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Zingiber officinale


Zingiber officinale  

[span class=alert]In regards to the Traditional Use and Therapeutic Action sections of Essential Oils, the oils are rated as is standard practice in the French school of aromatherapy and others. The ratings ranked from one (+) to four (++++) with four indicating the highest value, indicate the oil’s therapeutic value from a practicing clinician’s point of view. The French rating system mentioned are obtained from this book reference entitle ‘Les Cahiers Pratiques D'Aromatherapie Selon L'Ecole Francaise’ (Authors: Francine Baudry, Pascal Debauche & Dominique Baudoux). However, further clarification might be required and will be updated once additional information of the rating system is obtained.[/span]

Family Name


Genus Name


Vernacular Name

Ginger, common ginger, chinese ginger, nagara

Original Habitat

The history of Z. officinale, or Ginger, dates back 5,000 years to Southeast Asia where it was used as a general health tonic. Since that time it has been cultivated globally in tropical regions. The plant requires tropical conditions for growth.

Plant Part Used

Rhizome is scraped and dried, then powdered. In some cases the green rhizome may be used.


The essential oil of Z. officinale is used as a flavouring agent in all types of foods and beverages.[1] In the fragrance industry it is found in oriental and floral perfumes and as a fragrancing agent in body care products.[2] In therapeutic Aromatherapy, it is used equally as a single oil and in targeted formulations.


The volatile oil of Ginger is obtained by steam-distillation of the pulverised dried rhizome and is pale yellow to dark amber-brown in colour. This thin oil will become thicker and darker as it oxidises. It has a characteristic spicy, woody, deep aroma that has a slight citrus note.

Z. officinale is one of over 1000 species of the Zingiberaceae family. Ginger is an herbaceous perennial plant that grows up to one metre in height with spreading rhizomes which are used for food and medicinal purposes. In the flowering phase, it produces clusters of white and pink flowers. As the plant matures, the groups of shoots begin to dry out and the tips of the leaves and flowers will turn black.

Chemical Constituents

Camphene [1][3]

Medicinal Uses

Analgesic (topically)++

Antifungal: Ginger essential has exhibited different strengths of antifungal activity against different species. Antifungal activity was shown to be 100% against Fusarium oxysporum.[3] However, only moderate antifungal action was seen when tested against fluconazole-susceptible yeasts.[4] When tested against food born pathogens, ginger oil illustrated marginal activity, inhibiting growth between 800 and 1200 ppm (parts per million).[5] A 100% inhibition rate was seen against Fusarium moniliforme.[6]

Antimicrobial: When tested among two other Zingiberaceae, it was found that the essential of Z. officinale showed antimicrobial action against fungi, gram positive and negative bacteria, and yeasts.[7] This activity has been supported by other studies as well.[8]

Antioxidant: In a multi-test analysis, ginger essential oil was found to be a stronger antioxidant that butylated hydroxyanisole (BHT), which is an antioxidant commonly used in foods.[6]

Immune Function: As demonstrated in vitro, it was shown that ginger essential oil could modulate immune function by inhibiting T-lymphocyte proliferation and in vivo by way of delaying the sensitivity to immune-sensitised mice. In turn, this could be beneficial in autoimmune diseases.[9]

Traditional Use

Nausea and Vomiting++++
Digestive aid++++
Muscle aches & pains++

Knee Pain: A small study used aromatic essential oil massage among elderly patients with moderate to severe knee pain. The aromatherapy oil contained 1% ginger oil and 5% sweet orange oil while the placebo oil only contained olive oil. After 3 weeks of massage, it was found that both groups had a decrease in stiffness and pain intensity. However, at the one week mark the aromatherapy group had less pain and improved physical function that was not seen in the placebo group.[10]

Nausea: There are numerous clinical studies on the use of ginger as a treatment for general nausea and pregnancy related nausea. While these studies are not on the essential oil specifically, they are reported here due to their relevance to the traditional use of the oil.

Several studies have been published which support ginger’s antiemetic activity compared to drug or placebo therapy.[11][12][13][14] Ginger may also be of value in the treatment of hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition in morning sickness where severe dehydration and electrolyte disturbances may occur through excessive vomiting.[15] In addition, two double-blind, controlled clinical studies reported that the use of ginger for treatment of nausea in pregnancy was found to decrease the number of events as well as lessening the severity of nausea.[16][17] A randomized, controlled equivalence trial found that women using ginger in early pregnancy will reduce their symptoms.[18] The effectiveness of ginger root pre-surgically as an antiemetic agent was comparable with metoclopramide in a double-blind, placebo controlled study.[19] Ginger root preparations may be useful in controlling nausea and vomiting after surgery with general anesthesia and in outpatient surgery.[20][21]

Contraindications and Precautions

Ginger oil is generally considered safe when used as directed.

Ginger essential oil should be used with caution in those with skin sensitivities.

Based on pharmacology, constituents in Z. officinale rhizome may inhibit platelet aggregation which may alter the effects of medications used for this purpose.[22][23]

Based on pharmacology of ginger products, caution should be used in patients with bleeding disorders.[24]

Some instances of gastric upset have been reported.[25]

Not to be used by pregnant or nursing women.


