Ginger is a tropical plant that was spread around the tropical world during the colonial days. In Africa, Asia, or South America, and many hot spots between those continents, locals have taken to using ginger widely in medicine and food. The entire ginger family is rich in oils that both kill micro-critters and stimulate the immune system to do the same. The ways it stimulates the body are many, and, whether added to food or taken as a medicinal tea, ginger makes your body a little bit stronger and a little bit better able to resist the damaging forces of nature. Here are the basics for using ginger as a medicine.
Fact Sheet 1
Fact Sheet 2
Chapter from Back Yard Medicine Chest
Chapter from Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life
History: Classic Chinese treatment for nausea and food poisoning
Science: Made active by essential oils
Practitioners’ opinion: The herb for motion sickness and food poisoning
It should be taken three times a day for as long as the digestive upset lasts. Expect some relief within an hour of taking it.
Powdered dried root : one half teaspoon in a cup of boiling water.
Fresh root : one teaspoon grated into a cup of boiling water.
Tincture 1:5 one teaspoon(5ml)
Tincture 1:1 20 drops
(2) 500 mg root tablets
Ginger can be used in a variety of forms. Powdered ginger from the spice rack, fresh ginger from the produce section, candied ginger from the baking aisle, and tinctures and tablets from the health food shop are all equally effective.
Ginger is entirely safe to use. However, if your digestive upset lasts for more than three days, you need to consult a qualified medical practitioner.
Chamomile(Matricaria recutitia) oot tablets:
Scientific Name: Zingiber officinalis
Part Used: Root
In a word: Anti-Barf Plant
Fact Sheet 1
Uses: Intestinal Flu and Nausea
No doubt about it, the intestinal “flu” is the pits. There is nothing like being stuck at home all feverish and losing it from both ends. In case you didn’t know, bouts with this particular form of hell on earth are in fact caused by bacteria, viruses, and in some cases, protozoa. Many of the worst sorts of intestinal flu come to us from the tropics; therefore, we will defer to the people from those regions and use what they find best for the problem. Two of my favorite names for tropical intestinal stomach maladies are ‘Montezuma’s revenge’ and ‘Delhi belly’. Both involve spending a lot of time in the bathroom, usually during your trip and for some while after you get home. As there are less painful ways to lose weight, people from Mexico and India use ginger to treat both conditions.
Ginger is a fabulous plant for nausea, poor appetite, and all sorts of stomach disturbances. What we call ginger is actually the underground stem of a reed-like plant, officially called Zingiber officinalis . It belongs to a family of plants that produce an enormous amount of highly scented oils in their life processes. Turmeric, cardamom, zeodary, and galanga are all members of the same fragrant family. Ginger spreads underground by the same means as crab grass, shooting runners off the central plant in every direction. These runners, which are, in fact, growth tips, are the part we use medicinally. They are collected when they are dormant, before their buds shoot to the surface of the soil and become new reeds.
Ginger is a tropical plant. It originated in Asia, but could be found throughout Africa and Arabia long before people gave up on the idea that the world was flat. The Greeks and Romans used a lot of ginger, which is said to have come from India via Arabia by way of the Red Sea. The plant appears in European records dating to the 11th century, as it was among the heavily taxed spices on which the nobility made a few bucks. Marco Polo mentioned seeing it on his trip to Asia in 1280. It arrived in England early – herbalists from the 11 th century onward wrote of it.
Ginger was popular among European herbalists right off the bat. This was particularly true in England, perhaps because ginger’s healing effects on the body were especially welcome in the lovely cold weather typical of the British Isles. Gerard had this to say about it:
Ginger, as Dioscorides reporteth, is right good with meat in sauces, or otherwise in conditures: for it is of an heating and digesting quality; it gently looseth the belly, and is profitable for the stomach, and effectually opposeth itself against all darkness of the light; answering the qualities and effects of pepper. It is to be considered that candied green or condited ginger is hot and moist in qualities, provioking Venerie; and being dried, it heateth and drieth in the third degree.
“Provioking Venerie” means making people randy. Although it was Gerard’s feeling that ginger heated more than the stomach, most of the records show ginger being used to treat that organ rather than more southerly parts.
The British transplanted ginger from Asia to their New World colonies, where it could be cultivated for the domestic market at a cheaper price. Today the best ginger comes from Jamaica; it was first grown there on British plantations.
Like many of the more famous medicinal plants, ginger was initially hauled from Asia to Europe and on to the New World because of its culinary use. Candied, the fragrant root found its way into cookies, cakes, and confections. In days gone by, fine cuisine enjoyed by the nobility, was an extravagant and highly organized affair. The upper classes were known to overindulge, and ginger was used to settle their abused stomachs. Here we see the fine line between food and medicine. Herbalists of, say, the 16 th century prescribed ginger tea for upset stomachs, and so that’s what thoughtful hostesses served to their guests. Ginger cookies were originally a digestive biscuit intended to bring relief to those who had eaten too much.
To this day, in several parts of the world, you will find ginger made into condiments and served with the meal. This is a piece of native wisdom that makes a lot of sense. Three examples of this are the chutneys served with just about everything in India, the candied ginger served with after-dinner cheese in Latin America, and the pickled ginger served with sushi in Japan. Nothing is more potentially dodgy than eating raw fish, and you will notice that the Japanese always eat sushi with a healthy helping of pickled ginger root. That is preventative medicine at its best.
