Zingiber. U. S., Br. Ginger.


Related entries: Curcuma - Zerumbet - Zedoary

"The dried rhizomes of Zingiber officinale Roscoe (Fam. Zingiberaceae), the outer cortical layers of which are often either partially or completely removed. Preserve it in tightly-closed containers, adding a few drops of chloroform or carbon tetrachloride, from time to time, to prevent attack by insects." U. S. "Ginger is the scraped and dried rhizome of Zingiber officinale, Roscoe." Br.

Gingembre (gris et blanc), Fr. Cod.; Rhizoma Zingiberis, P. G:; Ingwer, G.; Zenzero, It.; Jengibre (Rizoma de), Sp.

There are about twenty species of the genus Zingiber, the commercial ginger being obtained from Zingiber officinale. According to Watt, this species is probably a native of tropical Asia, but is not known except in the cultivated state. It is now extensively cultivated in the tropical countries of both the Eastern and Western Hemispheres.

The ginger plant, Zingiber officinale, has a biennial or perennial, creeping rhizome, and an annual stem, which rises two or three feet in height, is solid, cylindrical, erect, and enclosed in an imbricated membranous sheathing. The leaves are lanceolate, acute, smooth, five or six inches long by about an inch in breadth, and stand alternately on the sheaths of the stem. The flower-stalk rises by the side of the stem from six inches to a foot, and, like it, is clothed with oval acuminate sheaths; but it is without leaves, and terminates in an oval, obtuse, bracteal, imbricated spike. The flowers are of a dingy yellow color, and appear two or three at a time between the bracteal scales. The flowers have an aromatic odor, and the stems when bruised are slightly fragrant; but it is in the rhizome that the virtues of the plant reside. This is fit to be dug up when a year old. The rhizome of the ginger is lifted from the soil by a single thrust of the fork at the time when the stems of the plant turn white, before the rhizome has begun to get tough and fibrous. The root is scalded in boiling water and rapidly dried, when it constitutes the black or ordinary ginger of commerce.

In Jamaica the so-called white or Jamaica ginger is produced by carefully peeling the fresh rhizomes so that only the epidermis is removed, the cells immediately beneath the epidermis being the richest in volatile oil and resin. The peeled pieces are macerated sometimes in water and sometimes in lime juice, and not rarely the color of the ginger is improved by finally coating it with chalk. (See Kilmer, A. J. P., 1898, p. 65; Harris, P. J., 1909, xxix, p. 379.) An inferior white ginger is also produced in the East Indies. The thoroughness of desiccation is a matter of commercial importance. The moisture in ginger should not exceed 10 per cent., but in the poorer specimens may constitute one-fourth of the whole weight. In China the fresh ginger is rasped into a powder and as such dried. Formerly East Indian ginger was imported into the United States from Calcutta, while the Jamaica or West Indian ginger came usually through London. At present the cultivation of ginger is spread almost over the whole sub-tropical world, and the drug. is produced in St. Lucia, Dominica and Africa, Cochin-China, Japan, etc. The world's production of ginger is estimated to be annually over 20,000,000 pounds. Of this nearly 4,000,000 pounds is annually exported from Jamaica, the United States using about 1,500,000 pounds. (C. D., lxxvii, p. 489; Cons. and Tr. Rep., 1910, p. 1085.)

In Martinique a ginger is said to be obtained by the cultivation of Zingiber Zerumbet Rosc. The ginger of Siam is said to be produced by Alpinia Galanga, and is the same drug, therefore, as the Greater or Java Galanga Root. The large, ordinary, preserved ginger of China is, according to C. Ford (Kew Bulletin, 1891) also the product of A. Galanga. It is made by boiling young, tender, carefully selected and decorticated rhizomes in syrup. Preserved ginger from the West Indies is made from the official plant. According to Hartwich and Swanlund, the rhizome of the Zingiber Mioga, which is cultivated in China and Japan, has a taste less pungent than that of the official ginger, and distinctly recalling bergamot. In commerce the varieties of ginger are known by the place of their production. African and Cochin ginger on an average yield more resin and volatile oil than do the older varieties.

