Ginger Summary:

Everybody is familiar in some way with ginger. Its delicious, spicy flavor is very characteristic, and used in a lot of culinary applications. Ginger syrup, ginger candy, soups and chicken dishes, and an incredible amount of other meals as well. 

Ginger is also very well known as a medicinal plant. It is one of the best anti-nausea herbs on earth, and offers benefit towards releiving menstrual cramps and pains, bloating, indigestion, and inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract as well. 

In traditional Chinese medicine, a distinction is made between the dried rhizome, and fresh rhizome. They consider dried ginger to be much "hotter", and dries the interior. In contrast, fresh ginger is still considered warm in nature, but is used to moisten the interior instead, and disperse heat. These actions in terms of Chinese medicine are fundamentally different from each other. 

This distinction has been established in some of the scientific literature as well. Fresh ginger for example, has been shown to be significantly antiviral and antibacterial, by inhibiting the viral membranes from entering our cells, and preventing the cell membranes of bacteria from functioning properly. These actions are lacking in dried ginger however. 

Gingers benefits includes: anti-spasmodic, anti-inflammatory, antiviral, antibacterial, warming, promotes digestion, improves cramping and bloating, and powerfully anti nauseating. It can be used topically as well to treat arthritis, and muscle pain. It causes a warming sensation when applied to the skin, and improves healing times and pain as a result. 


Botanical Name

Zingiber officinale

Family

Zingiberaceae

Part Used

Rhizome

Herbal Actions:

[4, 5, 13]

  • Carminative [4]
  • Antiemetic
  • Spasmolytic
  • Stimulant [4]
  • Rubefacient [4]
  • Antiplatelet
  • Digestive stimulant
  • Anti-Inflammatory
  • Antibacterial
  • Antiviral

Dosage

Liquid Extract (1:2)

0.7-2 mL/day [13]

A Note On Dosing

Some recent pharmakokinetic research on ginger has found that the half life of many of the compounds found in ginger are relatively low. This means that dosing of ginger may need to be repeated more often than is usually recommended. [1].  

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Indications:

[4, 5, 13]

Internal

  • Digestive complaintsFlatulence
    • Indigestion
    • Bloating
    • Cramping
    • Dyspepsia
    • Colic
    • Alcoholic gastritis
    • Diarrea from relaxed bowel lacking inflammation
  • Female Complaints
    • Menstrual irregularities
    • Menstrual pain
    • Dysmenorrhea
  • Nausea
    • Motion sickness
    • Morning sickness
    • Drug induced
  • Fever
  • Common cold

Topical

  • Arthritis
  • Inflammation (as a rubefacient)

Common Names:

  • Shangjiang (Fresh Ginger)
  • Gan jiang (Dried Ginger)

Traditional Uses:

Ginger has a long history of use in traditional Chinese medicine. Here, they use the dried and fresh versions of ginger very differently. Dried ginger is used to warm and stimulate the interior, and improve digestion where as the fresh ginger was used oppositly, to moisten the interior and expell heat. [5]. See below for more on this. 

Traditionally, ginger has been used to treat gastro-intestinal related conditions [2].


Botanical Description:

Zingiber officinale is a herbaceous perennial with a brown, creeping rhizome which is used as food and medicine. 


Habitat Ecology, and Distribution:

Currently this herb is cultivated in large quantities in Jamaica and the West Indies [4]. 


Harvesting Collection, and Preparation:

Dried ginger, and fresh ginger have similar tastes, but are used slightly differently in traditional Chinese medicine. 


Constituents:

[1, 4, 5, 13]

  • Volatile oil
  • Resin
  • Gum
  • Starch
  • Lignin
  • asmazone
  • Acetic acid
  • Sulphur
  • Gingerols
  • Shogaols
  • Zingiberene
  • Zingiberone
  • Paradol

Pharmacology and Medical Research:

 

Antibacterial

Still compiling research.

 

Antinausea

Animal and cell culture data have demonstrated mechanisms of action for gingers anti nausea effects [3]. Ginger extracts, may provide at least some of their anti-emetic and anti-nausea actions through its reported interaction with the 5-HT3 and NK-1 receptors implicated with the CINV reflex. The constituents suggested to provide this action are the gingerols, shogaols, zingiberene,  zingiberone, and paradol) [9, 10]. 5-HT3 and NK-1 antagonists are used as modern anti-emetic medications. 

In an animal study investigating the effect of ginger supplementation with cisplatin-induced emesis, ginger supplementation was shown to prevent the onset of emesis in these individuals [11, 12]. 

 

Antiviral

Still compiling research.

 

Digestive Actions

A few of gingers constituents (gingerols, shogaols, zingiberene, zingerone, and paradol) have been found to stimulate oral, and gastric secretions [6], as well as regulate gastrointestinal motility [7, 8].