It is in the area of intestinal upset that ginger comes to the fore, whether that upset is due to pregnancy, the intestinal flu, or the motion of a car, boat, or airplane. Ginger has the ability to quell the queasiness that usually proceeds vomiting. As none of us enjoys throwing up and just about all of us feel like it at one time or another, ginger should be a must both on the spice rack and in the medicine cabinet in every home.
China is said to be the native home of ginger, and as such, the Chinese are well versed in its ability to sort out problem stomachs. In China, unlike the West, traditional medicine, which is herbalism, never fell out of favor. There, herbal medicine is a fine and sophisticated science. We in the West just use the whole ginger root. The Chinese, on the other hand, use ginger’s papery brown skin to treat people with gas. They bruise and then juice the leaves, using the resulting liquid to increase the appetite of people with no taste for food, and they use the peeled root to treat nausea, dysentery, and to act as an overall digestive stimulant. After all, the Chinese have been working with ginger as medicine for some 4000 years; it is only reasonable that they should know it a bit better than we should.
Ginger was first grown in the Caribbean and Latin America in the late 1500s, and the creeping plant has since become a mainstay in the practice of local herbalists. In Mexico, the fresh root is grated, mixed with water, and taken after meals to ensure good digestion. In Trinidad, the root is made into tea to treat indigestion and morning sickness. In Brazil, it is used to treat cramps, nausea, and gas. The story is basically the same around the world: whenever intestinal flu sets in, the symptoms are best treated with ginger.
Chemically speaking, ginger is absolutely packed with active ingredients. On the list are volatile oil, pungent principles including gingerols and shogaols, lipids, proteins, starch, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, resins, and a whole lot more. Because of its global popularity and high position in indigenous people’s folk medicine, ginger and its chemical components have been well researched. Ginger has been found to both suppress nausea and stop vomiting.
If you suffer from travel-related nausea, bring some ginger candy along on your next trip. Ginger has been proven to be more effective in treating travel sickness than Dramamine!
In a rather politically incorrect experiment, some nasty scientists fed dogs copper sulfate and found that ginger extracts stopped the profuse vomiting that would have normally attended the dogs’ being poisoned. This may not have been good news to the dogs who needed to throw up the poison in order not to die, but it is for people who are suffering from less serious intestinal distress.
Ginger also has been found to increase gastric juice secretion and the production of hypochloride. This means that food is digested more quickly, creating an unfriendly environment for bacteria that otherwise could send you to the toilet for a week or more. Along these lines, chemicals in ginger have been proven to knock out the sort of bacteria that cause ‘Delhi belly’ and ‘Montezuma’s revenge’. One of the classic treatments for bacterial dysentery in the tropics is ginger, and people there are well advised to use this cheap and effective cure.
The key to ginger’s use in cases of intestinal flu due to bacteria, and indeed in cases of food poisoning, may lie in its high content of volatile oil. The root may contain as much as three percent volatile oil, which is a lot for a plant. When you make ginger tea, you will even see oil floating on the top of the water in which you boiled the root. Volatile oils have a powerful bacteria-killing capacity, and it seems probable that as the volatile oil floats down the digestive tract, it kills bacteria along the way.
When you are sick because some varmint has moved into your guts, ginger is the perfect cure. First, it will kill the invader, and second, it will soothe the nerves that are causing the indescribably horrible sensation know as nausea. One of the phenomena that people who work in the health business are seeing lately is flus, both intestinal and respiratory, that last a really long time with periodic flare-ups. If you are using ginger to treat an intestinal flu, keep right on using it even after you have lost all flu symptoms, say a week or more. This may ensure that the flu won’t come back.
Typical illnesses treated with ginger include bacterial dysentery, cholera, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramps, and lack of appetite. If you have intestinal flu, you probably have all the above-mentioned symptoms; the good news is that you can get rid of them and maybe even their cause with a cupful of ginger tea.
For digestive upsets that involve nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, ginger is one of the most effective agents around. This is true if the source of the problem is motion sickness or a digestive bug. It will remove the unpleasant symptoms and in the case of a microbial caused malady, address the fundamental problem. Indeed, if you are traveling to countries noted for their ability to upset the stomach, it may pay to keep some ginger tablets or tincture on hand, just in case. The tincture and the tablets work equally well and are probably more practical than making ginger tea! However, if you find yourself in the tropics and in trouble, you can always go to the market and get yourself some ginger. Boil water and add a teaspoon of grated ginger. Allow the tea to boil for five minutes, strain and drink. You will start to feel better right away!
Fact Sheet 2
Part Used: rhizome
Remember this: Nausea Plant
Reasonable uses : Food poisoning, intestinal flu, nausea, vomiting, food poisoning, motion sickness.
History and Traditional Uses
When it comes to ancient remedies, they don’t come any more ancient. According to an ancient Indian proverb, every good quality is contained in the aromatic underground stem we call ginger root. Immortalized in the Pen Tsao Ching (The Classic Book of Herbs), which was penned in 3,000 bc by Emperor Shen Nung, ginger is continues to be one of the most widely used herbal medicines in China today. Ginger was transplanted to the Caribbean and Latin America early in colonial history. It quickly became a mainstay in the new world medicine chest.