The recent root is from one to four inches long, somewhat flattened on its upper and under surface, knotty, obtusely and irregularly branched or lobed, externally of a light ash color with circular rugae, internally yellowish-white and fleshy. It sometimes begins to grow when kept in a damp atmosphere. The common or black ginger is of the same general shape, but has a dark ash-colored wrinkled epidermis, which, being removed in some places, exhibits patches of an almost black color, apparently the result of exposure. Beneath the epidermis is a brownish, resinous, almost horny cortical portion. The interior parenchyma is whitish, the cells being filled with starch. The powder is of a light yellowish-brown color. This variety is most extensively used. The Jamaica or white ginger is white or yellowish-white on the outside. The pieces are rounder and thinner, and afford when pulverized a beautiful yellowish-white powder.

The uncoated ginger of the East Indies resembles the Jamaica, but is darker, being gray rather than white. As the Jamaica commands a much higher price than even the uncoated East India production, the latter is occasionally altered to simulate the former. This is sometimes done by coating the exterior with calcium sulphate or carbonate, sometimes by bleaching with the fumes of burning sulphur or in other ways, by which not only the exterior but also the internal parts are rendered whiter than in the unprepared root. Powdered ginger which has been exhausted in the preparation of essence, technically known as "spent ginger," is used to a large extent in the adulteration of powdered ginger. Its detection without assay of some sort is almost impossible, unless so much is present as to sensibly alter the taste of the powder. Alien and Moor rely upon the proportion of cold water extract yielded and the soluble ash. Dyer and Gilbard state that the fixed ethereal extract is of little value, on account of its variability in genuine ginger, but that the extract obtained by alcohol after ether affords a valuable criterion. In genuine ginger the average yield is 2.9 per cent. while in spent ginger it is 1.2 per cent. They also affirm that in genuine ginger the ash produced is 2.7 per cent., in the exhausted ginger it is 0.3 per cent. A. Russell Bennett concludes that spent ginger can be detected by noting the alcoholic and cold water extracts and the soluble ash, affirming that ginger should yield not less than 5 per cent. of extract with 90 per cent. alcohol, 8.5 per cent. of cold water extract and 1.5 per cent. of soluble ash.

Commercial gingers are known as "scraped," "decorticated," and "coated." The "scraped" gingers are those from which the cortex has been removed in whole or in part by peeling, as seen in the Jamaica, Cochin and Japan varieties. In the "coated" gingers a portion of the outer natural layers are retained as in the African, Calcutta and Calicut varieties. "Bleached" and "unbleached" gingers are also distinguished, the former being lighter in color due to careful washing or special treatment. All of the above varieties mentioned are recognized in the U. S. Pharmacopoeia IX, and are described as follows:

"Jamaica Ginger.—Rhizomes free from the outer corky layers, in horizontal, laterally compressed, irregularly branched pieces, from 4 to 16 cm. in length; and from 4 to 20 mm. in thickness; externally light brown, longitudinally striate, ends of the branches with depressed stem-sears; fracture short-fibrous, mealy and resinous; internally yellowish to light brown, cortex thin, endodermis a thin yellow layer enclosing a large central cylinder with numerous groups of fibro-vascular bundles and yellowish oil cells; odor agreeably aromatic; taste aromatic and pungent.

"African Ginger.—Rhizomes with cork partly removed on the flattened sides, the patches without cork smooth and of a light brown color, the portions with cork longitudinally or reticulately wrinkled and grayish-brown; fracture short or short-fibrous, internally lemon-yellow or dark bluish with yellowish oil-secretion cells and light yellow to reddish-brown resin cells; odor strongly aromatic; taste intensely pungent.

