In the Medicine Cabinet: Ginger Root

| 11/9/2009 9:51:23 AM


Desiree Bell is inspired by botanicals and natural materials. She is a vegetarian who has a certificate in herbal studies and a certificate from Australasian College of Health Sciences in Aromatherapy. When she isn't in her suburban garden, hiking or crafting, she is teaching pre-k with an emphasis on nature and gardening. For more ideas on Simple Living With Nature you can visit her blogs at and

The ginger root (Zingiber officinale) is actually a rhizome. The word ginger is derived from the Sanskrit word for ginger, sringa-vera, meaning “antler shaped.” It has buds on the top of each of its stubby fingers and grows a mass of thin, tangled roots below. The roots are scraped off before the ginger arrives at the market.

Ginger is 80 percent water, 2.3 percent water, 1 percent fat, 2.5 percent fibrous material, 1.2 percent minerals, and vitamins of B and C. Medicinally, it is used for the circulatory and digestive systems, coughs, colds, aches and pains.

There are two groups of compounds in the rhizome. The essential oil is the liquid found in tiny vessels just under the corky skin, which is collected by distillation. The other compound is located in the cells dotted around the fleshy interior of the rhizome in between the starch cells. It is extracted with alcohol or a solvent.

Ginger does best in a hot, moist climate, with a little shade at noon and well-drained soil. It is grown as a crop in countries such as India, Australia, Jamaica, China and Nigeria. Many years ago I read in the book Herbal Treasures (Storey Publishing, LLC, 1990), by Phyllis Shaudys, how to grow a ginger root inside the house using a rhizome from the market.