"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"

by Martha Whitney
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Zingiber officinale is the botanical name of ginger.  It is botanically correct to refer to ginger as a rhizome rather than a root.  Ginger can therefore be propagated from budded sections.  Ginger is one of the world’s top ten favored spices.  Yet surprisingly, its tremendous medicinal value is virtually unknown. 


Ginger can be divided into four principle parts: taste or pungency, essential oil or fragrance, macro/micro-nutrients, and synergists.  An oily-resinous substance dissected from the plant comprising 5 to 10 percent of the plant is called ginerol.4


This oleoresin was then broken down into close to thirty elements.  Gingerols or zingiberene may be responsible for taste and scent respectively.  In fact, within ginger there are hundreds of ingredients that are referred to as synergists.  These interact to make the plant as a whole the powerful healer that it is.


There may be dozens of different complex chemical interactions allowing ginger to prevent or benefit conditions like heart attacks, arthritis and ulcers.  There are more than four hundred taste, fragrance, nutrient and synergistic constituents interacting to create an endless number of medicinal benefits. 


One gram of one of ginger’s principle constituent, zingibain, can actually tenderize as much as twenty pounds of meat.  The obvious impact or effect is improved digestion.  This enzyme can enhance the effectiveness of other antibacterial elements by as much as 50%.  The enzyme zingibain can aid immunity to the effect of digesting parasites and their eggs, and is associated with anti-inflammatory activity.  This is due in part to the fact that ginger acts as an antioxidant with more than twelve constituents  superior to vitamin E.5   This action empowers ginger to help neutralize free radicals which are widely recognized as participation or being responsible for the inflammation process.  


Each of ginger’s 477 constituents could be listed.  This impressive list includes the well known ascorbic acid, caffeic acid, capsaicin, beta-sitosterol, beta-carotene, curcumin, lecithin, limonene, selenium and tryptophan.  It is nothing less than an exercise in complete and utter futility to try and isolate the “active” element from ginger.



4              Felter, H. W., and Lloyd, J. U. King’s American Dispensatory.  Portland, Ore.: Eclectic Medical, 1983, 2110.


5.             a. Govindarajan, V.S. “Ginger –Chemistry, technology, and quality evaluation: Part 2.: Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 17, no. 8 (1082): 189-258 (p. 230), citing Hirahara, F. “Antioxidative activity of various spices on oils and fatrs. Antioxidative activity towards oxidation on strorage and heating.,:  Japanese Journal of Nutrition 32, no. 1 (1974): 1; Food Sci Technol Abstr. 7, nol. 3 (1975): T 126.    b-j listed  in Notes and References chapter 3 #20 page 131 of  GINGER Common Spice & Wonder Drug by Paul Sdchulick                            

[Table of Contents] [History] [Location] [Chemical Constituents] [Medicinal Qualities]
[Contra-Indications] [Known Herbal Formulas] [Dosages & Applications] [Personal Experience] [Bibliography]