The oil from Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is obtained by distillation. It is spicy, warm, very alive with hints of lemon and pepper. It is grown commercially in tropical countries like India, China, Java, the West Indies. Apparently Jamaica ginger has the best aroma of all. Ginger is a perennial herb and the white flowering stems grow straight up rising from an irregularly jointed root. In fact, I have one right in my kitchen with its green shoots growing. It’s an aging ginger and the juice is really potent. It is such a useful herb to have around the house that it’s popularity inched its way to the world of aromatherapy. Ginger plants were carried onto vessels plying the trade route in the Indian Ocean and the South China Seas as far back as the 5th century AD. In the 16th century, ginger was introduced to Africa and the Caribbean and the Spanish introduced it to the West Indies. The Roman empire regarded ginger as an important medicinal herb rather than its role in aromatherapy use. Gingerbread man was said to be invented by Queen Elizabeth 1 of England. Together with cinnamon, ginger was the most sought after spice along the trade routes centuries ago.
The Chinese kitchen will always have a few ginger rhizomes around. They used ginger to restore depleted yang energy, induce sweating so toxins can be eliminated, stimulate and strengthen the stomach. My grandmother used to make soup with just sliced ginger and pig liver. I didn’t like that very much but got the idea of boiling water with slices of ginger from her. Today I drink this ginger tea once a week to expel ‘wind’ from my body. I have something to titillate your taste buds and if you’re up for it, try sprinkling tiny deep fried ginger strips on a scoop of chocolate ice cream. Ooh.. heavenly…
Another personal experience I had with ginger was as a child. I wanted to have my ears pierced. My mother took me to a jewelry shop and the owner rubbed a piece of ginger onto my earlobes for 10 minutes. They were numbed and he shot an inch-long piece of gold rod into each earlobe with a device, bended them to form the earrings. My face twisted with agony in anticipation of pain that was not there ( Do not try this without the supervision of an expert. ) Although I seldom wear earrings, the holes on my ears never closed.
In India, ginger was and still is used to treat colds, dyspepsia, rheumatism, nausea and the ginger paste is applied to the temples to clear headaches.
Chinese and Ayurvedic practitioners have relied on ginger for more than 3000 years. Its anti inflammatory uses are many and it was believed that when used as a carrier oil, ginger enabled other essential oils to be more effective. In Africa, the people used ginger to control malaria and eliminate yellow fever.
The properties of ginger essential oil are found to increase blood circulation, alleviate morning sickness, motion sickness, lower cholesterol and relieve chest congestion. Dilute it in a bath to relieve muscle fatigue and massage a mixture of ginger and another chosen carrier oil on the stomach to remove wind. It’s a remedy for impotence when blended with cinnamon and rosemary.
Ginger is now an ingredient in many types of food, beverage and cuisine worldwide. Ginger ale, ginger candy, ginger tea, ginger cookies to name a few and we continue to benefit from ginger in their many forms- fresh, dried, essential oil, powdered and in some cases it is used as a preservative.
The essential oil of ginger is very strong and do not use it undiluted as it may cause a reaction on sensitive skins. Put a few drops onto an oil burner or a drop on a tissue to inhale the aroma.