Ginger Root (Zingiber officinale)
By Photograph: Frank C. Müller, Baden-Baden – Self-photographed, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4129876
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a flowering plant whose rhizome, ginger root or simply ginger, is widely used as a spice or a folk medicine. It is a herbaceous perennial which grows annual pseudostems (false stems made of the rolled bases of leaves) about a meter tall bearing narrow leaf blades. The inflorescences bear pale yellow with purple flowers and arise directly from the rhizome on separate shoots. Ginger is in the family Zingiberaceae, to which also belong turmeric (Curcuma longa), cardamom (Elettaria cardamomum), and galangal.
Ginger produces clusters of white and pink flower buds that bloom into yellow flowers. Because of its aesthetic appeal and the adaptation of the plant to warm climates, it is often used as landscaping around subtropical homes. It is a perennial reed-like plant with annual leafy stems, about a meter (3 to 4 feet) tall. Traditionally, the rhizome is gathered when the stalk withers; it is immediately scalded, or washed and scraped, to kill it and prevent sprouting. The fragrant perisperm of the Zingiberaceae is used as sweetmeats by Bantu, and also as a condiment and sialagogue.
Ginger originated in the tropical rainforests from the Indian subcontinent to Southern Asia where ginger plants show considerable genetic variation. As one of the first spices exported from the Orient, ginger arrived in Europe during the spice trade, and was used by ancient Greeks and Romans. The distantly related dicots in the genus Asarum are commonly called wild ginger because of their similar taste.
The characteristic fragrance and flavor of ginger result from volatile oils that compose 1-3% of the weight of fresh ginger, primarily consisting of zingerone, shogaols and gingerols with -gingerol (1-[4′-hydroxy-3′-methoxyphenyl]-5-hydroxy-3-decanone) as the major pungent compound. Zingerone is produced from gingerols during drying, having lower pungency and a spicy-sweet aroma.
Raw ginger is composed of 79% water, 18% carbohydrates, 2% protein, and 1% fat. In 100 grams (a standard amount used to compare with other foods), raw ginger supplies 80 Calories and contains moderate amounts of vitamin B6 (12% of the Daily Value, DV) and the dietary minerals, magnesium (12% DV) and manganese (11% DV), but otherwise is low in nutrient content.
The chemical composition of the essential oil obtained from the rhizomes of Zingiber officinale Roscoe from Cuba was examined by combined GC and GC/MS. The oil was characterized by the presence of ar-curcumene (22.1%), zingiberene (11.7%), β-bisabolene (11.2%) and cadina-1,4-diene (12.5%).
Blending: Ginger oil blends well with many other essential oils including lemon, cedarwood, lime, eucalyptus, frankincense, geranium, rosemary, sandalwood, patchouli, myrtle, bergamot, rosewood, neroli, orange, and ylang-ylang.
Health Benefits Of Ginger Root Essential Oil (OrganicFacts.net)
Relieves Stomach Issues – Ginger root oil is one of the best remedies for indigestion, stomach ache, dyspepsia, colic, spasms, diarrhea, flatulence, and other stomach and bowel related problems. Ginger or ginger oil is often added to recipes, especially in India, as it helps in improving digestion. Ginger tea is also used for relieving stomach problems. Furthermore, it can increase your appetite, which is great for people who are trying to put on weight.
Treats Food Poisoning – Ginger oil is an antiseptic and carminative substance. As a result, it can be used to treat food poisoning. It is also used for treating intestinal infections and bacterial dysentery.
Effective Against Nausea – Research has shown that ginger root and its oil are also effective against nausea, motion sickness, and vomiting. Use of ginger may also result in a reduction of pregnancy-related vomiting in women.
Protects Against Malaria – Ginger root and ginger oil are effective against yellow fever and malaria as they have mosquito repelling qualities.
Treats Respiratory disorders – Ginger root and ginger oil are both good expectorants, so they are effective in treating respiratory problems such as cold, cough, flu, asthma, bronchitis, and breathlessness. Ginger is very effective in removing mucus from the throat and lungs, so it is often added to tea. The health benefits of honey and ginger in treating respiratory problems are also well-known.