Scientific Back Up
When it comes to quelling the queasiness of motion sickness, ginger has no equal, say herbalists and researchers alike. In fact, researchers have demonstrated that ginger beats dimenhydrinate, the main ingredient in motion sickness drugs such as Dramamine, for controlling symptoms of seasickness and motion sickness.
Ginger contains various essential oils that make it both aromatic and medicinal. Two types of these oils, gingerols and shogaols are considered at the root of its anti-nausea activity. Beyond quelling the urge to retch, ginger stimulates saliva flow and other digestive juices which enhance digestion and absorption. It has the compacity to settle the stomach, ease pain from gas and bloating, and even slow certain types of diarrhea. Research has shown it is the emergency medicine when the digestive tract is having a drama.
Herbalists use it to…….
Mellow motion sickness
For those that look for an open wind at the mere mention of a car, boat, or plane trip, ginger will be a welcome addition to the travel bag. Fishermen in Asia keep it on board in the event of bad weather for a reason! Herbalists recommend motion sickness sufferers keep ginger tablets or a vial of ginger tincture with them when they board transportation likely to bring on nausea.
Prevent or treat food poisoning
Nausea, vomiting, and food poisoning go hand in hand. Herbalists say ginger can help. When discussing food poisoning, seafood always comes up. If eating seafood can be a risk, eating raw seafood is playing Russian roulette! Notice the Japanese serve sushi with slices of ginger. More than a flavour, ginger contains oils that kill the food poisoning bacteria. Eating it with food could prevent food poisoning. If one already has food poisoning, it will relieve the symptoms, nausea and projectile vomiting, and go after the causative bug. Herbalists recommend that those inclined to linger at the shellfish bar keep some ginger around the house!
Tidy up a bad case of “intestinal flu”
Some viruses attack the respiratory tract, others target the digestive tract. When a digestive flu takes hold, flooding the digestive tract with ginger will quickly relieve the symptoms and slow the virus at the root of the problem. Children are most inclined to these digestive bugs and ginger is perfectly acceptable to their more delicate constitutions.
Chapter from “Back Yard Medicine Chest”
Intestinal flu….. Nausea…. queazy feelings – vomiting.
Get the hell out of the way – there better not be any body in the bathroom.
The intestinal flu is the pits and there is no doubt about that. Nothing like being stuck at home all feverish and loosing it from both ends for a good time. More than once I have begged a friend to take me out behind the barn and shoot me to avoid suffering one more minute at the hands of whatever little varmint has moved into my gut and is causing my distress. In case you didn’t know, such bouts with this hell on earth are in fact caused by bacteria, virus, and in some cases protozoa. Many of the worst sorts of intestinal flu come to us from the tropics and as such we will defer to the people from those parts and use what they find best for the problem. Two of my favorite names for tropical intestinal stomach maladies are Montezumas revenge and Delhi belly. Both involve spending a lot of time in the bathroom, usually during your trip and for some time when you get home. People from these locations use ginger to treat both conditions. Its one way to loose weight, but there are easier ways.
Ginger, as in the active ingredient in ginger snaps, is a fabulous plant for nausea, lack of appetite, and all sorts of stomach disturbances. What we call ginger is actually the underground stem of a reed like plant, officially called Zingiber officinalis. The plant belongs to a family of plants that produce an enormous amount of highly scented oils in their life processes. Tumeric, cardamons, zeodary, and galanga are all members of the same fragrant family. Ginger plants spread underground by the same means as crab grass, runners shoot off the central plant in every direction. the part we use in medicine are the underground runners which are in fact growth tips. These are collected when they are dormant and before their buds shoot to the surface of the soil and become new reeds.
Ginger is a tropical plant that has its origins in tropical Asia . Despite its origin ginger could be found all through Africa and Arabia long before people gave up in the idea that the world was flat. Marco Polo and his like were hauling ginger from asia to the Romans and to all the European powers successors that followed their reign.
The Greeks and the Romans used a lot of ginger – theirs is said to have come from India via Arabia by way of the Red Sea . It appears in records in Europe dating to the 11th century – it was one of the heavily taxed spices on which nobility made a few bucks. In fact Marco Polo saw it and mentioned it on his trip to Asia in 1280 AD. It arrived in England early – herbalists from the 11th century onwards always spoke of it.
Ginger could be found in commerce in Europe long before the days of Jesus Christ and in fact it was popular amongst the herbalist right off the bat, particularly in England . This may have to do with the heating quality ginger has on the body and the lovely cold weather typical of the British Isles . Gerard had this to say about it, ” Ginger, as Dioscorides reporteth, is right good with meat in sauces, or otherwise in conditures: for it is of an heating and digesting quality; it gently looseth the belly, and is profitable for the stomach , and effectually opposeth itself against all darkness of the light; answering the qualities and effects of pepper. It is to be considered that candied green or condited ginger is hot and moist in qualities, provioking Venerie; and being dried, it heateth and drieth in the third degree. It was Gerards feeling that it heated more than the stomach, provoking venerie means makes people randy. From the earliest records we see ginger being used to treat the stomach.
