The Benefits of Herbal Medicine: Ginger
This is the sixth in the Benefits of Herbal Medicine series and today we’ll be concentrating on the wonders of Ginger.
Ginger is one of those spices people associate only with cookies, cakes and candy. Yes, it does lend a great taste to these treats. But little do people know the wonderful medicinal qualities found in this tangy, pungent tropical root.
The history behind the medicinal uses of Ginger goes back to ancient Roman times and even beyond that in the Orient. The Romans used to take slices of ginger, wrap them in tiny bits of bread and eat this after a heavy meal to aid in digestion. This may be the origin of gingerbread.
In the Orient, Ginger was used in cooking to add a kick to many foods. It certainly did that, but it was more useful as a cure for various ailments. Women suffering from severe morning sickness were urged to take ginger tea upon rising. This worked like a charm to settle the stomach. It also helped with motion sickness and seasickness. Research has finally proved the claim by Chinese herbalists that heart disease and arthritis are also helped with the continuous use of Ginger.
Ginger works to maintain inner ear equilibrium like that often lacking in those suffering from Vertigo. Believe me when I say it works for this! I have vertigo–or rather I have kept it at bay ever since learning that Ginger is good for this– and now I take fresh ginger almost religiously either as a tea or in food. Very rarely do I get that terrifying feeling of the world spinning when I’m sitting or standing perfectly still.
Fresh ginger root
Ginger ale is now considered just a soft drink but back in colonial times it was the medicine of choice for upset tummies. Moms know that a bit of ginger ale is the best thing to settle a queasy stomach. As such, they keep it around the house just in case. Annie Jean’s easy to make Ginger tummy-tamer candy works for this too and kids love it.
The only trouble with Ginger is unless you live in the tropics, it isn’t very easy to grow. But it is available readily in ground and powered form on any spice shelf in supermarkets, and the fresh root can be found in most good produce shops, bodegas and especially in Chinese food supply stores.
I always say fresh is best and in this particular case it really is true. So, I always have my husband pick me up some ginger root from Allentown where they have great produce shops with all manner of tropical fruit.
The ginger is an oddly shaped root which takes a bit of doing to peel. The peel, however, does not go into the compost bin. Instead it goes into the teapot. Once there I pour boiling water and allow it to steep. This makes a wonderful smelling tea perfect for staving off nausea or simply to enjoy even when nothing ails you. Yes, it’s that tasty!
The ginger root I grate or chop finely and cook with a bit of sugar water until it is syrupy. While this is not exactly a jelly nor candied ginger, I use it somewhat as if it were. What I mean is I will take a half teaspoon of this sugared and cooked ginger and stir it into oatmeal, farina or even plain or vanilla yogurt or ice cream. It’s one of my favorites! If you know what vertigo is like, you’ll understand why.
A few other ailments eased by Ginger include:
- Menstrual cramps- the same properties in ginger which help ease stomach and intestinal cramps work on the uterus.
- Colds and flu- In increasing the immune system’s ability to fight off infection,ginger helps with colds and the flu virus.
- Arthritis- Anti-inflammatory properties help treat this painful ailment.
- High blood pressure- Has been proven effective in lowering high blood pressure.
- Cholesterol- lowers bad cholesterol levels.
- Heart disease and strokes- Prevents internal blood clots which in turn can cause heart attack and some types of stroke.
*One bit of warning: if you suffer from sleeplessness do not take Ginger before bedtime. Some folks may awaken in the night if they take a very strong ginger tea directly before bedtime. Also some people can experience a mild to severe itching all over the body after consuming ginger. This may be a mild allergic reaction. If either of these symptom occur lower the intake quantity or discontinue use.
Glory Lennon learned about the benefits of medicinal plants from her parents, who often expounded on the wonderful, almost magical properties of various plants within the garden. The art of homemade medicinal preparations is something she knows firsthand. You can find more on medicinal herbs at Green Thumb Articles.