In merry old England during the 17th century, a pound of ginger could be traded at the market for one healthy female sheep. This twisted and gnarled herb has been around for thousands of years, valued not only as a seasoning but also for use in herbal medicine.
When brewed as a tea, it can ease morning sickness and perk up sluggish digestion. To make the tea: Cut 2 slices of clean and peeled ginger root into thin slices; place in a pan with 2 cups of water; boil gently for 10 minutes. Stir in a few drops of fresh lemon juice and some honey if you like. Ginger tea is also wonderful for motion sickness. Have a cup or two of the tea before riding in a car or before embarking on a cruise.
Ginger also helps to soothe sore joints and overworked muscles. Ginger contains anti-inflammatories called gingerols that can help ease the pain and discomfort of osteo-or rheumatoid arthritis. Currently, doctors are investigating whether it can prevent migraines or at least lessen the severity of these headaches.
Fresh ginger has a warming effect on muscles. Not only can you drink ginger in tea, you can also apply it to achy joints. Grate a few tablespoons of the root, wrap it in cheesecloth, place it in hot water for 30 seconds, then apply it directly on the sore areas for a few minutes. This is called a poultice in the herb world. It’s been around a long time, and it has not lost its effectiveness.
To keep our immune system strong, try a powdered ginger supplement. Most capsules come in 250 mg. Ask your doctor about any supplements before you begin taking them. Ginger is not for everyone, especially for anyone who is taking blood thinners. It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor before taking any supplements, including ordinary vitamins.
Keep fresh ginger in the vegetable crisper of the fridge. Wrap the ginger pieces in a damp paper towel and enclose it in a zip lock bag. If properly stored, it will stay fresh for weeks. You can also grate ginger and freeze it. Peel it first and then grate. Freeze in small containers and use it within 60 days. Grated ginger can be added to stir-frys, teas, add a pinch of finely grated ginger to warm water, stir and gargle with it to ease a sore throat.
Look for dark, healthy roots in the produce section when buying fresh ginger. Don’t buy more than you can use in a few weeks.
Too much ginger? Try rooting a piece in water and plant it in the spring after the danger of frost has passed. Ginger will flourish in hot weather, growing to a height of 4 to 5 feet.
Ginger ~ it’s a good thing.
~ Meadow Walker