Being one of the spice commodities the British transplanted ginger from Asia to the new wold colonies where it could be cultivated for the domestic market at a cheaper price. Today the best ginger comes from Jamaica , where it was originally grown on British plantations.
Like many of the more famous medicinal plants, ginger was initially hauled from asia to Europe and then transplanted to the new world colonies because of its use in cuisine. Candied the fragrant root its way into cookies, candies, cakes, and confections. In days gone by fine cuisine, that which was enjoyed by the nobility, was a very extravagant and highly organized affair. The upper classes were known to over indulge and ginger was used to settle the abused stomach. Here we see the fine line between food and medicine. Herbalists of say the sixteenth century would prescribe ginger tea for those with an upset stomach and ladies with staffs would arrange for some for their guests. Ginger cookies were originally a digestive biscuit to improve the digestion after a little over indulgence.
It is in the area of intestinal upset that ginger comes to the fore; whether due to pregnancy, the intestinal flu, or the motion of a car, boat, or air plane. Ginger has the ability to quell the queasiness that usually proceeds vomiting. Though used in cuisine its stomach improving abilities really made it a must in everybodies home.
China is said to be the native home of ginger and as such you will find the chinese well versed with its ability to sort out a problem stomach. What is so wonderful about chinese herbal medicine is that unlike the West they never stopped using traditional medicine, which is herbalism. As well the Chinese are incredibly specific about how they use their ginger, herbal medicine is a fine and sophisticated science in that part of the world. Gingers papery brown skin is used to treat people with gas, the leaves are bruised and juiced and the liquid resulting is used to increase appetite of a person with no taste for food, and the peeled root is used to treat nausea, dysentery, and to act as on overall digestive stimulant. In the West we just use the whole ginger root, in China it is a bit more specific. They have been working with ginger as a medicine for some 4000 years so its only reasonable that they know it a little better than we do.
The Caribbean and Latin America was initially planted with ginger to satisfy the demand back in the old world, in the past 500 years the locals have become quite familiar with it and all its uses. First grown in the late 1500′s the creeping plant has since become a mainstay in the practice of latin american herbalists. In Mexico the fresh root is grated and mixed with water to be taken after meals to insure good digestion. In Trinidad the root is made into tea to treat indigestion and morning sickness. In Brazil its used to treat cramps, nausea, and gas. The story is basically the same around the world, when ever an intestinal flu sets in, the symptoms are best treated with ginger.
Chemically speaking ginger is absolutely packed with active ingredients. The list includes volatile oil, pungent principles including gingerols and shogaols, lipids, proteins, starch, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, resins, and a whole lot more. Because of its global popularity and high position in indigenous peoples folk medicine ginger and its chemical components have been well researched. Though we are looking at ginger from the nausea perspective it is interesting to note that components in the plant have been proven to stimulate the vasomotor and respiratory nerve centers, stimulate the heart, lower cholesterol, kill vaginal trichomonas, and kill the bacteria that causes bacterial dysentery. One of the amino acids found in the plant is protease, a substance similar to papain, the amino acid found in papaya internationally acclaimed for aiding digestion, is as well said to work the same miracles in the human gut.
In addition to all that it has been found to suppress nausea, work as an anti-coagulant, relieve pain, stop vomiting, reduce gastric secretion, reduce blood pressure, and act as a anti-cancer agent. Nausea has a lot to do with the nerve endings, receptors, and nerve centers. Motion sickness has everything to do with sensory perception and it is thought that ginger works in some way to deaden the nerves that create the nauseous feeling. It has a definite action on the nerves and if you suffer from travel related nausea, bring some ginger candy along on your next trip. Ginger has been proven to be more effective in treating travel sickness than dramamine!
In a rather politically incorrect experiment some nasty scientists feed dogs copper sulfate and found that ginger extracts stopped the profuse vomiting that would have normally attended the dogs being poisoned. This may not have been good news to the dogs that needed to puke up the poison in order to not die, but for people that would like to stop vomiting it is good news.
As well ginger has been found to increase gastric juice secretion and the production of hypochlorite. It means that the food in the gut gets digested faster and that an unfriendly environment for bacteria that could send you to the toilet for a week or more is created. Along these lines chemicals in ginger have been proven to knock out bacteria such as those that cause delhi belly and montezumas revenge. One of the classic treatments for bacterial dysentery in the tropics is ginger, and the people are well advised to use this cheap and effective cure.
The key to gingers use in intestinal flu due to bacteria, and indeed food poisoning, may lay in its high volatile oil content. The root may contain as much as 3% volatile oil which is a lot for a plant. In fact when you make ginger tea you will see it floating on the top of the water you boiled the root in. Volatile oils have a powerful bacteria killing capacity and it seems probable that as the volatile oil floats down the digestive tract it kills bacteria in its travels.
When you are sick due to some invader moving into your guts ginger is the perfect option. It will firstly kill the varmint and secondly sooth the nerves that are causing that undescribably horrible sensation known as nausea. One of the phenomena people that work in the health biz are seeing lately is flus, intestinal and respiratory that last a really long time with periodic flare ups. If you are using ginger to clear a intestinal flu, keep using after you have lost all the symptoms, a week or more. This may insure that it only lasts a few days and never comes back.
