Author: Dr. Maryam Mahanian, DTCM, RAc
In this article, I share the amazing health benefits of Ginger
Using ginger in teas, foods and herbal medicine has a very long history of use in traditional medicines including Chinese medicine.
While it’s an incredibly common ingredient in recipes, it’s even more common in Chinese herbal formulas. What’s a formula you may be thinking? Formulas are many herbs used together in combination customized to the person’s Chinese medicine pattern diagnosis).
Ginger has a slightly warm property and enters the lung, spleen and stomach channels.
Let’s find out why Ginger is so beneficial and widely used.
Ginger Benefits the Digestion
In order to have healthy digestion, you have to have healthy and adequate digestive fire. Digestive fire helps the breakdown of food in order to make Qi (energy) and blood. This involves the stomach and the spleen organ systems. The moderate use of ginger strengthens the digestive fire.
Ginger reduces gas and bloating. It has enzymes that can break up the gas and help to eliminate the gas from the body.
Ginger can also help combat constipation because it can cause movement through the digestive tract.
Ginger helps speed up metabolism and helps indigestion.
Other spices that are similar to ginger in this regard are cinnamon, cardomom, cloves, pepper and nutmeg.
Ginger Helps Circulation
Because of ginger’s slightly warm and moving property, it can increase the circulation of Qi (energy), fluids and blood.
Next time you’re feeling cold and you just can’t seem to warm up your fingers and toes, try a nice hot cup of ginger tea!
Ginger helps move the Qi to transform the dampness and fluids of the body so that they don’t accumulate. This can help with weight gain, feeling heavy in the body and sluggishness.
Ginger Reduces Pain
Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties. It can help muscles aches and pains, joint pain and even menstrual pain.
Ginger can treat Nausea including Morning Sickness and Seasickness
As said above, ginger warms and strengthens the digestion. It’s very popular to treat any kind of nausea, including morning sickness in pregnancy and seasickness.
It is said that ginger can stimulate the production of bile in the digestive system to help the digestive process.
Because of ginger’s warm nature, it is especially helpful for vomiting of clear fluids because that is a sign of too much cold in the stomach.
Boosts the Immune System and treats the Common Cold
Ginger has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties so it’s no wonder that it’s so common to have ginger tea when you’re feeling under the weather.
In Chinese medicine, it’s said that ginger can release the exterior. This means that it can push the pathogens (like viruses or bacteria) out of the body by means of sweating.
Because ginger has a warming property, it’s important to only use ginger if you have a wind-cold type of cough or cold. This means that the phlegm should be clear or white (not yellow). You shouldn’t have a fever or sore throat but rather have sneezing, runny nose with clear or white mucus. If you have heat signs like the ones I’ve explained, ginger can unfortunately make your cold/cough worse!
Fresh Ginger Versus Dried Ginger
Now that we have gone over the health benefits of ginger, let’s find out what the difference is between fresh and dried ginger according to Chinese medicine.
Fresh Ginger is slightly warm; Dried ginger is hot.
Fresh ginger is more beneficial for the common cold and coughs; Dried ginger, because it is more warming, is more beneficial to warm the digestion and for anyone suffering from cold symptoms like cold limbs, difficulty warming up, white/purplish fingers and toes, pale complexion and a weak pulse. Dried ginger is even used to stop bleeding in Chinese medicine, especially uterine bleeding that is pale in color or chronic bleeding. Again, please don’t use dried ginger if you have a lot of heat signs or dryness because ginger can make the heat and dryness worse.
Generally speaking, fresh ginger, because it is not so hot like dried ginger, is more tolerated by most people and is quite gentle.
How to make Ginger Tea
Cut three to five thin slices of ginger (with or without the peel) and boil in a few cups of hot water for several minutes. Steep for another 10 minutes and drink! Feel free to add honey too. Enjoy!
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