Fresh ginger (Shēng Jiāng) in Chinese medicine

Fresh ginger

Chinese: 生姜

Pinyin: Shēng Jiāng

Parts used: Fresh root

TCM category: Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior

TCM nature: Warm

TCM taste(s): Pungent

Meridian affinity: SpleenStomachLung

Scientific name: Zingiber officinale

Use of fresh ginger (Shēng Jiāng) 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 practitionner, they will be best able to guide you.

Preparation: Wash and use fresh

Dosage: 3 - 9 grams

Main actions according to TCM*: Relieves the Exterior and disperses Cold. Warms and circulates Qi in the Middle Burner. Calms a restless fetus and treats morning sickness. Treats seafood poisoning.

Primary conditions or symptoms for which fresh ginger may be prescribed by TCM doctors*: Common cold Nasal congestion Coughing Food poisoning from seafood Loss of appetite Morning sickness Vomiting Phlegm

Contraindications*: Do not use for symptoms of Exterior Deficiency with sweating or for Damp Heat conditions. May enhance risk of bleeding when ginger is used together with the blood thinning drug Warfarin

Common TCM formulas in which fresh ginger are used*:

Key TCM concepts behind fresh ginger's properties

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), fresh ginger are plants that belong to the 'Warm/Acrid herbs that release the Exterior' category. Herbs that release the Exterior aim to to treat the early stages of diseases that affect the upper respiratory tract, the eyes, the ears, the nose, the throat or the skin. TCM believes that External diseases such as colds or allergies can only invade the body if the External environment overwhelms our Wei Qi (the TCM version of the immune system). In order to counteract this invasion Warm/Acrid herbs aim to induce sweating by increasing the flow of sweat to our capillary pores. The belief is that this will expel the disease from the body and stop it from invading further.

As suggested by its category fresh ginger are plants that are Warm in nature. This means that fresh ginger tend to help people who have too much "cold" in their body, although with less effect than a plant that would be Hot in nature. 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 fresh ginger can help restore a harmonious balance between Yin and Yang.

Fresh ginger also taste Pungent. The so-called "five elements" theory in Chinese Medicine states that the taste of TCM ingredients is a key determinant of their action in the body. Pungent ingredients like fresh 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 fresh ginger are thought to target the Spleen, the Stomach and the Lung. In TCM the Spleen assists with digestion, blood coagulation and fluid metabolism in the body. The Stomach on the other hand 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 performing respiration, the Lungs are thought to be a key part of the production chain for Qi and the body fluids that nourish the body.

Research on fresh ginger

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 fresh ginger as food

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