"Calcutta Ginger.—Rhizomes resembling the African Ginger, the branches or 'fingers' being somewhat larger, and with a considerable proportion of shriveled pieces, externally grayish-brown or grayish-blue; fracture short and mealy, or horny; internally light yellow or light brownish-yellow with numerous yellowish oil cells and yellowish-brown resin cells; odor aromatic; taste starchy and strongly pungent.

"Calicut Ginger.—Rhizomes resembling African Ginger, more of the periderm being usually removed; externally more or less uniformly light brown; fracture short or short-fibrous, and mealy; internally light-yellow or brownish-yellow with numerous yellowish oil and resin cells; odor. aromatic; taste very pungent.

"Cochin Ginger.—Rhizomes with most of the corky layer removed on the flattened sides; externally light brown to grayish-yellow, fracture short and mealy; internally yellowish-white with numerous yellowish oil cells and brownish-red or blackish resin cells; odor aromatic; taste pungent but not so persistent as in the African variety.

"Japanese Ginger.—Rhizome somewhat resembling Cochin Ginger but usually with a thin coating of lime; externally nearly smooth or slightly wrinkled and of a whitish color; fracture short and very mealy; internally varying from a yellowish-white to light brown and with numerous brownish-red resin cells; odor aromatic; taste pungent.

"Powdered Ginger is light yellow, or light brown to dark brown; under the microscope it exhibits numerous starch grains varying greatly in form and size in the different varieties, being nearly spherical, ovoid, ellipsoidal or pear-shaped and frequently with a characteristic beak, usually -from 0.005 to 0.04 mm., occasionally from 0.045 to 0.06 mm. in the long diameter; sclerenchymatous fibers long, thin-walled, non-lignified, with oblique pores and distinctly undulate on one side; oil-secretion cells with suberized walls and containing a light yellowish or yellowish-brown, oily substance; cork cells absent in the Jamaica variety. Introduce 4 Gm. of ground Ginger into a 200 mil flask, fill to the mark with distilled water, and agitate at half-hour intervals during eight hours. Then allow the mixture to stand for sixteen hours, and filter. Evaporate 50 mils of the filtrate, representing 1 Gm. of the drug, on a water bath, dry to constant weight at 100° C. (212° F.) and weigh; it yields not less than 8 per cent. of residue. Ginger yields not less than 2 per cent. of a nonvolatile extract soluble in ether and not less than 4 per cent. of an extract soluble in alcohol. Ginger yields not more than 8 per cent. of ash." U.S.

"In flattish, irregularly branched pieces, usually from, seven to ten centimetres long; each branch marked at its summit by a depressed scar. Fracture short with projecting fibres. Agreeable, aromatic odor; taste pungent. When 5 grammes of powdered Ginger are shaken with 100 millilitres of alcohol (90 per cent.) occasionally during twenty-four hours and filtered, 20 millilitres of the filtrate yield on evaporation not less than 0.050 gramme of residue dried at 100° C. (212° F.); and when 5 grammes are similarly treated with 100 millilitres of water, 20 millilitres of the filtrate yield not less than 0.085 gramme of residue dried at 100° C. (212° F.). Ash not more than 6 per cent.; and after deduction of that portion of the ash which is soluble in water not more than 1.5 per cent." Br.

The odor of ginger is aromatic and penetrating, the taste spicy, pungent, hot, and biting. These properties gradually diminish, and are ultimately lost, by exposure. The morphology and pharmacognosy of ginger have been studied by Meyer (Wissenschaftliche Drogenkunde, vol. ii, p. 64) and Tschirch and Oesterle (Anatomischer Atlas., Lief. vi, p. 109). Kraemer and Sindall have published an article on the "Microscopical and Chemical Examination of the Different Varieties of Commercial Ginger" (A. J. P., 1908, p. 303). Spaeth reports on the adulteration and detection of adulterants of ginger and asserts that the more common adulterants are flour, curcuma, linseed and rapeseed cake, cayenne pepper hulls, and extracted ginger. (Zeitschr. f. Unters. d. Nahr. u. Genussm., x, p. 23.)

