We add it to cookies, candies, curries and breads. We make beer, ale and tea with it. We mince it, pickle it, preserve it and juice it. What is it?
It’s that knobbly little root called ginger.
The spicy, aromatic root complements sweet foods as much as savory foods and is used around the world – which is just as well considering it’s such a powerful superfood.
It’s anti-everything bad – antifungal, antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and is a powerful natural analgesic (pain reliever).
Ginger for digestion, nausea and pain
Ginger can relieve all manner of ailments associated with the digestive system. When consumed, ginger stimulates the gall bladder to release bile, which aids digestion, and in turn increases the amount of nutrients assimilated by the body. Besides helping digestion, ginger is also used to give symptomatic relief from stomach cramps, diarrhea and bloating.
It’s also great for nausea – whether the cause is morning sickness, nausea caused by chemotherapy or sea sickness.
Its anti-inflammatory properties can be used to relieve joint pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis and osteoarthritis. It can also help to lower cholesterol and thin the blood, reducing the chances of high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke.
If you have a cough, cold, sore throat or fever, ginger comes to the rescue. Because consuming ginger makes the body feel warm and promotes perspiration, it can help the fever to break faster. Consuming a tea made with ginger will aid congestion and relieve the pain of a sore throat.
The best way to get the most out of ginger is to make a ginger tea. To do this, boil two cups of water with two tablespoons of grated fresh ginger for around ten minutes. Strain the mixture into a cup or mug, and add honey and lemon to taste.
Grow your own
Not only is it a powerful natural remedy, but some varieties of ginger grow into beautiful tropical flowers in bold shades of crimson, pink and orange. Next time you buy some ginger root, why not pick up an extra one and plant it in a pot or in your yard?
To grow your own, select a fresh plumb root with well developed ‘eyes’ (horn-like little buds at the end of each finger). Soak it in warm water overnight.
Plant your ginger roots with the buds facing up in good, rich soil that drains well. It can be grown in pots or planted directly in the ground but either way, ginger does not like direct sunlight, so position it so that it is in a sheltered spot with plenty of indirect light.
Ginger loves water and humidity, so this is a great time of year to get it started, but be warned, it’s a slow grower. It’ll be about four months before you can start to harvest the roots.