I adore those herbs that blur the line between medicine, food, herb, and plant. They defy any standardized definition and bring people medicine without too many bold claims, disguised by their taste appeal and typically, a rich folk tradition passed down in family recipes over the ages. One of the most versatile and well known of these “all-around” herbs is ginger (Zingiber officinale). Countless cultures and peoples look to this root for healing, medicine, flavor, and other gifts. In the U.S., ginger is quite a “mainstream” herb (or food, whichever you like to call it), being used in popular treats such as ginger-ale, gingerbread, and ginger snaps. During the holiday season ginger perks up in coffee blends and desserts like no other herb does. I like to believe that it has made its way into so many bellies by virtue of its many healing gifts as well as its delicious flavor. I believe that these herbs have conspired over countless generations to make sure they are a part of our lives because we really do NEED them. After all, it is one of the greatest herbs for winter wellness, bringing heat to the system and stimulating circulation.
Loved by all. An ancient Indian proverb says “every good quality is contained in ginger.” Traditional Chinese medicine views the “hot root” as the ideal remedy for a “devastated” yang, in other words a condition or body type/constitution that is overly cold or damp. It’s no surprise to learn that ginger is an herb of Aries whose element is fire. The root helps stimulate energy and is reputed to have been used by Madame du Barry to help the notoriously sluggish Louis XV reach the heights of lust (yes, it’s an aphrodisiac). Ginger’s effect on the body is cleansing — it promotes circulation and helps rid toxins and stagnancy, a deep form of healing. It is called a gem for the heart because it lowers cholesterol, prevents clotting, and reduces the risk of heart attack and stroke!
Ginger brings the Belly Bliss. The rhizome (the root that we eat) is shaped like the digestive tract, and using the doctrine of signatures, early healers instinctively used ginger to help soothe stomach problems and digestive complaints. We follow these early teachings today and can eat or drink ginger as a remedy for diarrhea, flatulence, stomach cramps, and gout. Originally, the Japanese ate pickled ginger (called gari) to ward off any illnesses or bacteria that might be found on raw fish, a practice we still follow today. Indeed ginger is antiseptic and antiparasitic, a warrior food. Ginger is the go-to plant for treating nausea and morning sickness. It also helps the body to metabolize and digest food by stimulating saliva and digestive enzymes.
Warrior Root. For winter-time, ginger is a fierce protector and ally against any yin type illnesses such as colds, flu, chills, poor circulation and frostbite. It is like a match that lights the fire within and burns all the bacteria and viruses to smithereens. The recipes for ginger teas, honeys, syrups, and candies are delicious and unfailing. Juliette de Baraicli Levy recommends using powdered ginger for toothaches!!
Remedy. One of my favorite ways to use ginger is to make a ginger hand/foot soak. I have Raynaud’s syndrome, so this is a great way to get my circulation in my hands and feet going. Using one small ginger “finger,” (about 2-3 inches) and 3 cups of water, I make a strong decoction of fresh grated ginger root. I then add half of it to a large bowl or basin with more warm water to fill. I dip my hands in it while it’s warm and feel the circulation flowing. When you apply ginger externally, it is normal for the area to turn red as bloodflow increases. Then I use the other half of the ginger brew diluted with more warm water for a foot soak. You can also use the water from the ginger brew as a compress to soothe pains, injuries, arthritis, rheumatism, or sore muscles. Simply dip a clean cloth in the brew while it is warm (not burning) and apply directly to effected area. You can also reuse the grated ginger from the decoction as a poultice applied directly on the skin where needed. What is your favorite ginger remedy/recipe?
Wishing you warmth and wellness xx gem