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Ginger A Peruvian Medicine

“Growing up in a Latino household we used many kinds of at-home remedies from our Peruvian culture. In Peru, ginger is called “kion,” it is one of the most plants we would implement as an herbal medicine to make us feel better. Therefore, my interest in Ginger is major!”- Angie Correa


Ginger was first documented in Southeast Asia, India, Peru, and China some 5,000 years ago. While farmers in the region had been growing ginger for more than two centuries, it was first brought to Peru by Asian immigrants in the late 1700s. In the Peruvian Amazon, the Awajun indigenous populations have treated diseases traditionally through the consumption of medicinal plants, among all these medicinal plants, ginger has played an important role.[1] There has been a growing interest in the traditional and shamanic practices of the indigenous people of the Amazon rainforest that involve ginger as part of their spiritual rituals and healing ceremonies. One of the practices is called “ayahuasca ceremonies,” which involves ayahuasca vine and other plant ingredients like ginger. Ayahuasca ceremonies involve the consumption of a powerful psychoactive called ayahuasca. Ayahuasca is a potent and challenging substance, and when consumed people may experience vomiting or diarrhea as part of the cleansing process[2].

Ginger plays a part in the spiritual culture of the Peruvian people in broader spiritual (shamanic) and healing traditions. Shamanic practices are to heal, provide spiritual insight, and connect with the natural and spiritual worlds.[3] Ginger in particular is used to help purify and protect individuals participating in these ceremonies.


Zingiber officinale Roscoe & Zingiberaceae

Peruvian ginger has a subtle and earthy flavor, with a slightly sweet and citrusy taste, but ginger from Asia is more pungent and spicy. Ginger thrives on rainfall, loves rich volcanic soil, and needs great drainage. The herb flourishes in balmy climates and loves the warm, tropical weather of top-producing countries like India, China, Fiji, Indonesia, and Peru.[4] Peruvian ginger is derived from ginger plant roots and is grown in the Chanchamayo, Junin region of Peru situated between the Amazon Jungle and the Andean Mountain range.[5] Although more folks stateside are trying to grow ginger, it is most successfully cultivated in tropical and subtropical climates.

Primary Uses

Ginger aids the digestive system and is an ally of digestive distress. Traditional remedies using ginger are applied to an array of common health problems, including pain, nausea, and vomiting[6]. One of the mechanisms of action is in relation to its antiemetic properties. Ginger does appear to inhibit serotonin receptors and exert antiemetic effects at the level of the gastrointestinal system and in the central nervous system.

Ginger appears to accumulate in the gastrointestinal tract and exerts its effect by relieving pain due to inhibiting pain-reducing enzymes. Ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties making it helpful for joint, and muscle pain, and migraines. For gastrointestinal relief, it is believed to work by blocking certain signals in the brain and stomach to relax.[7] Due to it being an anti-inflammatory, it inhibits the production of prostaglandins and leukotrienes.


Ginger is considered a food-based herb with no upper limit. Ginger most often is enjoyed in doses of 0.5-3 grams by mouth daily. Ginger is a safe herbal remedy with only a few adverse/side effects in high doses, which can be managed when consumed in moderation.[8] Overall, ginger is available in many forms, including teas, syrups, capsules, liquid extracts topical gels, ointments, and aromatherapy essential oils. Essential oils are not to be digested by mouth, if consumed can be poisonous. However, the most common form of consuming ginger in Peru when it comes it herbal medicine is by tea and adding some honey.[9]


Ginger root contains a range of chemical compounds. It is rich in phenolic compounds, terpenes, polysaccharides, lipids, organic acids, and raw fibers.[10] Zingiberene is a monocyclic sesquiterpene that is the most dominant compound that makes up 30% of the root’s essential oil.[11] There are other contributors to the characteristic flavor of ginger including ß-sesquiphelandrene and ar-curcumene. The pungency can be attributed to the presence of [6]-gingerol.[12]It was also found that in Peru, ginger contained minerals like calcium, iron, manganese, zinc, phosphorus, and sodium.[13]


People may be allergic to ginger. It is advised to take caution with ginger if you have a bleeding disorder or if taking blood-thinning medications, since it has antiplatelet properties.[14] In pregnant or breastfeeding women, it may affect the developing fetus/infant, but considered safe up to 1 gram (1,000 mg) of ginger per day[15]. High doses of ginger of more than 5 grams (5,000 mg) a day may cause mild heartburn, diarrhea, and irritation of the mouth. Some babies may be sensitive to ginger, and can cause mild symptoms such as stomach upset, heartburn, gas, and flatulence.[16]

Drug intervention

Drug interactions with ginger are not well documented; however, it is known to inhibit thromboxane synthetase, which can prolong bleeding time and may rarely cause interactions with anticoagulants like warfarin, aspirin, or other blood thinners.[17] With blood pressure medication, consuming a large amount of ginger can drop your blood pressure excessively.

