Meditation & Health #21- Ginger: The Spice of Health
Body Talk: Little-Known Facts
By Wang Da & Juliana Sun
Ginger has been considered a wonder spice since ancient times. An old Indian proverb tells us that “everything good is found in ginger.” Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) holds that ginger’s curative powers restore yang and expel cold energy. In addition to being widely revered for its promotion of physical health, ginger is a culinary staple that adds wonderful flavor to a vast variety of cuisines from around the world.
Dispel the Common Cold
During winter or in a cool environment, pathogenic cold energy is prevalent. TCM recommends drinking ginger soup to warm up the internal body and fight invading cold syndromes. Ginger’s warm characteristics improve spleen function, raise the body’s yang, and dissipate cold energy.
Add a few slices of fresh ginger to 12 ounces (350 ml) of water and bring to a boil. Steep till cool enough to drink. If desired, sweeten with raw honey. This drink reduces congestion and other cold and flu symptoms. Adding ginger to hot tea is another way to reap its yang benefits.
Remove Internal Dampness and Coldness
From the perspective of TCM, the most common cause of cold hands and feet is yang deficiency of the spleen. The spleen is the organ that spreads warmth and qi to the limbs. Hence, those with spleen qi and blood deficiencies will experience decreased circulation in their extremities, and possibly suffer cold hands and feet or even pain.
Soaking your feet in a warm ginger footbath (about 38 to 45 degrees Celsius) for 20 minutes activates blood and energy flow throughout the body. Keep adding hot water to maintain a warm temperature. A little sweating is a good sign of unblocked energy channels and the dispelling of cold qi.
A homemade hot compress for arthritis pain relief is safe for long-term treatment. Add one tablespoon of tea leaves and a one-inch piece of ginger to water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. When the mixture is comfortably warm, take out the tea leaves and spread them on the painful area. The warmness helps to alleviate pain. Next, dip a soft cotton cloth into the decoction and wring out the excess. Fold the cloth and place it on the affected joints. Repeat the process several times in a day to dissolve stagnation and melt blockages, soothing the agony of arthritis.
Reduce Menstrual Discomfort
A study published in The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine found that ginger was as effective as ibuprofen in relieving period pain. Some women who consume a warm ginger drink with honey experience relief from menstrual cramps and pain. However, if your period is heavy, or you are suffering from fibroids or endometriosis, you may want to avoid consuming ginger; consult with your healthcare practitioner.
Remedy for Morning Sickness
A report in an issue of Obstetrics and Gynecology found ginger to be useful in helping to ease the nausea experienced by pregnant women. The researchers gave nearly 300 women either 350 milligrams of ginger or 25 milligrams of vitamin B6 (sometimes taken to counteract morning sickness) three times per day for three weeks. The researchers found that both worked equally well at alleviating nausea. However, consultation with your healthcare professional is still recommended.
There are many ways to consume ginger to spice up your health. You can grate it up and squeeze it into juices, include it in baked goods, or blend it into smoothies. Take some fresh ginger before a meal to stoke your digestive fire and support a healthy gut. Although the good qualities of ginger are many, we must always remember to use this spice in moderation for balanced health.