Not only is ginger a versatile spice in the culinary world, it’s also one of the oldest and oh so popular natural remedies around.
One I always kept on hand. Ginger has been used in Chinese Medicine for thousands of years and is said to help a number of common ailments, whether it be upset stomachs, respiratory issues or even skin problems. Along with garlic, it’s one of the primary healing foods and is included in nearly two thirds of all traditional Chinese and Japanese herbal formulas.
So let’s take a closer look at this knobbly root.
First of all, what is it? Ginger as we know it, is actually the root of a tropical flowering perennial and most of our global production comes out of India, China and Nepal. Since it’s widely imported, for most of us, it’s easy to find in grocery stores in its fresh form as well as dried or powdered.
There a number of fantastic benefits to including ginger in your diet. I’ve always loved it in cooking, but first learned about its health benefits when I was backpacking through South East Asia. A waiter in a restaurant in Ho Chi Minh City (“Saigon” somehow sounded so much more romantic) explained to us that if you drink a glass of hot water with fresh ginger every day you will never, ever catch a cold.
That stuck with me for the last decade. Naturally, I don’t manage to drink a cup each day (I often forget or am too busy focused on drinking something else…like my morning coffee), but at the onset of a cold, when I first get a sensation that one is brewing, I start my ritual to ward it off, a ritual of drinking ginger tea, a lot of ginger tea, each day, until I feel completely healthy again. I love it’s spiciness, but since I am also a fan of drinking a warm lemon water in the morning, I often add a squeeze for an extra boost or a dollop of honey just to take a little of the edge off.
Ginger really does wonders for your body. Here are 10 reasons to start including it in your diet:
1Appetite simulator. Fire up those digestive juices by drinking a ginger tea or eating a little fresh ginger before a meal – this will stoke a dull appetite.
2Deliver vital nutrients. Ginger improves the absorption of essential nutrients in the body which is important for general health and combating illness. It’s known also to help lower cholesterol and blood pressure as well as cancer risk.
3Improve your skin from inside. Drinking ginger tea twice daily, alone or with a bit of honey is excellent for your skin health due to its high antioxidant content. Plus, it helps inhibit the breakdown of elastin, important for maintain young firm skin. Bonus: it can also help rid dandruff!
4Calm coughing and respiratory troubles. Ginger clears the ‘microcirculatory channels’ of the body, including head, nose and throat congestion and clears blocked sinuses. So reach for a cup of ginger tea!
5Relieve nausea. Drink a ginger tea or chew on a little fresh ginger tossed in a honey. Great in early pregnancy or for motion sickness!
6Soothe digestive disturbances. Got gas?—bloated?—guess what?! Make it stop. Ginger helps reduce flatulence!
7Sooth cramps and pains. Ginger is an antispasmodic and is sometimes used to relieve chest pain, low back pain, and stomach pain. It even reduces cramping associated with gas. Just munch on some fresh ginger!
8Reduce joint swelling and arthritis pain. Ginger has muscle relaxant properties and with its anti-inflammatory properties—can bring relief. Use ginger essential oil in your bath to help aching muscles and joints.
9Just had surgery? Find relief. Chewing ginger can also reduce post-surgical nausea and vomiting. Plus it helps reduce a fever.
10Enhance sexual prowess. Forget bedroom blues, get that libido going by adding ginger to your diet. It’s fire-enhancing properties should help heat things up. Called “The Universal Medicine” in Ayurveda, ginger’s aphrodisiac properties have been valued for centuries.
So make ginger work for you. It’ll give you a magical boost and it’s delicious too!
Recipe for a Mug of Fresh Ginger Tea
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, peeled and grated
filtered water, boiled
juice from 1/2 a lemon
fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon honey
pinch of cayenne pepper
1. If you are using a teapot or tea mug, add ginger and pour boiling water in it. Let it steep for about 10 minutes.
2. Add fresh lemon juice or whatever you like and enjoy!