I am using this herb daily at present to keep the cold out and settle my tummy after that naughty norovirus caught me by surprise last week – kids go back to school and all the bugs start spreading like wild fire.  So this month Ginger is my top herb!

My favourite way to use it is to add it to soup, whether a tofu, mushroom and noodle affair, or the family favourite: squash, parsnip & carrot – it works wonders and is delicious too.

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Latin name: Zingiber officinalis
parts used: Root stock or rhizome.

collection
The root stock is dug up once the leaves have dried. The remains of the stem and root fibre are removed and then it is dried in the sun. As ginger doesn’t grow in this country, unless you have a very hot greenhouse, it is probably best collected from the shops or market.

cultivation
I have grown this herb simply by planting a shop bought rhizome and burying it a few centimetres deep in rich, houseplant compost then leaving in a warm windowsill in full sun to mimic its natural conditions as best I can.

constituents
Essential oil, gingerols, phenolic compounds, mucilage

actions
Anti-inflammatory, carminative, antispasmodic, expectorant, vasodilator, anti-cholesterol, circulatory stimulant, antiemetic, diaphoretic.

indications

digestive system
Ginger is one of the best remedies for all kinds of nausea, vomiting, travel sickness, morning sickness, viral gastroenteritis and food poisoning. The powder, taken in capsules, works best for this purpose although sipping ginger tea made from the rhizome brings immediate relief. As an antispasmodic it is helpful for relieving the stomach cramps associated with retching. It also acts as a carminative, aiding digestion and helping to reduce wind production in the bowel.

circulatory system
Ginger is a warming herb and is a perfect remedy for people who suffer from poor circulation and who feel the cold. It is  also thought to be an aphrodisiac, perhaps partly because it improves circulation throughout the body, but also because it restores our fire and passion for life.

musculoskeletal system
The essential oil is a wonderful treatment for aching muscles and joints, especially after gardening in cold weather. Add a few drops to bath water or add to a base oil or cream and apply to the affected areas.

contraindications: none known.

preparations and dosage

capsules: 2 capsules every hour in acute cases of  sickness. When you use ginger capsules you cannot taste them as you swallow them but it is interesting to note that you can sometimes taste it in your mouth some time after ingesting the capsule. This is because the aromatic components in the ginger has been circulated by the blood system and reached your mouth and taste buds that way, giving a sensation similar to the taste of ginger. It is said that when you can taste this ‘flavour’ of ginger after swallowing a few ginger capsules then you know that you have had a dose which should be medicinally effective.

tea: chop up about 1cm of rhizome and pour boiling water over the top. The rhizome sinks to the bottom of the cup so there is no need to strain it like other herb teas.

tincture: Take 30 drops in water three times daily.

As an external treatment for muscular aches use the essential oil of Ginger with Juniper Berry: use about 30 drops in 30ml of oil for local topical applications. As a delicious warming and immune stimulating, digestive tonic tea, use the rhizome with lemon juice and add honey if there is also a sore throat. Ginger can be used in conjunction with any herb where you need to make sure the herbs get to the right part of the body as it stimulates the circulation and therefore the distribution of the other herbs taken will be enhanced.

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