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Gan Jiang

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 6, 2012 by Paulina Nelega, RH
Posted in Uncategorized

Gan Jiang

The Rhizoma zingiberis officinalis, more commonly known as black ginger or the African ginger, is a type of Ginger that is more popularly used in alternative medicine. It is known to have a number of medicinal uses for conditions involving the liver, heart, spleen, stomach, kidney and lungs.


Rhizoma zingiberis officinalis is an herb that grows perennially. It has rhizomes that branch out digitately and have long, lanceolate leaves that grow up to 30 cm long and 20 mm wide. The plant also bears flowers which are much shorter than the leaves. The rhizome is laterally flattened and irregular in shape. They can grow up to 16 cm long and 4 cm wide. When cut, they are yellowish brown in hue and are longitudinally striated.

History and Origin of Gan Jiang

The earliest record of this plant was documented in Shennong Ben Cao Jing, an old Chinese book on agriculture and medicinal plants. The book dates back to around 300 B.C. to 200 A. D. During the old times, the ginger was said to be dug during winter, the fibrous roots removed and the rhizomes cleaned. They are then sun dried and cut into slices to be used for various medicinal applications. They are mainly made as concoctions to warm the stomach and to remove phlegm from the airways.

Ancient uses of Gan Jiang

Apart from the common medicinal uses stated above, Rhizoma zingiberis officinalis was also used to restore the balance of abdominal energy by stimulating the body’s yang. The restored balance of the body is believed to help make it more resistant to diseases and promote emotional and spiritual health as well. Back then, the rhizome was very popular during winter because of the warmth that the concoction can produce inside the body. It was also used to treat motion sickness, dyspepsia, Migraines and Headaches.

Modern Uses of Gan Jiang

Today, Rhizoma zingiberis officinalis is used for chemotherapy-induced dizziness and vomiting and for post surgical side effects as well. The fresh juice of the rhizome is extracted for treating burns in the skin. The fresh ginger is also taken orally as an alternative cure for malaria, rheumatism, bacterial dysentery, poisonous snake bites and even as a cure for Baldness. Of course, most of these claims have yet to be proven by actual clinical tests and experiments. Today, the rhizome is also being used as a dietary supplement especially formulated for women.

A number of clinical tests however, have come up with actual proof that the rhizome actually contains substances that cure nausea and vomiting. It also has anti-inflammatory activity which makes it a potential herb for curing infections and other related conditions. Today, they are commonly sold in powdered form with a yellowish white to yellowish brown in color.

Side effects and Warnings

Due to the lack of thorough clinical tests, the use of Rhizoma zingiberis officinalis by pregnant or lactating women is strongly discouraged. Studies are yet to be made on the proper dosage of the herb for consumption and the possible side effects that it could have for people with pre-existing medical conditions and others.

It is without a doubt that Rhizoma zingiberis officinalis has indeed a number of medicinal potentials. But still, it’s best to stay on the safe side by using the herb under the watchful care of a medical professional or herbalist.

Read also: Seborrheic Dermatitis

Our Expert

Paulina Nelega, RH
Paulina Nelega, RH, has been in private practice as a Clinical Herbalist for over 15 years. She has developed and taught courses in herbal medicine, and her articles on health have appeared in numerous publications. She is very passionate about the healing power of nature. Ask Dr. Jan

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