In several parts of the world you will find ginger made into condiments and served along with the meal, a piece of native wisdom that makes a lot of sense. Three examples of this are the chutneys of India , the pickled ginger served with sushi in Japan , and the candied ginger served with cheese after dinner in Latin America . Nothing is more potentially dodgy than eating raw fish and you will notice the Japanese always eat sushi with a healthy helping of pickled ginger root.
Typical illnesses treated with ginger include bacterial dysentery, cholera, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, chills, cramps, and lack of appetite. If you have a dose of the intestinal flu you probably have all the above mentioned symptoms and the good news is that you can get rid of them all and maybe even the cause of the symptoms with a cupful of ginger tea.
One of the lowest blows of the flu is the incredible nausea that comes along with it and you will be happy to know one of gingers strengths is its ability to quell the stomach jitters, whether from car sickness or delhi belly. In Asia sailors have long used ginger root to stop the nausea and recent studies have indicated that ginger is in fact more powerful as an anti-nausea medicine than dramamine. In Jean Carpers “Food Pharmacy”, Ms. Carper describes a test that included loading people prone to car sickness into a circus like ride that spun the people around like a top. To cut a long study short they found that the people that took the ginger could take the spinning a lot better than those on a placebo and dramamine. I hope they paid those people a lot of money.
In this section we are doing a little cheating as ginger cannot be grown universally, you really have to be in a tropical environment to get it to thrive. However it is universally available at the grocery store in the fresh state and that makes it almost as good.
With gingers ability to quell nausea and often kill the bacterial source, it makes a fine selection when you find yourself running to the bathroom like a bat from hell. The manner of use is simple, but first you have to get the ginger.
With your fresh ginger in hand grate enough root to create a teaspoon of grated ginger. Add this to one cup of water and bring the mixture to a boil and let simmer in a covered pot for ten minutes. Sweeten with honey and drink as much as you would like, as often as you can. You will notice that fresh ginger is indeed on the peppery side and if it is too strong for you add another cup of water to your tea and that should make it more manageable. When it comes to intestinal flus, if the symptoms persist wildly for more than two days you need to consult with your health care provider. Food poisoning can seem like the flu and if that’s what you have you need some professional attention.
Getting your herb:
1. Buy it fresh at your grocery store. If your grocery store doesn’t have it in the produce section find an ethnic food shop, either chinese or Indian and there you will find it beyond any shadow of a doubt. If all else fails you can use the dried powder available in the spice section of the market.
2. Grow it yourself. If you live in a tropical setting the plant is easily grown and will quickly provide you with a steady supply of peppery roots. Simply purchase some fresh ginger at the grocery store and bury the roots three inches below the soil surface and water well. In a matter of days the reed like shoots will appear and within months the roots will spread under ground and even more reed like shoots will appear. Once the patch of ginger has been growing for a year you can start digging the roots out when you need them. If you dont live in a tropical environment you can grow it in a pot but you are better off buying the root at the market.
Chapter from Thirty Plants That Can Save Your Life
What is ginger anyway? Until recently we only knew of the ground ginger in the spice rack, now we see the hands of ginger at the green grocers. The ginger you see on the shelf is the root of a grass like plant. We know of one ginger, zingiber officinalis, the official ginger. The ginger tribe is much more extensive than this and includes cardamons, tumeric, and zeodary. In Asia all of the grass like plants are thought to be good for preserving health. The root is actually a swollen underground stem. The plants take in the hot sun and ship down to the root where it stays until we go and collect it. Bite into a fresh ginger root and you will feel the fire stored in the papery brown rapper.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale, is a reed-like plant native to Asia, but has been introduced to most tropical countries, and grows freely in some parts of the West Indies, South America, Western Africa, Australia, etc.
It was known to the ancients, being extensively used by the Greeks and Romans, who considered it an Arabian product because it came to them, among spices from India , by way of the Red Sea . It was an article of common import from the East to Europe from the 11th to the 13th centuries a.d., and probably for a long period preceding that time. Ginger was taxed as a spice, in common with pepper, cloves, galangal, cubebs, etc.
It was frequently named in the Anglo-Saxon domestic works on medicine of the 11th century, and was used by the Welsh physicians (507) of the 13th and 14th centuries, being then next to pepper in common use. Marco Polo (518) observed it in China and India about 1280-90. In fact, ginger has been a spice and a domestic remedy from the earliest records, being extensively employed both as a spice and as an aromatic stomachic. It is still a popular domestic remedy as well as a favorite with many physicians.
Along with many other spices, ginger arrived in Europe a long time ago, and was immediately snapped up into the kitchen and pharmacy. Gerard had this to say on the item in 1633:
Ginger, as Dioscorides reporteth, is right good with meat in sauces, or otherwise in conditures: for it is of a heating and digesting quality; it gently looseth the belly, and is profitable for the stomach, and effectually opposeth itself against all darkness of the light; answering the qualities and effects of pepper. It is to be considered that candied green or condited ginger is hot and moist in qualities, provoking venerie; and being dried, it heateth and drieth in the third degree.
From Popular Beliefs and Superstitions From Utah, Collected by Anthon S. Cannon we find the following:
- A cup of ginger tea can cure anything that you can come up with. It really works well for diarrhea though.
