The Natural Goodness of Ginger

Ginger has been used for thousands of years in chinese medicine to treat stomach disorders like persistent nausea, motion sickness, morning sickness, loss of appetite or anorexia.  But it also treats mild lung disorders, like upper respiratory tract infections, bronchitis or a simple cold and cough.

It is anti-bacterial, which explains why ginger is always served with sushi – to battle the bacteria in the raw fish.  Because of its warm nature it is used to treat pain caused by cold, as seen in most cases of menstrual cramps, stiff muscles and some instances of indigestion.

Western medicine prizes ginger just as much, labeling it with words like anti-inflammatory, anticoagulant, antioxidant and anti-cancer.  Reduction of inflammation explains its ability to reduce muscle and joint pain (such as gout or arthritis) as well as topical swelling.  Anticoagulant means that it reduces clotting which means it may help to prevent strokes.  Its anti-oxidizing properties reinforce its anti-cancer properties since cancer can be caused by DNA mutations caused by oxidative stress.

Since I got a juicer I have been drinking shots of ginger juice and loving the way it makes me feel.  Read on for lots of ways to introduce a little, or a lot, of ginger into your diet.

 

A few things ginger might help with…

Allergies, anorexia, aphrodisiac effect, arthritis pain, atherosclerosis, back pain, bloating, cancer (prevention and recovery), cholesterol, circulation, clotting, common cold, cough, diarrhea, fatigue after illness, flatulence, headache, heart disease, immunity, indigestion, menstrual cramps, morning sickness, motion sickness, nausea, pain, post-surgical pain and swelling, respiratory infection, sinus infection, sea sickness, stiff muscles, stoke (prevention), toothache, ulcerative colitis.

 

Where to get ginger…

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I’ll say it once again: organic is important!  Especially when you are using foods for medicinal purposes.  This is supposed to be a healing substance and if it’s tainted with chemical sprays and fertilizers, it might cause you to feel worse rather than better, especially if you juice it, the chemicals become quite concentrated.

So you can go to a grocery store and buy the stuff, but I have seen prices anywhere from $6-10/lb.  At all the farmers’ markets I frequent it’s only $3-4/lb, so the price difference is significant if you’re buying in bulk.

Pick roots that are firm with smooth skin if you can.  All the ginger I’ve seen has light brown skin and yellow flesh but there are different types of ginger so variations in color are not necessarily bad.  Some variety have lighter skin and some have pink or pale flesh.

How to use ginger…

Juicing

If you have a juicer then wash pieces of the root thoroughly (there may be some residual dirt wedged in the corners), slice into thick chunks and run them through one by one.  You’ll find ginger is extremely fibrous so it will clog your juicer quickly.  Make sure to open up the juicer after every few pieces of ginger and clean out the pulp, I like to use the pulp to brew ginger tea.

The juice and the pulp are both extremely spicy, start with a little and increase the amount if you want more flavor, but don’t go over board from the start.

You can do 1-2 ounce shots of ginger for a quick dose, but you’ll want to chase it with some water.  It will immediately bring blood to your stomach and warm you from the inside out.  It will also speed up your circulation temporally, causing you to feel energized and awake, maybe even causing you to sweat a bit.  But this will only last about a minute.

You can cut the juice with some fresh lemon or lime juice and even a little agave or sugar to mellow the spiciness. Throw in a few drops of an herbal tincture like echinacea, astragalus or cat’s claw and you’ve got yourself an immunity shot you can do daily to ward off illness, just don’t go overboard with the dosage of anything.

For ginger all day long you can throw a few ounces of ginger juice in a large bottle of water and sip on it continuously.  Especially good with some lemon or lime juice, the smallest dash of cayenne and maybe a little something to sweeten.

I always suggest using fresh juice as soon as possible after juicing.  It will still be good in your fridge after a day or two, but not as effective.

 

Tea

This is one of the more traditional ways to drink ginger.  Fresh ginger can be sliced or grated and steeped in hot water, or you can buy ginger tea but it has been dried so it is hotter in nature and does not have as many antioxidant qualities.

In the summertime when I don’t necessarily need ginger’s warming effects, but still want all of ginger’s other benefits, I like to mix it with fresh mint or chamomile, especially when chilled to iced tea!

If you feel like you’re getting sick, especially at the first signs of a scratchy throat, cough or stomach disorders, you can brew a little ginger with a bit of turmeric (that spice that makes curry yellow).  Fresh turmeric root can be difficult to find, so the powder is fine, but if you could find it you’d see that fresh turmeric looks almost identical to ginger, but has a much brighter yellow flesh.  They are from the same family and both work wonders on the stomach and upper respiratory system, both are anti-imflammatory.