Growth and Harvesting

Ginger thrives in warm, tropical climates with temperatures of 75℉-85℉. Obtain ginger rhizomes, make to plant in early spring about 1 to 2 inches deep and about 8 to 10 inches apart. The goal is to maintain moisture in the soil. Keep ginger in high humidity and partial to full shade. Must have patience, because ginger takes about 8 to 10 months to mature. Allow your plant to reach full maturity before you harvest it, which should be around winter. Allow the flowering part that grows out of your ginger root to become dry before you harvest it.

Once the leaves turn yellow the plan has reached maturity. Dig the plant, shake off the soil, and remove any roots/stems. Gently break apart the rhizomes from the main root cluster, and the healthy rhizomes can be used again for replanting. Now air dry the harvested ginger rhizomes for a couple of days. When storing make sure to keep the ginger in a cool and dry place, for instance, refrigerator or freezer[18]. Peruvian ginger powder is a friendly option for storage, the roots are washed and peeled to remove the outer skin. Once it has been peeled, it is sliced thinly and dried in the sun until it is completely dry and brittle. When the ginger is dried fully, it is then ground into a fine powder using a grinder.[19]

Peruvian Recipe

Image from Adobe Stock

Lomo Saltado (sauteed beef tenderloin with vegetables). Start by preparing the fries by cutting them into strips. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat, and fry the potato strips until golden and crispy. Remove them from the oil and dry the fries. Sprinkle salt to taste and set aside. In a large skillet, heat a tablespoon of oil over high heat, add the beef strips, and cook until golden brown. Remove the meat from the pan and set it aside. In the same pan, add the grated kion (ginger) and minced garlic. Sautee for a few minutes until fragrant. Add onions, tomatoes, and pepper strips to the pan. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are tender but still crisp. Add the meat back to the pan with the vegetables. Add a ginger-infused (optional) soy sauce and vinegar. Stir well to combine all the ingredients and heat for a few minutes. Adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve the Lomo Saltado hot, accompanied by the fries. Sprinkle with fresh chopped parsley.[20]

This article was written by Angie Correa, a Health Science major at Eastern Connecticut State University and aspiring Physician Assistant in service to diverse low-income communities.


[1] Canepa, Renatto, Mayra Sihuay, Elsa Wajai, and Fernando Mendive. 2023. Ginger: An Introduced Foreign Species and Its Recognition as a Traditional Medicine Plant by the Peruvian Awajun Populations, (January), 299-324. [2] Woolfe, Sam. 2022. “Ayahuasca: What it Feels Like, Where it Comes From, and How it Works.” HealingMaps. [3] “Unveiling Peruvian Spirituality: Core Beliefs & Practices.” n.d. Sacred Footprints. [4] “Ginger, Zingiber officinale – Wisconsin Horticulture.” n.d. Wisconsin Horticulture. [5] Organiccorps. 2023. “Peruvian Ginger Powder. All you need to know.” Bulk Peruvian organic quinoa, maca and cacao for wholesale. [6] “Ginger Information.” n.d. Mount Sinai. [7] “Ginger: An Overview.” 2007. American Family Physician 75, no. 11 (June): 1689-1691. [8] “GINGER: Overview, Uses, Side Effects, Precautions, Interactions, Dosing and Reviews.” n.d. WebMD. [9] “Descubre los beneficios del Kion para la salud.” 2022. Mason Natural. [10] Ali, Badreldin H., Gerald Blunden, Musbah O. Tanira, and Abderrahim Nemmar. 2008. “Some phytochemical, pharmacological and toxicological properties of ginger (Zingiber officinale Roscoe): A review of recent research.” Food and Chemical Toxicology 46, no. 2 (February): 409-420.doi: 10.3390/foods8060185 [11] Kirsty. 2021. “The chemistry of ginger.” Asynt. [12] “Sabinene and Zingiberene.” 2014. American Chemical Society. [13] “Ginger: the powerful properties of the new Peruvian Superfood.” 2019. Peru Info. [14] M, Shiny L. n.d. “Health Benefits of Ginger for Kids, Ginger Nutritional Value and Side Effects, Ginger Tea and Water for Children.” ParentCircle. [15] “Can pregnant women eat ginger?” n.d. Vinmec. Accessed October 11, 2023. [16] Kanter, Valarie. 2021. “Ginger Compress for Inflammation & Pain Relief - EndoSoCal and Integrative Endodontics.” Los Angeles Holistic Endodontist - EndoSoCal and Integrative Endodontics. [17] Anderson, Leigh A. 2023. “Does Ginger interact with any drugs?” [18] Wilcox, Andy. 2023. “Ginger: How to Plant, Grow, and Harvest Ginger Root | The Old Famer's Almanac.” The Old Farmer's Almanac. [19] Organiccorps. 2023. “Peruvian Ginger Powder. All you need to know.” Bulk Peruvian organic quinoa, maca and cacao for wholesale. [20] Salinas, Lorena. 2023. “Lomo saltado peruano.” Cravings Journal.

This article is for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or cure.

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