Note on Essence from Green Ginger.

Botanical name: 

(Read at an Evening Meeting of the Pharmaceutical Society, April 4, 1883.)


The increased use of ginger by manufacturers of mineral waters and others, of late years, has created a demand for a "soluble essence," i.e., an essence which, when mixed with water, causes little or no opacity therein.

Dr. Thresh's scientific investigation of the constituents of this rhizome, particularly of the nature of its resinous constituents, added considerably to our knowledge of its composition. But strange to say, the process devised by him (See "Amer. Jour. Phar.," 1878, p. 494.) on the basis of this investigation, for the preparation of a soluble essence did not give (to my mind) very satisfactory results. Indeed, Dr. Thresh has since testified to the superiority of an essence produced by another maker.

It would seem, therefore, that the field is still open for the application either of science, or the results of experience. The contribution I have to offer this evening is a simple, short, and practical one. Many, indeed most, drugs deteriorate by age, whilst some few, such as Rhamnus Frangula, bark, are said to improve as they grow older, at least to a certain point. Now, it occurred to me, that the nature and properties of ginger, and its behavior towards certain solvents of its active constituents, may not be constant at all periods, and the receipt from Rio Janeiro of a supply of green ginger grown at Santa Catharina, enabled me to make an experiment in this direction. The ginger, of which I have here a sample, occurs in large pieces; it is quite soft, and is not decorticated. Two methods were tried for removing the outer portion; the one simple scraping, the other by first soaking in boiling water. The latter did not appear to possess any special advantage, and by the former it lost fully 15 per cent. of its weight. After a few hours' exposure to the air it was weighed, thoroughly dried and reweighed, when it was found to have lost 65 per cent. of moisture.

Taking a sample of the ginger from which the epidermis had been removed, and which had been surface-dried by exposure for a few hours to the air, I cut it in thin slices, and macerated it for some days, with an equal weight of rectified spirit, which, when filtered, yielded an essence possessing a very fine aroma, and which when mixed with water scarcely rendered it turbid in the least degree. It is fairly strong, and could doubtless be prepared stronger were the drying of the ginger carried a little further. Probably, however, its solubility would diminish if the drying were completed, and of course the result would cease to be essence of green ginger.—Phar. Jour. and Trans., April 7, 1883.

The American Journal of Pharmacy, Vol. 55, 1883, was edited by John M. Maisch.