 

Toxicity

Do not use if gallstones present [13].  

 

Cautions:

  • Essence of ginger often contains adulterants, caution should be advised to only purchase from a reputable supplier [4]. 
  • Caution advised when peptic ulceration, gastro-esophageal reflux, or other gastric diseases present [13]. 

Traditional Chinese Medicine

In traditional Chinese medicine, fresh ginger and dried ginger are considered to be very different.

Dried ginger (Gan jiang) is used to warm the stomach and spleen. This action improves digestion and relieves cold conditions associated with these 2 organs. It is often used in tonic herb formulations in order to magnify the tonic qualities of the other herbs, particularly Qi tonics [5]. 

 

Dried ginger:

Taste: Pungent (spicy) [14]

Energy: Hot [14]

Target organs: Spleen, kidney, lungs, and heart [5]. 

Actions: Warms the middle jiao, rescues devastated yang, warms the lungs, relieves fluid retention, warms the channels, stops bleeding [14]. 

Indications: Spleen and stomach defficiency-cold patterns with gastric and abdominal cold pain, vomiting and diarrhoea [14]. 

Caution: Caution if using with blood heat, yin deficiency, internal heat showing a red tongue with scanty coating and dry hard stool, pregnancy. [14]. Use dried ginger cautiously in pregnancy. Do not exceed 2g/day [13]. 

 

Fresh Ginger:

Pinyin: Shiang Jiang

Taste: Pungent [14]

Energy: Warm [14]

Actions: Disperses the exterior, disipates cold, warms the center, stops vomiting, dissolves phlegm, resolves toxins, moistens and cools the interior [5, 14].

Indications: To address dryness, and expel heat. [5]. Wind-cold exterior pattern, vomiting. White glossy tongue coating. [14]. 

Caution: Contraindicated with dry red tongue with thirst and aversion to heat [14]. 


Synergy:

Still compiling research. 


Author:

Justin Cooke

The Sunlight Experiment

Updated: June 2017


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References:

  1. Marx, W., McCarthy, A. L., Ried, K., Vitetta, L., McKavanagh, D., Thomson, D., … Isenring, L. (2014). Can ginger ameliorate chemotherapy-induced nausea? Protocol of a randomized double blind, placebo-controlled trial. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 14(1), 134. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-134
  2. Baliga MS, Haniadka R, Pereira MM, D'Souza JJ, Pallaty PL, Bhat HP, Popuri S. (2011). Update on the chemopreventive effects of ginger and its phytochemicals. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 51:499–523.
  3. Chrubasik S, Pittler MH, Roufogalis BD. (2005). Zingiberis rhizoma: a comprehensive review on the ginger effect and efficacy profiles. Phytomedicine, 12:684–701.
  4. A Modern Herbal. (1931). Ginger. Retrieved from http://www.botanical.com/botanical/mgmh/g/ginger13.html
  5. Teeguarden, R. (2000). The ancient wisdom of the Chinese tonic herbs. New York, NY: Warner Books.
  6. Platel K, Srinivasan K. (1996). Influence of dietary spices or their active principles on digestive enzymes of small intestinal mucosa in rats. Int J Food Sci Nutr, 47:55–59.
  7. Yamahara J, Huang QR, Li YH, Xu L, Fujimura H. (1990). Gastrointestinal motility enhancing effect of ginger and its active constituents. Chem & Pharmaceutical bulletin. 38:430–431.
  8. Wu KL, Rayner CK, Chuah SK, Changchien CS, Lu SN, Chiu YC, Chiu KW, Lee CM. (2008). Effects of ginger on gastric emptying and motility in healthy humans. Eur J Gastroenterol Hepatol 2008, 20:436–440.
  9. Riyazi A, Hensel A, Bauer K, Geissler N, Schaaf S, Verspohl EJ. (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. Planta Med 2007, 73:355–362.
  10. Abdel-Aziz H, Windeck T, Ploch M, Verspohl EJ. (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. Eur J Pharmacol 2006, 530:136–143.
  11. Sharma SS, Kochupillai V, Gupta SK, Seth SD, Gupta YK. (1997). Antiemetic efficacy of ginger (Zingiber officinale) against cisplatin-induced emesis in dogs. J Ethnopharmacol 1997, 57:93–96.
  12. Sharma SS, Gupta YK. (1998). Reversal of cisplatin-induced delay in gastric emptying in rats by ginger (Zingiber officinale). J Ethnopharmacol 1998, 62:49–55.
  13. Bone, K. (2003). A clinical guide to blending liquid herbs: Herbal formulations for the individual patient. Edinburgh [u.a.: Churchill Livingstone. (Pg. 227-231). 
  14. Yang, J., Huang, H., Zhu, Li-Jiang, & Chen, Y. (2013). Introduction to Chinese materia medica (3rd ed.). (Pg 47-49). 
 

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