- Ginger tea will cure fever
- To bring out measles, drink ginger tea
- Remedy for a sorethroat: ginger tea. Put about one teaspoon of ginger in two cups of water and let boil a few minutes. Drink it down.
The Shakers felt that it was valuable in diarrhea, dysentery, cholera, cholera morbus, habitual flatulency, dyspepsia, and to relieve pains in the bowels and stomach. Also to prevent the griping of cathartic medicines.
Ginger made its way from the Orient to Tropical America early in the colonial days, where it has since taken root wherever winter is never felt. The invasive weed grows in abundance in the islands where the locals gather it for just about any malady that comes up.
The pungent fresh rhizomes are sold by herb vendors in Caracas , Venezuela , and they say that they are pounded to a paste, which is applied to the abdomen in case of difficult menstruation. This treatment relieves cramps and stimulates the flow.
In Costa Rica , vendors declare that the decoction is taken to relieve throat inflammation and asthma. With honey added, it is a valued remedy for bronchitis and coughs. It serves as a sudorific in fevers.
The rhizomes are abundantly displayed in native markets of Panama . One vendor said she had a special kind to relieve rheumatism. Guatemalans take the decoction as a stomachic and tonic.
Mexicans prepare a decoction of 5 g shredded rhizome in 0.5 liter water and take a small cupful after meals to aid digestion and prevent colic.
Puerto Ricans boil the rhizome in mild or water and take the decoction as a carminative, stimulant, sudorific and expectorant.
In Trinidad , the decoction is a remedy for indigestion, stomachache and malaria. The fumes from an infusion in urine are inhaled to relieve a head cold.
In Jamaica , a decoction of the rhizome alone or with the vine of Momordica charantia (q.v.) is taken as a carminative and digestive stimulant. It was formerly used in treating gout, mixed with coconut oil and applied on wounds, and added to baths and poultices in cases of fever and pleurisy.
The ginger that we use in cookies and other pastries, dried and powdered, found in little bottles, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the ginger family and its worldwide usage. The plant is Asian by nature, and though a few members of the family have spread to other parts of the world, the world of the Asian gingers is something worth looking into.
The list of ginger relations used for health and flavor looks something like this:
black cardamon: amomum amarum
siam cardamon: ammomum cardamomum
cochin chinese cardamon: ammomum medium
grains of paradise: amomum melegueta
cochin chinese cardamon: ammomum villosum
bastard cardamon: ammomum xanthoides
The principle ginger, zingiber officinalis, is the ginger with which we are most familiar. In Asia the plant is considered to be a general tonic, something that will keep you well and if you are not well, make you well again. It keeps you from loosing your health, and helps you find it if you have misplaced it.
One listing is for treating colds and indigestion, the root is steeped in spirits, or fermented with yeast to make a liquor that is held in the highest esteem for all conditions that result from a weakening of the constitution, such as colds and flues.
The Arabians use another member of the same family, galanga (alpinia officinarium) and zedoary (curcuma zedoaria). For treatment of the stomach and for general wellness. The roots of these two plants are considered to be a stimulant, a stomach healer, an aphrodisiac, and of all things a cure for amnesia.
The roots pounded with olive oil is added to a hot bath or rubbed into the body for any form of muscle complaint, if you have over exerted yourself, in North Africa usually from plowing, but this could apply to someone that has worked out too strenuously at the gym. This especially applies to muscle complaints due to age, the oil is massaged into the affected parts for rheumatism and arthritic conditions.
The roots are ground and mixed with honey, taken in the morning to increase strength and vigor. The Arabians find that this tonic is especially good for those suffering from weakness in the lungs and the genitals. For the aphrodisiac effect the root is combined with a little black pepper, for lung weakness of any sort, the root is combined with honey, cloves, and olive oil. The same mixture is used in the case of having been bitten by a poisonous animal.
The Chinese use cardomons, the pods and the flowers for a pretty substantial list of complaints. cardoms, also found ground at the spice rack at the grocery, are indeed members of the family. The ground spice is actually the fragrant seed pods a blooming ginger relation. The flowers and the seed pods are the original Chinese hangover treatment, though the use extends to sore stomach caused by less debauched sources. The plant is used to sweeten bad breath, treat malaria and other stomach flus, acid stomachs, irregular menstruation, and all forms of poisoning.
Galanga is unknown to most of us, however, it is the root that floats around in coconut shrimp soup so popularized by the Thai restaurants popping up around the world. The Chinese feel that galanga has the combined powers of ginger and cardamons, so by far is one of the most popular gingers for staying well and has been such since 1091, when the substance appears in official documents. Much like all the other ginger relations, galanga is the stomach’s best friend. The root is used for pyrosis, cholera, the runs, toothache, ague, and diseases arising form damp and chills.
Ginger, as in the powder we are accustomed to dealing with, is thought to have originated from Mongolia . Its name in the Chinese dialects indicates that it is was originally imported. Though once imported it is now grown in all the Chinese provinces. The science of ginger is so exacting that gingers from different parts of China are used for different purposes, some for cooking, some for illness, some dry, some fresh. The roots from the South are not as juicy as those from the North, and are used in making preserves.
