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In A Nutshell – Ginger – Zingiber officinale
by Jill Rosemary Davies
For many centuries Ginger has been known as having important healing properties and has enjoyed an excellent reputation in ancient Indian, traditional Chinese and Western medicine. When the spice came to medieval Europe, it was thought to have come from the Garden of Eden and for a long time only the wealthy could afford to use it. It is the rhizome of Ginger that provides the healing properties of the plant, which is used most notably to ease nausea but also as a circulatory stimulant and as a supreme digestive aid. Externally it is used as the base for muscle strain treatments or to improve mobility.
A History of Healing
Anatomy of Ginger
Ginger in action
Energy and Emotion
Growing, Harvesting and Processing
Preparations for Internal Use
Herbal tea (Infusion)
Preparations for External Use
Natural Medicine for Everyone
How Ginger Works
An ancient remedy, Ginger is used for many purposes, most notably perhaps for nausea. As a stimulant, it helps to improve peripheral circulation. In fevers, it promotes perspiration. It is also excellent for treating dyspepsia, colic and flatulence. Externally, it forms the base for various muscle strain and fibrositis treatments. Ginger, however, has many other uses and well deserves its worldwide reputation – gained over thousands of years – as a powerful aid for healing. It is also used extensively in cooking, in a vast array of sweet and savoury dishes around the world.
Ginger is a tender, creeping perennial. It grows in tropical climates from underground rhizomes, which are commonly (but incorrectly) called 'roots'. The plant may reach 1–1.2 m (3–4 ft) in height. It has dark, erect stems that resemble bamboo, and lance-shaped leaves. The thick, fibrous buff to white tuberous rhizome is perennial and has a spicy, warming smell and a pungent, citrus-like taste. Zingiber officinale (Ginger) blooms have a small green inflorescence with white and maroon flowers which are ‘orchid-like’ in appearance. In other Zingiber species, colours can range through to reds and oranges.
The botanical name for Ginger – Zingiber officinale – was given by the Swedish botanist Linnaeus. It comes from the Sanskrit word of singabera, which means 'shaped like a horn'. The term officinale simply means that the plant is commonly available and is useful to humans in medicine and as a food. Ginger is known as Sheng jian in Chinese and has a number of English synonyms including Jamaican Ginger. The rhizome and essential oil are used medicinally.
What to buy
Always try to buy Ginger that has been certified as grown organically to ensure the best healing results. Because of its culinary uses, fresh and dried Ginger is widely available in supermarkets, although may not always be of the highest quality. Ginger is also obtainable in capsule or tincture form, or as an essential oil, in pharmacies, health food and herbal stores or by mail order.
Botanical family: Zingiberaceae. Ginger, or specifically Zingiber officinale, is just one of about 1,400 species in the Zingiberaceae family, which also includes Turmeric and Cardamom.
Species: Although various Zingiber species are used medicinally, none of them have the same powerful benefits of Zingiber officinale. There are, however, many naturally occurring varieties of Zingiber officinale – approximately 50 in India alone. The plant is a native of Asia, but is grown throughout the tropics and wherever there is a rich soil and a warm climate. Differing growing conditions and cultivation techniques result in each variety having its own unique aroma and flavour. For instance, milder examples tend to be found in China and more pungent ones in Africa.
A native plant of Asia, Ginger may be found throughout the tropics where it thrives in the warm climate and rich soils.
Where to find Ginger
Zingiber officinale is widespread throughout tropical regions. There are several theories as to where it originated; however, the most likely is that it came from South East Asia. Today, Ginger may be seen growing in China, India, Africa (notably in Nigeria and Sierra Leone), the West Indies (especially Jamaica), southern parts of the United States, and wherever the right soil and climate allow its growth.
Cultivation of Ginger in the United States is mainly confined to zone 9 – that is, to those regions on latitude with Florida and southern Texas. It is also cultivated in the West Indies – some of the best quality root is grown in Jamaica. Ginger is also cultivated commercially in China and Korea.
Requirements for growth
A rich, well-drained loam and light shade is needed for Ginger to grow well. In the wild, it thrives in the warm, humid conditions of the tropical forest floor, and the ideal temperature for its growth is in the region of 21–24°C (70–75°F). Although it is a tropical plant, Ginger can still be grown in cooler climates in greenhouses or conservatories. In the spring and summer, a heated greenhouse that provides plenty of humidity and shade will soon have the plants flourishing in broad, spreading clumps.
Indoors, the atmosphere will probably be too dry, although a warm kitchen is likely to offer the best environment. It is doubtful, however, that the plant will flower under these circumstances, though it does in greenhouses from time to time, such as those in botanical gardens. If grown in pots, re-pot annually in the spring. When the largest practical pot size has been reached, divide the plant and start again.
Propagate the plant by dividing the rhizomes as growth begins in the spring. These should be planted just below the surface of the soil (which should be good quality compost), in greenhouse beds or pots.
A History of Healing
Valued since earliest times for its important healing properties, Ginger has enjoyed an excellent reputation in ancient Indian, traditional Chinese and Western medicine. As a pungent spice and flavouring agent, Ginger also has an important place in the cuisine of countries all around the world.
Ginger has an ancient history. It is possible that as long as 5,000 years ago, spice caravans were carrying dried Ginger from India to the Middle East. Ginger is one of the best known of spices and it is believed that its medicinal properties have been known in China for thousands of years. Indeed, the plant was mentioned in Emperor Shen Hung's Pen Tsao Ching (The Classic Book of Herbs), which he wrote in 3000 BC.
Although frequently associated with traditional Chinese medicine, Ginger has an ancient reputation in India and is specifically mentioned in the Ayurveda, the Hindu manual of medicine written in the 5th century BC. An ancient Indian proverb states: 'Every good quality is contained in Ginger.'
The ancient Greeks – such as Galen – knew and used Ginger. Inheriting the Greek traditions and knowledge, the ancient Romans also valued Ginger for its culinary and medicinal uses. For example, Largus, a physician in the Roman army and the author of a book entitled De Compositione Medicamentorum, described the Roman military expedition to Britain and was responsible for the introduction of Opium and Ginger to the island. Another Roman, Pedianos Dioscorides, wrote about Ginger in his famous De Materia Medica (AD 77). He was concerned to ensure a 'better quality of drug' and mentioned, for example, some of the problems associated with the storage of Ginger. The British herbalist John Gerard concurred with the Roman herbalist Dioscorides that Ginger has useful heating and digestive qualities.
