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Chapter: Pharmacognosy and Phytochemistry : Drugs Containing Resins

Ginger consists of the dried rhizomes of the Zingiber officinale Roscoe, belonging to family Zingiberaceae.






Rhizoma zingiberis, Zingibere.


Biological Source


Ginger consists of the dried rhizomes of the Zingiber officinale Roscoe, belonging to family Zingiberaceae.


Geographical Source


It is mainly cultivated in West Indies, Nigeria, Jamaica, India, Japan, and Africa.




Ginger plant is a perennial herb that grows to 1 m. It is cultivated at an altitude of 600 to 1,500 m above sea level. The herb grows well in well-drained rich, loamy soil, and in abundant rain fall. The rhizome is cut into pieces called fingers, and each finger consisting of a bud is placed in a hole filled with rotten manure in March or April. The rhizomes get matured in December or January. By January the plants wither after flowering and then the flowers are forked up, buds and the roots removed and washed to remove the mould and clay or dirt attached to them. The rhizomes are socked in water overnight and the next morning they are scraped with a knife to remove the outer cork and little of parenchyma. They are washed again and then dried under sun for a week. The rhizomes are turned by the sides at regular intervals to facilitate proper drying. This is the ‘unbleached Jamaica’ or the uncoated ginger. The coated or the unpeeled variety is prepared by dropping the rhizome for few minutes in boiling water, and then skin is removed such that the layer on the flat surface is removed but not in the grooves between the branches. The ‘bleached’ or ‘limed’ is prepared by treating it with sulphuric acid or chlorine or dusting it with calcium sulphate or calcium carbonate.




The rhizomes are 5 to 15 cm long, 3 to 6 cm wide, and about 1.5 cm thick. The Jamaica ginger occurs as branches. It has a sympodial branching and the outer surface has buff yellow colour with longitudinally striated fibres. Small circular depressions at the portion of the buds are seen and fractured surface shows narrow bark, a well-developed endodermis, and a wide stele, with scattered small yellowish points of secretion cells and grayish points of fibrovascular bundles. The ginger has agreeable and aromatic odour and pungent and agreeable taste.


                             Zingiber officinale



The cork is the outermost layer with irregular parenchymatous cells and dark brown colour. The inner cork is few layered, colourless parenchymatous cells arranged in radial rows. Cork is absent in Jamaica ginger. Phellogen is indistinct and the cortex consists of thin-walled rounded parenchyma with intercellular spaces consisting of abundant starch grains. The starch grains are simple, ovate, or sac shaped. Numerous yellowish brown oleoresin are also present along with the collateral fibro vascular bundles. The endodermis is distinct without starch and consists of single layer of tangentially elongated cells containing suberin. Just below the endodermis it has the ground tissue, a ring of narrow zone of vascular bundle which is not covered with sclerenchymatous fibres. The ground tissues contain the large parenchymatous cells rich in starch, oleoresin, fibrovascular bundles. The phloem has well-developed sieve elements, and the xylem consist of vessels, tracheids either annual or spiral, or reticular in nature without lignin. The fibres are unlignified, pitted, and separate.


 (a) Schematic diagram (T.S.) and, (b) Transverse section of Ginger rhizome

Chemical Constituents


Ginger contains 1 to 2% volatile oil, 5 to 8% pungent resinous mass and starch. The volatile oil is responsible for the aromatic odour and the pungency of the drug is due to the yellowish oily body called gingerol which is odourless. Volatile oil is composed of sesquiterpene hydrocarbon like α-zingiberol; α-sesquiterpene alcohol α-bisabolene, α-farnesene, α-sesquiphellandrene. Less pungent components like gingerone and shogaol are also present. Shogal is formed by the dehydration of gingerol and is not present in fresh rhizome.





Ginger is used as an antiemetic, positive inotropic, spasmolytic, aromatic stimulant, carminative, condiment, and flavouring agent. It is prescribed in dyspepsia, flatulent colic, vomiting spasms, as an adjunct to many tonic and stimulating remedies, for painful affections of the stomach, cold, cough, and asthma. Sore throat, hoarseness, and loss of voice are benefited by chewing a piece of ginger.




Ginger may be adulterated by addition of ‘wormy’ drug or ‘spent ginger’ which has been exhausted in the extraction of resins and volatile oil. This adulteration may be detected by the official standards, for alcohol-soluble portion, water-soluble portion, total ash and water-soluble ash. Sometimes pungency of exhausted ginger is increased by the addition of capsicum.


Marketed Products


It is one of the ingredients of the preparations known as Pain kill oil, J.P. Liver syrup (Jamuna Pharma), Abana, Gasex (Himalaya Drug Company), Hajmola (Dabur), Strepsils (Boots Piramal Healthcare), and Sage Massaj oil (Sage Herbals).


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