Ginger was universally seen as an antidote to the effects of cold, especially as it affects the digestive and respiratory systems.
Counteracts effects of cold on the body
Start by dipping your finger into some ground ginger spice and tasting a little. The sharp ‘acrid’ impact is almost immediate (dried ginger was the hottest spice around the world until chilli peppers were exported from America). What you feel is actually some of ginger’s constituents (gingerols and shagaols) stimulating receptors on the pain fibres in the lining of your mouth. The heat comes from the reflex increase in blood flow that results from the stimulation. This increased circulation is both at the site of the stimulation and also throughout the body, so that your core body temperature will rise quite quickly if you take enough of the spice. This is the key benefit of ginger.
Now move onto tasting the fresh ginger root that you can now buy in the vegetable section of most supermarkets. You will notice this is a much more elaborate spectrum of tastes. The acrid spiciness is still at the fore but now accompanied by a rich range of aromatic flavours. It is these which make fresh ginger almost a separate remedy in traditional Asian medicine.
All around the world the actions of traditional medicines were understood by their immediate sensory impacts. Click on each of (fresh) ginger’s key qualities below to learn more:
It is always important to check whether ginger suits you before using it widely. Although it is usually very acceptable, it does not suit everyone and if it does not feel comfortable it is best to hold back on it, rather than persist.
Ginger is fantastically warming and pungent. This is the key to its action and formidable reputation. Its constituents shogaols and gingerols stimulate the circulation, particularly the peripheral arterial circulation, making it a primary choice for improving all forms of circulatory inefficiencies and easing congestion throughout the body. It can be thought of as an inspired detox agent, bringing more healing blood into the tissues.
It provides warming relief from inflamed and painful musculoskeletal conditions. Ginger will improve peripheral circulation during a fever, encouraging diaphoresis and an increased level of perspiration.
Its heating properties translate into other benefits. In the airways the result is increased blood supply to the mucosa and loosening of mucus congestion. In the digestive system there is also increased mucosal blood supply that leads to improved digestive secretions; with the volatile oil content there is added antispasmodic activity that helps reduce colic as well as the spasm that generates nausea and vomiting.
In ancient China where the use of ginger originated, there were three versions: sheng jiang, fresh raw rhizome; gan jiang, dried raw rhizome; and pao jiang, dried, quick-fried rhizome. All three were considered warming remedies with particular affinity for the bowel and lungs, although their activity in these regions varied. Sheng jiang was considered the most “dispersing” of the three, meaning it had a broad spectrum of influence but short-lived effects. It was used in instances of toxicity and food poisoning and to induce diaphoresis (sweating) in fevers. Gan jiang, in comparison, had a less intense effect but longer lasting benefits. It was better matched with patterns of lack of muscle tone, congestion, or debility, which might have manifested as cold limbs, pale complexion, or undigested food in the stool. Pao jiang was used in much the same way as gan jiang, although it was considered to be a stronger remedy and was also applied to stop bleeding. Its action was the least dispersing of the three, meaning it did more to conserve energy and was the specific choice for conditions such as recurrent nosebleeds, spitting of blood and mid-cycle uterine bleeding.
The Sanskrit name for ginger vishwabhesaja, translates as panacea, a universal medicine benefiting everybody and all diseases. As in Chinese medicine, ayurvedic tradition also applied the rhizome in a variety of forms (fresh, dried, peeled, and unpeeled). Again, it was used consistently for digestive complaints, including nausea, diarrhoea, flatulence, dyspepsia (indigestion), and gastrointestinal spasm. It was also valued for chronic rheumatic complaints, venomous bites and for colds and flu. European and early American practitioners adapted both Asian traditions in their use of ginger. They recognised its benefits for digestion and used it as an appetite stimulant and carminative (to reduce bowel gas and cramp). They specifically recommended its use in cases of spasm, pain and flatulence or for apparent sluggish digestion or bowels. General debility, nervous fatigue with exhaustion and inadequate circulation were other Western uses. For colds and flu, ginger was used to increase the flow of mucus and as a diaphoretic, to increase sweating in fevers. Early American physicians also favoured ginger as a remedy for menstrual cramps.
Ginger may be usefully applied for a range of digestive, bowel and respiratory conditions. The modern practitioner can be guided by traditional wisdom and use ginger particularly when symptoms are made worse by cold and damp conditions and seem to be relieved by heat and dryness.
Ginger is probably the most valuable natural commodity in human history. The dried rhizome, carried long distances from Asia to Europe, was at one time worth more than its weight in gold. So in demand was ginger that it was made extinct in the wild 2,000 years ago. Ever since, it has lost its capacity to seed itself and is grown only from rootstock. This may be the first known case of humans causing a plant extinction!
Forgive Me For I Have Sinned tea
This help-you-feel-good tea is best to sip slowly after a night of indulgence. It aids digestion, stimulates sluggish circulation and the fresh ginger moves your energy upwards and outwards waking up your whole system. Its sweet-spicy nature diffuses any clouds obscuring your view. Enjoy.
Perfect for 2-3 cups
Incredible Immunity tea
This ‘Incredible Immunity’ tea recipe is perfect when you spot the first sign of a cold. This tasty blend helps your immune system fight bacteria and viruses which are most active at lower body temperatures.
This will serve 2–3 cups of flu-free freedom.
Winter Tonic Elixir
This is a fun and easy-to-make ‘winter tonic elixir’ with a mix of herbs that raise your energy and warm you to the core.
This makes 1 litre/35fl oz of tasty tincture.
These recipes are from Cleanse, Nurture, Restore by Sebastian Pole
Ginger has been safely used as a food for many centuries, with few adverse reports in daily cuisine, clinical practice or in clinical trials. Excessive doses may cause symptoms of indigestion, but most effects are likely to be transient exacerbations of gastric upset.
Based on clinical studies and centuries of safe use as a food by pregnant women, ginger appears to be safe for use during pregnancy when taken in recommended dosages. Similarly, ginger seems to be compatible with breast feeding.
Traditional Ayurvedic characteristics are
A review of six double-blind, randomized controlled trials with a total of 675 participants has confirmed that ginger is effective in relieving the severity of nausea and vomiting during pregnancy. The review also confirmed the absence of significant side effects or adverse effects on pregnancy outcomes. There are a number of earlier reviews demonstrating benefits for reducing nausea after operations, and in motion sickness. It also activates digestive enzymes to increase digestive performance.
Both the heat-generating constituents and the volatile oils in ginger are believed to explain why so many people with arthritis experience reductions in their pain levels and improvements in their mobility when they consume ginger regularly. It shows promise in reducing arthritic pain. One study showed ginger was effective in reducing pain and swelling in arthritis, with no adverse effects during the period of ginger consumption which ranged from 3 months to 2.5 years. It has been shown to reduce pain in excess exercise, and its effects in relieving spasm extend to benefits for painful periods.
It has been shown to reduce many markers of inflammatory activity, especially those associated with metabolic syndrome, obesity and prediabetic conditions. There is evidence that these effects, possibly mediated by reducing the inflammatory activity of fat cells, can translate into benefits for the control of obesity.
It may protect against the damage of ionising radiation. When used externally in the form of an oil or ointment, ginger reduces inflammation and pain.
To see the references used in this summary check our downloadable Expert Herbal Reality Resource pdf
0.75-3g (dried root); to reduce nausea and vomiting up to 6g, (or up to 3g in pregnancy). Multiply these quantities by 2-3 times for fresh root