Zingiber officinalis

gingerAlso known as zingiber, Ginger is a potent culinary spice, often used for extra flavour in both sweet and savoury dishes. The root is the active component, which is widely available, both fresh and dried. A rich source of vitamin C, it also contains vitamin A along with magnesium, calcium and potassium.

Healing properties:
A ginger bath is a very healing experience. It promotes perspiration, which can hasten the process of eliminating toxins from the body, and stimulates circulation. In addition, a ginger bath will ease stress and menstrual cramps, and aid the healing of muscular injuries. When running a bath, add 2 tablespoons of powdered ginger to the water. Test the potency and add more ginger according to personal preference. For some, 2 tablespoons will be sufficient; others may wish to add up to 1/2 a cup. However, do not add more than 2 tablespoons if making a ginger bath for children, and reduce the dosage if running only a shallow bath. It is important to drink plenty of water whilst in a ginger bath, in order to replace the fluid which is being perspired.

On a smaller scale, a ginger footbath is ideal for brief relaxation when there is insufficient time for a full bath. It will also heal chilblains.

Ginger tea (1 teaspoon of powdered ginger to 1 cup of boiling water covered and allowed to stand for 10 minutes) will act as a digestive aid, which will dispel the heavy bloated feeling that follows a large meal. It will also act as a gentle laxative.

For more severe constipation, a preparation of ginger and flax seeds will be effective: 1 tablespoon of powdered ginger with 2 tablespoons of flax seeds simmered in 2 cups of water for 15 minutes. This mixture can be sweetened with honey if desired. It should be taken in 1/2 cup doses as necessary.

The milder ginger tea will also ease menstrual cramps, and relieve all forms of congestion. Any form of nausea can be almost instantaneously relieved with ginger tea, and it is safe for children and pregnant women. For particularly severe nausea, motion sickness and morning sickness, 1/2-2 teaspoons of powdered ginger taken straight and washed down with a glass of water will help enormously. Ginger capsules are available from health shops for the faint hearted (straight powdered ginger is rather intense), but pure powdered ginger will work much quicker and is gentler on the stomach.

Ginger is an excellent anti-inflammatory, both internally as a tea, and externally as a poultice. To make a ginger poultice, mix powdered ginger with a little warm water to form a stiff paste. Use sufficient quantity to cover the desired area of the poultice with 1/2 cm of the paste. Spread this on linen or gauze, and lay the poultice in a glass dish. Pour a little boiling water over it – enough to heat the poultice, but not so much that paste begins to wash away. Allow it to soak until the poultice reaches a temperature which is fairly hot, but bearable to touch. Apply to the affected area, ginger side down, and cover with a hot water bottle to maintain the heat. This is particularly useful for alleviating the pain of athletic injuries and rheumatoid arthritis.

To relieve headaches and migraines, a little ginger can be missed with flour and water to form a paste. Massage this paste onto the temples. This paste can be applied anywhere there is pain to provide gentle relief. It is useful as a milder and quicker alternative to a poultice.

For persistent congested sinuses, a ginger nasal rinse can be used. Make up a mild ginger tea (1/2 teaspoon of powdered ginger to 1 cup of water) and strain well. Holding one nostril closed, inhale the tea gently through the other nostril until it trickles down the back of the throat. Spit the tea through the mouth and blow the nose. Repeat for the second nostril. It may sound like an unpleasant procedure, but it will clear the sinuses brilliantly.

Excessive use of ginger (daily for 3-4 weeks) can result in over stimulation of the body.

Other uses: Powdered ginger placed into socks can warm the feet, and is particularly useful for winter activities such as skiing and ice-skating. Start with a mild dose of 1/2 teaspoon in each sock, and increase, if necessary, until the feet are comfortably warm. It is important to move the feet by walking as soon as the ginger in put into the sock to kick-start the circulation.

Ginger beer is delicious, refreshing and will aid digestion when drunk with a meal. Grate enough fresh ginger root to make 5 teaspoons. Pour 2 cups of water over the root and simmer gently for 15 minutes. Cinnamon sticks can be added during cooking for an extra taste. Sweeten with a little honey, and chill the mixture in the refrigerator. To serve, mix 1 part ginger concentrate with 1 part sparkling mineral water.

Growing ginger:

Ginger is best grown by division of mature plants in late spring. It requires rich, well-drained soil, and will not tolerate frosts. The roots will be ready to harvest 10 months after planting and will keep for 2-3 months after harvest. For longer storage, ginger root can be frozen and to use when frozen, grate or shave off the quantity needed as it goes kind of soft and water once thawed.
Ginger in Ayurveda


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