“Everything good is found in ginger,” states an old Indian proverb. The aromatic, spicy root has long been used in both traditional and Western healing systems to make tea. I use it whenever one of us is ill in my family and always keep it stocked in my kitchen. It’s perfect for that nasty cold or an upset stomach—and it only takes 20 minutes to make. The best part is that it can be paired with rye whiskey or rum for a winter cocktail. This drink holds special significance for me as it was one of the first drinks I used to make for my son whenever he was sick (sans the rum). Today we still make this same drink for each other whenever one of us is feeling in need of a pick-me-up.
Eastern View: Ginger is moist and dry at the same time and is known as a universal medicine benefiting everybody and all diseases. Especially good for Vata disorders, this is one of Ayurveda’s best go-to spices. When using ginger, think digestion, lungs and circulation.
Ginger with its pungent and sweet taste warms the digestive system, increases digestive fire (agni) and helps in the secretion of digestive enzymes. Also useful in nausea, especially travel-sickness, gas bloating and stomach gripping – it has a specific action against E. Coli and Shigella bacteria.
Ginger is great when used in menstrual cramps as it regulates Vata in the lower abdomen. Despite its warm energy, it also is an anti-inflammatory. It has the properties of being able to warm and cool and is really beneficial at nourishing the reproductive system.
Ginger has a unique effect (prabhava). It’s post-digestive quality is sweet which means its long term effect is anti-inflammatory and nourishing while its initial effect is warm and stimulating for the digestion. That’s good news for anyone that has digestive and inflammatory problems.
Western View: Ginger contains Gingerol, a substance with powerful medicinal properties. It has been used to help digestion, reduce nausea and help fight the flu and common cold, to name a few.
Ginger appears to be highly effective against nausea. relieving nausea and vomiting after surgery, and in cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy .But it may be the most effective when it comes to pregnancy-related nausea, such as morning sickness.
Ginger has been shown to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain. In one study, consuming 2 grams of ginger per day, for 11 days, significantly reduced muscle pain in people performing elbow exercises. Ginger does not have an immediate impact, but may be effective at reducing the day-to-day progression of muscle pain. These effects are believed to be mediated by the anti-inflammatory properties.
Osteoarthritis is a common health problem that involves degeneration of the joints in the body, leading to symptoms like joint pain and stiffness. Interestingly in a controlled trial of 247 people with osteoarthritis of the knee, those who took ginger extract had less pain and required less pain medication. Another study found that a combination of ginger, cinnamon and sesame oil, can reduce pain and stiffness in osteoarthritis patients when applied topically.
Just to note this remedy is often given as an ayurvedic remedy for Vata type arthritis.
Ginger has been shown to lower blood sugar levels and improve various heart disease risk factors in patients with type 2 diabetes.
Warm Spiced Ginger Tea
- 4 oz or 4 inch piece ginger root, sliced
- 4 tablespoons honey, raw
- 5 cardamom pods
- 1 star anise
- 10 whole cloves
- juice of 1 lemon
- Add sliced ginger, star anise and cardamom to 4 cups boiling water. Simmer for 20 minutes
- Add in cloves and simmer for additional 5 minutes
- Cut the heat. Add juice of one lemon.
- Sweeten with honey, filter, and serve in mugs.
Ginger is one of my favorite pantry staples. Download my free guide below on how to stock your Ayurvedic kitchen.