The glossy grasslike spears of this tropical perennial protrude upward two to four feet from thick, spreading tuberous roots called rhizomes. Erect reedlike spikes with compact white, yellow or yellow-green conical flowers stem directly from the rhizomes, which look like white or beige hands with multiple fingers.
Sharp and spicy, peppery and pungent, warm and wonderful, the aroma of golden yellow or amber ginger oil has slightly woody and lemony undertones. Ginger oil is steam-distilled from the unpeeled dried ground roots of the plant. Native to southern Asia, China, India and Java, Zingiber officinale is a member of the Zingiberaceae family. Ginger is now cultivated in the tropical regions of China, India, Jamaica, Japan, Nigeria and the West Indies. Many experts claim the finest ginger grows in Jamaica. Most ginger oil comes from China, England and India.
Ginger oil is widely used in perfumery to impart a sharp green, spicy note to fragrances, particularly men's colognes. It is rarely used in skin care because of its tendency to irritate sensitive skin, but because it increases circulation, ginger oil is sometimes used to treat varicose veins and cellulite.
Ginger oil's warming tendency can heat up a cold, dull or fearful emotional nature. It warms the heart and opens up feelings, helping to improve communication. Ginger oil sharpens the senses, improves memory and aids in recall. It stimulates energy, yet at the same time is helpful in cases of nervous exhaustion. Its aphrodisiac qualities may help in cases of impotence, especially when ginger is combined with coriander and rosemary.
Reprinted from Aromatherapy for Vibrant Health and Beauty by Roberta Wilson with permission of Avery Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1995 by Roberta Wilson.