Tonic Herb of the Month

Ginger

A favorite herb for the colder months. Ginger is invigorating, energizing and delicious. We add it to many of our concoctions, including all of our Fire Cider, our Seasonal Chai blends, our Elderberry-Ginger Syrup blend, our Energy Tonic tea, our Achy Joints tea, our Kava-Ginger Muscle balm, and our Kava-Ginger Bath blend.  A hot cup of ginger tea will drive the chill from your body, and adding a concentrated tea to your bath water is an incredible way to relax tight and achy muscles.


BOTANICAL NAME:  Zingiber officinale

COMMON NAME(S): Jamaican ginger, African ginger, Calcutta ginger, Green ginger (fresh ginger)

FAMILY: Zingiberaceae

PARTS USED: Rhizome, incorrectly called root

DESCRIPTION: Ginger has a perennial rhizome or stem which creeps and increases in size underground. Roots grow from the bottom of the rhizome and shoots from the upper surface.

In the spring it sends up from its rhizome a green reed-like stalk about 2 feet high, with narrow lanceolate leaves. These leaves die back after the growing season. The flowering stalk rises directly from the rhizome with the leaves and consists of an oblong spike with scalloped green bracts. From each bract one or more white or yellowish-green flowers is produced, blooming for several days. The underground rhizome is the source of commercial “ginger root”. (Grieve, M. 1931. A Modern Herbal.)

HABITAT: tropical climates; can be grown in temperate regions if brought indoors during the cold months. Z. officinale is thought to originally be native to southeast Asia, although no one knows for sure exactly where. It has become so widely cultivated in tropical and subtropical regions of the world that it is rarely found growing wild. Ginger prefers warm, humid, sunny and low altitude locations with well-drained, fertile soil.

HARVESTING/PROPAGATION: harvest the rhizome after 1 year of growth. Cultivated propagation has been done by root cuttings for so long many cultivars no longer produce seeds. You can plant the rhizome about two inches deep in pots and keep them well-watered until it begins to sprout. Start indoors in the early spring and then move the pots outside when the weather warms up.

ENERGETICS AND TASTE: pungent, sweet, bitter, very warming, drying 

CONSTITUENTS: Volatile(essential) oil (1-3%) containing sesquiterpenes zingiberene and B-bisabolene, B-sesquiphellandrene,  oleoresin and ar-curcumene; some monoterpenes such as geranial and neral; (4-10%) Pungent compounds (non-volatile phenols, arylalkanes) including gingerols (strong anti-inflammatory), shogaols, gingerdiols, gingerdiones; Vitamins: B6, niacin, panthothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, Vitamin C, beta carotenes, choline; Minerals: copper, magnesium, magnanese, potassium, phosphorous, iron, zinc, calcium, sodium, selenium; Other: lecithin, resins, carbohydrates (40-60%), protein, lipids, phosphatidic acid

SOLUBILITY: water, alcohol, glycerin, honey, vinegar, oil

ACTIONS: diffusive, diaphoretic, circulatory stimulant, carminative, antispasmodic, rubefacient (local irritant), anti-inflammatory, emmenagogue, sialagogue, antimicrobial, expectorant, anti-cancer

PROPERTIES:  Ginger increases the circulation of blood and qi (the vital energy of the body). It improves digestion, stimulates blood flow to the stomach, eases nausea and motion sickness (lots of clinical trials show it is more effective than Dramamine), and relaxes the smooth muscles of the GI tract. The sharp, pungent compounds of this spicy rhizome cut through mucus and support expectoration from the lungs. Its warming, circulatory supporting properties make it helpful for cold/damp types of arthritis (those kinds that are worse from cold and inactivity, and better with warmth & movement).

Ginger brings blood flow to the joints and to the skin. As a diaphoretic, it helps bring blood to the capillaries on the surface of the body and brings on a sweat. This can be very helpful for fevers, especially when someone has a low-grade fever or fever with pronounced chills and cool, clammy skin. Ginger will help the fever mechanism work more effectively and clear the illness more quickly.

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, fresh ginger promotes sweating and releases exterior cold. Fresh ginger is used for vomiting, cough, intolerance to cold, runny nose, nasal congestion and general aches and pains. Dried ginger is considered to be more heating to the interior and can be more irritating to the mucus membranes. Dried ginger is used to strengthen circulation, appetite and digestion, and to thin mucus that has become thick and difficult to expectorate.