The dry ginger we get at the grocery store is not from China , but rather from Jamaica and parts of Africa . The Chinese ginger doesn’t separate from the skin as readily as does the Jamaican counterpart, and the skin has to be removed, as ground ginger only contains the meat of the tuber.
In China the fresh ginger, principally originating in the Yangste Valley is used to treat fevers, stimulate the stomach, end nausea, cure a cough, get the gas out of the stomach, and cure dysentery. It is also used to treat mushroom poisoning, which is a nasty piece of business. Mushrooms contain many chemicals that are quite toxic to the human body. When the liver tries to get these chemicals out of the blood stream, the liver itself is destroyed in the process, and as we all know, when the liver goes, wave good bye. This ties in with the notion of several ginger relatives being used to treat hangovers, partly caused by the severe beating the liver takes when people over do the alcohol thing.
Dried ginger is used for all the things that fresh ginger is, but in addition, it includes, urinary difficulties, hemorrhages, constipation, and perverted lochia. Ginger gets the kidneys working and helps to flush the system out. Of this I know. In the aim of avoiding a cold, I was drinking ginger tea for several days, and I couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t stop running to the restroom, some time later I discovered ginger to be a natural diuretic.
The Hawaiians use ginger in this manner: for a slight sprain or bruise, the “awapuhi” has been found to be very helpful. Take 8 roots the size of the thumb; two “awa” roots of equal size; one leaf of the Chunbago zeylanica and one fully matured Morinda citrifolia fruit. Have these thoroughly pounded together and add to the mixture about a tablespoonful of water. The whole is then mixed and the juice obtained therefrom is strained and put into a container. The afflicted part is then bathed with it and massaged. This is done morning, noon, and before retiring. Or for cleansing the blood, take 4 “olena” bulbs; about a quart of the shoots; an equal amount of the Punex gigauteus leaves and shoots; a piece of the mountain apple bark; an equal amount of “koa” bark; a half of a segment of white sugar-cane. Have theses materials thoroughly pounded together and the juice strained. The patient then drinks this liquid twice a day.
In Polynesian medicine, the fresh rhizome of REA TAHITI is used in the treatment of gonorrhoea, leucorrhea, diabetes mellitus and incontinence resulting from cystitis:
For diabetes the Polynesians take one large rhizome of ginger one finger long, and one ripe coconut. Take out the half of the coconut opposite the three “eyes.” Grate it and express the cream. Grate the ginger and take out its juice. Mix it into the coconut cream and drink the mixture, taking one dose per day for 5 days. It is claimed that following this treatment, the volume of urine passed becomes normal again, the glycosuria disappearing. The medicine also acts as a purgative.
In India we find ginger used in chronic rheumatism. Infusion of ginger (2 drachmas to 6 ounces of boiling water and strained) taken warm just before going to bed, the body being covered with blankets so as to produce copious perspiration, is often attended with the best results. The same treatment has also been found beneficial in colds or catarrhal attacks and during the cold stage of intermittent fever.
Ginger with salt taken before meals is praised as a carminative; said to clean the tongue and throat, increase the appetite and produce an agreeable sensation. Relaxed sore throat, hoarseness and loss of voice are sometimes benefitted by chewing a piece of ginger so as to produce a copious flow of saliva.
On the scientific level, much has been proven about ginger, almost all the folk beliefs have been verified: It does the following:
- Prevents motion sickness
- Thins the blood
- Lowers blood cholesterol
- Prevents cancer in animals
Ginger extracts are reported to exhibit numerous pharmacological properties including:
- stimulating the vasomotor and respiratory centers of anesthetized cats as well as direct heart stimulation
- lowering of serum and hepatic cholesterol in rats previously fed cholesterol
- killing vaginal trichomonads in vitro
- fresh ginger (juice, aqueous extract, in poultice or slivered form) has been reported to be highly effective in China in the clinical treatment of rheumatism, acute bacterial dysentery, malaria, and orchitis (inflammation of the testicle).
- by acting on the central sympathetic centers, Rhizoma Zingiberis Officinalis raises blood pressure.
- effect on the gastrointestinal system: doses of 0.1 to 1.0 gram of ginger given to dogs resulted in an increase in the secretion of gastric juice as well as free hydrochloride. However, the activity of pepsin was decreased while that of lipase was increased. Preparations of this herb are able to inhibit vomiting caused by copper sulfate in dogs. Dosage of 30 ml of a 10-50% solution were necessary. However, it has not been able to inhibit vomiting induced by apomorphine hydrochloride or digitalis in pigeons.
- treatment of bacillary dysentery: preparations using ginger and brown sugar to treat 50 patients with acute bacillary dysentery had a cure rate, within seven days, of 70%. Abdominal pain and tenesmus disappeared on the average of 5 days, the frequency of stool resumed its normal pattern on the average of 5 days, and stool cultures were negative on the average of 4 days. No side effects were noted.
- effect on blood pressure: the chewing of fresh ginger by adults resulted in an average elevation of the systolic blood pressure by 11.2 mm Hg and the diastolic blood pressure by 14 mmHg. No significant change in the pulse was recorded.
- central nervous system effect: preparations of ginger given to anesthetized cats demonstrated a stimulatory effect on the respiratory center and the heart.