[span class=alert]Keep out of reach of children as oils are highly concentrated.Essential oils are irritating to the eyes.  Avoid contact with eye area.Always dilute essential oils with carrier oil, lotion, cream or gel even when using in diffuser or bath.Essential oils are sometimes prescribed to be used internally, but should only be used internally under professional supervision.[/span]

Read More

  1) Cultivation

  2) Medicinal Herbs

  3) South Africa Herbs

  4) Ayuverda



1.     Wohlmuth H. Essential oil composition of diploid and tetraploid clones of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe) grown in Australia. J Agric Food Chem. 22 Feb 2006;54(4):1414-1419.

2.     Lis-Balchin M., Aronatherapy Science. Great Britain: Pharmaceutical Press; 2006.

3.     Singh G. Studies on essential oils, Part 42: chemical, antifungal, antioxidant and sprout suppressant studies on ginger essential oil and its oleoresin. Flav Frag J. 2004;20(1):1-6.

4.     Pozzatti P. In vitro activity of essential oils extracted from plants used as spices against fluconazole-resistant and fluconazole-susceptible Candida spp. Can J Microbiol. Nov 2008;54(11):950-956.

5.     Nguefack J. Evaluation of five essential oils from aromatic plants of Cameroon for controlling food spoilage and mycotoxin producing fungi. Int J Food Microbiol. 1 Aug 2004;94(3):329-334.

6.     Singh G. Chemistry, antioxidant and antimicrobial investigations on essential oil and oleoresins of Zingiber officinale. Food Chem Toxicol. Oct 2008;46(10):3295-3302.

7.     Martins AP. Essential oil composition and antimicrobial activity of three Zingiberaceae from S.Tomé e Príncipe. Planta Med. Aug 2001;67(6):580-584.

8.     Thongson C. Antimicrobial activity of ultrasound-assisted solvent-extracted spices. Lett Appl Microbiol. 2004;39(5):401-406.

9.     Zhou HL. The modulatory effects of the volatile oil of ginger on the cellular immune response in vitro and in vivo in mice. J Ethnopharmacol. 21 Apr 2006;105(1-2):301-305.

10.  Yip YB. An experimental study on the effectiveness of massage with aromatic ginger and orange essential oil for moderate-to-severe knee pain among the elderly in Hong Kong. Complement Ther Med. Jun 2008;16(3):131-138.

11.  Mowry DB, et al. Motion Sickness, Ginger, and Psychophysics. Lancet. 1982;1(8273):655-667.

12.  Grontved A, et al. Ginger Root Against Seasickness. A Controlled Trial on the Open Sea. Acta Otolaryngol. 1988;105:45-49.

13.  Qian DS, et al. Pharmacologic Studies of Antimotion Sickness Actions of Ginger. Chung Kuo Chung Hsi I Chieh Ho Tsa Chih. 1992;12(2):95-98.

14.  Stewart JJ, et al. Effects of Ginger on Motion Sickness Susceptibility and Gastric Function. Pharmacology. 1991;42(2):111-120.

15.  Fischer-Rasmussen W, et al. Ginger Treatment of Hyperemesis Gravidarum. Eur J Obstet Gynecol Reprod Biol. 1991;38(1):19-24.

16.  Vutyavanich T, Kraisarin T, Ruangsri R. Ginger for nausea and vomiting in pregnancy: randomized, double-masked, placebo-controlled trial. Obstet Gynecol. Apr 2001;97(4):577-582.

17.  Sripramote M, Lekhyananda N. A randomized comparison of ginger and vitamin B6 in the treatment of nausea and vomiting of pregnancy. J Med Assoc Thai. Sep 2003;86(9):846-853.

18.  Smith C, Crowther C, Willson K, Hotham N, McMillian V. A randomized controlled trial of ginger to treat nausea and vomiting in pregnancy. Obstet Gynecol. Apr 2004;103(4):639-645.

19.  Bone ME, et al. Ginger Root--A New Antiemetic. The Effect of Ginger Root on Postoperative Nausea and Vomiting After Major Gynaecological Surgery. Anaesthesia. Aug 1990;45(8):669-671.

20.  Phillips S, et al. Zingiber officinale (Ginger)--An Antiemetic for Day Case Surgery. Anaesthesia. Aug 1993;48(8):715-717.

21.  Pongrojpaw D, Chiamchanya C. The efficacy of ginger in prevention of post-operative nausea and vomiting after outpatient gynecological laparoscopy. J Med Assoc Thai. Mar 2003;86(3):244-250.

22.  Suekawa M, et al. Pharmacological Studies on Ginger, I. Pharmacological Actions of Pungent Constitutents, (6)-gingerol and (6)-shogaol. J Pharmacobiodyn. 1984;7(11):836-848.

23.  Antiplatelet Effect of Gingerol Isolated from Zingiber officinale. J Pharm Pharmacol. 1995;47(4):329-332.

24.  Heck AM, et al. Potential interactions between alternative therapies and warfarin. Am J Health Syst Pharm. Jul 2000;57(13):1221-1227.

25.  Desai HG, Kalro RH, Choksi AP. Effect of ginger and garlic on DNA content of gastric aspirate. Ind J Med Res. Apr 1990;92:139-141.

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