Dried ginger root, also known as Gan Jiang in Pinyin, has long been hailed as an important tonic for sexual potency, as evidenced by the China’s old saying “man just can’t live for 100 days straight without ginger.” In addition, it is good at inducing heat to expel pathogenic cold, increasing appetite and alleviating symptoms of a cold, which was discovered and used for reducing nausea, slowing gastrointestinal motility and contraction, and helping digestion by the ancients in China, India and other Asian countries. So, do you know how to use ginger root and how to cook with ginger root medicinally for the best health benefits? If you have no idea, this article could be of a great help.
What is dried ginger root?
Just as its name implies, it comes from fresh ginger root by drying. To be specific, medicinally it refers to the dried rhizomes of Zingiber officinale Rosc., a plant in Zingiberaceae family. And its other common names are Rhizoma Zingiberis, Ginger rhizome, Rhizoma Zingiberis Officinalis, Zingiber officinale, and so on. In China, it is basically cultivated and produced in Sichuan, Guangdong, Guangxi, Hunan, Hubei and other provinces. After harvested in winter, they are washed clean, sliced into pieces, dried in the sun or dried beside or over a fire. And typically it is used raw.
It is a flat block, 3 to 7cm long, 1 to 2cm wide, and with finger-like branches. Surface is greyish yellow or light gray brown, rough, and with longitudinal wrinkles and obvious segments. Branch points are often with remnants of scale leaves and branch top comes with stem scar and buds. It is solid in quality, powdery or graininess, and with yellow-white or gray cross section. Endodermis has obvious rings, vascular, and scattered yellow oil spots. It has peculiar scented odor and spicy flavor.
Main chemical constituents are 2% volatile oil, resin, starch, and amino acids. And the main ingredients of its volatile oil are zingiberene, phellandrene, camphene, shogaol, gingerol, zingiberone, borneol, zingiberol, citral, and so on.
Dry ginger root benefits
As mentioned above, medicinally there are two types of ginger roots – dried and fresh ginger. Though they are almost the same thing, they can’t be mixed in TCM practice. Generally speaking dried one is made of mother ginger, which means it has sprouted twice and grown for three years. In comparison, the fresh one refers to the daughter ginger, namely the one that has grown for only one year. What difference do they make? So to speak, the fresh version is like a fire, meanwhile, the dry version is a charcoal, which allows heating slowly and prevents water loss too fast. And its modern pharmacology can reveal some fact of its working mechanism.
Modern pharmacological actions of ginger herb
1. Ginger extract by methanol or ether can calm the nerves, ease pain, prevent inflammation, arrest vomiting and temporarily elevate blood pressure;
2. Its water extract or volatile oil can significantly prolong the experimental thrombus formation time in rats;
3. Its alcohol extract and gingerol and shogaol contained have significant molluscicidal and anti-schistosome effect;
4. Its alcohol extract can significantly increase the amount of bile secretion in rat, and this effect can maintain for up to 3 to 4 hours.
Proven dried ginger herbal remedies
Thanks to its high nutrition and medicinal value, this herb has been made into ginger root tea, powder or ground ginger, dehydrated ginger, dried crystallized ginger, candy, extract, crystallized ginger, tablets, juice, and more. Anyway, to make full use its health benefits while avoiding the possible side effects, following some proven rules and recipes would be highly recommended.
Traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) believes that this herb is acrid in flavor and hot in properties and covers meridians of spleen, stomach, heart, and lung. Vital functions are warming spleen and stomach for dispelling cold, restoring yang and promoting coronary circulation, and warming the lung to resolve retained fluid. Main ginger root uses and indications include abdominal cold pain, vomiting, diarrhea, cold limbs due to yang depletion, cold retained fluid induced dyspnea with cough, Bi syndrome induced by wind, cold and dampness, and more. Recommended dosage is from 3 to 10 grams in decoction, powder, or tea pills.
1. Gan Jiang Ling Zhu Tang. This formula comes from Jin Gui Yao Lue (Essential Prescriptions of the Golden Coffer). It is mainly designed for cold-dampness lumbago. Other herbal ingredients in this formula include Gan Cao (Licorice Root), Bai Zhu (White Atractylodes Rhizome), and Fu Ling (Poria).
2. Gan Cao Gan Jiang Tang. This formula is from Shang Han Lun (On Cold Damage). It is primarily formulated for impairment of yang because of therapeutic error, which is manifested as cold limbs, irritability, vomiting and others. The other herb is Licorice Root,
3. Gan Jiang Fu Zi Tang. This prescription comes from On Cold Damage. It is usually used for yang depletion induced shock and collapse. The other ingredient in this prescription is Fu Zi (Prepared Aconite Root)
4. Li Zhong Wan. Li Zhong Wan comes from On Cold Damage. It is an important formula for deficiency-cold in spleen and stomach and abdominal cold pain. Other major herbs include Ren Shen (Ginseng), Licorice, and White Atractylodes Rhizome.
5. Si Ni Tang. Si Ni Tang is from Shang Han Lun. It is basically used for cold limbs due to yang depletion and feeble and impalpable pulse. Other two herbs include Licorice and Prepared Aconite Root.
Potential ginger root side effects and contraindications
Dried ginger root comes with pretty weak toxicity. The median lethal dose of its infusion in mice by intragastric administration is 33.5g/kg (equivalent crude drugs) and that of its decoction is up to 250g/kg. TCM believes that it shouldn’t be used in cases of internal heat due to yin deficiency and blood-heat bleeding. And use it with care during pregnancy.