By Sari Huhtala
Fresh ginger is more than just a culinary essential in Asian cuisine. It’s medicine and bath and beauty care all wrapped in one powerful plant. Thousands of years of ginger use as an ancient remedy can’t be wrong. It’s a fabulous flu fighter due to gingerol’s antimicrobial properties, and contains about 40 antioxidants that will bolster your wellbeing. A simple cup of fresh ginger tea daily (made with 1/2 inch chunk of ginger, peeled and grated or chopped and steeped in boiled water for about 10 minutes – also awesome as a cold drink later) can help with digestion, help with allergies, balance blood sugar, reduce oxidative stress in your body, provide natural anti-inflammatories – studies show a daily dose of ginger can provide relief from pain and swelling due to rheumatoid arthritis, osteoarthritis or muscle discomfort. Plus, it’s inexpensive dis-ease prevention that is readily available. Who says healthy living has to be expensive?
The last time my throat was scratchy and I felt like I was coming down with something I didn’t have my usual oil of oregano on hand, but I did have fresh ginger, and it only took a few shots of fresh ginger tea to stop symptoms in its tracks. By morning, I felt like a million bucks again. As a child, my mother would dab dried ginger on a toothache.
A fresh ginger bath makes a great detox alternative, and can help alleviate aches and pains, as well as cold symptoms. It’s a good idea to test skin for sensitivities to ginger by placing freshly grated ginger onto a patch of skin for about five minutes, before heading into a ginger bath. Consult with your doctor first if you have health conditions, or are pregnant. They are not recommended for children under age two.
To create a ginger bath, steep about half a cup of fresh grated ginger in a pot of boiled water for 10 to 15 minutes. Fill a tub with warm water (avoid hot water so the body does not have to expend energy trying to cool itself). Ginger will gently heat the body. Add some Epsom salts for magnesium, to aid with aches and pains.
Ginger makes an awesome decongestant. Add fresh ginger pieces to a pot of water, bring to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes, remove from heat, toss a towel over your head and inhale the steam as a natural decongestant.
A warming homemade ginger massage oil made with olive, grapeseed, coconut or sweet almond oil helps reduce inflammation, and warms muscles and joints to relieve pain. And of course, soothe an upset tummy with ginger, and so much more.
As with any protocol, research contraindications beforehand if you have health conditions.
Sari Huhtala is the publisher and editor of Alive and Fit Magazine. She is a mother of 3 adult children. She has spent over 20 years navigating a healthy path for her family, one health hack at a time, as a single mom feeding her kids healthy on a shoestring budget. She has over 25 years experience in journalism. She also has over 15 years experience as a certified fitness specialist and personal trainer, 10 years experience as a reiki practitioner; she studied Shamanism and is currently completing her yoga teacher training certification.