Subsequently, Ginger received a mention in the Islamic holy book, the Koran, where it says that among the righteous in Paradise 'are passed vessels of silver and goblets of glass' and 'a cup, the admixture of which is Ginger'.
Later, when the spice came to medieval Europe, it was thought that it had come from the Garden of Eden. In the Middle Ages in England, just one pound of the spice was held to be equal in value to a sheep and for a long time only the wealthy could afford to use it. Queen Elizabeth I used it as a digestive aid.
During the 15th century, a Spanish explorer called Francisco de Mendoza transplanted the Ginger plant and brought it back to Spain from the East Indies. Thereafter, following the arrival of Spanish explorers and settlers to the North American continent, Ginger was soon introduced and became naturalised there.
Today, fresh Ginger remains a key ingredient in many Asian dishes.
Ground Ginger helps to provide a spicy, warming flavour in cakes and biscuits as well as in ales, beers and wine. Its familiar taste is part of our folklore. For example, the Gingerbread house in the tale Hansel and Gretel proved irresistible to the children.
Ginger has also been used to scent pomanders and potpourri.
As a very warming plant, Ginger is still held to be of particular value in the treatment of certain conditions. For example, it is ideal for people suffering from colds and chills and is a circulatory stimulant. It promotes cleansing of the system through perspiration and reduces flatulence. Furthermore, it helps to alleviate nausea and therefore is an excellent remedy for motion sickness and morning sickness in pregnancy.
Traditionally, Ginger has also been added to many other remedies that rely on a mixture of herbs because it tends to reduce toxicity and side effects. As such, it is therefore of particular benefit when used in herbal combinations.
Ginger is contraindicated (not advised) in certain conditions. For example, it can irritate gastric ulcers. It can also aggravate hepatitis and some conditions of the kidney that involve inflammation. See the page on 'Natural Medicine for Everyone' for further information.
Anatomy of Ginger
As previously stated, it is the rhizome of Ginger that provides the healing properties of the plant. Chemical analysis shows many substances in the rhizome are responsible for helping to provide the herb's beneficial effects.
Fresh Ginger root is bulbous and fleshy. In the spice trade, the whole main segment is termed a 'hand' and the branches that come from it are called 'fingers'. This is very apt, because fresh Ginger often resembles a hand with blunt, stubby fingers. The branching rhizome of Ginger is fleshy, full and a little flattened in appearance; in taste it is fragrant and pungent.
Zingiber officinale occurs naturally in many different varieties – 50 can be found in India alone. Each variety has its own individual flavour and aroma.
Ginger's volatile oil contains many active substances including borneol, camphene, citral, eucalyptol, linalool, phenllandrene, zingiberine and zingiberol. Other notable constituents include phenols (gingerol, zingerone and shogaol) and resins. None of these components should be isolated and used as a standardised extract on its own; this would destabilise them and render them harmful.
Some of Ginger's medicinal properties are contained in the chemicals responsible for the taste, the most noteworthy being gingerol and shogaol. The fragrance of Ginger is due to the volatile oil, which is composed of about 200 chemical substances and accounts for approximately 1–2.5 per cent of the rhizome. Nutrients include carbohydrates, lipids, proteins, minerals and vitamins. Among these may be found phosphorus, potassium, riboflavin (vitamin B2) and vitamin C.
Other synergistic components include zingibain, a protein-digesting enzyme that is known to act in a similar manner to bromelain in pineapple, and capsaicin, limonene and curcumin. The latter is the main active constituent in Turmeric, which is closely related to Ginger.
It is clear that Ginger contains a vast and complex array of chemicals that, in combination, provide a powerful aid to healing. For example, the enzyme zingibain is believed to improve digestion as well as kill parasites and their eggs. Furthermore, zingibain enhances antibacterial and anti-inflammatory actions and it is thought to assist other antibacterials, such as antibiotics, by up to 50 per cent. Ginger's ability to reduce inflammation is due to its neutralising action upon free radicals, which are known to contribute to the problem. Finally, Ginger contains at least 12 antioxidant constituents, the combined actions of which have been regarded as being more powerful than vitamin C.
Shelf life of root
The fresh root can last up to 2 months in a refrigerator or cool larder; dried, powdered, or shredded root lasts up to 1 year; dried whole root lasts for 1–2 years. With suitable storage facilities, Ginger can last much longer, although the active constituents, especially the volatile oils, will gradually decrease with time.
Ginger in Action
Ginger is a remarkable remedy with a wide range of actions that are suitable for men, women and children. It is very safe and has a record of use that stretches back thousands of years, across many cultures and continents.
How Ginger can help
- Ginger promotes gastric secretion and is excellent for many kinds of digestive complaints, including indigestion, colic and wind.
- It is highly effective in combating nausea – whether due to pregnancy, travel, following an anaesthetic or for any other reason.
- Ginger is thermo-regulatory therefore cooling or heating according to the bodies own innate heating or cooling needs. It stimulates the circulation and is therefore beneficial for circulatory complaints including poor blood supply to the hands and feet and for chilblains.
- In fevers, Ginger is able to induce sweating, thereby helping to reduce body temperature and supporting the elimination of toxins.
- It acts as a warming expectorant to encourage productive coughing and relieves sore throats when used as a gargle.
- Ginger has antiseptic and antiparasitic effects and is useful for bacterial infections of the digestive tract.
- When used externally, it has an anti-inflammatory action and is a useful base in many preparations for treating muscle strains, joint sprains and muscle pain.
How Ginger affects the body
Many of the body's systems are affected by chemical constituents found in Zingiber officinale. Indeed, so complex are the actions of Ginger that it is almost impossible to list all its effects upon the body.
Ginger acts on the musculoskeletal system in a similar way to aspirin, reducing the number of inflammatory factors, but without the side effects common to such anti-inflammatory drugs. As such, it has an important role to play in inflammatory disorders such as arthritis.
In the digestive system, Ginger inhibits the growth of harmful microorganisms while simultaneously allowing beneficial bacteria to grow.
Ginger and heart disease
Of particular interest is Ginger's impact on the heart and circulation. Heart attacks and strokes are mainly caused by the obstruction of arteries supplying cardiac muscle and the brain. Obstructions occur due to the formation of clots via the 'cascade effect'. Ginger helps prevent this process from occurring by inhibiting various steps of the clot-forming cascade effect, which are under the influence of chemicals called thromboxanes. In 1980, researchers at Cornell Medical School in the United States reported that Ginger was as effective as aspirin in preventing clot formation. Since then, a number of studies have confirmed the beneficial effect Ginger has on the cardiovascular system, including showing that it may also strengthen the heart and lower blood cholesterol levels.
