The ginger root (Zingiber officinale), which is the part that is used, is a twisty, knotted grayish-yellowish rhizome that is somewhat juicy with a pungent, spicy aroma. The plant is about two to three feet tall, the shoots sprouting directly up from the rhizome. Flowers are purple with a cream-colored base and give way to red berries with three chambers containing small black seeds.
Other Names African ginger, Black ginger, Jamaican ginger
History and Folklore
“Had I but a penny in the world, thou shouldst have it for gingerbread”- Shakespeare
Ginger can’t really be grown in the average American backyard, but it can be purchased in the average American grocery store. To try growing it, you’ll have to keep your plant indoors. Ginger does not like temperatures below 50 degrees.
It also doesn’t like full sun. You can grow ginger from the knobby bits off a ginger root. Soak them overnight and set them in a pot just beneath the soil’s surface the buds facing up. Water very lightly at first, and then increase water as the plant starts growing. Stop watering in the winter when the plant is dormant.
Harvesting and Storage
Dig up new young sprouts that form around the main plant. Use the tubers you need and replant the rest. Store ginger root in a cool, dry place. It can also be minced and canned and you can buy it conveniently.
Ginger is energetic and fiery and adds power to any magical activity. It is used in spells to “speed things up” or to cause plans to come to fruition quickly. It can also be used in spells to add passion to an existing relationship.
Ginger is associated with the element of fire.
Ginger is a warm, stimulating plant that triggers the immune system and is great for any cold conditions associated with shivering. Such as low-grade fever or walking home from the bus stop in the rain.
The most common use for ginger in healing is the treatment of an upset stomach. Ginger tea, ginger ale, candy, tablets, and the curiously strong ginger Altoids are often kept on hand for sour stomachs, morning sickness, and car sickness. It is also used to help combat nausea associated with chemotherapy.
Studies have shown similar results between ginger and over-the-counter medicines for treating nausea. (These contain sugar, phosphoric acid, and coloring, which is Caffeine Free Coca-Cola. You decide.) People with sensitive stomachs and indigestion may find relief by drinking a cup of ginger tea after each meal.
Overdoing it, however, can stimulate your stomach too much and lead to indigestion and gassiness, so moderation is advised.
Ginger is also a noted anti-inflammatory agent. You can eat ginger candy or apply fresh slices of ginger directly to the affected area.
Ginger has also been rumored to help fight cholesterol and to prevent blood clots. Some research also suggests that ginger has cancer-fighting properties.
Ginger candy is a favorite method of consumption (you can make this by soaking dried ginger in sugar syrup and then letting it dry again, or buy it at a specialty shop.) but some people find the flavor of ginger to be just too strong. Ginger tablets or ginger extract might be better for these folks.
People who are taking blood thinners or who have bleeding disorders should be cautious of possible complications caused by ginger. (None have been reported, they are theoretically possible.)
Pregnant women shouldn’t use huge amounts of ginger for a long period of time because it can irritate the abdominal area. To reduce danger, use only fresh ginger rather than dried ginger.
Ginger is a traditional spice in many wintry warm goodies such as gingerbread and apple pie. In these, it is generally used in a dry, powdered form. Fresh ginger is often used in Asian stir-fries and soups.