breath, back pain, bronchitis, circulation problems, constipation, coronary heart disease, Crohn's disease, diabetes, dizziness, hay fever, heart failure prevention, high cholesterol, inflammatory bowel disease, menstrual pain, morning sickness during pregnancy, motion sickness, peptic ulcer, poor appetite, premenstrual syndrome (PMS), shingles, stroke prevention, varicose veins and for immune system support. Modern American folk use of leaves to help ward off cataracts. Also used in cancer support. Also, modern American topical use for back pain, shingles, tendinitis and tennis elbow. Under the names Ardra and Shunthi, Ginger has been used as an Ayurvedic medicinal herb as a remedy for asthma, coughs, fever, headache, indigestion, intestinal gas, liver problems, nausea, pain, poor appetite and rheumatism. Approved by the German Commission E as a remedy for indigestion, motion sickness and a poor appetite. Modern Japanese (Kampo) use of rhizome as a remedy for migraine headache. Sold in many forms: as fresh root (Sheng Jiang), dried root (Gan Jiang) and candied root and as crystalline ginger (made with sugar). Traditional Asian and European use as a folk aphrodisiac. In the North America, ginger root is used as a spice to flavor cookies, cakes, candies and soft drinks, such as ginger ale. Essential oil is used in aromatherapy. Note: may cause heartburn. Note: do not take during pregnancy or while nursing. Note: avoid use if suffering from high fever, gallstones or gall bladder problems. Note: do not take if on prescription blood-thinning drugs. Listed in United States Pharmacopoeias from 1820 to 1940. Native to southern Asia. It is grown in the tropical parts of the world. It may be grown outdoors in milder locations in United States, such as in parts of California, Florida and Hawai'i. Also, sometimes cultivated as a houseplant in North America.


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Web page last updated on 21 May 2003.