Ginger has a number of beneficial effects. However, the following properties are of particular use for therapeutic purposes:
- Antispasmodic: It relaxes all types of muscle.
- Aromatic: Ginger's aroma, flavour and warmth help to stimulate the digestive system.
- Carminative: The volatile oils in Ginger relax the stomach and stimulate peristalsis (the wave-like motion of food through the gut) thereby supporting digestion and reducing gas.
- Diaphoretic: It induces perspiration and the elimination of toxins through the skin.
- Rubefacient: Applied to the skin, Ginger stimulates and dilates the blood capillaries, increasing circulation.
- Sialogogue: It promotes the secretion of saliva.
- Stimulant: As a circulatory aid, its supports and speeds up the body’s physiological systems.
- Antibiotic Reduces bacterial overload.
Despite Ginger's long history of usage, medical studies of its effectiveness are limited. Some scientific studies, however, have been conducted and a number of interesting findings have emerged.
Zingiber officinale has a powerful molluscicidal and antischistosomal effect, so is useful for treating schistosomiasis (blood fluke or bilharzias) infection, which is transmitted by snails and is common in many countries without a treated water supply.
One of Ginger's constituents, gingerol, is known to help blood circulation because it has an anti-clotting or anti-platelet action due to its inhibition of thromboxane formation. It may, therefore, have an important role to play in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes.
An ethanol extract of Ginger has been shown to have antitumour effects on the skin of mice. Further research now needs to be undertaken to discover whether Ginger has a role to play in the prevention and treatment of skin cancer in humans.
When to avoid Ginger
As with other plant-based medications, it is best to confirm with your herbalist that it is safe to use Ginger in medicinal levels in pregnancy. This is important because Ginger affects the hormones of the reproductive system. At least one German authority has said that it should not be taken at all in pregnancy, while most herbalists feel that taking food amounts is absolutely fine, especially as it is consistently used to counteract sickness in pregnancy.
There is no known toxicity associated with ingesting Ginger. For those sensitive to it, however, it is best taken with food. Do not take Ginger if you have hepatitis – it can aggravate the condition.
Also, consult a herbalist if you have any other liver complaint or kidney condition. Paradoxically, Ginger can be invaluable in some kidney and liver disorders and during pregnancy. Some specialists suggest that it should be avoided by people with gastric or peptic ulcers because it promotes gastric secretions.
Allergic reaction to Ginger
There have been no reports of serious reactions to Ginger in the medical literature. As with almost any medication, there is a very small risk of a systemic allergic reaction (a whole-body reaction – anaphylaxis). However, this is very rare and is more likely in people who already have an allergy to other plant extracts or herbal remedies. If someone does suffer a massive shock reaction to any substance, call an ambulance or immediately take the person to the nearest hospital accident and emergency department.
Reactions to Ginger are normally localised. Generally, they manifest themselves as contact dermatitis (a rash) where the extract has touched one specific part of the skin.
Energy and Emotion
Ginger has many powerful effects. Its complex chemistry produces a wide range of beneficial results for anyone who uses it regularly. Because Ginger stimulates the whole system, these positive results may include changes in a person's mood, emotions and energy levels, with a consequent positive effect upon the mind and body.
Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic (Indian) medicine, in which Ginger has a long history of use, seek to achieve harmony and health for the whole person and aim to balance all aspects of an individual’s body, mind, emotions and spirit.
Traditional Chinese medicine categorises Ginger as 'pungent', signifying that it is able to warm the body and dispel cold. Associated with the element metal, which corresponds to the lungs in the Chinese system, Ginger expels toxins, opens the pores of the skin and stimulates circulation. It is considered to be useful, therefore, for colds, influenza, mucus congestion and fluid blockages in the body.
Ginger is a wonderful aid for helping the liver to rid itself of stored toxins, while overcoming any associated nausea or sickness. Over time this has an effect on the emotions, as detoxifying the liver can lift depressive, angry or sad moods.
Ayurvedic and traditional Chinese medicine take a holistic view of lifestyle. Above all, physical exercise, good nutrition and giving up bad habits such as smoking will create positive effects in the body and lead to a general amelioration of existing illnesses and consequent enhancement of mood.
Digestion and plant energies
One of Ginger's best known effects is upon the digestive system. As a carminative, it helps to eliminate flatulence. It is also spasmolytic, helping to relax the intestinal muscles and soothe the digestive tract. It is also particularly effective at relieving nausea and sickness.
Ginger's energetic qualities reflect its uses. It is considered to be pungent, sweet and warm. These qualities promote a tonic and supportive effect on the whole body and mind, inspiring a more outward-going, warm and cheery outlook.
Energy and the mind
Ginger is such a powerful and safe healer that taking it inspires confidence. It is supportive of so many of the body's systems that its use helps to promote wide-ranging improvement. Its stimulant effects also help to give an overall energy boost to those who take it, which provides an extra benefit in addition to whatever localised influence it has upon specific parts of the body. Altogether, this provides a powerful lift to the mind and the emotions which, in turn, promote healing still further.
Flower remedies are a very subtle form of treatment. Ginger flower essence has a pulsating, vibrant quality, and is useful for those people who feel unconfident, dispirited, or unloved. It is a great healer of gloomy spirits and can help to lift depression. For people who are already in relative harmony in mind and body, it will further enliven them, both physically and mentally.
Zingiber officinale rarely blooms, and there will not be many occasions when this remedy can be prepared in countries outside the tropics, unless you grow Ginger in a heated greenhouse. However, flowers from any species of Ginger grown in other climates may be used to make a flower essence. It is worthwhile because this remedy imparts significant stimulation and balance to the body, thereby providing pure support.
To make a flower essence – standard quantity
- Use approx. 350 ml (1½ cups) each of spring water and brandy, and 3–4 Ginger flowers, carefully chosen and freshly picked.
- Submerge the Ginger flowers in a glass bowl containing the spring water. Cover with clean, white cheesecloth and put in the sunshine for at least 3 hours. If the flowers wilt sooner, remove them earlier.
- Use a twig to lift the flowers out of the bowl. Measure the remaining liquid; add an equal amount of brandy, then pour into sterilised dark glass bottles. Label clearly.
Adults: 4 drops under the tongue 4 times daily, or every half an hour in times of crisis.
Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. 7–12 years, half adult dose. 1–7 years, quarter adult dose.
Plant spirit energies
The spirit of Ginger is not the same as its flower essence, which is solely connected with the flowering aspect of the plant. The spirit of Ginger enables the energy of the whole plant to be shared with us.
