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Ginger Plant

Ginger Plant

Botanical Description & Habitat

Zingiber officinale


Common names
African ginger
Black ginger
Race ginger

Native to India and cultivated in other tropical areas.

Has a tuberous perennial root one inch or more in length. The root is flattened on its upper and under surfaces, irregularly branched, and a light ash color. It produces an annual leafy stem which is two to three feet in height. The leaves are lanceolate, oblong, smooth, and five to six inches in length. They grow alternately along the length of the stem. A leafless flower stalk grows by the side of the stem and terminates in an oval, obtuse flower spike. The flowers range from dingy yellow to purple and yellow-spotted, and have green bracts with yellow margins.

Medicinal parts
Root - dried, scraped

See also
Ginger Root
Ginger - Ground

Historical Properties & Uses

Ginger is commonly used around the world, and has been employed in the treatment, cure, and prevention of numerous conditions. Its concentration of aromatic oil and related constituents is responsible for its stomachic, stimulant, aperitive, digestive, carminative, and sialagogue effects.

Research has demonstrated its long list of useful properties: anti-emetic, anti-nausea, anti-motion sickness, antidiarrheic, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, cholinergic, analgesic, and antipyretic.

Ginger reduces cholesterol levels and resists cholesterol buildup. In addition, it is inotropic and inhibits platelet aggregation. Regular use, therefore, tends to promote cardiovascular health. Ginger root also promotes transitory phagocytic activity.

Ginger root has approval status by the German Commission E for dyspepsia and motion sickness. It is considered to be an antiemetic and a cholagogue.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Method of Action

Ginger Root eliminates and prevents nausea
Ginger root, in the powdered, encapsulated form, has been found more effective than dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) in preventing the nauseating symptoms of motion sickness. Human subjects, spun in a chair, were given either ginger root, dimenhydrinate, or placebo 20 minutes before the trial. The psychophysical method of magnitude estimation was used to record subjective impressions of stomach feelings during the session.

Statistical analysis of power functions obtained from subjective estimations showed significant differences between all groups, with ginger root being clearly superior. Other field trials and pilot studies revealed for most people who are susceptible to motion sickness, two or three capsules one-half hour before a trip, two-three capsules at regular (1-2 hour) intervals during the trip is usually sufficient to prevent the nausea that often accompanies travel. It is recommended enough ginger root be ingested to cause a ginger aftertaste in the throat.

Powdered, encapsulated ginger root is effective in preventing and relieving nausea and diarrhea associated with several other conditions, including morning sickness (up to 75% success rate), stomach flu, dizziness and vertigo (40-50% success rate).

Ginger Root is hypocholesterolemic
Ginger root has a good hypocholesterolemic property. An oleoresin of ginger root, included in a hypercholesterolemic diet for rats at 0.5 to 1.0%, was significantly capable of preventing the rise in serum and hepatic cholesterol levels seen in control animals. It is thought the herb interferes in cholesterol absorption from the stomach through a bile acid sequestering ability.

Ginger Root has good cardiovascular properties
A crude methanol extract of ginger root has a powerful, dose-dependent, positive inotropic effect on the isolated left atria of experimental animals. It would therefore aid circulation by increasing the force of muscular contractions in the atria. Gingerols were determined to be the active constituents (specifically (6)-, (8)-, and (10)-gingerol).

An aqueous extract of ginger has recently been shown to inhibit platelet aggregation in vitro in a dose-dependent manner. Platelet aggregation was induced by arachidonic acid, collagen, ADP, and epinephrine. Venous blood from healthy subjects was used. Ginger inhibit platelet aggregation induced by arachidonic and drastically reduced (by 73%) thromboxane B2 formation. Platelet formation of TxB2 and prostaglandin (PGF2-alpha, PGE2 AND PGD2) was significantly reduced in the presence of the ginger extract. The researchers suggest ginger's primary focus of activity is to inhibit cyclooxygenase. The extracts did not inhibit endogenous prostacyclin formation in rat aortic rings.

Other pharmacology of Ginger Root
Several Chinese medicines were studied for their anti-inflammatory properties. The most effective contained ginger root along with licorice root and scutellaria. It is impossible to tell how much each herb contributed to the total effect.

In routine screenings of plants for antibacterial properties, ginger root has often yielded positive results, against both gram negative and gram positive pathogens.

