Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an amazing spice with a plethora of therapeutic benefits mostly due to its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. Ginger plants can grow up to three feet high and produce 2-5 sections of ginger. One of the oldest medicinal foods, ginger originated in Southeast Asia. It has been part of Chinese and Indian healing practices for a very, very long time.
According to Ayurvedic texts, ginger is the “universal great medicine”. Ancient Chinese medicine makes the claim that ginger “restores devastated yang” and “expels cold”. An Indian proverb notes that “everything good is found in ginger”. Even Modern Western science has confirmed the value of ginger in remedying numerous conditions.
There is no doubt that ginger has great culinary and medicinal value. Here are just a few of the ways that ginger may be a useful tool to keep in your natural healing toolkit:
1. Ginger Can Reduce Muscle Pain & Soreness
If you hit the gym too hard you may want to turn to ginger for relief. Research shows ginger to be effective against exercise-induced muscle pain. Due to its potent anti-inflammatory properties, ginger has an immediate and long-lasting impact on muscle pain.
2. Ginger Combats Nausea
Perhaps one of the most common attributes of ginger is its ability to ward off nausea, especially morning sickness. It has a long history of being used as a remedy for sea sickness and has been proven to help tremendously with pregnancy-related nausea.
3. Ginger Can Help With Osteoarthritis
Ginger reduces inflammation that leads to joint pain and stiffness especially with conditions such as osteoarthritis. In one study, people with osteoarthritis of the knee who took ginger extract had reduced pain and required a lower dose of pain medicine.
4. Ginger May Reduce Blood Sugars
Research supports that ginger has powerful anti-diabetic properties. In one study, participants with type 2 diabetes lowered fasting blood sugar by 12% with 2 grams of ginger powder per day.
5. Ginger May Promote Healthy Cholesterol
Elevated levels of bad, or LDL cholesterol are linked to an increased risk of heart disease. In one study, ginger powder reduced cholesterol markers in just 45 days.
6. Ginger Can Fight Infections
Fresh ginger contains gingerol, a bioactive substance that can reduce the risk of infections. Ginger can inhibit the growth of numerous bacteria and is effective against oral bacteria linked to inflammatory gum diseases such as gingivitis and periodontitis.
Growing Fresh Ginger:
I don’t know about you, but fresh ginger is always on my list when I go to the grocery store. This makes the idea of growing it at home all the more attractive. Although ginger comes from tropical regions, you can easily grow it at home under the correct conditions.
If you live in USDA zone 7 or higher you can grow ginger root right in the ground. However, in all but zone 10, the leaves will die off in the winter. If you live in zone 6 or lower, you can plant ginger root in a pot and bring it indoors during the cold season.
Selecting Your Rhizome
There are many reputable places online to get an organic ginger root for growing, however, you can also just get a root from the grocery store. Any rhizome from the grocery store will sprout as it has not been treated with the same anti-sprout chemicals as potatoes. Look for a rhizome that is plump and well hydrated. It if is wrinkled, do not use it. The rhizome should have nodes that will sprout.
Preparing Your Rhizome
Place the root on your kitchen countertop until the “nodes or eyes” start to grow. It generally takes a couple of weeks for this to happen. The rhizome will begin to shrivel – no need to worry, you don’t need to give it water. Once your rhizome is sprouting, cut your root into pieces with an “eye.” This is very much the same way that you get pieces of potato ready to plant – each piece needs to have at least one “eye” that will sprout. Let each piece heal for a few hours before planting.
Again, if you live in USDA zone 7 plus, you can grow ginger in the ground. Ginger likes full to part shade and very rich and loose soil. Add plenty of compost or aged manure to the garden bed before planting. Plant ginger root in early spring after all chances of frost are passed. Dig a shallow trench and plant ginger pieces no deeper than 1 inch. Plant one piece of ginger per square foot. Water thoroughly and in about two weeks you should see leaves of the plant emerge. After you see the leaves, water deeply but sparingly. Leaves of the ginger plant get tall and can be easily damaged by winds. Fertilize using compost tea or aged manure once a month until your plant is well established.
Ginger plants take ten months to mature. Your ginger will be ready the following spring or you can leave it into the summer for a larger harvest. Gently lift the plant from the soil, break off the foliage and wash the root. You can also take part of the root and replant the rest.
Note: The leaves of the ginger plant are also edible. You can use them as a flavorful garnish like you would chives or onions.
Planting Ginger In Pots
If you live in a cooler climate you will need to grow ginger in pots. Here are a few things to keep in mind. Ginger is a low maintenance herb that is happy indoors as long as it has partial sunlight and enough moisture.
- Choose a root with several eye buds.
- Place the ginger root in a bowl of warm water overnight.
- Fill a wide and shallow pot with loose potting soil.
- Place the ginger root in the soil with the eye pointing up. Cover with 1” of soil and water well.
- Place your pot in a spot where it stays warm and gets partial sunlight.
- Spray the soil to keep it moist.
- Since ginger loves humidity you can create ideal conditions by making a plastic tent to go over the plant until it begins sprouting.
- Be patient – ginger grows slow. After a few weeks, shoots will emerge.
- Remove the tent and water the plant regularly my misting and keep it warm.
- Harvest small pieces of ginger 3-4 months after growth begins. Just move aside some of the soil and find the rhizomes under the surface. Using a clean and sharp knife, cut a piece and replace soil for continued growth.
Ways To Use Ginger & Recipes:
Here are some of my favorite ways to use ginger.
Ginger & Lemon Cold Remedy
If I feel a cold coming on, one of the first things I do is make a cup of this ginger cough and cold remedy. It is soothing and eases a sore throat, stops a cough in its tracks, reduces inflammation and clears sinuses.
- Filtered water
- ¼ inch piece ginger root, grated
- 2 lemons cleaned and sliced thin
- 1 cup raw honey
How To Make It
- Add the grated ginger and lemons to a glass jar
- Boil water and add honey
- Pour the honey and water mixture over the lemons and ginger
- Store in the fridge.
Note: Use one teaspoon for children and one tablespoon for adults every 4-6 hours.
Soothing Wind Down Tea
I call this my destress tea because it seems to relax my entire body and bring about a sense of calm and wellbeing.
- ¾ teaspoon chopped fresh ginger
- 1 cup of hot water
- 1 teaspoon of raw honey
How To Make It
- Simmer ginger and water in a closed teapot for five minutes.
- Strain and add honey.