While we may not think of it, most of the herbs and spices in our pantry got there because of their healing properties. Everyday herbs like parsley, turmeric and cinnamon should be considered part of your medicine cabinet, not just your kitchen cabinet. But there are lots of others, too.
One of my all-time favorite medicinal herbs is ginger. Besides being a spice often relegated to curries and holiday treats, ginger has been shown to help calm upset stomachs, soothe nausea, relieve pain and lower inflammation. Here’s how to incorporate this powerful healer into your routine, and reap the stomach-soothing benefits all season long.
Researchers say that it’s the volatile oils and phenol compounds that give ginger its healing powers. While you can eat it fresh or cook it into stews, treats and curries, a tea made from ginger is often the quickest and easiest way to reap the benefits. Just a few minutes of steeping can deliver high levels of vitamin C and amino acids, as well as trace elements like zinc, sodium, calcium and phosphorus. Plus, since there are no known side effects, you’re free to take it as long as you like.
Here are all the ways ginger can help you feel better:
One of the first things most people notice about ginger is its spice. Thanks to its volatile oils, ginger’s spiciness acts as an appetite stimulant, which prepares the digestive tract for food. If you suffer from indigestion, bloating, gas or stomach discomfort after eating, consuming ginger before meals may help.
Ginger is also good for nausea and morning sickness, and can quickly soothe an upset stomach. Taking 1-1.5 grams of ginger is said to help prevent many different types of nausea, but especially sea sickness, chemotherapy-related nausea and food-born stomach ailments.
Ginger can also help the body fight infection. Ginger is said to increase core body temperature and promote circulation, which helps white blood cells get to the source of the infection and attack invading bacteria. Especially when combined with raw honey, ginger is an effective remedy for cold and flu symptoms, and can even be used topically to kill bacteria and promote wound healing.
Ginger has potent anti-inflammatory properties, which might help explain why it’s often used to soothe minor aches, pain and cramps.
Ginger root is readily available in the vegetable section of most grocery stores. While it’s usually sold in large chunks, if you have leftover ginger root, you can freeze it to use later or simply add it to soups, smoothies or homemade cold + flu remedies.