I'm starting a new series on here where each month I will do a little feature on a different herb, it may be related to the season or time of year or may just be my favourite herb at the time! For this month I'm introducing Ginger!
January to me although is an opportunity for reflection, a fresh start and new things to look forward to, I often feel the cold a lot more as we are in the depths of Winter, tend to feel somewhat sluggish and rundown after all the excitement of Christmas festivities. So the perfect solution to these is the plant and spice; Ginger!
Ginger or Zingiber officinale is a plant that is native to and grows in warmer climates of Asia such as China and Japan, the part we use culinary as a spice and medicinally comes from the rhizome. Its main medicinal effects are thought to come from the aromatic constituent gingerols, which convert to shogaols when dried or extracted increasing the potency. Its use as a medicinal plant has been used in Ayurvedic traditions and can be dated back to records from 2000 BC!
I actually did my dissertation focusing on Ginger and how effective its anti-emetic properties are against morning sickness, so it is a herb I'm fond of! Although one of main properties of Ginger is its effectiveness for nausea and vomiting, this time of year I find some of its other properties are useful for most people. The first being the obvious one I'm sure most people have tasted it and know it is spicy and fiery, as it heats your mouth up it also in turn increases blood circulation and therefore heats your whole body up! It's also anti-inflammatory and analgesic making it perfect this time of year when arthritic conditions may flare up with the cold weather. As well as reducing the pain and frequency of headaches and period pains.
It is also very handy for coughs and colds as it has traditionally been used to treat upper respiratory infections for many years. This is due to the actions known as anti-tussive which stops coughing, as well as ginger possibly being anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.
How to use:
Ginger can be incorporated into your everyday so easily as it is highly accessible from supermarkets in the form of either fresh root or dried powder to be used in cooking, baking or drunk as tea (with honey and lemon juice is delicious!). The fresh root can be grated and added to smoothies, stir-fries, warming soups or infused in freshly boiled water and drunk as a tea, or try it crystallised and it can be eaten by itself as the crystallising makes it a bit sweeter! This way is perfect when out and about and you're expecting nausea such as motion or pregnancy-induced sickness. My friend and fellow herbalist, Sophia Forrester came up with an amazing 'antibiotic' smoothie you drink at the first symptoms of a cold to stop it in its tracks and it really works! Her recipe is here.
Ginger is relatively safe and in small doses can be taken by children and pregnant/breastfeeding women, there can occasionally be some mild side effects however, such as heartburn or stomach discomfort. Please do seek advice from a professional medical herbalist such as myself before taking anything, particularly if you have a medical conditions or are currently on any medication as there could be potentially dangerous interactions. If you'd like to book a consultation with me, please do fill out a contact form on this website or send me an email and I will get back to you as quickly as I can.
Thank you for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post and this up and coming series!
My name is Helen Davison and I'm a NIMH registered practising Medical Herbalist based in Ramsbottom, Lancashire. I've had a keen interest in herbal remedies since my early teens and would experiment creating my own balms and bath bombs using natural ingredients, which prompted me in discovering and pursuing a career in Western Herbal Medicine.