Ginger has been associated with love potions and other aphrodisiacs, and the purpose of the essence made from the Ginger rhizome is to provide a balance between male and female qualities within both sexes – in terms of traditional Chinese medicine, this means helping to achieve harmony between the yin (female) and yang (male) energies. The flowers represent the female aspect of the plant, and the rhizome the male. When a good balance is achieved, over-aggressive tendencies are toned down and timid feelings corrected, whether appearing in men or women.
As well as its harmonising qualities, Ginger’s spirit offers warmth, calm, zest, and revitalisation, all in a spirit of balance. It is therefore useful in a wide variety of situations.
Growing, Harvesting and Processing
Although Ginger is cultivated commercially in many tropical countries, and may readily be purchased in a range of stores, it can also be grown successfully in some gardens, under glass, or inside the home. There are many Ginger rhizome species with small-sized rhizomes often producing hotter, more pungent flavours whilst larger-yield, bigger, more ‘watery’ rhizomes are often less pungent. Herbalists prefer the organic smaller, more pungent versions.
Ginger grows best in loose, well-drained soil with a fairly high moisture-holding capacity. A pH of 5.5 to 6.5 is usually ideal.
The rhizome is prone to damage from burrowing worms, so the soil should be free from nematodes (a species of roundworm). It is also prone to bacterial damage, similar to that found on tomatoes.
Organic Ginger is equally as prone to attack as pesticide-grown versions, but there are many large organic commercial farms that do grow it successfully using only organic methods. The famous natural healer and herbalist Dr Schulze regularly buys large quantities of organically grown Ginger root from a third-generation Ginger farm in Hawaii. On this Hawaiian farm they clean the ground after harvesting and use plastic to cover the soil, ‘steam-sterilising' it with the heat of the hot Hawaiian sun. They also use predatory nematodes that attack the undesirable nematodes. Other organic ginger farms, e.g. in India, which grow other organic crops successfully, use crop rotation methods to help prevent any Ginger rhizome attack either by nematodes or fungus.
A fresh rhizome will produce new shoots quite rapidly if it is planted in moist compost in warm conditions – above 21°C (70°F). Ginger can even be propagated from a small piece of fresh root as long as it has one ‘eye’ (similar to those found on potatoes) but preferably three or four.
Fill a small container with a good potting soil and plant the root on its side, parallel with the surface of the soil. The rhizome should be only just covered and the soil gently patted down over it. Allow a 2.5 cm (1 in) gap between the top of the soil and the pot’s rim for watering. Keep the pot in a warm place until green shoots emerge from the eye. You can then transplant into a larger pot filled with roughly equal amounts of loam and compost, rich in organic matter and manure. Water this mixture regularly, and put a layer of mulch on top to prevent the upper layers of soil from drying out and the sensitive roots from being damaged. Ginger thrives in full sun but partial shade can suffice. In warmer countries such as those of the Mediterranean, and even in milder climates such as the south of Britain, Ginger plants can remain outside all winter. In this way, large plants can become established and will flower each summer. However, in cold climates plants should be moved inside before the first frosts come. They can then be transferred outside in the spring.
When planting outdoors, place the Ginger plants in a raised bed about 25 cm (10 in) apart, and 10–15 cm (4–6in) deep in the earth. Ginger tends to deplete soil of nutrients, so use good mulch and renew it as necessary. Should your home-grown Ginger become infected with nematodes, spray with sugar-water as it kills them. To make the sugar-water, combine ½ cup sugar and ½ litre water and allow the sugar to dissolve. Spray lightly on both soil and plant itself.
The ginger rhizome may be first harvested after approximately 8–10 months. Early crops are sold commercially as fresh or ‘green’ (at 6 months), or are used to produce Ginger pieces in syrup or crystallised Ginger. Otherwise Ginger is harvested after the leaves have died down (usually 8–10 months after planting) when the rhizome has fully matured. The internal flesh colour should be pale yellow – any lateness in harvesting will reduce this colour and quality. Rhizomes are harvested in dry conditions, with a fork or cutlass to lift and break open the soil. They are then taken to a pack house in field crates.
Let the crop dry out during the last month before harvesting. Wait until the foliage has died down (usually 8–10 months from planting) then, using a fork, lift the mature rhizomes carefully from the soil. The longer they are left in the ground, the more fibrous and pungent they become.
After harvesting, the rhizomes are washed with a high pressure hose before any mud has dried, taking care not to harm the delicate tissue that lies just below the skin’s surface. This tissue contains many of the spice's valuable essential oils.
In India, rhizomes are sun-dried on clean floors for 7–10 days and turned frequently. In America, they are dried quickly and then stored at 12°C (52°F) which keeps them fresh for 3 months.
Mature Ginger, which is used to make dried Ginger, has lower water content than the young ‘green Ginger’.
Ginger is often sold as a whole root, but also ground or shredded for the culinary and medicinal markets.
Fresh Ginger may be used at home in many ways. It must, of course, first be cleaned in fresh water. Thereafter, it may be steamed, simmered, sautéed, boiled or stir-fried like other root vegetables, as well as used medicinally.
To dry Ginger at home, put it in the oven for 2 hours at 38°C (100°F) or in the sun (minimum temperature 21°C / 70°F) for at least 14 days. Ensure it is dried thoroughly before use.
Preparations for Internal Use
There are many ways to prepare Ginger to take internally, using the fresh rhizome or dried powder. With either, look for fresh, well-coloured Ginger that has a good taste and vibrancy about it.
Cooking with Ginger regularly in sweet and savoury dishes means that one benefits from its wide range of medicinal properties as well as enjoying its unique, spicy taste.
A tincture is made by soaking the chopped Ginger rhizome or powder in alcohol and water, which destroys bacteria and fungi as well as extracting the active constituents. Some of Ginger’s useful healing substances cannot survive long periods in high concentrations of alcohol alone, so no more than 2 days should elapse before the water is added. The initial 2 days with only alcohol is enough to destroy any bacteria and fungi.
Tinctures are convenient ways to take medicines. Freshly grated Ginger produces a medium-strength and balanced tincture, while the powder creates one that is far stronger, both in terms of taste and some medicinal effects.
Note: Always use utensils cleaned in boiling water – and for good results add one or two drops of lavender, thyme, or tea tree essential oil to the water.
