SPICE UP YOUR LIFE
Common Names: Gingembre, East Indian Pepper
Botanical Name: Zingiberis officinalis
Plant Family: Zingiberaceae
Parts Used: Rhizome (most commonly known as the “root”)
Actions: Anti-inflammatory, anti-spasmodic, carminative, stimulating diaphoretic, expectorant, anodyne, antimicrobial, blood moving, and tonic (Meridians Affected: Heart, Lungs, Spleen Stomach, Kidneys)
Habitat: Ginger prefers warm, tropical (wet) climates. Native to Southeast Asia, cultivated ginger has now moved its way to NW India, Pakistan, South America, Chins, Japan, Africa and Australia. I have seen it growing in greenhouses within the Pacific Northwest, yet the rhizome rarely gets to the size of others growing in hot climates and natural, well-fertilized soils. This plant likes warmth, light and moisture…
Wild Ginger, Asarum caudatum or A. hartwegii, can be found growing in the Northern parts of California all the way north into B.C. It does not grow large rhizomes, but instead emerges from creeping rootstocks. Wild Ginger is found mainly in old growth forests (sometimes you will find one plant at the base of a cedar in a logged area, but that’s most likely if you are out romping around with your dog and totally caught off guard…).
Some say Wild Ginger and cultivated Ginger are completely different. Yes, they are from different families. Yes, they grow in completely different climates. And yes, they are both spicy and bring heat to the body. Wild Ginger makes you sweat. It will help anything cold and dry…it will help initiate secretion, so, like cultivated ginger, it helps with sinus and bronchial issues. And it can help with gas and digestive issues in low doses.
Too much Wild Ginger can cause gastric irritation or nausea (unlike cultivated ginger). It is not advised for pregnant women!
Collection: Cultivated ginger can be harvested 8-10 months after planting. Preserved ginger is harvested earlier when they are less fibrous. Wild Ginger can be harvested when needed. Remember these plants are found in old growth forests; it is not like nettle (taking over people’s properties). Ask permission to harvest wild ginger and if it is not right nor needed, do not harvest this plant.
Ginger helps with feelings of coldness, chills, sore throat from coldness, and flu with chills. Are you starting to see a pattern? Ginger is warming. It is also spicy, which helps with circulation. When your body is moving (energetically, and physically through digestion, blood flow and lymph flow, muscular and bone movements), you become warm. Ginger is a great herbal ally that aids movement within the body and therefore warms a person with chills or symptoms of cold.
Inflammation & Pain
Ginger helps pain caused by inflammation, coldness, and blood stagnation. Taken internally or applied externally ginger helps osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis inflammatory pain as well as muscle pain post-workout. Pain due to menstrual cramps or fibroids can be a symptom of stagnant blood (in TCM, pain is commonly an indicator of stagnant blood). In this case, ginger can be used topically to help move blood. I have had amazing results with a ginger fomentation to help ease/reduce lower back and menstrual pain (fomentations preparation listed below). And lastly, any “cold” pain may result with slow digestion (constipation & bloating) or lethargy and slowness. Take ginger internally to help warm the body.
Colds/Flu/Fever & Congestion
The hot potency of ginger works great for congested upper respiratory issues. It’s an antimicrobial that helps prevent further infection and it is also a stimulating expectorant. Ginger helps remove sticky mucus, relieves sore throats, and clears the nasal passageways. It can be used in a steam bath, applied as a sinus & chest salve, or taken internally. A strong cup of ginger tea can help during a fever, when a person is feeling cold and shivery.
Stomachache & Nausea
Have you ever seen ginger chews in someone’s car? Well, ginger is a quick fix for motion sickness. It helps to soothe an upset stomach and stops nausea and vomiting. Studies find that ginger is more effective that over-the-counter medications for nausea, motion sickness, and seasickness… This has even proven effective for patients with nausea from chemotherapy treatments.
Ginger’s antiseptic properties help in its effectiveness for treating gastrointestinal infections, such as food poisoning. It is also said to help slow digestion with symptoms such as:
· Stagnant, damp digestion
· Cold hands & feet
Heart Health & Blood Flow
Ginger has shown to help reduce blood glucose and reduce inflammation due to metabolic imbalances. Ginger helps balance cholesterol and insulin resistance due to diabetes. No, it does not serve as a substitute for diabetics and people with high cholesterol. Yet, it can help keep those with these heart/blood issues stay healthy and more balanced…. Along with diet, sleep and exercise, of course J
Plant Preparations: Culinary, Decoction, Powder, Honey, Tincture, Candied, Juiced, Vinegar
Ginger Fomentation by Michael Tierra (East West Herb School)
“to effectively stimulate blood and lymphatic circulation, relieve pain, restore warmth to cold joints, benefit the internal organs, and shrink or eliminate tumors.”
Grate, thinly slice, or finely chop a 2-inch piece of fresh, raw ginger. Infuse in 1-pint of hot (not boiling) water until the water turns yellow. Soak a cloth or a towel in the tea. Wring out the cloth and apply over the affected area while still hot (as hot as can be tolerated without burning). Cover the cloth with a towel or heating pad or hot water bottle. If desired, plastic covering may be used to protect bedding and furniture.
This treatment can be done 3-4 times a day, renewing the grated ginger each time.
Fresh or Dried Ginger Tea:
1-inch piece of ginger OR 2 tsp. cut dried ginger
8-10 oz. boiled water
Fresh: Put ginger (honey & lemon, optional) into a cup. Fill with just-boiled water. Cover and let steep for 15 minutes.
Dried: Place the dried ginger into a small saucepan with water. Heat until about boiled, cover and let simmer for about 8 minutes. Strain and add any yummy fixings (lemon/honey)
1 cup sugar
¾ cup shortening
4 Tbsp. molasses
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
½ tsp ground nutmeg
¼ tsp salt
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking soda
extra sugar for rolling dough into
- Cream shortening and sugar; add egg and molasses.
- Sift rest of ingredients together and stir into creamed mixture (do not overmix).
- Chill dough.
- Shape into 1-inch balls and roll in sugar.
- Bake in preheated 375F oven for 7-8 minutes. Cool.
- Makes 4 dozen. Serve with ginger cheese and pineapple mint cheese.
Planetary Herbology by Michael Tierra
The New Holistic Herbal by David Hoffman
Ginger; Featured Herb by Rosalee de la Forêt
Medicinal Plants of the Pacific West by Michael Moore
Herbalpedia by The Herb Growing & Marketing Network