A perennial herb native to China and India, ginger root (Zingiber officinale) has been used for centuries in cooking and for its medicinal properties. Although the leaves of the plant can be eaten as in a salad, the root (rhizome) is where the greatest benefits lie. The active ingredients in ginger have digestive, circulatory, antiseptic, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Ginger is perhaps the best herb for digestion. It helps to rid the stomach and intestines of gas, and also aids in the digestion of fatty foods. Nausea Ginger has been widely used to prevent and treat nausea related to motion sickness and pregnancy-related morning sickness. Circulation
Ginger’s warming quality improves and stimulates circulation, facilitating the flow of blood throughout the body. Further, preliminary studies suggest that ginger may lower cholesterol and prevent blood from clotting, thus protecting blood vessels from blockage.
Ginger tones the immune system and boosts its ability to fight infections, cold, and flu. It is diaphoretic (induces sweating), which helps fevers run their course.
Ginger has long been used to reduce inflammation, thus reducing pain, especially with arthritis and osteoarthritis.
Using Fresh Ginger
Fresh ginger root is sold in the produce section of markets. Look for a root with a firm, cool, smooth skin, free of mold and as few joints as possible. If it is wrinkled and looks dry, it will be woody inside.
An easy way to remove the skin from fresh ginger is to scrape it off with the tip of a tea spoon. The ginger can then be grated, sliced, or minced, and added to recipes for a fresh, vibrant flavor.
To warm up on a cool autumn morning, or to boost your “digestive fires” after a heavy meal, brew a cup of fresh ginger tea. Steep five or six thin slices of ginger root in hot water. Add lemon and honey if desired.
Fresh unpeeled ginger can be stored in the refrigerator in an airy container for up to three weeks.