Ginger is often found in detox teas because it gently promotes digestion, moves bile thorough the gallbladder and can help you sweat toxins out as well.  For a detox tea that is good to drink before bed or in addition to a cleansing diet, mix together any combination of ginger, cinnamon, cloves, milk thistle, black walnut, dandelion, licorice, mint, or burdock.  You can find some of those fresh, some dried, and probably all as tinctures that you can add together.

Cooking

If you want to add a little ginger flavor to a dish, whether it be a salad dressing, stir fry or soup, just toss in some grated ginger or a bit of the juice.  Once again, start small and slowly add it in as not to overwhelm the dish with flavor.

Fresh ginger can be hard to grate because the juice separates from the more fibrous pieces.  I always keep some ginger in the freezer which makes it much easier to grate evenly and easily, plus it keeps forever.

Many recipes call or ginger powder, which might cause a slight difference, but won’t have the same medicinal effect as the fresh form.

Here are a few of my favorite recipes the use ginger:

Supplements

If you absolutely hate the taste of ginger then you can find capsules or tinctures at your local health food store.  Ginger can be used everyday, it doesn’t have any side effects or interactions with other drugs or herbs.  Like most supplements, it should be taken with a glass of water.

 

Topically

Yes ginger can also be used topically!  Either grind it up into a paste or saturate a towel with fresh juice and apply topically for muscle pain, toothache, headache or any kind of swelling.

 

Precautions…

Anything that changes the chemistry of your body should be used with caution.  Always listen to your body and discontinue use if you experience problems.  Specifically, since ginger increases flow of bile in the gallbladder, so it might cause complications with in those with gallstones.  Similarly, ginger improves circulation and reduces the stickiness of the platelets in the blood, so anyone with a higher risk of bleeding should use it with caution.  Anyone who is pregnant is usually advised not to use the herb in large quantities or for a long period.  Anyone with any of these conditions should consult a medical professional before using ginger medicinally.

this post was featured on foodgawker.com

Comments

11 Responses to “The Natural Goodness of Ginger”
  1. Tina says:

    I did a post about ginger a while ago and it IS amazing! I love the taste too, so I’m all set if I’m ever feeling under the whether…

    Beautiful pictures!

  2. What a great post on the health benefits of ginger! I’ll need to make sure and load up on ginger next season at my farmers market! Glad to find your blog!

  3. Stacy says:

    Thanks for the informative post! I love ginger, for its taste and aid in easing stomach upset/nausea. Now I have even more uses for my favorite rhizome. I need to try juicing it.

    And I had no idea turmeric was anything like ginger. I just buy the jars of powder and don’t often think about what these things are or where they come from.

    • jacqueline says:

      thanks everyone for your kind words!

      stacy – yeah, i did too for many years, but only recently did i see fresh turmeric root that a customer at my juice bar had purchased at a specialty health food story. he had me juice it with a little fresh ginger and lemon and we each drank about 4 oz shots of it. it was amazing! i wish it was more prevalent here but the customer did mention that they are starting to grow in hawaii, so maybe we’ll see more fresh turmeric in american groceries in the years to come.

  4. What a great blog you have here! I love reading about all the health benefits of what I’m eating – and I esp love ginger, so am excited to use it in all these new ways that you introduced us to – shall certainly be back. Awesome blog!!

  5. This was an AMAZING post, thank you so much for all the great information. I cook with ginger a lot, but always in it’s dried, powder form. Today was the first time I bought raw ginger, I can’t wait to work with it.

  6. MayberryMike says:

    Oh man WOW. Really great post. And really really nice visual design, including photos. I am not the world’s biggest tofu fan but that one pic made my mouth water (ok so I haven’t lunch yet either …..)
    I have seen ginger and also horseradish mentioned when talking health benefits. Additions and subtractions to diet are overlooked too often when talking about health!
    My old neighbor has been battling sinus infections for years and is now having a balloon sinuplasty operation to open things up. I remember getting into a discussion w/ him about diet and then nasal irrigation and his eyes just kind of glazed over.
    Anyway thanks again for posting. Now if I can just find someplace downtown that will serve me some sort of ginger/tofu dish ………

  7. AMK says:

    Supplements can be of great help in getting rid of free radicals to our body. A good source of vitamins and antioxidants to suffice what we lack from food intake.

  8. Ginger is botanically known as Zingiber officinale, and is one the of the world’s favorite spices. Extracts of ginger root are often found in herbal formulations for digestive and respiratory disorders. More recently, ginger has been found to have anti-inflammatory properties.

  9. Reignier Curay says:

    ginger really helps human beings. its the gift from God that we can use for treatments.

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