BOTANICAL CHARACTERISTICS.—Root-stock biennial, creeping; stem 3 to 4 feet high; leaves linear-lanceolate, smooth. Spikes radical, each flower bracteate; lip 3-lobed; stamens 3, 2 abortive; capsule 3-celled, 3-valved.
HABITAT.—Africa, Hindustan; cultivated in the West Indies and tropics.
DESCRIPTION OF DRUG.—A flattened rhizome, from 25 to 100 Mm. (1 to 4 in.) long, with large club-shaped lobes on one side; deprived of the corky layer by scraping, and bleached, leaving a pale buff-colored, striate surface, sometimes covered with a white powder of calcium carbonate from being steeped in milk of lime; fracture mealy and rather fibrous, showing a whitish interior dotted with numerous small, orange-colored oil and resin-cells. Transverse sections show a parenchymatous meditullium containing scattered resincells and numerous fibrovascular bundles, which latter are less abundant outside of the nuclear sheath. The central cylinder is quite broad as compared with the cortical layer; aromatic and spicy; pungent.
VARIETIES.—The above-described root, Jamaica ginger or white ginger, (deprived of corky layer), is the finest variety, yielding 5 per cent. oleoresin. African ginger is shorter, with broadly linear or oblong lobes, and is not deprived of its light brown, corky layer. Chinese ginger is also a coated rhizome, but has short stumpy lobes. East India ginger is scraped on the flat side, leaving the cork remaining on the edges. It yields 8 per cent. of oleoresin. Green ginger consists of the rhizome sent to market without drying; black ginger, of the rhizome steeped in boiling water before drying, after which it has a black, horny structure. The preserved ginger is an article on the market which consists of soft, yellowish-brown pieces, obtained by steeping the fresh ginger in hot syrup and carefully bottling.
Powder.—Characteristic elements: See Part iv, Chap. I, B.
CONSTITUENTS.—Volatile oil, 1 to 2 per cent. (consisting of camphene and phellandrene), and gingerol, the former probably giving to it its aromatic properties, and a resinous, viscid, inodorous extractive its hot, pungent taste; also resin, starch (20 per cent.), and mucilage. Jamaica ginger yields about 5 per cent. of oleoresin, the East India ginger about 8 per cent. Ash, not exceeding 8 per cent.
ACTION AND USES.—Stimulant, carminatives and stomachic, often used as an adjuvant to bitter, tonic preparations. When chewed it stimulates the secretion of the saliva and if snuffed into the nostrils in powder it occasions sneezing. It relieves abdominal cramp due to flatus and is useful to diarrhea mixtures, bitter tonics, and to preparations given to correct indigestion. As a rubifacient it is made into a cataplasm either alone or in combination with other species for the relief of colic, headache, myalgia, neuralgia, etc. Dose: 8 to 30 gr. (0.5 to 2 Gm.).
- OFFICIAL PREPARATIONS.
- Tinctura Zingiberis (20 per cent.), . . . Dose: 15 to 60 ♏ (1 to 4 mils).
- Fluidextractum Zingiberis, . . . 8 to 30 ♏ (0.5 to 2 mils).
- Fluidextractum Aromaticum, . . . 8 to 30 ♏ (0.5 to 2 mils).
- Syrupus Zingiberis (3 per cent.), . . . 2 to 6 fl. dr. (8 to 24 mils).
- Pulvis Aromaticum (35 per cent.), . . . 10 to 30 gr. (0.6 to 2 Gm.).
- Pulvis Rhei Compositus (10 per cent. of ginger), . . . 1 to 3 dr. (4 to 12 Gm.)
- Oleoresina Zingiberis, . . . ½ to 2 ♏ (0.0324 to 0.13 mil).