Ginger has long been known for its health benefits, most prominently in treating nausea – but that’s not all it’s good for. In Chinese Medicine it is considered warming, of pungent taste and directed to treat the Lung, Spleen and Stomach. Ginger is a staple in my household! My boyfriend is a ginger fanatic and whether I like it or not, ginger finds its way into some dish we’re cooking up. Ginger can be consumed raw in food, as a tea, tincture or dried powder. Here are some of its health benefits:
1. Nausea/motion sickness – General nausea, or nausea associated with undergoing chemotherapy treatments. Best when taken as a tea. For motion sickness, sometimes you don’t have access to sipping tea so carry around some ginger crystals to pop when in a bind and in need of a quick fix.
2. Quells morning sickness associated with pregnancy – Best taken as a tea, but if you find you still can’t stomach smelling or sipping the tea, try the ginger crystals.
3. Ease menstrual cramps/PMS – Use as a tea or tincture or take a bath with dried ginger in it in the days leading up to your period. Ginger helps to increase blood flow therefore reducing pain associated with menstrual cramping. It can also help with other aches and pains associated with PMS such as low back pain and breast tenderness.
4. Treat the common cold and cough – In Chinese medicine the five main organs (Heart, Liver, Kidney, Lung, Spleen) all have a certain taste attributed to it. The taste of the lung is pungent. In this way, the pungent quality of ginger can disperse the cold pathogen in the body, particularly in the lung. Dried ginger is best in this instance as it is more warming especially when you are trying to treat a cold. Use dried ginger in tea form, or cooked into food.
5. Ease stomach ache/abdominal pain – Ditch the ginger ale in the soda aisle and opt for ginger tea instead. Ginger ale doesn’t contain nearly as much ginger as you think it does and is mostly made up of sugar. If you really don’t want tea and you’re craving some bubbles, then give the real ginger beer (non-alcoholic) a try. You’ll spend more but the pungent taste of the real ginger will satisfy that bubbly feeling some people crave when they have an upset stomach. Plus, you may find you won’t go back to the “other ginger ale.”
6. Treats diarrhea – In Chinese medicine, consumption of too much raw food can lead to loose stools and so dried ginger is best to use in this case. Rice is binding, especially in cases of diarrhea so a congee made with rice and dried ginger can be used.
7. Flatulence – When used raw in cooking, ginger can help to relieve excess gas in the body by gently pushing it downwards. There’s nothing more uncomfortable then sitting in a restaurant at a dinner party with a belly full of gas. Order something with fresh ginger!
8. Arthritic pain – If you’re the kind of person whose arthritic pain is exacerbated once the cold weather hits then ginger could be beneficial in increasing circulation and reducing pain. Cold constricts, so when your blood vessels are constricted say, in your legs, you are not getting enough blood flow – hence, pain is created. It’s most effective incorporating dried ginger into your food, or drinking ginger tea daily. This will prevent future episodes of pain.
9. Antidote for seafood poisoning – It is no coincidence that sushi is served with raw sliced ginger or that many Asian fish dishes are made with fresh ginger. In Chinese Medicine, sushi is cold in nature (yin) and ginger is warm in nature (yang) and so it is also balancing as a dish.
10. Hair loss – Grating fresh ginger and gently massaging into the scalp is said to stimulate hair growth. You can do this using ginger alone, or a neutral carrier oil such as sesame oil.