Dried ginger (Gan Jiang) in Chinese Medicine

Dried ginger

Chinese: 干姜

Pinyin: Gān Jiāng

Parts used: Dried rhizome

TCM category: Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold

TCM nature: Hot

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Organ affinity: Stomach Heart Kidney Lung

Scientific name: Zingiber officinale

Use of dried ginger (Gan Jiang) in TCM

Please note that you should never self-prescribe TCM ingredients. A TCM ingredient is almost never eaten on its own but as part of a formula containing several ingredients that act together. Please consult a professional TCM practitioner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Remove impurities, wash and soak in water to moisten, cut in thick pieces and dry

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Warms the Spleen and expels Cold. Restores collapse of Yang and expels Interior Cold. Warms the Lungs and assists expectoration of Cold Phlegm. Stops chronic bleeding caused by Cold.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which dried ginger may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Abdominal pain Phlegm Vomiting Dyspnea Coughing Diarrhea Asthma Abnormal uterine bleeding

Contraindications*: This herb should not be used by those with Yin Deficiency and Heat signs or bleeding associated with Hot Blood. This herb should be used with extreme caution during pregnancy. May enhance risk of bleeding when ginger is used together with the blood thinning drug Warfarin

Common TCM formulas in which dried ginger (Gan Jiang) are used*

Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 5 herbs

Formula key actions: Warms the Lungs. Transforms congested Fluids.

Conditions targeted*: Chronic bronchitisChronic asthma and others

Gan Jiang is a king ingredient in Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang. Like the name indicates, it means it has more power than other ingredients in the formula.

In Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang, Gan Jiang warms the Lungs, disperses Cold, and transforms thin mucus. It also warms the Spleen Yang to eliminate Dampness.

Read more about Ling Gan Wu Wei Jiang Xin Tang

Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 7 herbs

Formula key actions: Reverses the flow of Rebellious Stomach Qi. Relieves both Heat and Cold Stagnation in the gastrointestinal tract.

Conditions targeted*: Peptic ulcersGastroesophageal reflux disease and others

Gan Jiang is a deputy ingredient in Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang, Gan Jiang enters the Spleen and Stomach to assist in the transformation of thin mucus while restoring Yang Qi to the Middle Burner.

Read more about Ban Xia Xie Xin Tang

Xiao Qing Long Tang

Source date: 220 AD

Number of ingredients: 8 herbs

Formula key actions: Releases the Exterior. Transforms Phlegm-Fluids. Warms the Lungs. Directs Rebellious Qi downward.

Conditions targeted*: Upper respiratory tract infectionsBronchitis and others

Gan Jiang is a deputy ingredient in Xiao Qing Long Tang. This means it helps the king ingredient(s) treat the main pattern or it serves to treat a coexisting pattern.

In Xiao Qing Long Tang, Gan Jiang works together with Wild ginger (Xi Xin), the other deputy herb in this formula, to warm the Interior, transform Phlegm-Fluids, and help the key herbs (Ephedra and Cinnamon twigs) release the Exterior.

It is particularly effective at warming the Spleen, the deficiency of which is the primary cause of the Phlegm-Fluids.

Wild ginger also stops the coughing by facilitating the flow of Qi throughout the body.

Read more about Xiao Qing Long Tang

Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Source date: 1830 AD

Number of ingredients: 10 herbs

Formula key actions: Expels Cold and warm the menstruation Blood. Stops pain. Invigorates Blood. Dispels Blood stagnation.

In Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang, Gan Jiang warms the Uterus and expels Cold

Read more about Shao Fu Zhu Yu Tang

Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang

Source date: 1826 AD

Number of ingredients: 6 herbs

Formula key actions: Tonifies Qi and Yang.

In Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang, Gan Jiang warms the Channels and stops bleeding. 

