Ginger, the “spice of life”, has been used for over 5000 years in the kitchen and as a healing medicine.
Today, research corroborates the ancient wisdom of using this plant for weak digestion, nausea, fatigue and pain.
Parts used medicinally: Rhizome
It is native to South-East Asia and over many centuries has been introduced to other tropical regions throughout the world. Jamaica has the reputation of producing the best grade of culinary ginger (and ginger beer!).
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginger is used to treat fatigue, a lack of energy and cold dispositions whereas in Ayurvedic medicine ginger is more associated with digestion, and tradition states that everyone should eat fresh ginger just before lunch and dinner to enhance digestion.
Despite its ancient roots, it has undergone rigorous scientific study over the past 50 years and is officially endorsed in Germany for the treatment of indigestion and to prevent motion sickness.
Ginger comes from the Zingiberaceae family. It grows up to 2ft tall and produces striking spikes of pink buds and yellow flowers. It requires temperatures of about 20℃ and moist conditions to grow. A new plant takes a minimum of ten months to grow a rhizome which is then harvested in autumn.
- Anti-emetic: Ginger is perhaps most commonly known as a treatment for nausea and sickness. It has found to be effective for nausea caused by motion, pregnancy and chemotherapy.
- Carminative: Ginger is both useful at relaxing and easing spasms in the gut that can cause pain and bloating. It also stimulates the flow of saliva, bile and gastric secretions to promote better digestion. As a warming herb ginger is particularly useful for those with weak digestion, helping to fire it up.
- Circulatory stimulant: Herbalists use ginger in clinical practice, often adding a small dose to tinctures to encourage a better circulation of the medicine round the body. It stimulates circulation, improving blood supply to extremities, warming cold hands and feet.
- Anti-inflammatory and analgesic: It is also an anti-inflammatory herb, helping to reduce pain, swelling and muscle and joint discomfort, especially for those suffering with painful periods or osteo or rheumatoid arthritis.