This article is part of the Money Crashers Natural Medicine Cabinet Series, outlining 20 of the top natural home remedies and treatment.
You’ve probably seen the stubby, yellow-colored ginger root in your grocery store’s produce section. This ancient root has been part of Asian cooking for years; it’s amazing when added to stir fry, sautéed with fish, or even steeped in hot water for tea.
However, what you might not know is that ginger is a superfood that has been used medicinally in Eastern cultures for over 5,000 years. Ginger is loaded with body-boosting nutrients and positive health benefits, and it’s one of those foods you should always have on-hand in your kitchen. In addition, the versatility of ginger can act as a substitute for a lot of other foods and medicines, and therefore can put a lot of money back in your pocket.
Health Benefits of Ginger
The tough, brown ginger root may not look like much, but 2,000 years ago ginger was valued so highly as a medicinal herb that it was used in trade between Rome and India. In England just a few centuries ago, ginger was so sought after that one pound of the spice cost as much as full-grown sheep.
You can use ginger medicinally fresh, dried, or candied. You can also drink pure ginger juice.
Ginger contains more than 12 antioxidants. Homeopathic as well as traditional doctors recommend ginger for a variety of uses.
Home Remedies with Ginger
- Motion Sickness. Ginger’s most well-known use is to settle the stomach. Studies have found that ginger works just as well as Dramamine at stopping motion sickness. Another benefit? Ginger doesn’t make you groggy like Dramamine does. The trick to using ginger for motion sickness is to take it before you get sick. So if you know you’re likely to feel queasy on a boat, car, or plane, take a quarter teaspoon of powdered ginger (or a half-inch slice, cut up) at least 20 minutes before you leave.
- Morning Sickness. One study of pregnant women found that those who consumed one gram of ginger every day reported a relief in their nausea and vomiting. Ginger is one of the best natural home remedies for morning sickness.
- Nausea from Chemotherapy. The University of Maryland reports that doctors have discovered that ginger works well for reducing nausea and vomiting for chemotherapy and post-surgery patients.
- Migraines. Danish researches have discovered that ginger can be effective for stopping the onset of migraines. Take one-third of a teaspoon of fresh or powdered ginger at the first sign of a migraine. It may reduce your symptoms because ginger helps block prostaglandins, which are chemicals that cause inflammation in your blood vessels.
- Menstrual Cramps. Drinking ginger tea can help relieve menstrual cramps.
- Arthritis. The same prostaglandins that can cause migraines also cause joint swelling associated with arthritis. Drinking fresh ginger tea can help alleviate the painful swelling from this condition. Applying crushed fresh ginger to your skin can also help alleviate symptoms because it helps deplete stores of substance P, a neurotransmitter that carries pain signals to your brain.
- Blood Circulation. The book, The New Age Herbalist by Richard Mabey, reports that ginger is an excellent remedy for improving circulation because it has a stimulating effect on the heart and circulation.
- Mucus and Phlegm. Consuming fresh ginger also helps you dispel mucus and phlegm when you have a chest cold. Be sure to add ginger to your arsenal of natural cold and flu remedies at home.
- Digestive System. Ginger is an effective laxative; consuming fresh ginger daily is an excellent addition to a high fiber diet.
My Favorite Ginger Tea Recipe
I drink ginger tea all the time, especially when my stomach isn’t too happy. And I can definitely tell that it works. Ginger is amazing for getting rid of nausea!
Here’s my favorite way to drink ginger tea. This recipe comes from India, and is often drunk daily by those who practice Ayurvedic medicine. Why? Not only does this tea help settle your stomach, but it’s widely thought to prevent sickness like colds and flu. Best of all, it’s super easy to make.
- Cut up a half-inch (or larger) slice of ginger.
- Add boiling water, a fresh slice of lemon, and a teaspoon of honey.
Not only is this a delicious way to get a daily dose of ginger, but it’s a wonderful way to curb an afternoon craving, avoid snacking and cut calories to lose weight. It’s definitely my go-to drink to stay warm in the winter cold too!
Other than drinking tea, there are plenty of other easy ways you can slip more ginger into your diet.
Shaved ginger is healthy and tasty on sweet potatoes. It’s wonderful on broiled fish (like Tilapia) with teriyaki sauce, and should be a standard addition to stir fried foods. Plus, you can buy candied ginger for a nice snack.
Do you eat ginger on a regular basis? What are your favorite health benefits and best ginger foods? Share your tips in the comments below.
(photo credit: Shutterstock)