Ginger root is one of the oldest and most popular natural remedies, and in my opinion also one of the most delicious. Ginger root is very easy to find in most places both in fresh and dried (and even pickled and candied) preparations.
This is one herb I always keep on hand (I know, say that a lot!) for use in natural remedies for upset stomachs, respiratory issues, and even skin problems!
What Is Ginger Root?
According to Mountain Rose Herbs, ginger root the most widely used and available herbal remedy on the planet, with billions of people using it every day as both food and medicine. It’s certainly spicy, but there are ways to adjust the taste for different palates (ahem, kids) like in this Golden Milk recipe.
Ginger is a root (a rhizome related to the turmeric root, to be exact). It grows as a tropical perennial with green shoots (they almost resemble bamboo, a related rhizome) with lance-shaped leaves and stalks of white or yellow flowers.
As the name “ginger root” suggests the part we use is the brown root system running underground between sprouts. This root when peeled contains a fibrous, juicy core that can be grated, chopped, minced, or ground.
So, why am I such a fan of this particular root?
I’m so glad you asked!
Culinary and Medicinal Uses in History
Ginger root grows in many places today and is widely available in most grocery stores both as a fresh root and a dried and powdered spice. That wasn’t always the case, though.
Originally from southern Asia, ginger root was one of the first spices to be brought and traded from the Orient in ancient and medieval times. Arab spice traders would go to great lengths to protect their source and even made up stories of ginger fields stalked by a fierce people called “troglodytes” to do so.
In this way ginger gained quite a reputation as a sought-after commodity and even became woven into fables and literature. Even Shakespeare wrote in Love’s Labour Lost “had I but one penny in the world thou shouldst have it to buy ginger-bread.”
While ginger is certainly delicious for culinary use in recipes like gingerbread, ginger tea, curry, and the like, Chinese and Japanese medicine practitioners learned early on just how beneficial ginger is for the health as well.
Health Benefits of Ginger Root
The best of East meets West in ginger, because current medical research agrees that ginger has a myriad of health benefits.
Ginger root (in dried or fresh forms) is said to help:
- soothe digestive disturbances
- alleviate nausea (great in early pregnancy)
- reduce fever
- calm coughing and respiratory troubles
- stimulate the circulatory system
- relieve muscle aches and pain
- get rid of dandruff
- lower cholesterol
- lower blood pressure and cancer risk
Chinese or Japanese practitioners typically use fresh ginger medicinally to relieve dryness and heat, and dried to relieve dampness and chill.
How to Use Fresh or Dried Ginger Root (+ Recipes)
I probably use ginger the most in cooking, but after years of experimenting I now regularly make a couple of natural remedies to get the benefits of ginger that way.
Fresh and dried ginger root seem to be equally beneficial in trials, so here are a few of my favorite uses for getting either (or both) in the diet on a daily basis:
In the Kitchen
- Ginger Root Tea – Simmer 3/4 teaspoon (0.5 to 1.0 grams) of chopped fresh ginger in 1 cup of hot water for five minutes in a closed teapot. Strain and serve.
- Golden Milk – Try this delicious Turmeric Tea recipe (we call it Golden Milk) with the benefits of turmeric, cinnamon, and healthy fats.
- Gingerbread Latte – Missing Starbucks? Make a Superfood Gingerbread Latte at home with this recipe featuring fresh or dried ginger.
- Ginger Ale – Make a healthy soda alternative by brewing healthy ginger ale at home!
- Curries and Stir-fry Recipes – Add to foods like curries and stir-fry as a delicious spice. I also love fresh ginger in this Sweet Asian Dressing.
- Soups – This Carrot Ginger Soup recipe is a warming winter staple around our house.
- Gingerbread cookies, of course! – This list could not be complete without a real-food version of warm and spicy Gingerbread Cookies made with molasses and fresh dates.