Reduces Inflammation – Ginger oil or ginger paste is often topically massaged on aching muscles to remove muscle strain. It is further believed that regular use of ginger leads to the reduction of prostaglandins, which are the compounds associated with pain. Therefore, ginger helps in pain relief. Recently, a few Chinese researchers have reported that ginger can be very effective in treating inflammation of the testicles.
The extract of ginger is often used in traditional medicine to reduce inflammation. Research has now proven that its anti-inflammatory properties can be attributed to the presence of a substance named zingibain. It is analgesic in nature and reduces the pain caused by muscle aches, arthritis, rheumatic conditions, headaches, and migraines.
Treats Menstrual Issues – Irregular and painful menstrual discharges can be treated with ginger root oil. Its anti-inflammatory properties help in reducing the production of prostaglandins, which often cause painful uterine contractions during menstruation.
Protects Heart Health – In China, it is strongly believed that ginger boosts your heart health. Many people use ginger oil as a measure to prevent as well as cure various heart conditions. Preliminary research has indicated that ginger may be helpful in reducing cholesterol levels and preventing blood clots. With reduced cholesterol levels and blood clotting, the chance of blood vessel blockage decreases, thereby reducing the incidences of heart attacks and strokes.
Lowers Stress – Ginger oil, being an essential oil, is stimulating and therefore, relieves depression, mental stress, exhaustion, dizziness, restlessness, and anxiety.
Eliminates Impotency – Ginger is helpful for male health as well. Since ginger root and its oil are an aphrodisiac in nature, they are effective in eliminating impotency and preventing premature ejaculation.
Dissolves Kidney Stones – It is also believed that ginger root juice is able to dissolve kidney stones. Ginger root oil aids in keeping you hydrated thereby helping in expelling the stones, if there are any.
Hair Care – Ginger oil is rich in minerals, which aid in hair care. Also, it helps get rid of the dry, itchy scalp, which is often a major cause of dandruff. The oil’s antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties also assist you in keeping the scalp clean and healthy.
Word of Caution: It should be noted that ginger oil is very strong and should, therefore, be used carefully and sparingly.
Benefits Of Lemon Ginger Tea: health benefits of this unusual infusion!
Treats Nausea & Indigestion – Ginger has a very powerful active ingredient, named zingiber, which is able to eliminate bacterial pathogens that often attack the stomach and compromise digestive function. Ginger is also known to soothe nausea and eliminate vomiting while promoting more effective digestion and nutrient absorption. Lemon, on the other hand, is closely linked to reducing indigestion and heartburn!
Improves Cognitive Function – Lemon and ginger help in improving concentration and cognition. Fortunately, both of these ingredients are also excellent at soothing nerves and improving mood, which means clear thinking, while the antioxidant effects mean less oxidative stress and a lower chance of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Skin Care – The high vitamin content of lemon and ginger, combined with their numerous antioxidants, make this infusion an excellent option for improving the skin health. You can drink this tea or even apply it topically to irritated patches of skin. Antioxidants help to reduce oxidative stress in the skin and promote the growth of new cells, while the antibacterial and antiviral nature of this beverage protects the skin from infections.
Weight Loss – Ginger is well known to stimulate the metabolism and can also help to satiate feelings of hunger. Therefore, a glass of lemon ginger tea in the morning can help those who are trying to lose weight, primarily by adding extra calorie-burning to their day and suppressing the desire to snack between meals.
Hair Care – Lemon and ginger have both been used independently for hair health for centuries, but this tea is high in vitamin A and C, both of which are linked to improve hair growth, and a reduce dry skin and dandruff. This can strengthen your hair and give it a luscious appearance.
Boosts Immunity – Both lemon and ginger are known around the world as immune system aids, so it makes sense that lemon ginger tea can comprehensively protect you from pathogens and illness. When you are suffering from a cold or flu, simply drink 1-2 cups of this tea each day and quickly see an improvement in your symptoms and a reduction in irritation of your respiratory tracts.
