Did your mom ever give you a glass of ginger ale to relieve nausea when you were a kid? Ginger has been settling stomachs for thousands of years. But that’s only one of its amazing properties. Besides being a delicious spice, it’s used to relieve headaches, arthritis, menstrual cramps and PMS, heartburn, high blood pressure and colds. It may even cure some types of cancer!
Science Proves Ginger’s Health Benefits
Besides putting a zing in your food and soothing an upset tummy, ginger has near legendary healing properties. In traditional Chinese medicine and the Unani natural medicine system of India, ginger’s beneficial qualities have been studied for many centuries. It’s a warming, drying herb that promotes yang-type energy.
Why is ginger so great? Along with powerful digestive enzymes, over twenty antioxidants and anti-inflammatory elements, it contains significant quantities of amino acids, potassium, magnesium, vitamin B6 and even essential fatty acids. It’s full of antioxidants and antimicrobials to boost and protect your immune system.
Medical journals have many reports on the health effects of ginger. It’s useful against rheumatoid arthritis, the heliobacter virus that causes ulcers, and chemotherapy nausea. The cancer-curing properties of ginger have been the subjects of several studies in Korea and Japan. Ginger extract is similar to ginkgo in some ways, reducing memory loss as well as inflammation and brain damage due to plaque. Some people take them together, and they’re both being studied for their effectiveness in treating Alzheimer’s disease.
Fresh ginger root is available at any grocery store. Keep it in the refrigerator. For stomach trouble and menstrual cramps, heat a cup of water to boiling, and add three or four slices of ginger root. Simmer for five minutes or so. Drink this before meals to stimulate appetite and prevent indigestion.
You can make a simple ginger rinse to cure dandruff. Start by juicing a few tablespoons of fresh ginger root, then add coconut oil and a bit of rosemary essential oil. Massage this on your scalp and leave it for half an hour, then shampoo as normal. You can also use olive oil for this, but coconut oil is especially beneficial for hair.
Headaches can be relieved with a poultice made of powdered ginger and warm water. Powdered ginger can also relieve toothache.
Bitters with ginger are available from Nature’s Answer. The liquid bitters are more readily absorbed than capsules. Put a few drops in a glass of water and drink it before meals. For hiccups and “stuffy” ears, hold a few drops in your mouth for about a minute, then swallow.
Ginger is a great seasoning for soups, stews and all kinds of meat and vegetable dishes. Powdered ginger and cinnamon together create a unique taste.
Growing Your Own
Ginger is a tropical rhizome. If you don’t live in a hot climate, you can still grow it in pots, keeping it outdoors in shade in warm weather and bringing it indoors in the fall.
Commercial ginger from stores may have been treated to prevent sprouting. It might still be usable. Soak it in water for 24 hours before planting. If grocery store ginger won’t grow for you, go to a nursery or a natural grocery or try an online store.
Ginger needs humidity and moisture. Use any good rich potting soil that will hold plenty of water, and mix with compost. Press the ginger rhizome into the top of the soil making sure the eye is facing up.
You should begin to see signs of growth within four months. Wait about ten months before digging up the plant and taking the root for use. Cut into pieces and freeze. Be sure to save several pieces with eyes and replant them immediately. Don’t dig up all of the ginger but leave some to grow. After two years it will produce beautiful fragrant white flowers.
Ginger plants are probably cat-safe, but ask your veterinarian to be on the safe side.
Be sure to keep ginger on hand at all times, both in your spice cabinet and your natural medicine cupboard. People who have chronic acid stomach or acid reflux disease are advised to avoid too much ginger. Consult your regular doctor and a natural health expert if you have any concerns.