The use of capsicum in preparations of ginger is not infrequent. When present, it may be detected by the method described under tincture of ginger.

The virtues of ginger are extracted by alcohol. The peculiar flavor of the root appears to depend on the volatile oil, its pungency partly on the resinous or resino-extractive principle. A considerable quantity of pure white starch may be obtained from it. The volatile oil, examined by A. Papousck, was yellow, of the odor of ginger, and of a hot aromatic taste. Its sp. gr. was 0.893, and its boiling point 246.1° C. (475° F.). Deprived of water by distillation over phosphoric oxide, it consisted of carbon and hydrogen, with the formula C_H_, and therefore belongs to the terpenes. Tresh considers that the essential oil is mainly made up of a hydrocarbon, C15H24, or isomers of it, which boil at from 245° to 270° C. (473°-518° F.). (P. J., No. 586, 1881.) Schimmel & Co. (April, 1897) state that the essential oil contains camphene and phellandrene, and hence the terpenes have the formula C10H16, as first stated. Flückiger obtained from one hundred and twelve pounds of Jamaica ginger four and a half ounces of the oil, or about one-fourth of one per cent. He states, however, that Schimmel & Co., of Leipsic, informed him that they obtained as much as 2.2 per cent. from good ginger. (Pharmacographia, 2d ed., p. 637.) H. von Soden and W. Rojahn (Ph. Ztg., 1900, 414) obtained a new sesquiterpene from oil of ginger by fractioning the saponified oil. They have named it zingiberene. It has the sp. gr. 0.872 at 15° C. (59° F.). Those pieces of ginger which are very fibrous, light and friable, or worm eaten, should be rejected. The commercial powder of ginger is very frequently adulterated, rice starch, powdered ginger which has been exhausted in making preparations, and even brick dust and chalk, being used, and the loss of pungency made good by the addition of capsicum or mustard.

Uses.—Ginger is a grateful stimulant and carminative, and is often given in dyspepsia and flatulent colic. It is an excellent addition to bitter infusions and tonic powders, imparting to them an agreeable, warming, and cordial operation upon the stomach. It is especially valuable in alcoholic gastritis. In the serous type of diarrhea, when due to a relaxed condition of the bowel, it is a remedy of much service but should not be employed in the presence of inflammatory conditions. The hot infusion is popularly employed under the name of "Ginger Tea" for its diaphoretic effect in colds, especially when accompanied with suppression of the menses. Externally it is rubefacient. Under the name of "Essence of Ginger" cheap alcoholic preparations of ginger were formerly sold and used as intoxicants. A number of cases of blindness produced by such use have been recorded, the amblyopia having been due to the large use of methyl alcohol in the making of these "essences." The infusion may be prepared by adding half an ounce of the powdered or bruised root to a pint of boiling water, and may be given in the dose of one or two fluid-ounces (30-60 mils).

Dose, ten to twenty grains (0.65-1.3 mils).

Off. Prep.—Fluidextractum Zingiberis, U. S.; Infusum Sennae, Br.; Oleoresina Zingiberis, U. S.; Pilula Scillae Composita, Br.; Pilula Urgineae Composita, Br.; Pulvis Aromaticus, U. S. (Br.) , Pulvis Jalapae Compositus, U. S.; Pulvis Kaladanas Compositus, Br.; Pulvis Opii Compositus, Br.; Pulvis Rhei Compositus, U. S., Br.; Pulvis Scammonii Compositus, Br.; Syrupus Zingiberis (from Fluidextract), U. S., Br.; Tinctura Zingiberis, U. S., Br.; Elixir Rubi Compositum, N. F.; Pulvis Aromaticus Rubifaciens, N. F.; Pulvis Myrciae Compositus, N. F.; Tinctura Antiperiodica, N. F.; Tinctura Antiperiodica sine Aloe, N. F.; Tinctura Aromatica, N. F.

The Dispensatory of the United States of America, 1918, was edited by Joseph P. Remington, Horatio C. Wood and others.