Ginger root oil has been found to increase capillary permeability and to induce transitory phagocytic activity of the capillary endothelium. Histamine has been considered a mediator of the defense mechanism because it appears quickly after any injury, increases capillary permeability, and induces a locally-acquired transitory phagocytic activity in the endothelial cells of the skin capillaries. Bicyclo-decapentane and other liposoluble substances have similar properties. Thirty-five volatile oils or their components were tested for this activity. Of these, ginger oil and four others were effective (the others were linalool, citronellol, juniper oil and pine needle oil). In reference to tuberculosis, these oils increased the effectiveness of small doses of dihydrostreptomycin.

Water extracts of Zingiber mioga also have histaminergic properties; they are also cholinergic, i.e., they possesses mild sedative and blood lowering properties. However, alcohol extracts of Zingiber officinale, containing the resinous fraction, stimulate the vasomotor and respiratory centers of anesthetized cats, and have a direct stimulating effect on the heart.

There is evidence the fresh root of ginger may differ in pharmacology from the dried root. The word "may" is stressed because whole root was not used in the experiments. Instead (6)-gingerol and (6)-shogaol were used. Fresh ginger root contains a large amount of (6)-gingerol and hardly any (6)-shogaol, but the dried root contains large amounts of both. While both compounds were found to have good analgesic and antipyretic properties, each effect was higher in the (6)-shogaol. This chemical also had antitussive and anticonvulsive properties not shared by the (6)-gingerol. Both substances inhibited spontaneous movement, enhanced sodium hexobarbital-induce sleep. Again, (6)-shogaol was more effective. Administered orally, both constituents inhibited charcoal meal traversibility through the digestive system. (6)-shogaol inhibited gastric movement in situ in a dose-dependent manner when administered intravenously. In low doses both drugs produced depressor responses on the systemic blood pressure, but at high doses a three phase pattern was seen--fall immediately after administration and the marked rise and decrease. Both substances produced decreases in heart rate at low doses, but at higher doses, after i.v. administration, they produced marked bradycardia. Interestingly, Chinese medicine has separate names and sets of medicinal properties for fresh root (Shokyo), dried root (Kanshokyo), and dried steamed root (Kankyo).

Drug Interactions & Precautions

Possible Interactions
Any one or all of the following drugs may be imperfectly absorbed if ginger is being used on a daily basis: tetracycline derivatives, oral anticholinergics, phenothiazines, digoxin, isoniazid, phenytoin, warfarin.

In addition, certain antipsychotic drugs, such as the phenothiazines, as well as other psychoactive agents which are poorly absorbed in the gastrointestinal tract, may be even more poorly absorbed if ginger is also being used.

The urinary excretion of alkaline drugs, such as amphetamines or quinidine, may be inhibited by the antacid nature of ginger. The antacid nature of ginger may also decrease or delay the absorption of nalidixic acid and the sulfonamides.

It should be noted the weak antithrombotic effect of ginger may be increased by concomitant administration of anabolic steroids, antidiabetics, clofibrate, dextrothyroxine, disulfiram, phenlybutazone, salicylates, and thyroid preparations. Other agents which may increase this antithrombotic effect include allopurinol, aminoglycosides, chloramphenicol, ethacrynic acid, and glucagon.

Ginger inhibits platelet activity.

Lumb AB. Effect of dried ginger on human platelet function. Thromb Haemost 1994;71(1):110-1.

Srivastava KC. Effect of onion and ginger consumption on platelet thromboxane production in humans. Prostaglandins Leukot Essent Fatty Acids 1989;35:183-5.

Ginger may decrease the absorption of dietary iron, when used as an antacid.

The use of large amounts of ginger on a continuous basis may partially block the digestion, absorption or resorption of a wide variety of drugs and fat-soluble vitamins. Furthermore, the absorbent nature of ginger may inhibit absorption of lincomycin and digitalis.

Conversely, ginger may potentiate the effects of oral coumarin anticoagulants, such as warfarin and dicumarol, to the extent it stimulates the liver to catabolize and excrete cholesterol and its by-products via the biliary route.

It should be noted ginger may mask the ototoxicity caused by aminoglycoside antibiotics such as neomycin.

Safety Factors & Toxicity

Large doses of zingerone, a constituent of ginger root, has produced experimental toxicity in lab animals, but the ingestion of zingerone as found in ginger root poses not threat to health.

Generally regard as safe by the FDA.

Ginger root has approval status by the German Commission E.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.

Preparation & Administration

This herb has approval status by the German Commission E.

Recommended daily dosages in Germany are as follows:

2 - 4 g rhizome.


Blumenthal, M (Ed.): The Complete German Commission E Monographs: Therapeutic Guide to Herbal Medicines. American Botanical Council. Austin, TX. 1998.



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Essential Oil

See Ginger Essence under Aromatherapy


Zingiber officinale

? Southwest School of Botanical Medicine