Food as Medicine, Herbal Recipe, Herbal Remedy

Medicinal Uses of Ginger: A How-To Guide

One of the (many) wonderful things about herbs is that using them for medicinal purposes doesn’t need to involve popping a pill. A fine example of this is ginger, botanically known as Zingiber officinale.

A VERSATILE PLANT

Ginger’s traditional uses, especially in Chinese medicine, are numerous, but it is most well-known (and well-studied) as a natural remedy for nausea and vomiting. Research studies support its use treating nausea and vomiting associated with run-of-the-mill gastroenteritis or “stomach flu”, following surgery and chemotherapy treatment, for motion sickness, and even in pregnancy.

GINGER FOR NAUSEA

Orally, ginger root is often given as a powder, capsule or extract, with dosing for adults weighing about 150 lbs: 250-500mg of ginger every 6-8 hours as needed, keeping your total daily dose to 1500mg or less.

A general guide in children is to use half of the adult dose in those weighing about 75 lbs, and a quarter of the adult dose in children who weigh 35 lbs, adjusting for your child appropriately.

In pregnancy: 250 mg every 6 hours to a maximum daily dose of 1000mg, as advised by Motherisk, the pregnancy experts at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

GINGER: FOOD IS MEDICINE

Ginger can also be taken candied or crystallized, as fresh ginger tea, as a syrup or even a jam. You can cook with ginger, and even sprinkle candied or crystallized ginger on steel cut oats, or granola. Remember: food is medicine!

The following are rough equivalencies:

250 mg of extract

= ¼ tsp fresh grated ginger root

= 8 oz cup of tea made with ½ tsp grated ginger and steeped for 5-10 mins

= 1 piece of crystallized ginger (½”  square, ¼” thick)

GINGER AS AROMATHERAPY

One forward-thinking study had surgical patients wear aromatherapy necklaces infused with 100% ginger essential oil or placebo, and the former group endured significantly less nausea and vomiting ( a common after-effect of anesthesia and surgery). Similar effects were noted in a pediatric population who were given an aromatherapy inhaler infused with lavender, mint and ginger.

RECIPES

Some of favourite medicinal ginger recipes:

Soothing Ginger Tummy Tea

  1. Chop a piece of fresh (or frozen) ginger that is about the size of your pinky finger. This measurement also works for children.
  2. Cover with boiling water and steep for 10 mins.
  3. Strain, cool to desired temperature, and serve.

Pro tip: Unless you’re also suffering heartburn, you can add ¼ tsp of dried peppermint during step one to help settle an upset stomach.

I also love Herbalist Rosemary Gladstar’s Ginger Syrup recipe here. Just remember: no honey for wee ones under the age of one due to risk of botulism.

 

So, add ginger essential oil to your herbal medicine first-aid kit, and keep a piece of ginger root on hand for illness that might arise (I keep mine in the freezer, and grate with a micro-planer when needed — it can be stored longer this way). Put a couple of drops of ginger essential oil on your wee one’s pillow or favourite stuffy when they have an upset tummy. Heck, consider bringing an aromatherapy diffuser or necklace to the hospital to use following your surgery.

Round out your herbal first-aid kit with ginger. Keen to add more? Read on to find out how to heal with other natural medicine superstars: peppermint and lavender. Enjoy!

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