To make a tincture – standard quantity
- Use 225 g (8 oz) of dried Ginger rhizome, shredded or powdered, or 310 g (11 oz) of fresh rhizome, grated or shredded, with a total of 1 litre (4 cups) of vodka and water mixture. For the vodka, standard 45 per cent proof is effective, but 70–80 per cent proof is better. Proportions of vodka and water used will depend on the strength of the vodka: if using 45 per cent proof, you will use 80 per cent vodka and 20 per cent water; if using 70–80 per cent proof, you will use 40–50 per cent vodka and 50–60 per cent water.
- If using fresh Ginger, put the Ginger in a liquidiser, cover with vodka (the correct proportion of 1 litre, as above) and blend. There is no need to liquidise powdered Ginger – simply cover with vodka and stir well.
- When smooth, pour the mixture into a large dark glass jar with an airtight lid. Shake well, label the jar carefully, and store in a dark place.
- After 2 days, measure the contents and add the water to make up the rest of the litre of liquid. Shake well.
- Leave the mixture for at least 2 weeks, but preferably up to 4 weeks. Shake the jar daily to aid the extraction process.
- At the end of the allotted time, strain the tincture through a jelly bag, preferably overnight, until you have the very last drop. For best results you can use a wine press.
- Pour the thick liquid into dark jars and label clearly. Store in a cool, dark place. For personal use, decant into a 50 ml (2 fl oz) tincture bottle.
Everyday use: Adults can use 1.5 ml (¼ tsp) diluted in about 25 ml (5 tsp) of water, 2–5 times daily.
Acute conditions: Adults can use 2–2.5 ml (½ tsp), diluted as above, every 1–2 hours until severe symptoms subside.
Children's dosages: Over 16 years, adult dose. For use in children under 16, consult a qualified herbalist.
For children, it is best to use fresh Ginger in cooking; also blend it into smoothies and make it a way of life.
To make Ginger beer – standard quantity
- Use 25 g (1 oz) fresh Ginger rhizome to 4.5 litres (18 cups) water, 1 sliced lemon, 1 tsp cream of tartar, 225 g (½ lb) cane sugar, 15 g (½ oz) brewer's yeast, 1 egg white (or vegan alternative).
- Bruise the Ginger and place it in a large saucepan with the water. Bring to a boil then simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove the Ginger and pour the liquid into a large bowl. Add the lemon (including the rind), cream of tartar, and sugar. Stir until the sugar has dissolved, then let it cool.
- When the liquid is lukewarm, stir in the yeast. Then cover the bowl with a clean cloth and leave to ferment for two days.
- Skim off the scum and strain the beer into another bowl. Then whisk in the egg white and pour the mixture into sterilised glass bottles. For Ginger beer you must use thick bottles, preferably with screw tops, because thin glass bottles have a tendency to explode. Keep for at least three weeks in a cupboard before drinking, then store in a refrigerator.
Ginger tincture syrup
If you do not like the taste of Ginger, you can sweeten the standard tincture to make syrup. It is easy to make and will store for a month in the right conditions.
To make Ginger tincture syrup – standard quantity
- Use 1–4 parts tincture to 1–3 parts organic honey or maple syrup.
- Mix the ingredients in a dark glass jar. Shake well before each dose.
Water-based processes preserve some of the many medicinal qualities of Ginger that may not be retained in some other preparations. A decoction, therefore, can be a useful way to prepare the rhizome. Dried Ginger may be used but fresh ingredients (if available) are always best.
To make a decoction – standard quantity
- Use 20 g (¾ oz) of dried or 40 g (1½ oz) of chopped fresh Ginger rhizome to 750 ml (3 cups) of cold water.
- Put the Ginger in a saucepan (a double boiler is ideal) with the water and simmer on a very low heat for 20–30 minutes. During this time, the liquid should reduce by about a third. Leave to cool. Then strain into a pitcher.
- Pour out a cup dose, then store the remainder in a cool place or refrigerate if storing for longer than a day. For travelling, strain off the mixture while still hot into a thermos bottle to take with you.
Adults: 500 ml (2 cups) per day.
Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. For use in children under 12 years, consult a qualified herbalist.
You can make this preparation in the same way as a tincture syrup but use a decoction instead of a tincture. Take the same dose as given above for a decoction, but allow extra for the volume of the honey if you have added a significant amount.
Ginger herbal tea (infusion)
A cup of ginger tea is a quick and effective method for improving the appetite, warming or reducing nausea. Some people find that an infusion of Ginger is beneficial in the treatment of various complaints connected with the digestive and urinary systems. In particular, Ginger tea aids the digestion by reducing internal gas.
It is best to use freshly grated rhizome but you can use dried if fresh is unavailable. However, the powder can be a little too strong and the flavour not nearly so pleasant since it lacks some of the herb’s essential oils.
To make an infusion – standard quantity
- Use 4–6 g (2 tsp) freshly grated Ginger rhizome or 5 g (1 tsp) dried, powdered rhizome added to 250 ml (1 cup) of water.
- Put the Ginger in a tea sock and place in a cup or teapot. Pour on boiling water and let it infuse for 7–10 minutes.
- Remove the tea sock and if desired, add 2–5 ml (½–1 tsp) of organic, cold-pressed honey.
Note: Teas can also be made in a teapot infuser or in a coffee pot with a plunger.
Adults: 500 ml (2 cups) daily for recovery from illness or 125 ml (½ cup) daily for general good health.
Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. 5–12 years, half adult dose. For use in children under 5 years, consult a qualified herbalist.
This tea water can also be used externally as a skin ‘wipe’ cleanser.
Preparations for External Use
Ginger forms the base for many external treatments for strains, sprains, muscle aches and pains and poor circulation. It has been used in this way for centuries and a variety of external preparations from ointments to poultices may be made with Ginger.
Although it may be best known for its internal applications, Ginger is a fine herb for treating a number of external complaints. For best results take it internally at the same time, for example in the form of an infusion, in order to reinforce the action of the plant.
For people with arthritis, a tendency to chilblains or, of course, those with sprains or widespread muscular aches or strains, 2 cups (500ml) of Ginger decoction or Ginger infusion can be added to a shallow bath to bring relief from discomfort.
Ointments are semi-solid preparations that protect and nourish the skin and underlying tissues. Ginger ointment is ideal for inflammatory conditions, as the active constituents soothe underlying tissue. If the skin is broken, use an infusion instead.
To make an ointment – standard quantity
- Use 350 ml (12 fl oz) of olive oil, 300 g (11 oz) of powdered Ginger, 50 g (2 oz) beeswax.
- Pour the olive oil onto the powdered Ginger and mix together.
