Wellness Encyclopedia: Ginger

The root has been used for thousands of years by hundreds of cultures for countless health benefits…

For as long as I can remember, the sweet-spicy tang of ginger has been one of my favorite flavors. I have vivid memories of being at my aunt’s house, her administering a dose of homemade ginger ale to soothe my throat and stomach. The mixture was a far cry from the sugary-sweet soda available at the grocery store, but it brought near instant relief. Candied ginger could almost always be found in our cabinets at home, and every year a bag of ginger chews would pop up in our holiday stockings, a treat for my siblings and I to keep in our pockets to ward off school-borne colds and flu (and also maybe provide my mother with some peace and quiet? Those things are hard to chew!). All these years later, the root is a staple in my own home, used in tandem with turmeric or all on its own to boost flavor, encourage healing, and prevent sickness from spreading past my front door. And while it may be gaining traction in the medical and wellness communities as study after study brings ginger’s proven healing properties to light, the root has been used for thousands of years by hundreds of cultures for all the reasons listed above — and many more.

With the season of colds, flus and holiday eating upon us, I thought this was the perfect week to delve into all the stomach-soothing, cold-busting, flu-discouraging powers of ginger. Read on to learn more, and be sure to check out the super giftable recipe at the bottom. Not only is the outcome delicious but the process will make your home smell like heaven.

What is it? Prized for its root, also known as a rhizome, ginger is a flowering plant native to Southern Asia, where it has remained a key ingredient in cooking and Ayurvedic medicine for over 4,000 years. In fact, it’s believed that ginger is the most widely used condiment in the world. Flavorful and spicy, ginger lends itself well to a variety of uses, making it a popular addition not only to culinary dishes but to medicinal cures and homeopathic healing as well. Residing in the same family as powerful turmeric, ginger has been the subject of many a medical study for its use in treating everything from cancer to ulcers.

What are the benefits? While it contains trace amounts of manganese, which aids in bone health and density, the main beneficial components in ginger are potent gingerols. Gingerols are found in the oily resins that come from the ginger root and boast — big surprise — super powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. These healing gingerols have been shown to aid in the prevention of heart disease and other blood and vascular-related ailments by preventing blood clots. They’ve also been shown to be effective in the treatment of diabetes, certain forms of cancer, stomach ulcers and acid reflux. Ginger has also been used for centuries as a digestive aid, as it relaxes the muscles responsible for moving food from the stomach to the intestines — even the simple act of inhaling the scent of ginger essential oil can have a soothing effect on an upset stomach. Warm, spicy ginger is also an excellent addition to treatment for a cold or flu, as it warms the body, encourages lymph drainage, and increases saliva which lubricates the throat. And if you’re healthy but around someone else who is ill? The antibacterial properties of ginger have been shown to kill staph bacteria and other infections. Simply add a few drops of ginger essential oil in a glass of water and drink up — just be sure it’s not distilled in a carrier oil.

How do I use it? The best thing about ginger? Besides, you know, all those health benefits? It’s incredibly easy to incorporate into your routine! I love adding a slice of fresh ginger to my tea, or making a tea of its own using freshly peeled and sliced ginger, lemon and raw honey. Ginger can also be easily juiced and added to warm water, or incorporated into juice recipes to add a kick of flavor. It also makes an incredible addition to recipes both sweet and savory. Try my recipe for fermented ginger ale here, or try the recipe below to make your own candied ginger.

Candied Ginger

Ingredients:

½ cup peeled ginger, sliced into small pieces

½ cup coconut sugar

½ cup filtered water

Optional: More coconut sugar for dusting

Tip: Increase measurements evenly to make enough to give as gifts!

Place water and coconut sugar in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower heat to a simmer and add the ginger.

Simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes or until sugar and water is reduced to a syrup and the ginger is tender. Be sure to keep an eye on the pot so it doesn’t burn.

Carefully remove the ginger pieces using a fork or toothpick and transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet to dry. If desired, roll the dried ginger pieces in more sugar, they’ll be quite sticky so this method makes the pieces more giftable. Once dry, transfer to an airtight container.

To use: Nibble a little candied ginger to ease an upset stomach or to freshen breath after meals. It’s also just delicious, so I wouldn’t blame you if you just ate it as a treat! I also recommend adding a piece to a mug of tea for a little sweet-spicy boost.

Tip: If you have ginger syrup left over in the saucepan, transfer to a glass jar and use the mixture to flavor cocktails and drinks, drizzle it over desserts, or add to sweet recipes.

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This information is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease or issue. 
Please seek your doctor’s advice for any questions regarding a specific condition and before beginning any exercise, diet or health-related regimen.

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

  1. I took a tip from a client of mine with cancer that swears that ginger healed her stomach pain when she began chemotherapy. She told me to buy the thin pieces of organic ginger rather than the big fat pieces, and scrub them with a toothbrush bought just for this. Scrub away all the dirt, but leave the skin on. Then slice a few coin slices off and chew them, chewing each piece about 20 times. I took her advice and I love it! She also told me this is great for your teeth. She does her research and knows her stuff! Her doctors always applaud what she comes up with. She’s found so many natural ways to help her side effects and I find her very inspiring!

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