There is nothing more soothing to an upset stomach than a warm cup of ginger tea. Ginger is in just about everyone’s home, but few people know just how versatile it is as a medicine.
Ginger has been used for thousands of years in India for many different ailments, plus it’s a popular ingredient in everyday cooking. It’s even added to chai tea to help counteract the negative effects of caffeine. Ginger is not only favored in India—it’s recognized as an effective home remedy by many other cultures around the world.
Ginger is at the top of my natural home remedy rescue list. It’s been tested and researched by the medical community and most of ginger’s traditional uses have been proven to be effective. Studies show ginger as an effective digestive aid, anti-inflammatory and immune booster. Ginger is also being studied for the treatment of colon and ovarian cancer.
In Ayurveda, food is the basis for a healthy, balanced mind and body. If your digestion is working properly, chronic disease cannot take root in your body.
Ginger stimulates the digestive “fire” or agni by helping the body to release the proper enzymes to break down food so nutrients can easily be absorbed. For people suffering from appetite loss, such as during chemotherapy, ginger can promote normal hunger.
Ginger is proven to be a powerful treatment for nausea, morning sickness and motion sickness. Studies touting the benefits of ginger are prevalent enough that many doctors recommend the use of ginger for nausea over prescription medications. Ginger offers safe, effective relief from severe cases of morning sickness for women who do not want to take medications while pregnant.
Ginger is also excellent for relieving gas and abdominal pain. If you’re tired of your spouse’s gas problem, bring ginger into your kitchen.
Ginger contains strong anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols. These naturally occurring compounds help reduce pain and increase mobility especially if you’re suffering from rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis.
Ginger not only lowers inflammation, but also has molecules that improve joint circulation. Studies show that ginger is as effective as ibuprofen for the treatment of osteoarthritis, without any negative effects on the stomach. In fact, ginger actually helps to alleviate stomach problems rather than cause them. If you’re suffering from arthritis, add ginger to your daily routine to help relieve the pain without damaging your gut.
Ginger is fantastic for immune health. It warms the body and helps break down the accumulation of toxins in the organs, particularly the lungs and sinuses. Ginger helps cleanse the lymphatic system, which is one of the major waste disposal methods of the body.
By opening up the lymphatic channels, ginger prevents the accumulation of toxins in the respiratory system that makes you susceptible to infections, especially viruses. It doesn’t take long to feel the benefits of ginger when you have a sore throat or a cold. Ginger is a must-have food during flu season!
Ways to Use Ginger
There are several ways to incorporate ginger into your life. You can easily purchase ginger supplements. The typical starting dose is 250 mg a day but depending on the condition being treated higher doses can be used.
The typical reason to increase ginger is to further boost agni and burn off ama (toxins). If you want to take more than 3 grams of ginger a day, I recommend consulting an Ayurvedic practitioner to make sure your dosha type can tolerate it.
Although ginger is suitable for all three doshas—Vata, Pitta and Kapha—at higher doses it can aggravate Pitta resulting in stomach upset, rashes and diarrhea. If you are experiencing excess Pitta (showing signs of diarrhea, frustration, irritability and rashes), you will want to avoid higher doses of ginger until your Pitta is in balance.
My favorite way to use ginger is by adding it directly to my meals. I typically cut ½ inch of fresh ginger and cut it into small pieces and sauté it with other spices to add that extra kick to my dishes. During flu season, I make ginger tea a couple of times a week to keep my immune system strong.
Recipe: Fresh Ginger Tea
- 1-2 inches of fresh ginger root
- 2 cups water
Cut one inch of fresh ginger root—use two inches if you want the tea to be stronger. Cut it into small pieces and add it directly into a pot of water. Boil for 10 minutes.
You can add honey and lemon to taste—wait until the tea is comfortable to touch to add the honey. Put the tea in a thermos and take small sips throughout the day.
Now you have an immune-boosting, sore throat-relieving, stomach-calming tonic made in your own kitchen.
Seeds of Wisdom
The ginger plant adds a brilliant splash of color to your vegetable garden. I still remember the first time I saw the flowers of a ginger plant in Thailand with their vibrant red petals reaching for the sun in perfect symmetry. I was surprised that such a hearty, medicinal root had flowers that were so dramatically beautiful. It is nature’s work of art aesthetically as well as medicinally.
In Ayurveda, strong digestion is the starting point for health as well as the endpoint. Without healthy digestion, chronic disease is inevitable and with it, chronic disease cannot take root.
Ginger is a plant that was designed by nature to rekindle a struggling digestive fire, or agni, which is why it is a common ingredient in many Ayurvedic formulations as well as a staple of the Ayurvedic diet. For anyone struggling with weak digestion, even one small piece of fresh ginger can boost digestive fire within hours.
Our modern life does not always support healthy digestion and ginger is a convenient, inexpensive and safe way to combat that. Whether you plant ginger in your garden for its sheer beauty or bring it into your kitchen for its delicious and potent healing power, it is a worthwhile addition to every home.