INDICATIONS:

  • anorexia, loss of appetite
  • nausea, vomiting, motion sickness
  • flatulence
  • borborygmus
  • gastric & intestinal spasms
  • painful menses, cramping
  • amenorrhea due to poor circulation
  • cold extremities
  • acute colds & flu
  • sore, achy muscles
  • cough with copious amounts of clear or white mucus
  • sinus congestion

CONTRAINDICATIONS: 

  • According to Comm E, use of ginger is contraindicated in patients with gallstones.
  • Some sources say ginger should not be administered during pregnancy, however, several traditions have used small quantities for morning sickness. A daily dose of 2gm dried ginger is okay.
  • Careful with peptic ulceration; ginger can aggravate existing ulcers, though regular use may be helpful in preventing future ulcers
  • The irritating pungent qualities of ginger can also aggravate heartburn/GERD. Use smaller amounts in between meals.
  • Drug interactions – care with blood thinning agents

PREPARATION AND DOSAGE: Hot decoction of rhizome is best for colds/flus. Fresh ginger decoction is incredible added to hot bath water, to aid with diaphoresis and to relax achy, tense muscles. Can also be used topically as a poultice, salve or liniment to bring blood flow and/or relax spasm in certain areas.  Can also be made into syrups, infused into honey, vinegar, vegetable glycerin, or used fresh or powdered in food. 

Dried root, powder – 500mg 2-4 x/day or 2-4 total grams a day

Dried root water infusion = .25- 1.0 g in 150 ml water 3X a day

Fresh root as food – up t0 100 grams a day

Fresh root water infusion = 1-2 g in 8 oz water, simmered

Tablets 500 mg 1 tab 2-4x day

Tincture: 1.7 – 5 ml /day (assuming 1:5 potency)

COMBINATIONS: Ginger makes a great addition to a formula as a “driving herb” or an herb that can help with the assimilation and circulation of the other herbs. It can make up 10-20% of a tea or tincture formula. Try it with feverfew and ginkgo for a migraine, elderflower and yarrow for fever, onion and garlic for a chronic cough or acute congestion, and dandelion and chamomile for digestion.

HISTORY/FOLKLORE/MYTHOLOGY: Ginger was introduced into the Americas after the discovery of that country by the Spaniards. Francisco de Mendosa transplanted it from the East Indies into Spain, where Spanish-Americans cultivated it vigorously, so that in 1547 they exported 22,053 cwt (1 cwt = 112 lbs) to Europe. (Grieve, M. 1931. A Modern Herbal.)

There is a native variety of ginger that grows in the shady woodlands of North America. Its botanical name is Asarum canadense. It is not as pungent as Asian ginger, but it does have carminative, expectorant and stimulating properties. Wild ginger was used by Native Americans for fever, coughs and pain and to stimulate appetite, much like Asian ginger. It is a low-growing plant with heart-shaped leaves. Please be sure to use a reputable identification guide if you want to look for this in the wild. And practice ethical wild-crafting techniques, taking no more than 30% of a healthy, large population, and leaving smaller stands untouched.

REFERENCES:

  1. Bone, Kerry. A Clinical Guide to Blending Liquid Herbs: Herbal Formulations for the Individual Patient. St. Louis, MO: Churchill Livingstone, 2003. pgs. 227-231 Print.
  2. “Ginger” American Botanical Council Clinical Guide. Web 15 Sept 2020 http://cms.herbalgram.org/ABCGuide/Monographs/GingerGuideMonograph.html
  3. Grieve, M. 1931. A Modern Herbal
  4. Kress, Henriette.  “Zingiber (U.S.P.) – Ginger, King’s American Dispensatory, 1898) Henriette’s Herbal Homepage. n.d. Web. 15 Sept 2020 https://www.henriettes-herb.com/eclectic/kings/zingiber.html
  5. Tilgner, Dr. Sharol Marie. Herbal Medicine From the Heart of the Earth. 2nd ed. Pleasant Hill, OR: Wise Acres LLC, 2009. pgs. 91-93  Print
  6. Vermeulen, N. 1999. Encyclopaedia of Herbs.
  7. Wood, Matthew. The Earthwise Herbal: A Complete Guide to Old World Medicinal Plants. Berkeley, CA.: North Atlantic Books, 2009. Pgs. 533-537 Print.
*This article is for educatinal purposes only. The information contained in this has not been reviewed by the FDA and is not intended to treat, prevent, cure or diagnose any disease*

UPCOMING EVENTS

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The Third Trimester

Saturday March 2nd
4:30-5:30p.m.
Join herbalist Lakeja Baylor as we discuss the 3rd trimester of pregnancy from an herbal point of view. We’ll discuss nourishing herbal infusions that may help with labor and delivery, herbal oils and bath soaks that can help with aches and pains, and more.
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Sacred Garden School’s Foundational Herbology Program is Now Enrolling

Join this year’s class as we explore the various aspects of herbalism. This is a 9 month program and we meet 1 weekend each month, March through November. Enrollment ends March 15th.

Learn More Here

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SUNDAY MORNING TEA CEREMONIES:

with Silvy Franco

Join Silvy for a meditative ceremony to commune with Camelia sinensis. Ceremony begins at 10:00 am and goes for an hour. Pre-registration is required. Suggested Donation: $20

Register Here

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Community Wellness Council Is Back!

The Wellness Council is part of the Sacred Garden School’s advanced herbal training program. Students and instructor collaborate to conduct the interview, examine the client’s tongue and pulse, and to come up with customized herbal recommendations tailored to the individual’s needs.

If you are interested in scheduling an appointment with us, you can do so HERE

If you would like to read more about how it works, our policies and our scope of practice, you can find that HERE

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