Ginger~Straight from the Root : January’s Featured Herb

*Sorry folks had meant to post this in January be watching for February’s Herb.

I have been sick, a lot lately.  I do not remember ever before in my life being quite so run down.  Our family has a cough that we just cannot get rid of.  It started in October; just when I think we are over it, it starts up all over again.  I think I am the only one that seems to get a lovely sinus thing going on with it, the rest of the family gets some congestion but predominately it is just a nasty cough.

I have always had an interest in herbs and their many perks, from adding wonderful flavour to meals to their many medicinal benefits.  This fall and winter has definitely spurred my interest further.  I want to have a well stocked medicine chest that I don’t have to worry about what is actually in the medicine.  If there is a plant that can naturally help that particular ailment then why not use it.  I know there are some who would caution and warn against such practices but I am not going to just flippantly hand my family various herbs to munch without much research.  Yet many people do not give a second thought about what is in that bottle of Tylenol or Advil.  (I was one of them.)

We are seeing a rise in deaths caused by over the counter and prescription drugs.  Here is a link to an article I recently read about Tylenol .  Just head over to YouTube and type in, ‘Dangers of Tylenol’ and you get many, many videos that come up.  Sadly rather under watched I’d say.  My point is that whether you buy some cold medicine at the store or make a tincture at home we all need to do some research about what it is we are putting in to our own bodies.

All that to say that once a month I want to highlight a different herb and share some of my findings about it.  I had really hoped I would have had more time this month to experiment with some of the various recipes I came across, yet with being under the weather the time just slipped by.  I will most likely update this post as we try different recipes so that I can use this as a reference too.

benefits of ginger2If you missed it in the title this month’s herb of focus is GINGER!  I know, I know, some of you may be saying, “Hey, that is a spice not an herb.”  Well, the jury is still out on that.  I think, traditionally, things such as ginger, cloves, and cinnamon were called spices, while leafy plants like oregano, thyme, and basil were referred to as herbs.  However, those terms are now often used interchangeably.  If you are a spice/herb purest I apologize as I will be using the term herb to encompass both.

Lastly, before I dive in I need to add the disclaimer that I am not a medical provider, that the opinions expressed here are mine and should not be used in place of seeking medical attention.

Ginger, as a culinary ingredient, I had shied away from it in the past.  To be honest, I thought very little of ginger.  Sure I had a jar of ground ginger that I would dig out when I was making stuffing, but past that I really didn’t give this wonderful root much thought.  Raise your hand if your Mum gave you ginger ale when you were sick.  Mine did.  As a child it seemed like it was a treat to cheer me up when I wasn’t feeling well but Mum had something else in mind, she knew ginger would help settle a tummy.  Now I know it has lots of sugar and other stuff in it, definitely not the best route to go, but the idea of ginger is right on the mark.

Ginger is not just a creepy looking root (always made me think of some kind of creepy creature’s foot).   Ginger can help with upset tummies.  Over Christmas I was hit with my almost annual bout of the stomach bug.  It was really nasty and I was in bad shape.  It always seems to hit me when we are far from home at my in-laws.  David went out to see what he could find to offer me some relief as I could not even keep water down.  He found some organic ginger lozenges.  Wow it was amazing, within a few minutes of eating them I thought I felt about a 10 percent drop in gut pain, after about a 1/2 hour it had cut the pain in half.  After an hour my stomach had settled enough for me to sleep.  Often ginger is added to recipes not just for its strong flavour but also because it aids in digestion.

My journey with ginger began before that.  I had been googling and searching for things that could help with sore throat and congestion.  If you can handle the heat, personally I don’t think it gets much better than taking it straight up.  I will often peel a piece of ginger and chew on it. That stuff is powerful.  I will also add a few slices to my tea.  Another thing I like to do is grate some fresh ginger and boil it for a bit using the fresh ginger as the main ingredient in a tea.  I will strain the water to remove the bits of ginger and add some fresh lemon juice and a bit of raw honey to make it a bit more palatable.

Here is the quick run down on ginger

  • Ginger aids in digestion
  • Ginger helps settle tummies and also reduces gas
  • Ginger helps to prevent motion and morning sickness
  • Ginger is a natural anti-viral
  • Ginger along with other spicy herbs can boost your metabolism
  • Ginger helps with circulation
  • Ginger helps to loosen and break down congestion
  • Ginger is an anti-inflammatory and because of that can act as a pain killer

I have read many other claims, and I don’t doubt that many may be true, I will gladly add to this list as I continue to research.  Something that I came across are some studies looking at ginger and cancer.  Sure we heard all sorts of claims while Joel was going through his cancer treatment: eat asparagus, it cures cancer!  I am not saying ginger is the next or new cure for cancer, just that there are studies looking at colon and ovarian cancer, as well as ginger to aid patients going through chemo that are suffering from nausea.  Personally, it was heartbreaking seeing them hang the chemo bags with biohazard signs on it and know that it was being pumped into my child’s veins.   If we were given the option to use a concoction of herbs instead I’d have jumped at it.  I am not sure that day will ever come, but that is a whole other topic.  Suffice to say, it is interesting that ginger is being looked at for all its amazing properties.

Some interesting finds online, thanks to Pinterest!  I haven’t had a chance to try these yet but you can find them on my Pin-board Ginger.  I will continue to add to this as I find more Ginger treasures.  One of the clips I Pinned has to do with growing your own Ginger.  One of my ginger pieces  has a bud forming so I took a picture of it to share here it is not super clear but you get the idea.  Ginger BudOnce you have a bud you can plant it.

Another use for ginger is adding it to a detox bath.  I  put about 2 cups of epsom salts, a cup of baking soda and 4 tablespoons of ground ginger in the tub as well as some essential oils.  The ginger adds some real heat to the mix, it can make you sweat.  ***My advice is DO NOT TAKE A DETOX BATH unless you have first researched it beyond what you have read here.***  There are health risks if you have other medical conditions and pregnant women should not take a bath over the temperature of 100F or 37.778 C.

Homemade Ginger TeaGinger Tea

Recap: My Ginger tea recipe is really simple, cut off a chunk of ginger, grate it, add to water and bring to a boil.  Strain out the ginger.  I usually make just enough for a serving.  Obviously the more ginger the stronger the flavour.  Add your sweetener, you could use stevia or raw honey.  I like to add some freshly squeezed lemon juice too!  Enjoy.

One more point like anything else Ginger can be an acquired taste, go slow, try it out.  Try it again and again.  You may find you can only manage it by adding a little bit to some tea, and bit by bit you’ll get there.

Wishing you all good health!

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