Ginger: a universal medicine

This article was originally published in December 2014

Floral and pungent, ginger is a wonderful, warming, wintertime food that provides support for our immune, circulatory and digestive systems. These phenomenal health benefits can be obtained with just 1/2 teaspoon of fresh or dried ginger.

Fresh ginger is best for both flavor and health benefits, but we also can reap the benefits of this amazing spice from dried ginger powder, teas, supplements and spicy ginger beers. Fresh ginger stores in the fridge for several weeks and can be kept for months in the freezer.

Ginger’s peel is edible, but the many health benefits come from the inside of this unique rhizome, so whether or not you peel it is a matter of personal preference. Both raw and cooked ginger provide health benefits. Add it early during cooking to mellow out the spicy, camphoric flavors if you’re not a fan; add it later when cooking if you want more zing in your dish.

 

Universal medicine

The Sanskrit name for ginger translates to “universal medicine” because ginger is beneficial for so many common ailments. Doctors and herbalists throughout the centuries have relied on ginger for a wide range of symptoms: digestive problems, chronic pain, asthma and heart troubles. It even has been used as an energy tonic. Today’s medical researchers are confirming some of these traditional uses.

Immune booster

Fresh ginger is a great home remedy for cold and flu symptoms. The warming properties of ginger can soothe the chills from a fever and increase the body’s natural ability to fight off wintertime cold and flu bugs. Ginger and other spicy foods help open up clogged sinuses too. 

Digestive aid

Ginger contains enzymes that help digest proteins and soothe an upset stomach. It also contains unique molecules such as gingerols and shogaols that give ginger its unique aromas and its ability to relieve nausea resulting from pregnancy, motion sickness and chemotherapy. Ginger also protects your digestive system from ulcers and even increases the bioavailability of other nutrients, herbs and supplements.

 

Did you know?

Ginger can be used topically to relieve the symptoms of arthritis, as well as sore muscles, sprains/strains, or specific areas of inflammation. Look for ointments or salves that contain ginger, such as Wild Carrot Herbals Sore Muscle Salvation, or make your own ginger compress with freshly grated ginger.

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