Read more about Gu Ben Zhi Beng Tang

Key TCM concepts behind dried ginger (Gan Jiang)'s properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), dried ginger are plants that belong to the 'Herbs that warm the Interior and/or expel Cold' category. Herbs in this category are used for Internal Cold with Qi Deficiency and/or Yang Deficiency. In the Yin and Yang system of thought Yang is Hot in nature. A deficiency of Yang will therefore lead to Internal Coldness since there will as a result be more Yin (Cold in nature) than Yang. In extreme cases this can lead to so-called 'Yang collapse' with convulsions or coma and these herbs are particularly indicated to treat such scenarios.

As suggested by its category dried ginger are plants that are Hot in nature. This means that dried ginger typically help people who have too much "Cold" in their body. Balance between Yin and Yang is a key health concept in TCM. Those who have too much 'Cold' in their body are said to either have a Yin Excess(because Yin is Cold in nature) or a Yang Deficiency (Yang is Hot in Nature). Depending on your condition dried ginger can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Dried ginger also taste Pungent. The so-called 'Five Phases' theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like dried ginger tend to promote the circulations of Qi and Body Fluids. That's why for instance someone tends to sweat a lot when they eat spicy/pungent food.

The tastes of ingredients in TCM also determine what Organs and Meridians they target. As such dried ginger are thought to target the Stomach, the Heart, the Kidney and the Lung. In TCM the Stomach is responsible for receiving and ripening ingested food and fluids. It is also tasked with descending the digested elements downwards to the Small Intestine. In addition to regulating Blood flow, the Heart is believed to be the store of the 'Mind' which basically refers to someone's vitality. The Kidneys do not only regulate the urinary system but also play a key role in the reproductive system and the growth and aging process of the body. In addition to performing respiration, the Lungs are thought in TCM to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the Body Fluids that nourish the body.

Research on dried ginger (Gan Jiang)

3 months supplementation of ginger improved glycemic indices and total antioxidant capacity in patients with type 2 diabetes.1

Treatment of primary dysmenorrhea in students with ginger for 5 days had a statistically significant effect on relieving intensity and duration of pain.2

Ginger powder has add-on effect on reducing the symptoms of osteoarthritis of knee with acceptable safety profile.3

Ginger supplementation at a daily dose of 0.5 g-1.0 g significantly aids in reduction of the severity of acute chemotherapy-induced nausea in adult cancer patients.4

Ginger can be considered as a useful treatment option for women suffering from morning sickness.5

Sources:

1. Shidfar F, Rajab A, Rahideh T, Khandouzi N, Hosseini S, Shidfar S. ( 2015). The effect of ginger (Zingiber officinale) on glycemic markers in patients with type 2 diabetes. J Complement Integr Med. , 12(2):165-70. doi: 10.1515/jcim-2014-0021.

2. Rahnama P, Montazeri A, Huseini HF, Kianbakht S, Naseri M. ( 2012 ). Effect of Zingiber officinale R. rhizomes (ginger) on pain relief in primary dysmenorrhea: a placebo randomized trial. BMC Complement Altern Med. , 12:92. doi: 10.1186/1472-6882-12-92.

3. Paramdeep G. (2013). Efficacy and tolerability of ginger (Zingiber officinale) in patients of osteoarthritis of knee. Indian J Physiol Pharmacol. , 57(2):177-83.

4. Ryan JL, Heckler CE, Roscoe JA, Dakhil SR, Kirshner J, Flynn PJ, Hickok JT, Morrow GR. (2012). Ginger (Zingiber officinale) reduces acute chemotherapy-induced nausea: a URCC CCOP study of 576 patients. Support Care Cancer. , 20(7):1479-89. doi: 10.1007/s00520-011-1236-3. Epub 2011 Aug 5.

5. Willetts KE, Ekangaki A, Eden JA. (2003). Effect of a ginger extract on pregnancy-induced nausea: a randomised controlled trial. Aust N Z J Obstet Gynaecol. 43(2):139-44.

Use of dried ginger (Gan Jiang) as food

Dried ginger are also eaten as food. It is used as an ingredient in dishes such as Candied ginger or Gingerbread.