- use in urology: six to ten 0.2 mm thick pieces of ginger placed over the affected testis, were used for acute orchitis. The ginger was changed daily or every other day. All of the participants felt a hot to numbing sensation in the scrotum, while a few had local erythema and edema. Of the 24 patients in the study, the average time of subjective and objective cure was 3.0 days. In a control group of four patients, the average time of healing was 8.5 days. This technique is not suitable for patients with lesions of the scrotum.
Chapter from Gardening Book
REALLY FRESH GINGER, LIKE ALL PLANT PRODUCTS ARE BETTER FOR YOU AND BETTER TASTING. BUT ASIDE FROM THIS BASIC REASONING BEHIND GETTING A GINGER STAND GOING THERE IS A BETTER REASON. ITS A REALLY LOVELY PLANT. IT HAS CANNA LIKE FOLIAGE THAT EXUDES THAT GINGER SMELL AS YOU BRUSH AGAINST IT. I LIKE USEING MY NOSE AND A GINGER PLANT IS GOOD FOR THIS PURPOSE. IM APT TO RIP OFF A PEICE OF LEAF OF MOST OF MY PLANTS, CRUSH IT IN MY HAND AND SMELL IT. AND GINGER IS A GREAT PLANT TO DO THIS WITH. THE PLANT IS VERY UNUSUAL AND THE FLOWERS AN EXOTIC DREAM COME TRUE. THE PUT OFF A PERFUME THAT IS WITHOUT PEER IN THE GARDEN.
THE TIME TO START YOUR OUTDOOR GINGER GARDEN IS IN EARLY SPRING. GINGER IS ACTUALLY SUBTROPICAL SPICE AND IF YOU LIVE NORTHOF THE MASON DIXON LINE YOU PROBABLY WANT TO GROW IT IN A POT. I LIV IN WASHINGTOM DC AND GROW IT OUTSIDE BY AFFORDING IT SOME WINTER PROTECTION. PLANTING IT NEXT TO THE SOUTH SIDE OF THE HOUSE IS A PERFECT LOCATION FOR IT. GINGER NATURALLY GROWS UNDER TREE COVER AND NEEDS SOME PROTECTION FROM THE BURNING SUN. HALF A DAY OF LIGHT IS ALL IT NEEDS. WHAT I DO IS I DIG AN AREA THE SIZE OF TWO BASEBALL DIAMONDS AND LIFT THE SOIL OUT TO ABOUT SIX INCHES DOWN. I MIX THE REMOVED SOIL WITH EEQUAL PARTS OF DECOMPOSED MANURE. THE GINGER PLANT REALLY LIKES RICH SOIL. HAVING MIXED THE SOIL I PUT HALF BACK IN THE HOLE, AND LEAVE THE OTHER HALF TO THE SIDE. I PLACE 4 OR 5 HANDS OF GINGER IN THE BED OF MIXED SOIL AND REPLACE THE LAST SOIL MANURE MIXTURE ON TOP. THIS WILL GIVE YOU ABOUT 4 INCHES OF SOIL ON TOP OF THE GINGER ROOTS. THE SHOOTS WILL APPEAR IN A MONTH OR SO AND WILL CONTINUE TO SEND UP SHOOTS ALL SUMMER LONG AND INTO THE WINTER. AS WINTER CLOSENS, USUALLY IN LATE DECEMBER, I CUT THE STALKS BACK TO THE GROUND, AND PUT NEWS PAPERS ON TOP OF THE CHOPPED STALKS, AND THEN BUT 12 INCHES OF COMPOST ON TOP OF THE NEWSPAPERS. ABOUT TWO SUNDAYS OF PAPERS WILL DO YOU. I LEAVE THIS CONTRAPTION ON UNTIL MID MARCH OF THE NEXT YEAR AND THE GINGER DOES ITS THING ALL OVER AGAIN. IF YOU LIVE SOUTH OF VIRGINIA THERE IS NO EXCUSE FOR YOU TO NOT GROW SOME OF THIS VERY HEALTHFUL AND TASTY SPICE.
GINGER IS READILY GROWN IN POT AND IS ONE THAT IS SO EASY TO GROW. YOU WANT TO GROW IT IN A LARGE POT AS IT LIKES TO SPREAD, AND IN ITS SPREADING YOU’LL GET YOUR GINGER. REMEMBER, YOU EAT THE ROOTS, AND YOU WANT TO ALLOW LOTS OF ROOM FOR THE ROOTS TO DEVELOP. ONE OF THE BEST CONTAINERS TO USE IS AN EMPTY APPLE BUSHEL BASKET. LINE THE BASKET WITH A PLASTIC BAG, FILL WITH POTTING SOIL, POKE HOLES IN THE BOTTOM TO ALLOW FOR PROPER DRAINAGE. THIS IS ABOUT THE RIGHT SIZE FOR YOUR CONTAINER. SINK TWO ROOTS IN THIS MAKESHIFT POT AND SET IN THE MEDIUM SUN. THE SHOOTS WILL APPEAR AND KEEP SHOOTING FOR THE LENGHT OF THE SUMMER. IN FALL, JUST BRING THE POT INTO THE GARAGE AND LEAVE IT THERE. AS YOU WANT SOME GINGER JUST GO OUT TO THE CONTAINER AND DIG A PIECE OUT.