- Place in a closed container (ovenproof if you are using the oven method) – choose stainless steel, earthenware, un-chipped enamel, or ovenproof glass.
- Put the container into an oven preheated to about 38°C (100°F) for 2 hours, or stand in the sun or other warm spot for a week. During the allotted time, occasionally stir the mixture with a sterilised fork.
- If using the oven method, the mixture can be strained directly after the 2 hours if you need the ointment quickly, or you can also leave it to stand for a week to encourage a greater extraction of the active components.
- On completion of slow cooking or soaking, strain the mixture through a large plastic or stainless steel colander lined with muslin, or use a jelly bag and hang it up to drip overnight.
- When you have strained the mixture, melt 50 g (2 oz) of beeswax over a very low heat in a double boiler or heavy-bottomed pan, then add the herbal olive oil mixture and combine.
- Put a little of the mixture into a glass jar and put it in the refrigerator for 2 minutes to test the consistency when cool. At the right consistency, it should stick to your fingers without being too hard or too runny. If it is too runny, add a little more beeswax; if too hard, a little more oil.
- Pour the mixture into dark glass jars and label carefully.
Case study – sports injury
In the last few months Martin, an avid sportsman, had sprained his knee and suffered a number of muscle strains. Each time he had used ice packs to reduce the swelling and pain, but recovery was always slow. A friend suggested rubbing a Ginger-based ointment into the affected area and Martin was surprised by the warming soothing effect that it provided. Protective bandaging of the knee before taking part in any training helped to prevent a recurrence of his knee injuries.
One of the principal substances used as a base for various topical treatments for sprained joints, muscular strains and fibrositis, Ginger is also employed for the relief of rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. A compress made with Ginger directly and quickly brings comfort to such conditions through its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving actions. It is also invaluable for indigestion, liver, kidney and gallbladder inflammation and menstrual cramps. Applying a hot water bottle can speed up the process.
To make a compress – standard quantity
- Use 300 ml (10½ fl oz) Ginger decoction or enough chopped fresh Ginger to cover the affected part of the body.
- Either cover the area with chopped fresh Ginger or with a piece of cheesecloth soaked in warm Ginger decoction. Secure it firmly in place with plenty of plastic wrap.
- Leave for 10–20 minutes and then repeat. The compress may be reapplied 2 or 3 times, with the last one being left in position for 1–2 hours.
A poultice is an ideal treatment for a swollen knee or an aching leg. Freshly grated or powdered Ginger can be added to a cooked, mashed potato (or some dry arrowroot powder moistened and warmed with hot water) and, while still warm, spread over the affected area. It can be left on for 2 hours or overnight. The heat generated helps Ginger’s active constituents to travel quickly to the affected area, where pain and swelling will be alleviated.
To make the poultice, cook and mash one medium potato. Then add 1 tbsp of freshly grated Ginger rhizome or 3 tsp dried and powdered Ginger, and mix together into a paste. (If using arrowroot instead of the potato, use 1½ tbsp arrowroot powder per 1–2 tbsp grated Ginger.) While it is still warm, apply it to the area, and then secure it firmly in place with a bandage or plastic wrap.
Other applications – mouthwash and gargle
A powerful mouthwash can be made by diluting 10 ml (2 tsp) of Ginger tincture in half a glass of water. Although the taste is quite strong, this solution will help to stop infections of the gums, mucous membranes and throat. Gargling with the same mixture is effective in the treatment of sore throats.
Ginger is very useful in massage when combined with base oil. To make 250 ml (1 cup) of base oil, mix 150 ml (½ cup) sunflower oil with 50 ml (2 fl oz) each of olive oil and almond oil. Then add about 4–6 ml (1 tsp) of Ginger essential oil – the exact amount depends on strength required. This can be used to make a stimulating massage oil, which smells wonderful. Alternatively, combine 250 ml (1 cup) of the base oil with 2 ml (½ tsp) Ginger and 1 ml (¼ tsp) each of Rosemary, Chamomile and Black Pepper essential oils. Apply a few drops to a small area to test before using it on the whole body; avoid using it on the face and never apply neat essential oil to the skin.
Note: Do not use this massage oil if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.
Natural Medicine for Everyone
Ginger is generally safe and clinical trials have shown that side effects are very rare.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding
As with other plant-based medications, it is best to confirm with your herbalist that it is safe to use Ginger in medicinal levels in pregnancy and while breastfeeding. This is important because Ginger affects the hormones of the reproductive system. At least one German authority has said that it should not be taken at all in pregnancy, while most herbalists feel that taking food amounts is absolutely fine, especially as it is consistently used to counteract sickness in pregnancy.
There are few children’s medicines that contain Ginger. The taste of this spice is pleasant, however, and the herb may be used to stimulate the appetite and ease digestive problems and nausea. Ginger has the advantage of being available in a number of tempting and safe forms, including syrup, Ginger beer (non-alcoholic) and crystallised Ginger. If a child over 7 years does not like the taste, try giving capsules, which are very useful for travel sickness – a common children's complaint.
Follow the guidelines given on the 'Preparations for Internal Use' and 'Herbal Combinations' pages regarding suitability of the different Ginger preparations for children. For children of ages below those given, consult a qualified herbalist prior to use.
Ginger has a number of useful applications for elderly people. For example, it helps to prevent blood clot formation and has an important role in the prevention of heart attacks and strokes in people known to be susceptible. Ginger's stimulating effect upon the circulatory system is ideal for helping to keep the elderly warm and its powerful anti-inflammatory action is of great benefit to many people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
The elderly also often have problems with digestion and again, Ginger can help.
It is normally safe to take Ginger alongside other prescription medicines, but check if concerned with a herbal practitioner or your doctor.
There are a few instances when Ginger should be avoided. For example, it should not be taken by people with 'heated' liver conditions, such as hepatitis, where further heat would not be wise. Some conditions where the kidneys become hot and inflamed should also not be further exacerbated by Ginger. If you are in any doubt, consult a medical herbalist before taking Ginger.
Case study – period pains
Sandra dreaded glancing at the calendar because every month her period pains were awful. In particular she disliked the pelvic and abdominal cramps that seemed to consume her entire being in a rhythmic cycle of pain. Eventually, she went to a herbal practitioner who prescribed Ginger in the form of a tincture as part of a composite formula. Its antispasmodic properties went right to work, relaxing the muscles in her pelvic region and helping to relieve the cramping pains by encouraging better circulation. Sandra soon learned that she could take Ginger in different ways, so when her periods began, she would drink warming Ginger teas, or suck on candied Ginger when she was too busy to sit down for a hot drink. If the cramps threatened to be very strong, a warm Ginger compress applied to her stomach was particularly soothing and relaxing. Now Sandra is no longer anxious about her periods.
