by Cathy Jo Young
This site brought to you by The School of Natural Healing & Christopher Publications
There are many medicinal qualities found in the herb Ginger, and a long history of these medical properties.  Ginger has been written up in the many archives of the medicinal uses from the traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic Indian systems.  Both systems clearly viewed ginger as a healing gift from God.  According to one of the most ancient Chinese pharmacopoeias, long-term usage of fresh ginger would put a person in contact with the spiritual effulgences.11     In ancient India, ginger was given the name vishwabhesaj, the universal medicine, and was viewed as an essential element in a majority of formulations.12
Virtually every culture has an ethnomedical record and has recognized and applauded the digestive benefits of consuming ginger.  As early as 500 B.C. Confucius wrote that he was never without ginger when he ate.  Dioscorides, referred to as the surgeon general for emperors Claudius and Nero, wrote in the famous De Materia Medica in 77 A.D. that ginger “warms and softens the stomach.”13
Let us look at ginger’s principal enzyme action called zingibain again.  One gram of zingibain can actually tenderize as much as twenty pounds of meat.  Improved digestion would therefore be the most obvious impact or observed effect.  Besides improving digestion, ginger’s principal enzyme action also undoubtedly contributes to its combination of antibacterial, anthelmintic, and anti-inflammatory observed effects.
Numerous studies have shown that enzymes like zingibain can enhance the effectiveness of other antibacterial elements such as antibiotics by as much as 50 percent.14   To help eliminate parasites, an enzyme like zingibain can also aid the immune system by potentially digestion the parasite and its eggs.
Ginger is an antispasmodic, which means that it can calm a spasm.  This is very helpful when one has an upset stomach and has been vomiting.  It is also used to help with muscle spasms of the legs and other areas of the body.  Some have stated that ginger can help relieve a cough that won’t seem to go away.  Some formulas that help with regulating the bowels include ginger to help with the spasms that can occur in the intestines.
It is a carminative, which means that it can prevent the formation of, or causes the expulsion of gas.  It is most often used as a carminative, usually mixed with a variety of other herbs, because of its great ability to stop griping and cramping especially in the abdominal and intestinal area.
Ginger increases perspiration when taken as a hot infusion, which is otherwise known as having a diaphoretic action.  This action is used to help bring out toxins and eliminate them through the skin.  This is so helpful when one finds themselves coming down with a cold or any other form of respiratory ailment.  In the case of a fever a cup of this tea accompanied with a warm bath with ginger and other herbs with it can, because of the diaphoretic action, help to build the fever to break up the conditions that caused the fever in the first place.
It is aromatic, which means that it has a fragrant aroma or scent.  It is wonderfully sweet, warm, and citrusy.  This aroma is highly regarded and widely used in perfumery and beverage industries.  The unique scent of ginger arises from one of nature’s most complex essential oils comprising between 1.0 to 2.5 percent of dried rhizome.  Researcher Brian Lawrence compiled 200 different components of this essential oil.15   It is no wonder that V.S. Govindarajan, the author of the definitive work on the chemistry, technology and quality evaluation of ginger, concluded, “It is unlikely that the balanced aroma of natural ginger will be duplicated for a long time.”16
Being a sternutatory, means that it tends to cause sneezing.    I could not find any information or studies as to why this action would be important, but obviously as a whole you need every action to make ginger complete.
Ginger is a rubefacient, which means that when it is applied to the skin, it will cause blood to rush to the area causing redness. When this happens your immune system is at work.  This action is why ginger is great used as a gargle for laryngitis or for sore throats.  I have even listened as people explained how to use a ginger beverage to help relax and clear any fogginess before singing. 
Ginger relieves pain or distress.  The term for this is anodyne.  In my family we have proven this time and time again.  Along with other herbs, and used as a poultice or fomentation, ginger has brought relief to sore muscles, bumps, and bruises.  Ginger capsules also help to relieve the pain and discomfort of a headache or toothache.
It promotes the production of saliva which is called sialagogue.  Because of this action ginger is used to help get the digestive juices flowing.  It will help a person start to break down their food immediately when mixed with saliva.
If you have ever tasted ginger then you know that ginger is pungent, it has a bite or acrid power about it. I think this is one of the reasons why so many recipes can be found that include ginger as a main ingredient.  This pungency also alludes to its ability to help stimulate the body.  For this reason, many people use ginger as a condiment, a spice, and as a compliment to their cooking. 
An interesting and consistent theme running throughout the historical literature is ginger’s reputed value as an aphrodisiac.  From the earliest recorded herbal formulations of India and China to its more modern application in the Middle East and Cuba, ginger’s millennial-long reputations as an aphrodisiac is impressive.   The list of references on ginger’s sexual tonic properties include endorsements by the Greek Dioscorides; a citation in Arabia’s A Thousand and One Nights;  John Gerard’s prescriptive herbal; and Italy’s famed University of Salerno which influenced the direction of European health care for approximately one thousand years.  This pioneering medical school prescribed that a rule for happy life in old age was to “eat ginger, and you will love and be loved as in your youth.”   
Ginger’s perceived property as an aphrodisiac helped determine its degree of cultivation and cultural popularity.  It was ginger’s sexual-tonic properties that were reportedly instrumental in encouraging the Portuguese to cultivate the spice West Africa.  Treating people much like cattle, these colonialists would feed the men in slave camps ginger with the goal increasing populations and profits.  
