Characterized by delicate yellow blooms rimmed with purple, ginger not only is a valued culinary seasoning but also is considered in many cultures a remedy for a range of ailments. Discovered by practitioners of traditional Ayurvedic (Hindu) medicine, the ginger root was originally thought of as a digestive aid. Today both Chinese and Western herbalists believe it relieves motion sickness and dizziness and improves digestion. Ginger is also believed to alleviate menstrual cramps. Its active constituents are gingerols, which soothe the abdomen and relieve excess gas.
In China, ginger, called gan-jian, is applied to first- and second-degree burns. It is described in traditional Chinese medicine as acrid and warm.
Over the counter:
Ginger is available as fresh or dried root, liquid extract, tablets, capsules and prepared tea.
Traditional preparation: Fresh ginger roots wrapped in five or six layers of rice paper. Buried under warm coals until the paper is blackened. Rice paper removed before use.
Rub: First- and second-degree burns treated by rubbing fresh ginger juice, extracted from the root, on the wound.
Combinations: For vomiting, mixed with pinellia root; when there is also severe abdominal pain, combined with licorice or galanga. Menstrual irregularity treated with a preparation of ginger and chamomile. For coughing and headaches, mixed with dried bamboo.
Tea: 1 oz. dried ginger root boiled in 1 cup water for 15 to 20 minutes.