Case study – heart disease
Jim never even suspected that he might suffer a heart attack. He was working very hard and felt that attending to his health would just have to wait a little longer. But he was wrong. He suddenly developed severe chest pains and even thought he was going to die. Luckily, prompt treatment in his local hospital saved him. To help prevent a further occurrence, his doctor told him to take aspirin on a regular basis. Jim, however, began to get stomach upsets and showed symptoms of a developing ulcer. His doctor, who was aware of the medical literature on the anti-platelet effect of gingerol, suggested Ginger as an alternative.
Fortunately, Jim’s stomach pains settled with this treatment, and the Ginger also helped to prevent any new clots from forming.
Case study – travel sickness
Motion sickness was more than just a minor irritant for Amanda. She used to watch enviously as friends set off on exotic trips but despite trying all the standard medications, she was so sick and miserable in planes, cars and ships that she never went anywhere at all. A friend, who was a nurse, recommended that she try Ginger. The next weekend, Amanda took two capsules before setting off on a long car journey and then took two more every couple of hours. She hardly felt sick at all and was delighted. She now takes Ginger capsules with her on all car trips and has even managed to fly and sail.
Herbal combinations are used to complement the effect of a single herb. However, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding, or if you have a serious medical condition or are taking prescribed medication, consult your doctor or a qualified herbalist first.
Medicinal herbal formulas often consist of several herbs with different, but complementary actions. It is not unusual for such treatments to consist of one main herb with one or two others added to support its action and to address different underlying causes of the ailment. For example, to treat a fever, Ginger may be suggested in order to promote perspiration and thereby reduce the temperature, with additional herbs to help fight infection and to ensure a good night’s sleep. It is a long tradition in Western, Chinese and Ayurvedic herbal medicine to put small ‘parts’ of either ginger, liquorice or cayenne at ‘the end’ of formulas no matter what they contain. It enhances the activity of the other herbs and in the case of an antibacterial herbal formula, it can make the chosen herbs up to 50 per cent more effective.
Ginger is a hot spice with a stimulating, decongestive action in the body. This tincture formula is ideal for people who suffer from cold hands and feet, especially if it results in conditions such as chilblains.
Formula: 1 part Ginger rhizome, 2 parts Hawthorn leaves, flowers or berries, 2 parts Prickly Ash.
Adults: 5 ml (1 tsp) tincture 3–4 times daily.
Children: Consult a qualified herbalist.
In this combination, Ginger is a warming constituent. The Hawthorn berries are able to strengthen the cardiac muscle and increase the blood flow through the heart without raising heart rate or blood pressure. In this way, circulation is improved to the peripheral capillaries.
The overall effect of this formula is to warm and enliven both mind and body.
Colds and chest infections
Taken as a warm decoction, this combination of Ginger, Hyssop, Echinacea and Eucalyptus will act upon the respiratory system, helping to keep the tract clear from catarrh, as well as fighting infection.
Formula: 2 parts Hyssop tops and leaves, 2 parts Echinacea root, ½ part Eucalyptus leaves, 1 part Ginger rhizome.
Adults: 150 ml (5 fl oz) decoction 3 times daily.
Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. Under 12 years, consult a qualified herbalist.
In this decoction, Ginger reduces the effects of chills, lowers fever and helps to reduce the likelihood of further colds.
Hyssop tops and leaves are useful for their action as an expectorant, helping to reduce congestion from phlegm as well as supporting the immune system with their broad antimicrobial action.
Echinacea root increases the general effectiveness of the immune system and particularly the infection-fighting activity of white blood cells by acting as a ‘modulator’, helping balance both under- and over-active situations. It is particularly the alkylamides that are responsible for this activity.
The distinctive aroma of Eucalyptus leaves provides the drink with a clean, fresh taste and helps to clear the lungs and open the sinuses, due mostly to their antimicrobial essential oils. They bring relief from any congestion.
Colitis and diverticulitis
There are a number of conditions in which inflammation of the digestive system is present, such as colitis, diverticulitis and 'leaky gut'. The following combination of powders is particularly helpful in these situations. It is also important to follow a balanced diet for these illnesses and to avoid foods that may be irritating or causing an allergic reaction.
Formula: 3 parts Slippery Elm powder, 2 parts Chamomile flower powder, 1 part Ginger rhizome powder, 1 part Marshmallow root powder.
Adults: 5 g (1 tsp) of powder 3-4 times daily. Mix the powder with a little oat milk (or other milk), shake and drink; or fill empty capsules with the powder.
Children: Over 12 years, adult dose. Under 12 years, consult a qualified herbalist.
Ginger helps reduce intestinal gas and discomfort and also has an anti-inflammatory effect.
The Slippery Elm in the remedy soothes irritation, coats and protects the digestive tract, and reduces excess inflammation and mucus production.
Chamomile is a relaxant and mild sedative. It reduces tension and heals damaged tissue. It also has a localised anti-inflammatory effect.
Marshmallow root is a soothing herb known to affect the digestive system beneficially by lining and protecting the wall of the stomach and bowel – helping to soothe and heal the mucous membranes and tissues in the process.
Although Ginger makes a significant contribution towards reducing menstrual cramps when taken on its own, some women require a little extra help. This combination of herbal tinctures is a particularly powerful all-round remedy for period pain.
Formula: 2 parts Ginger rhizome, 2 parts Cramp bark, 1 part Valerian root, and ½ part Black Cohosh bark.
Adults: 5 ml (1 tsp) of tincture 3–4 times daily, 1–2 days prior to menstruation.
Ginger is a powerful herb that reduces menstrual cramps by helping to relax the smooth muscle in the pelvic region. Black Cohosh root is also antispasmodic and has a balancing action on the hormones. It allows rigid muscles to relax and assists inert muscles in working more effectively. Cramp bark is specifically useful for muscular cramps and pains in the abdominal region, especially in the uterus. Valerian root relaxes the nervous system and helps to calm the whole body. In general this formula relaxes the whole pelvic region, helping to ensure a balanced menstrual flow. It also relieves pain and discomfort.
Caution: Do not take Valerian with other sleep-inducing prescribed drugs.
Travel sickness and nausea
Ginger can quell motion sickness and is supported in medical literature as an alternative to prescribed medicines for this purpose. This tincture combination is ideal to support the actions of Ginger.
