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Ginger root - Zingiber officinale


Zingiber officinale

Parts used medicinally: Rhizome

Ginger, the “spice of life”, has been used for over 5,000 years in the kitchen and as a healing medicine. Today research corroborates the ancient wisdom of using this plant for weak digestion, nausea, fatigue and pain.

What is Ginger?

The “spice of life” in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or Ginger, as it is more commonly known is one of the most widely used food spices in the world and has been used as a medicine for 5,000 years.

It is native to South-East Asia and over many centuries has been introduced to other tropical regions throughout the world. Jamaica has the reputation of producing the best grade of culinary ginger (and ginger beer!)

In traditional Chinese medicine, ginger is used to treat fatigue, a lack of energy and cold dispositions whereas in Ayurvedic medicine, ginger is more associated with digestion, and tradition states that everyone should eat fresh ginger just before lunch and dinner to enhance digestion.

Despite its ancient roots, it has undergone rigorous scientific study over the past 50 years and is officially endorsed in Germany for the treatment of indigestion and to prevent motion sickness.


Ginger comes from the Zingiberaceae family. It grows up to 2ft tall and produces striking spikes of pink buds and yellow flowers. It requires temperatures of about 20℃ and moist conditions to grow. A new plant takes a minimum of ten months to grow a rhizome which is then harvested in autumn.

Medicinal Value

  • Anti-emetic: Ginger is perhaps most commonly known as a treatment for nausea and sickness. It has found to be effective for nausea caused by motion, pregnancy and chemotherapy.
  • Carminative: Ginger is both useful at relaxing and easing spasms in the gut that can cause pain and bloating. It also stimulates the flow of saliva, bile and gastric secretions to promote better digestion. As a warming herb ginger is particularly useful for those with weak digestion, helping to fire it up.
  • Circulatory stimulant: Herbalists use ginger in clinical practice, often adding a small dose to tinctures to encourage a better circulation of the medicine round the body. It stimulates circulation, improving blood supply to extremities, warming cold hands and feet.
  • Anti-inflammatory and analgesic: It is also an anti-inflammatory herb, helping to reduce pain, swelling and muscle and joint discomfort, especially for those suffering with painful periods or osteo or rheumatoid arthritis.
Ginger tea infusion

Ways to Use Ginger at Home?

  • Ginger-lemon tea for colds & flu: Place 1 tbsp of grated or finely minced fresh ginger in a mug with the juice of half a lemon and honey to taste. Pour over boiling water, cover and let it steep for 15 minutes before drinking.
  • Warm Ginger compress for headaches and migraines: Grate 1 tbsp of fresh ginger into a bowl of boiling water. Cover and steep for 5 minutes. Wet a folded washcloth in the preparation and apply the cloth to the forehead or back of the neck. Relax the head on a pillow for 10 minutes and breathe deeply during the application.
  • Ginger rub for aching muscles: Diluting the essential oil in carrier oils to massage painful spots can be really effective.
  • Ginger 4 ways for nausea:
    • Ginger ale (ie with real ginger not ginger flavouring)
    • Ginger tea sipped in small doses (to avoid nausea that may occur from drinking large amounts of any fluid)
    • Candied ginger
    •Spiced ginger cookies
  • Ginger bath for period pain: Prepare a strong infusion of ginger tea using 8 tbsps of fresh-grated ginger root per 2 litre of boiling water. Steep 20 minutes, strain and pour into a hot hip bath.
  • Chew raw fresh ginger for toothache.

Top tip: If using dried ginger, be sure to get it from a good source. Dried ginger should be zesty and hot. If it isn't, it may be too old.


Peptic ulcers, Gallstones, Warfarin.

Did You Know?

  • In 13th century England, ginger was such a prize commodity that just 1lb of ginger was worth the same as a sheep!

If you are pregnant/breastfeeding or on drug medication, be sure to consult with a professional before trying these remedies.



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