Ginger consists of the rhizome of Zingiber officinale, Roscoe (N.O. Scitamineae), freed from the epidermis and dried. Ginger is indigenous to Asia, but is cultivated in the West Indies, Africa, Java, and other tropical countries. It is also official in the U.S.P. The plant produces a branching rhizome, which is dug rip after the aerial parts have died down, washed and peeled with a narrow-bladed knife; it is then again washed and dried in the sun. This procedure is followed in Jamaica, and yields the drug known as "scraped unbleached ginger," which is alone official in the B.P. Ginger occurs in flattened branched rhizomes known as "races" or "hands," not often exceeding 10 centimetres in length. The branches ("fingers") arise from the upper surface of the rhizome, widen, contract, and terminate in the remains of a stem or bud; they average about 2 centimetres in length. The surface is pale buff, striated, and somewhat fibrous from the leaf-traces exposed by the scraping. The rhizome breaks easily, exhibiting a starchy or sometimes resinous fracture. The smoothed section exhibits under the lens numerous yellow oil cells and a thin yellow line separating the cortex from the stele. The odour of the drug is agreeable and aromatic, the taste strongly pungent. The drug contains an abundance of starch, the grains of which are simple, sack-shaped, oval or trapezoidal, 12μ to 30μ in length, with distinct striations and very eccentric hilum. It yields iron, 3 to 5 per cent. of total ash, from 3 to 6 per cent. of resinous extract to 90 per cent. alcohol, and about 10 per cent. of aqueous extract. Powdered ginger may be identified by the characteristic starch grains, by the abundance of thin-walled parenchymatous tissue, and by the moderately thick-walled fibres accompanying the bundles, in which narrow brown secretion cells may be found. Ginger essences or extracts are sometimes "fortified" by the addition of capsicum, the presence of which may be detected by the following test:—Digest 10 mils of the suspected liquid on a water-bath with a small quantity of caustic alkali for fifteen minutes; then drive off the alcohol by evaporation, make the residue faintly acid with hydrochloric acid, and shake it in a test tube with 5 mils of ether, with which the evaporating dish has previously been rinsed. On tasting the ethereal liquid it will be found to be devoid of pungency if capsicum has not been used, but the pungent, acrid taste of capsicum will be very marked if capsicum has been added to the essence or extract. Numerous varieties of ginger occur in commerce. Jamaica ginger, which has the finest aroma, is usually scraped, and is sometimes limed to whiten it; it may be recognised by the size of the hands and length of the fingers. Cochin ginger is in smaller hands, and the branches are usually shorter and thicker; it is often imported only partially scraped ("unscraped" or "coated"), and may be bleached (limed) or unbleached. African ginger is more pungent (alcoholic extract about 10 per cent.), but less aromatic; it is usually small, dark, and coated, but may also be found limed. Japanese ginger is commonly in small flattened pieces; many of the starch grains are compound, and the oil differs in its physical character (specific gravity, 0 894, optical rotation +9° 40'), these particulars indicating that it is not produced by Zingiber officinale. Ground ginger is often adulterated with exhausted ("spent") ginger, a sophistication that may be detected by a diminution in the ash soluble in water, which should not fall below 1.5 per cent., as well as by the yield of alcoholic and aqueous extract.
Constituents.—The drug contains from 0.25 to 3 per cent. of volatile oil (specific gravity, 0.875 to 0.885; optical rotation, -25° to -45°; boiling temperature, 155° to 300°), in which camphene, phellandrene, zingiberene, cineol, citral, and borneol have been detected, and to which it owes its aroma. The pungency of ginger is due to gingerol, a yellowish oily body of doubtful purity, which rapidly loses its pungency when warmed with solution of sodium hydroxide. Ginger also contains resin and much starch.
Action and Uses.—Ginger is used as a carminative and aromatic stimulant to the gastro-intestinal tract. It is administered for flatulence, atonic dyspepsia, and to correct the griping tendency of purgative medicines. Tincture of ginger is added to mixtures, usually with sodium bicarbonate, for its gastric effect; syrup of ginger is used as a flavouring and carminative agent with saline and other purgatives. For use in pills Oleoresina Zingiberis is suitable.
Dose.—3 to 10 decigrams (5 to 15 grains).
PREPARATIONS.Pulvis Rhei cum Magnesia, B.P.C.—Rhubarb Powder with Magnesia.
- Fluidextractum Zingiberis, U.S.P.—FLUIDEXTRACT OF GINGER.
- Ginger, in No. 50 powder, 100; alcohol (95 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Average dose.—1 mil (15 minims).
- Liquor Zingiberis, C.F.—SOLUTION OF GINGER.
- Strong tincture of ginger, 50; purified talcum, 33.5; refined sugar, 33.5; distilled water, sufficient to produce 100. The tincture is triturated with the sugar and talcum, and the water added; the mixture is then filtered, the first portions of the filtrate being returned to the filter until a clear liquid is obtained.
- Oleoresina Zingiberis, B.P.C.—OLEORESIN OF GINGER. Syn.—Gingerin.
- Employed in pills as an aromatic carminative and stimulant in dyspepsia and flatulence, and with purgative medicines to prevent griping. Dose.—15 to 60 milligrams (1/4 to 1 grain).
- Syrupus Zingiberis, B.P.—SYRUP OF GINGER.
- Ginger, in fine powder, 2.5; alcohol, a sufficient quantity; syrup, sufficient to produce 100. Percolate the ginger with sufficient alcohol to make 5 of strong tincture; then add sufficient syrup to make up to the required volume. Syrup of ginger is used as a carminative and flavouring agent. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm).
- Tablettae Zingiberis Compositae, B.P.C.—COMPOUND GINGER TABLETS. Syn.—Ginger Mint Tablets.
- Each tablet contains 1/8 grain of oleoresin of ginger, 5 grains of sodium bicarbonate, 1/8 grain of ammonium carbonate, 1/8 minim of oil of peppermint, with gluside, gum acacia, and theobroma emulsion. Dose.—1 or 2 tablets.
- Tinctura Zingiberis, B.P.—TINCTURE OF GINGER.
- Ginger, in No. 40 powder, 10; alcohol, sufficient to produce 100. Add 10 of alcohol to the drug to moisten it, and complete the percolation process. Tincture of ginger is used as a carminative and aromatic stimulant in atonic dyspepsia and flatulence. It is added to purgative medicines to prevent griping. Dose.—2 to 4 mils (1/2 to 1 fluid drachm).
- Tinctura Zingiberis, U.S.P.—TINCTURE OF GINGER, U.S.P.
- Ginger, in No. 50 powder, 20; alcohol (95 per cent.), sufficient to produce 100. Average dose.—2 mils (30 minims).
- Tinctura Zingiberis Fortior, B.P., 1885.—STRONG TINCTURE OF GINGER. Syn.—Essence of Ginger; Liquid Extract of Ginger.
- Ginger, in fine powder, 50; alcohol, sufficient to produce 100. Pack the ginger tightly in a percolator, and pour over it 50 of the alcohol; at the expiration of two hours add more alcohol, and allow it to percolate slowly until the required volume is obtained. It is used in a similar way to Tinctura Zingiberis and may be employed in the preparation of Syrupus Zingiberis. Dose.—3 to 12 decimils (0.3 to 1.2 milliliters) (5 to 20 minims).
The British Pharmaceutical Codex, 1911, was published by direction of the Council of the Pharmaceutical Society of Great Britain.