Formula: 2 parts each of Ginger rhizome, Peppermint leaf and Angelica root and 1 part Chamomile flowers.
Adults: 5 ml (1 tsp) of tincture 3–4 times daily.
Children: Over 16 years, adult dose. Under 16, consult a qualified herbalist.
Ginger is the principal antiemetic agent in this formula but Peppermint is also antiemetic and eases diarrhoea, indigestion, cramps and nausea.
The Angelica and Chamomile complete this powerful formula for dealing with upset stomachs.
Weight loss due to nausea and lack of appetite
Ginger has an important role to play in illnesses where there is weight loss due to loss of appetite. This mixture of herbal tinctures combines Ginger with other digestive herbs.
Formula: Equal parts of Ginger rhizome, Saw Palmetto berries, Schisandra berries, and Gentian root.
Adults: 5 ml (1 tsp) of tincture 3-4 times daily.
Children: Over 16, adult dose. Under 16 years, consult a qualified herbalist.
Ginger relieves nausea associated with lack of appetite. It stimulates saliva and digestive juices and encourages the appetite. It will also help to process food and relieve indigestion.
Saw Palmetto has a marked effect upon tissue, helping to build strength and body mass quickly. It also stimulates appetite and assists digestion.
Schisandra berries, which in Chinese medicine are considered to taste of all five elemental energies, stimulate the appetite and are a fine tonic herb.
The European digestive herb, Gentian, encourages the release of bile and supports the entire digestive system, especially the liver.
Additionally, adults may take 10 ml (2 tsp) of Slippery Elm powder 3 times daily. Put the powder in a sterilised jar, add 250 ml (1 cup) of water, shake and drink immediately. There is no quicker way to soothe the digestion and build up the body.
Caution: Do not take Gentian if you have a peptic ulcer.
This tincture formula, combined with plenty of exercise, can bring relief from constipation.
Formula: 2 parts Ginger rhizome, 2 parts Rhubarb root (Rumex crispus), 2 parts Barberry root bark, 1 part Cascara bark.
Adults: 5 ml (1 tsp) tincture 1–3 times daily.
Children: Over 16 years, adult dose. Under 16, consult a qualified herbalist.
Ginger eases the pains of colic and relieves any trapped wind, while crucially lending a stimulating and ‘downward movement’ to stubborn faecal matter.
Rhubarb aids digestion and evacuation, while Barberry stimulates the digestive system.
Cascara activates a sluggish bowel, speeding up evacuation.
Caution: Do not take Rhubarb, Cascara and Barberry in pregnancy. Omit Cascara if constipation is mild and do not exceed the stated dose because it can cause dehydration.
How Ginger Works
Ginger's use all over the world for hundreds of years has given us a wealth of understanding about its beneficial properties – knowledge that is now backed by recent research studies.
Scientists have analysed the chemical composition of Ginger and found it contains a wide variety of chemical substances.
The effects of many of Ginger's active constituents are well-known. Cumene, for example, has a narcotic effect and the volatile oil (made up of borneol, cineole, citral, mucilage, phellandrene, resin, starch, zingiberene and zingiberole) stimulates the circulation and causes sweating. The resin contains the important gingerol and shogaol and is known to inhibit the manufacture of prostaglandins (which act as local hormones), thereby warming the body and assisting circulation. Gingerol also helps block the action of the chemical messenger serotonin that makes the stomach contract to cause vomiting, hence providing Ginger's antiemetic action.
The effects of other constituents, however, have yet to be established. For example, Ginger is known to prevent food from oxidising (going brown) so it is possible that it may also act in the body to prevent the oxidation that leads to the development of harmful free radicals. This may help to explain how the intake of Ginger leads to lower cholesterol, since it is known that cholesterol is more easily removed from the body if it has not been oxidised.
The principal actions of Ginger can be traced back to the qualities of its individual chemical constituents.
- Stimulates the body’s systems
- Interferes with the blood clotting mechanism
- Acts as an anti-inflammatory, reducing pain and discomfort
- Is a powerful antiemetic, especially effective for nausea after surgery and motion sickness.
Recent studies and research
Scientific studies into the effects of Ginger include the anti-platelet effects of one of Ginger's main chemical components, gingerol; the antiemetic uses of Ginger post-operatively; and the molluscicidal and antischistosomal activities of Ginger.
Research always stresses that the fresh plant is 6-15 times higher in constituents than the dried plant. Infact research shows that the anti-microbial activity in dried roots is very low compared to the fresh roots. There have been 30 clinical trials with 2,300 people using ginger root. (Studies also show that ginger potentiates the activity of antibiotics).
Gingerol and its related compounds are potent inhibitors of inflammatory responses and using dried root 75% of people with osteoarthritis found relief.
It has recently been shown that Ginger is able to reduce vertigo as well as nausea, while a study at St Bartholomew's Hospital, London, suggested the herb was more useful that conventional antiemetics for nausea after surgery.
In Shandong, China, a paste of raw Ginger and brown sugar cured 70 per cent of a group of 50 patients with bacterial dysentery in under 5 days.
In the future, scientific research may endorse many more medicinal uses for this outstanding herb.
An extreme allergic reaction to a particular substance.
The ability of a substance to destroy or inhibit the growth of bacteria.
A substance that helps to prevent nausea and vomiting.
Substances that prevent oxidation or damage to cells and tissues.
Destructive to schistosomes or blood flukes, a type of parasite.
A complex sequence of biochemical reactions resulting in the clotting of blood.
Inflammation of the skin, often characterised by an itchy rash. Often synonymous with the term 'eczema'.
Method of preparing and preserving herbs in water.
Substance that promotes the elimination of mucus from the respiratory tract.
Condition characterised by inflammation of connective tissue.
Highly reactive particles that damage cell membranes, DNA, and other cellular structures.
A herbal tea used for medicinal purposes. It may be drunk hot or cold.
A condition where the intestinal lining becomes too porous: it is no longer a ‘sealed unit’ and allows toxins to leak into the bloodstream.
Kills molluscs, such as snails and slugs.
A feeling of sickness with an inclination to vomit.
Disk-shaped fragments enclosed in cell membranes that flow through the blood and promote clotting.
A substance that promotes increased activity in a function or system of the body.
A drug (or herb) that interacts with another to produce greater effects than can be produced by each drug on its own.
Plant medicine prepared by soaking herbs in alcohol and water.
A herbal infusion or tea.
A health-promoting substance inducing feelings of vigour.
A treatment that is applied to the surface of the body as opposed to being taken internally.