Remedies from the Kitchen Cupboard: Ginger
There is something so satisfying about going into the kitchen and concocting a simple remedy from food. It seems so right to reach for a plant and make a tea to soothe an upset stomach. One of my first experiences using food as medicine was with ginger. I was listening to the radio and heard a well-known herbalist talking about making a ginger and garlic tea for sore throats. I tried it and had such great results that I use the remedy to this day. Since then, I have come to realize that ginger has many more uses, and is a great staple to have in the kitchen for both culinary and medicinal purposes.
Ginger has a long history of use for indigestion, nausea, and flatulence. It has a soothing effect on the gut—relaxing the smooth muscles of the intestinal tract and relieving nausea and gas. Ginger’s effects are so strong that it has actually been shown to act better than Dramamine in relieving motion sickness. Small doses of ginger have also been proven to be safe and effective in relieving morning sickness in pregnancy.1
In clinical studies, ginger has been shown to decrease pain and swelling in people with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis.2 These effects are believed to be caused from the anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger called “gingerols.” Gingerols inhibit the body’s production of inflammatory molecules.
In Traditional Chinese medicine, ginger has a long history of use for sore throats. Consumed as a tea, it has direct anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.
It is a good idea to keep a piece of fresh ginger root around the kitchen since using ginger as a remedy is very simple:
- Nausea—steep a 1/2 inch slice (chopped into small pieces) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes.
- Sore throat—steep a 1/2 inch slice (chopped) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Add lemon, a small amount of honey and/or cinnamon to taste.
- Sea sickness—chew on a piece of crystallized ginger. Crystallized or “candied ginger” can be found at your local grocery store.
- Arthritis—consume ginger regularly with meals, use at least a ½-inch slice when cooking, in sauces, in salad dressings, and so on—be creative!
Nancy Silva, ND
Dr. Nancy Silva is a licensed naturopathic physician in California. She has more than 20 years of health care experience in diverse areas such as emergency medicine, primary care, and naturopathic medicine. She holds a Baccalaureate in Biology from the University of California and a Doctorate in Naturopathic Medicine from Bastyr University.
Currently, Nancy teaches nutrition courses for the Health and Wellness department at Kaplan University. She also enjoys writing and regularly contributes to the well-known web farm directory Local Harvest.