As winter settles in, I am grateful for my old warming friend, Ginger, officially known as Zingiber officinale.
Years ago, when I began my herbal studies, I was delighted to discover this spicy and warming rhizome (not really a root) which makes my favorite winter tea. From the same family as Turmeric and Cardamom, Ginger is a beloved spice and food source, around the world. I would even argue that Ginger is a super food.
I find it so interesting that ownership of Ginger crops or Ginger trade routes were associated with great wealth in both Ancient China and Greece (1)! Tasty plants with preservative properties like Ginger and Turmeric were highly valued before refrigeration.
In fact, the beneficial properties of Ginger are astounding! It is my favorite natural remedy for sluggish digestion. Much of the research cited on Pubmed shows Ginger’s usefulness for the digestive system.
In addition to these useful digestive qualities, Ginger's support for inflammation means it will help prevent and repair damage to tissues throughout the body. You may even notice a reduction in other aches and pains. Ginger is food that can make you feel better.
Ginger enjoys a long history of traditional use for colds and flus (1). Ginger Tea is comforting and warming, a traditional diaphoretic. This means ginger will encourage a a more productive fever, our body's own response to infection.
Around here, we use the "Ginger Sweat" when dealing with a cold or flu. Drink copious amounts of Ginger Tea with Lemon and Honey during the day and before bed. Several cups. Reserve a jar full (before you've added sweetener) to add to a bath before bed if you can. Several cups of tea and a bath will encourage a useful “sweating out” which leaves you feeling refreshed and much better the next day.
While Ginger is classified by the FDA as GRAS be sure to use common sense when trying something new (2). Any food could be problematic to some individuals.
Whenever introducing something new, start with a small amount. If you do not tolerate it (in other words it makes your tummy hurt or you get some other unwanted side-effect) stop drinking or eating that new food or drink. If you do not have a true reaction, and it is something healthy, you can try to re-introduce it in small amounts. If tolerated, gradually add a little at a time. Your body may just need to ease in to a new friendship.
Enjoy this recipe for my favorite Ginger Tea with Lemon and Honey
Ginger provides a feel good winter boost even when you are not feeling sick. It’s spicy deliciousness is almost always a big hit!
Schulick, Paul. Ginger: Common Spice and Wonder Drug. 3rd Kalindi Press, 2012.