Ginger is a mild stimulant that goes from the capillaries, though the venous structure, to the heart, and back again.   It is more diffusive than cayenne, but may be used as a substitute when cayenne is unavailable.  Why would this be important?  Well, this could help with circulatory problems. 
The first documented report of ginger’s enormous potential as a premier heart medicine came unexpectedly from a group of Cornell Medical School researchers and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 1980.  The discovery occurred when one of the researchers noticed that his blood did not respond to the usual aggregating agents.  After a process of elimination, he suspected that a 15 percent ginger marmalade was responsible.  After challenging his platelet-rich plasma with ginger extract he confirmed that it completely inhibited the potentially life-threatening process of platelet aggregation.17
Numerous studies from around the world have corroborated the observations of the Cornell researchers.  K.C. Srivastava wrote that even the smallest amount of ginger extract could abolish aggregation,18 while others confirmed that ginger and at least four of its constituents clearly possessed an aspirin-like effect in inhibiting platelet aggregation.
Placing ginger among the most exclusive class of healing herbs is its other synergistic cardiovascular features.  Ginger offers a profound antioxidant principal action and observed effects which include strengthening of the cardiac muscle and lowering the serum of cholesterol.19
Other medicinal qualities that are in the make up of ginger include being an analgesic.  This means that ginger can help to allay pain.  Ginger truly does help with any kind of ache or pain because it can dispel gas and quiet spasms.  The fact that it warms the area also brings relief to many.
The term antacid is found among these medicinal qualities of ginger, which means that it neutralizes acidity.  One of the reasons it neutralized acid is because it helps to aid in the production of saliva as mentioned earlier.  This in turn help us to digest our foods and when they reach the stomach ginger helps to warm and calm gasses that could build up otherwise.
Being an anti-emetic, ginger has the properties to help calm an upset stomach. This is probably what ginger is best known for today.  Thanks to the pioneering work of Daniel Mowrey, which demonstrated ginger’s superiority to dimenhydrinate.20 It is becoming increasingly common to see people taking ginger capsules on long car trips or boat rides.  Whether the nausea results from chemotherapy, ocean travel, pregnancy or gynecological surgery, ginger is clearly the treatment of choice. It is currently reported that up to 90 percent of all patients receiving chemotherapy suffer from nausea and vomiting.  At the University of Alabama in 1987, researchers reported that patients who received additional ginger reported less severity and duration of nausea.21
When eighty Danish naval cadets, unaccustomed to sailing in heavy seas, were studied to test the benefit of ginger, researchers concluded that without side effects ginger reduced the tendency to vomiting and cold sweating significantly better than a placebo did.22
The anti-inflammatory action means that ginger can help to bring down inflammation in the system.  Modern science is beginning to demonstrate that the range of diseases that ginger can positively affect as an anti-inflammatory agent is staggering.  Probably the most popular example of an inflammatory process is arthritis, the nation’s primary crippler.  Although more than 100 different diseases are grouped together under the designation of arthritis23, the common thread among them is inflammation and pain.  It is estimated that 80 percent of persons over the age of fifty suffer from osteoarthritis, while rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic inflammatory disease that affects the entire body including the joints, afflicts as many as 7 million in the United States.24 In an effect similar to aspirin and other NSAIDs, ginger reduces inflammatory eicosanoids like PGE2, TXA2, and LTB4.  Amazingly, unlike these drugs which are plagued with side effects and diminished effectiveness, ginger is not only safe and effective but it possesses a wide range of added benefits.  Two clinical trials in Denmark underline this and strongly suggest that ginger should be included in all arthritis treatment programs.25
In the first trial performed in 1989, seven rheumatic patients consumed fresh or powdered ginger for a period of three months.  All patients reported that ginger produced better relief of pain, swelling and stiffness than the administration of NSAIDs.  Remarkably six of these seven patients had been continuously afflicted with some degree of pain, inflammation, swelling and morning stiffness even after five to ten years of conventional treatment. 
In the second trial involving fifty-six patients (twenty-eight with rheumatoid arthritis, eighteen with osteoarthritis and ten with muscular discomfort), the author K.C. Srivastava concluded that “more than three-quarters experienced, to varying degrees, relief in pain and swelling.  All the patients with muscular discomfort experienced relief in pain.”  An important note is that during the 2.5 year study period, no side effects were reported.  Considering that, among the elderly alone, conventional arthritis treatment annually results in 3,300 NSAIDs-induced ulcer deaths26, ginger’s advantage could not be clearer.
Being a diuretic, ginger will increase the flow of urine, while its action of being an emmenagogue helps to increase the menstrual flow. 
When used as a nervine, ginger soothes the nerves. Ginger is a stomachic, which means that it is beneficial to the stomach and stimulated gastric digestion.  Finally, Ginger is a tonic.  A tonic is a substance that invigorates or strengthens.  Those of us that have used ginger have definitely seen the tonic action of ginger. 
In   Dr. Christopher’s  book  entitled, “The School of Natural Healing”, he lists the following medicinal uses for ginger: “boils, bronchitis, cholera, colds, colic, congestion, diarrhea, atonic dyspepsia, flatulence, flu, atonic gout, griping, headache, hemorrhage of lungs, menstruation, nausea, neuralgia, paralysis of tongue, reproductive problems, rheumatism, sore throat, and toothache.”