Controls Diabetes – When it comes to blood sugar regulation, few things are as effective as ginger. By optimizing the release of insulin and blood sugar in your body, you can prevent the dangerous spikes and drops in blood sugar that can lead to diabetes or can affect someone already diagnosed with this condition.
Relieves Pain – The natural anti-inflammatory nature of ginger not only reduces irritation, swelling, and inflammation in the body but can also function as an analgesic. This tea can help you recover from body pain, menstrual cramps, illness, and surgeries.
Improves Mood – Aside from this infusion’s effect on concentration and cognitive function, lemon and ginger are also known as mood boosters. There is a good reason why lemon is so commonly used in aromatherapy approaches, while ginger is known to relieve tension and lower stress hormone levels in the body, which can definitely make you feel happier and more in control of your emotions.
Side Effects Of Lemon Ginger Tea – Some people suffer from heartburn or stomach upset when they drink this beverage, which could be the response of a sensitive stomach to ginger’s powerful active ingredients or even a ginger allergy. Speak to your doctor or allergist before making any major changes to your diet or health regimen.
Research on Ginger
Ginger has been used for stomach upset, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting. Some herbal/diet supplement products have been found to contain possibly harmful impurities/additives. Check with your pharmacist for more details about the particular brand you use. The FDA has not reviewed this product for safety or effectiveness. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details.
Rheumatoid Arthritis – various phytochemical constituents of ginger have potential therapeutic roles in amelioration of RA symptoms and even possibly RA itself. It is expected that further elucidation of the molecular mechanisms behind the action of these phytochemicals not only can lead to discovery of new drugs for symptomatic relief of RA conditions like inflammation and pain, but also may make it possible to stop further progress or even reverse the damage caused by RA.
Motion Sickness – Ginger works by blocking the effects of serotonin, a chemical produced by the brain and stomach when a patient is nauseated. In a recent study, ginger was equally as effective in relieving motion sickness as Dramamine.
Morning Sickness – During pregnancy, approximately 70-80% of women experience nausea and vomiting. Many new studies have taken a therapeutic approach to treat pregnancy induced sickness. Ginger has a long history of pharmaceutical application, especially in China, Japan, and India. According to the results, ginger is a simple, accessible and convenient approach to gestational nausea.
Although Zingiber officinale (ginger) has been used for centuries among Asian cultures as an antiemetic, research directly assessing the effects of this herb in a variety of clinical as well as animal models remains sparse. In those few studies reported, however, ginger has been shown to attenuate symptoms of nausea and vomiting in both clinical and laboratory settings.
Chemotherapy – In a double-blind study of women being treated for breast cancer, 500 mg of powered ginger was administered twice a day for three days. This benefited those patients experiencing nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy.
Dental Health – Orally, studies have demonstrated that gingerol, a compound in ginger, poses both antiviral and antifungal agents that promote salivary flow and reduce oral candidiasis.
Liver Health – Zingiber officinale acts as a nutraceutical agent against liver fibrosis.
Pain Relief – the available data provide tentative support for the anti-inflammatory role of Z. officinale constituents, which may reduce the subjective experience of pain in some conditions such as osteoarthritis.
Antimicrobial Activity – Zingiber officinale possesses remarkable antimicrobial activity, which is mainly due to naphthalenamine, decanal, and alfa.-copaene. According to these findings, it could be said that the methanolic extract act as antibacterial agents.
Anticancer Activity – Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is widely used all over the world as a spice and condiment in daily cooking. It is a natural food component with many active phenolic compounds such as shagaol and gingerol, and it has been shown to have anti-cancer and antioxidant effects. Ginger extract was able to reduce the incidence of liver neoplasms in rats, this is the first study reporting that the anti-cancer effect exhibited by ginger on liver cancer cells is mediated by inflammatory markers NFκB and TNF-α. Thus, the ginger extract may have a chemotherapeutic effect in the treatment of liver cancer.
