GINGER ROOT/RHIZOME (Zingiber officinalis)

Latin: Zingiber officinalis
Sanskrit: Ardrakam, Sunthi
Chinese: Gan jiang

WHAT IT DOES: Ginger root is pungent in taste, and warming, and mildly tonic in action.  It improves digestion, reduces nausea and mucus, settles the stomach, and reduces inflammation.


SAFETY ISSUES: Ginger may increase absorption of pharmceuticals, and may irritate the stomach in sensitive individuals or those with severe acid reflux problems.

• Dried powder: 500-1500 mg one to three times per day
• Tea: drink freely

Ginger acts as a digestive aid as well as a peripheral blood circulation stimulant, so it is useful for increasing poor circulation.  Its pungent essential oils aid digestion by stimulating the activity of digestive enzymes (Platel K et al., 1998).  However, despite its hot spicy taste, ginger inhibits the synthesis of the “bad-guy” inflammatory chemicals, prostaglandin and thromboxane (Kiuchi et al., 1992).

TCM doctors tell us that fresh ginger is better than dry ginger for easing nausea, mucus, indigestion and stomach pain, and for stopping diarrhea caused by poor digestion.  Conversely, they tell us dry ginger is better for warming the body.  The anti-inflammatory actions of ginger, noted centuries ago by TAM doctors, are strong enough to reduce muscular discomfort and pain in osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis (Srivastava et al., 1992).  They explain this action in a pungent herb, as due to the vipaka (post-digestive action) being sweet, and therefore nourishing and antiinflamatory. Ginger is also used by TAM doctors to treat the common cold.

I sometimes mix ginger with honey to form a paste (occasionally adding ground black pepper), which is a very simple anti-asthma formula suitable for young children in the early stages of the disease.  Generally, this treatment needs to be kept up for several months to see its full effectiveness.

Research Highlights
• Because of its digestive and anti-nausea actions, ginger can be used to treat dyspepsia, nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy, vertigo, dizziness and motion sickness (Schmid et al., 1994; Visalyaputra et al., 1998).
• It has also been shown to increase gastroduodenal motility (Micklefield et al., 1999).

• Pharmacological studies show that part of ginger root’s antiinflammatory action is due to inhibition of the formation of inflammatory prostaglandins (Kiuchi et al., 1992).