Originally published on Herbal Medicine from Your Garden
Ginger, Zingiber officinale, is well known to most of us, often found in powdered form in the spice rack. It’s a tropical plant, but you can grow your own indoors in pots. If you decide to do this, keep it out of direct sunlight and water it regularly, as it needs moist soil to do well.
Ginger is used across the world and is on the list of FDA “generally regarded as safe” herbs. It’s used in the US as a treatment for morning sickness, so one can take from this that it is one of the few herbal remedies which can be used by pregnant women.
However, it is not suitable for use by anyone who is taking Warfarin or other blood-thinning medications, and it is also not suitable for use by anyone suffering from gallstones.
Ginger root should be used fresh for herbal medicine, for preference, but if nothing else is available, powdered ginger from your local supermarket will do in extremis. I’ve also discovered that you can buy frozen ginger (chopped, not sliced, so no good for Chinese food). I have it in my freezer right now, it’s sold under the Taj label and my local Asda stocks it. Quite likely yours does too.
If you live near an Asian store, they will almost certainly have some fresh root on sale. Peel and chop the ginger root and make a standard infusion from 1 teaspoonful of fresh chopped or 1.5 teaspoonfuls of dried powdered root to 240ml (1 US cup, 8 fl oz) boiling water and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes. The infusion can be sweetened with honey if preferred.
The standard infusion can be used to treat coughs, colds and sore throats, to improve circulation, to increase perspiration and as a treatment for dyspepsia, flatulence (“gas” or “wind“) and colic. It’s said that chewing the root raw will also ease a sore throat, if you can take it!
I offer ginger root powder and various different variations on ginger tea including ginger green teabags in my online shop, or if you don’t like the taste, why not try ginger root 500mg capsules as a daily supplement?
As with all herbs used as remedies, it’s important that ginger in particular (being a root) is grown organically to avoid its properties being reduced or eliminated by foreign chemicals. To find out more about growing organic ginger visit the Gardenzone.
Update: I just came across this post about a new study showing that ginger root isn’t just for morning sickness, coughs and colds (as I’ve reported in my post about ginger’s health benefits but also works to help prevent colon cancer.
This is great news, especially in the light of the huge rise in rates of colon cancer over the past decade. But it begs a question: has there been a huge reduction in the amount of ginger eaten by the average person over this period? Are manufacturers of ginger nuts, ginger cake and crystallized ginger feeling the pinch?