Ginger’s pungent components offer powerful anti-inflammatory and antioxidant activities, making it useful in arthritis, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. The active compound responsible for this effect is zingibain, an enzyme that counteracts inflammation. The active compounds contained in ginger are divided into two groups: volatile essential oils and fragrant or harsh phenol compounds. Among these volatile essential components, which constitute gingerol and shagelol have been accounted for antimicrobial activity of ginger.
Lowering Cholesterol – The ginger extract has reduced in serum LDL cholesterol, total cholesterol, triglycerides and phospholipids levels, as well as cellular cholesterol accumulation, reduce DPPH absorption, scavenge free radicals and it has potential to improve the histopathological lesion occurring in different layers of the arterial tissue. In the other word it is effective in attenuating of atherosclerosis development.
Hypertension – Adults who consume ginger daily have an 8 percent lower risk of developing hypertension (high blood pressure). A 2005 study found ginger may lower blood pressure through blockade of voltage-dependent calcium channels.
Side Effects of Ginger
Burning feeling in mouth/throat, abdominal pain, diarrhea, or heartburn may occur. If any of these effects persist or worsen, tell your doctor or pharmacist promptly. Tell your doctor immediately if any of these very unlikely but serious side effects occur: unusual bleeding/bruising, unusual drowsiness, irregular heartbeat. A very serious allergic reaction to ginger is rare. However, seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the following symptoms of a serious allergic reaction: rash, itching/swelling (especially of the face/tongue/throat), severe dizziness, trouble breathing. This is not a complete list of possible side effects. If you notice other effects not listed above, contact your doctor or pharmacist.
Before taking ginger, tell your doctor or pharmacist if you are allergic to it; or if you have any other allergies. This product may contain inactive ingredients, which can cause allergic reactions or other problems. Talk to your pharmacist for more details. If you have any of the following health problems, consult your doctor or pharmacist before using this product: bleeding problems, diabetes, gallstones, heart problems. This product might contain aristolochic acid, which can cause serious problems in the kidneys or urinary system (e.g., renal fibrosis, urinary tract cancer). Symptoms include an unusual change in the amount of urine or blood in the urine. Consult your pharmacist for more details about the contents of this ginger product. Liquid forms of this product may contain sugar and/or alcohol. Caution is advised if you have diabetes, alcohol dependence, or liver disease. Ask your doctor or pharmacist about using this product safely. During pregnancy, this product should be used only when clearly needed. Discuss the risks and benefits with your doctor.
Before using ginger, tell your doctor or pharmacist of all prescription and nonprescription/herbal products you may use, especially of: medications/herbal products that may increase your risk of bleeding (e.g., “blood thinners” such as warfarin and heparin, anti-platelet drugs such as clopidogrel and ticlopidine, herbs such as danshen/garlic). Aspirin may also increase the risk of bleeding when used with this product. If your doctor has prescribed low doses of aspirin to prevent heart attack or stroke (usually at dosages of 81-325 milligrams a day), you should continue to take the aspirin. Consult your doctor or pharmacist for more details. Do not start, stop, or change the dosage of any medicine before checking with your doctor or pharmacist first.
How to Make Ginger Oil Infusion
- Fresh ginger
- 1 1/2 cups olive oil
- Oven-safe bowl
- Cheese grater
- Rinse a cup of fresh ginger, including the skin, thoroughly, and let dry for a few hours.
- Pour the olive oil in an oven-safe bowl.
- Chop the ginger and then shred using a clean cheese grater. Add to the olive oil and mix well.
- Put the mixture in the oven and leave it to simmer under low heat (150 degrees Fahrenheit) for at least two hours.
- Pour the mixture through an unbleached cheese cloth to filter it and take out the bits of ginger. Once all the oil has been filtered, squeeze out the remaining oil from the cheese cloth.
- Transfer the ginger oil into clean vials or bottles and store in a cool dry place.
This ginger oil infusion can stay fresh for up to six months.