11.  Cost, B.Ginger: East to West.Reading, Mass.: Addison-Wesley, 1989, 67.

12.  Sakai, Y., et al. “Effects of medicinal plant extracts from Chinese herbal medicines on the mutagenic activity of benzo(a)pyrene.” Mutation research 206 (1988): 327-34.

13.  Purseglove, J. W., Brown, E.G., Green, C.L., and Robins, S. R. J. Spices. Vol. 2. London and New York: 1981, 447-532.

14.  Baskanchiladze, G.S., Khurtsilava, L. A., Gelovani, I. A., Asatiani, M. V., and Rossinskii, V. I. “In combination with Papain in experimental septicemia.” Antibiotiki 29, no. 1(Jan. 1984): 33-35.

15.   Lawrence,  “Major tropical spices,”35-36.

16.  Govindarajan, V.S. “Ginger-chemistry, technology, and quality evaluation: Part 1.” Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition 17, no. 1 (1982): 1-96 (p.50.).

17.    Dorso, C., et al. “Chinese food and platelets.” New England Journal of Medicine 303, no. 13 (1908): 756-57.

18.  Srivastava, K. C. “Effects of aqueous extracts of onion, garlic, and ginger on platelet aggregation and metabolism of arachidonic acid in the blood vascular system: In vetro study.”Prostaglandins, Leukotrienes and Essential Fatty Acids 13, no. 2 (Feb. 1984): 227-35.

19.  Heinerman, J. The Complete Book of Spices. New Canaan, Conn.:Keats, 1983, 38-39.

20.  Mowrey, D. B., and Clayson, D.E. “Motion sickness, ginger, and psychophysics.” Lancet20, no. 1(8273)(Mar.1982): 655-57.

21.  Pace, J.C. “Oral ingestion of encapsulated ginger and reported self-care actions for the relief of chemotherapy-associated nausea and vomiting.” Dissertation Abstracts International (Sci) 47, no.8(1987): 3297.

22.  Grontved, A., Brask, T., Kambskard, J., and Hentzer, E. “Ginger root against seasickness.  A controlled trial on the open sea.” Acta Otolaryngologica 105, nos. 1-2(Jan.-Feb. 1988): 45-49.

23.  Beasley, J. D., and Swift, J.J. The Kellogg Report.  The Impact of Nutrition, Environment & Lifestyle on the Health of Americans. Institute of Health Policy, Bard College, Annandale on Hudson, New York, 1989, 7G:353.

24.  Ibid., 492.

25.  Srivastava, K.C., and Mustafa, T. “Ginger (Zingiber officinale) in rheumatism and musculoskeletal disorders.” Medical Hypotheses 39, no. 4(Dec. 1992): 342-48.

26.  Public Citizen Health research Group. 9, no. 4(April 1993).

"Natural Healing with Herbs for a Healthier You"
[Table of Contents] [History] [Location] [Chemical Constituents] [Medicinal Qualities]
[Contra-Indications] [Known Herbal Formulas] [Dosages & Applications] [Personal Experience] [Bibliography]