Wild Ginger (Asarum canadense)
Wild Ginger is a creeping perennial with leaves strongly heart-shaped. Flowers are maroon in color and urn-shaped, with 3 petals (actually sepals), between crotch of leaves.
The plant grows to 6 to 12 inches. The root of this spring flower has a strong ginger-like odor and, when cooked with sugar, can be used as a substitute for ginger.
Family: Aristolochiaceae (Birthwort family)
Flowers: April – May
Parts Used: Roots
Other Names: Black Snakeweed, Canada Snakeroot, Coltsfoot Snakeroot, False Coltsfoot, Heart Snakeroot, Vermont Snakeroot, Indian Ginger, Southern Snakeroot
Habitat: Rich woods. Canada to South Carolina, Alabama; Oklahoma north to North Dakota.
Constituents: Aristolochic acid
Properties: Stimulant, Carminative, Tonic, Diaphoretic, Diuretic.
Main Uses: Relieves gas, promotes sweating; expectorant; used for fevers, colds, flu, sore throats. Also good for motion sickness. American Indians highly valued root tea for indigestion, coughs, heart conditions, “female ailments,” throat ailments, nervous conditions, and cramps.
Preparation And Dosages:
Infusion: Steep 1 teaspoon rootstock in 1 pint of water. Take 2 tablespoons at a time, as required.
Tincture: Fresh root (1:2), dry root (1:5) in 60% alcohol. Take 20 to 50 drops in hot water up to 4 times a day.
In case of coldness of the extremities, chills and influenza, a compound of the following will encourage circulation and promote perspiration.
Bayberry bark (Myrica cerifera), 1 oz
Wind Ginger (Asarum canadense), 1/4 oz
Cayenne Pepper (Capsicum), 1/2 oz
A teaspoon of the powdered compound to 1 pint of boiling water (sweetened with honey), taken in mouthful amounts throughout the day. Be sure to stay indoors and away from drafts as you may perspire and a draft or cold conditions at this time will only delay treatment.
Wild Ginger is also a wild food.