Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)

What is Ginger?

Ginger is best known for its use as a culinary herb but has a lot of benefits medicinally as well.

Active compounds in ginger cause blood vessels to dilate, bringing blood flow into the surface layers of the skin and digestive tissue — causing a warming sensation when eaten or applied to the skin.

The warming sensation makes ginger popular for adding spice and heat to foods and in topicals for alleviating joint and muscle pains.

Ginger comes from Southeast Asia, along with some of the other prevalent members of the family such as turmeric (Curcuma longa), and cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum) — all of which share similar warming, anti-inflammatory, and antimicrobial benefits.

What Else is Ginger Known As?

  • Ginger
  • Shang Jiang (Fresh Ginger) (China)
  • Gan Jiang (Drieed Ginger) (China)
  • Dzhindzhifil
  • Chnay;
  • Dumber
  • Sacha
  • Rea moru
  • Ingwer
  • Asngod
  • Aale
  • Atuja
  • Zenzero
  • Oshoga
  • Saeng gang
  • Khing-daeng
  • Cay gung

Herbal Actions/Properties of Ginger

  • Carminative
  • Antiemetic
  • Spasmolytic
  • Circulatory Stimulant
  • Rubefacient
  • Digestive stimulant
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral

What is Ginger Used For? 

Ginger has a lot of uses. The warming effects of the herb are popular for stimulating digestion, supporting the cardiovascular system, and topically for easing muscle and joint pain. You can find ginger in topical rubs like Tiger Balm or other heating balms.

Fresh ginger has profound anti-viral, and antibacterial effects as well — making it useful for fighting infections.

Another powerful benefit of ginger is its effects on reducing nausea. Ginger has a unique ability to alleviate nausea and vomiting from a variety of causes — including motion sickness, morning sickness, and digestive tract infection.

Folklore & History of Ginger

Ginger has a long history of use in Southeast Asia where is grows naturally. Most of this use involves cooking, but there are quite a few medicinal applications as well — both topically, and internally.

In Chinese medicine, ginger is further differentiated by fresh, or dry ginger. Dried ginger is considered to have a hot nature, while fresh ginger is milder and considered warm in nature.

Ginger Side-Effects & Safety

Ginger is considered a very safe herb, but there are still a few cautions to be aware of. For example, it’s recommended you avoid ginger if you suffer from gastric reflux, peptic ulcers, or gallstones.

Scientific Research Involving Ginger

  1. [2014] Can ginger ameliorate chemotherapy-induced nausea? Protocol of a randomized double blind, placebo-controlled trial.
  2. [2011] Update on the chemopreventive effects of ginger and its phytochemicals.
  3. [2008] Effects of ginger on gastric emptying and motility in healthy humans.
  4. [2007] The effect of the volatile oil from ginger rhizomes (Zingiber officinale), its fractions and isolated compounds on the 5-HT3 receptor complex and the serotoninergic system of the rat ileum.
  5. [2006] Mode of action of gingerols and shogaols on 5-HT3 receptors: binding studies, cation uptake by the receptor channel and contraction of isolated guinea-pig ileum.
  6. [2005] Zingiberis rhizoma: a comprehensive review on the ginger effect and efficacy profiles.
  7. [1998] Reversal of cisplatin-induced delay in gastric emptying in rats by ginger (Zingiber officinale).
  8. [1997] Antiemetic efficacy of ginger (Zingiber officinale) against cisplatin-induced emesis in dogs.
  9. [1996] Influence of dietary spices or their active principles on digestive enzymes of small intestinal mucosa in rats.
  10. [1990] Gastrointestinal motility enhancing effect of ginger and its active constituents.

Other Resources

  1. [2013] Introduction to Chinese materia medica (3rd ed.).
  2. [2003] A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient.
  3. [2000] The ancient wisdom of the Chinese tonic herbs.
  4. [1931] A Modern Herbal.