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ginger roots, zingiber officinale, eastern spice, back ache

The healing heat of Ginger

Author: Anja Heij

My first amazing experience with the healing power of Ginger was during a fasting week I assisted as a student. A bit nervous I applied slices of fresh cut Ginger on the lower back area of my teacher-naturopath, since she was suffering from back-ache since two weeks, and no cure had helped yet. Her back was then covered with towels and a blanket, and half an hour later the backpain had completely disappeared!
Since I had cut far too much Ginger I decided to make a delicious tea of the left-overs with Lemon, and this combination had a surprising uplifting effect on the group of fasting people.

The plant discussed here is the Zingiber Officinale, the medical applied form of the Gingerplant-family.
It is placed under rulership of the planet and god Mars because of the forceful internal heat it produces with its strong healing effects through the bloodstream. Therewith, like Mars, it is a defender of our wellbeing and stimulator of our immune system.
Ginger has a high level of phytochemicals, plant substances with a healing effect. Important are its anti-cancer activity, the anti-inflammatory effects and its high content of anti-oxidants.

It is not difficult to obtain the plant: you can find it at the grocery department of the supermarket. Look for light-brown fleshy rhizomes. You can also buy the dried powder of it as a spice, but I recommend using the fresh root. Further there is candied Ginger, very nice to my taste, good for baking, but not useful for medical purposes. For the use in food you have to peel the roots; for medical use only cut it in thin slices.

Ginger has a long history as a valuable eastern spice. Most of it is produced in India, but also Malaysia, Brazil, Africa and Jamaica (which supplies the best quality) are exporters.
The name of the plant is derived from the Sanskrit word “shringavera”, what means “shaped like a horn”. Just look at the Ginger roots.

I cannot imagine South East Asian kitchen without Ginger; it is an important ingredient for the fine flavour of Indian, Thai and Chinese food. And then of course we know the ginger ale, ginger beer, ginger soup, ginger bread and the ginger cookies...”Had I but a penny in the world, thou shouldst have it for gingerbread”, William Shakespeare once wrote.

The healing ingredients are a variety of volatile essential oils, vitamin B6 and C and the minerals calcium, magnesium, sulphur, phosphorus and potassium.

Magnesium brings relaxation to the nervous system; together with the bloodstimulating qualities of the herb this makes a great anti-cramp medicine.
Because of the calcium and phosphorus we may expect alleviating effects on nervous complaints like depression, stress, muscle cramps, menstrual cramps and convulsions.
The potassium promotes a regular heartbeat, muscle strength (also of the heart muscle) and a healthy blood pressure.
Sulphur is an internal cleaner; therefore Ginger is known for solving digestive problems like morning sickness in pregnant women, flatulence, nausea, food poisoning, diarrhoea and indigestion. It may cure migraines since both intestinal activity and neurological relaxation are promoted by the herb.
And – together with the nervous system stimulants of the plant– it is reknown in preventing motion sickness. Eat fresh Ginger starting some days before entering the plane, the car or the boat and during the trip!

Ginger is an important herb during the cold and wet season because it stimulates body heat.
It speeds up the bloodcirculation and sweating; it promotes both the supply of nurturing and healing substances with the blood and the removal of waste material through perspiration. Ginger brings blood to the surface of the body and therefore it is a good cure for chillblains. And it will stimulate fever in persons who need to sweat out diseases like colds and flues. It works anti-inflammatory, and in combination with the heat-stimulating characteristics this is important for rheumatic complaints.
If you suffer from stiff or aching muscles: treat yourself on a hot bath with slices of Ginger, but don’t use it longer than for 20 minutes.

For internal use it is best to cut very thin slices of the fresh root and make a tea with it. Use 5-6 slices in a teamug, add some honey and lemon, and you will have a delicious and healthy wintertime drink. Take one or two mugs of this a day.
In case of motion sickness you can also chew on little pieces of fresh Ginger – that’s probably the easiest way to consume it during a trip. Capsules of dried Ginger exist too; take them with a large glass of water.
For external use on rheumatic joints or stiff or painful bodyparts that need more heat and improved circulation: you can either apply wet clothes soaked in the cooled down Ginger-tea, of apply thin fresh slices of the root on the painful places. In both cases: cover the area with dry towels or a blanket to benefit to the most of the heat. In case of cold hands and feet: add Ginger slices to boiled water for about 10 minutes, and add this tea to a bowl with warm water in which you put your hands or feet for about 20 minutes.

Some warnings: Ginger is a strong herb. Therefore be moderate with its use, else you will end up with a sour mouth or an irritated stomach.
For the pregnant woman and the breastfeeding mother I recommend only moderate use; it is useful in curing morning nausea related to pregnancy, but it also stimulates cervix contractions.
Ginger may alter bleeding time; therefore consult your doctor before use in case you take bloodthinners!

The essential oil of the plant is used in spicy fragrants and the shampoo-gingerflowers indeed produce shampoo.
An interesting feature of this hot plant is its aphrodisiac quality; hereto a mixture of the essential oil of ginger, coriander and rosemary is recommended.
And I’ve understood that Senegalese women weave dried gingerroots into belts for their men to promote sexual activity. But not only for the men I assume.

There’s nothing special about the grass-like leaves of the plant, though it has remarkable flowers. Take a look at the beauties on this page.

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