Nancy's Nutrition Corner

"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food," Hippocrates.

Ginger, A Remedy from the Kitchen Cupboard

To me, there is something so satisfying about going into the kitchen and concocting a simple remedy for myself from food. It just seems so right to reach for a plant and make a tea to soothe an upset tummy. One of my first experiences with using food as medicine was with ginger. I was listening to the radio and heard a well known herbalist talking about making a ginger and garlic tea for sore-throats. I tried it and had such great results that I use this remedy to this day. Since then, I have come to realize that ginger has many more uses, and is a great thing to have hanging around in the kitchen for both culinary and medicinal purposes.

Gastrointestinal Discomfort
Ginger has a long history of use for indigestion, nausea, and flatulence. It has a soothing effect on the gut—relaxing the smooth muscles of the intestinal tract, relieving nausea and gas. Ginger's effects are so strong that it has actually been shown to act better than Dramamine in relieving motion sickness. Small doses of ginger have also been proven to be safe and effective in relieving morning sickness in pregnancy.

In clinical studies, ginger has been shown to decrease pain and swelling in people with both osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. These affects are believed to be from the anti-inflammatory compounds in ginger called "gingerols". Gingerols inhibit the body's production of inflammatory molecules.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine, ginger has a long history of use for sore-throats. Consumed as a tea, it has direct anti-viral and analgesic effects.

Suggestions for use:
It's a good idea to keep a handy piece of fresh ginger root around the kitchen. Using it as a remedy is very simple:

For Nausea — steep a 1/2 inch slice (chopped into small pieces) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes.

Sore-throat — steep a 1/2 inch slice (chopped) of fresh ginger in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Add lemon, a small amount of honey and/or cinnamon to taste.

Sea sickness — chew on a piece of crystallized ginger. (It has become common practice for sailors to keep a bag of candied ginger on their boats).

Arthritis — consume ginger regularly with meals, use at least a 1/2 inch slice when cooking, in sauces, in salad dressings, etc—be creative!

Nancy Silva, ND is a licensed naturopath with a penchant for good food. Her monthly column discusses the nutritional aspects of some of the foods available through LocalHarvest. You can contact Nancy from her listing on our website.

Back to the June 2008 Newsletter