In Home Remedies
- Cough and cold remedies – I use ginger root both fresh and dried in several homemade cold and cough remedies. Try this cough syrup the next time illness strikes (or make it in cough drop form).
- Sore throat spray – Soothe a sore throat quickly with this homemade herbal sore throat spray.
- Wellness shots or tonics – Ginger added to elderberry syrup or elderberry tea offers extra immune benefits to ward off sickness in the first place or recover faster. Also try a shot of this spicy fire cider for a boost of wellness.
- In capsules – Fill empty capsules (made of gelatin) with dried ginger to take it in therapeutic doses to relieve morning sickness, indigestion, or even menstrual cramps. Or, buy ginger capsules.
- Added to a hot bath – Add a few tablespoons of dried, powdered ginger root added to a hot bath is effective in relieving sore muscles or body aches (can also lower fever).
I’m sure there are other ways to use ginger around the home, but these are the ones I’ve tried and love so far!
Is Ginger Safe?
There are warnings in both traditional Chinese medicine and some medical texts about using ginger during pregnancy, though it is generally agreed that ginger can be used in moderation. Always check with a doctor or midwife to be sure. Studies in the late 1990s found that eating as much as 2 to 3 tablespoons of raw ginger or 5 to 8 tablespoons of dried ginger daily will not stimulate uterine contraction, so it seems pretty safe to say most of us are not consuming enough ginger to cause a problem.
While in the right amount ginger helps digestive, excessive use may in fact cause gastrointestinal upset. As always, moderation and a varied diet is best.
Where to Get Ginger Root
Fresh organic ginger is available in many grocery stores. For ease of storage, dried ginger root is another great option. I prefer to buy dried ginger root in bulk online whenever possible.
Have you ever used ginger? How did it work for you? Share below!
Discussion (22 Comments)
We use ginger as a pain med, in our detox baths, and to help with upset stomach. I’ve also used it in fire cider and want to begin incorporating it in my stews as well.
I have Rheumatoid Arthritis and was on Methotrexate for 10 years. I have been using ginger root for 1 year now and love the anti inflammatory benefits! I have been off methotrexate for a year with my doctors ok and feel great.
Gloria S Aguiar
I want to loose weight , what must I do
I have been suffering from a cough that has plagued me since July ’14. I’ve never been a smoker. Broncoscopy, CT scans, and blood-work revealed nothing. OTC remedies have been useless.
Narcotic cough remedies work but have the usual drawbacks (I might as well ask for Plutonium!)
… “you must be attempting to get high on DRUGS!!!”.
Please kill me now because I have a cough that is making my life a living hell! (and you’re SO concerned you offer to place me in a rehab, cough intact!)
I’ve always used fresh ginger root in recipes, soups, etc. …etc. …
I eventually began to enjoy chewing thin slices of raw ginger. I find it stimulating, it pleases my palette, cleanses my breath, and wouldn’t you know it … my hacking cough stopped whenever I chewed a small piece and held it in a corner of my mouth and sucked out the juice. It burns, (in a ‘good’ way) my nose runs, my eyes water, and I’ll be damned… I stopped
coughing too. I never looked it up as a remedy. I “discovered it” so to speak. It also delivers as an anti nausea remedy. To boot, it isn’t costly. Need I say more.
I just recently developed asthma from stuff in my house. I dont have the money to make the air quality better right now, but I can get foods that may help. I currently have lemons, onions, and acv with the mother, and ginger. What all can I do with the ginger root to help my asthma?
I use fresh ginger to make tea, in smoothies and juices, in cashew butter sauce (allergic to peanuts) for lettuce wraps. My granddaughters get colds and upset stomachs occasionally and I keep ginger tea for them, they love it! Love your blog/site!
I keep organic ginger slices (the size of quarters) in the freezer so it’s always ready to throw in a smoothie, juicing, recipes, tea, whatever. I never run out. I keep ginger candies on hand for motion sickness and morning sickness. My favorite brand is The Ginger People, and I like the spicy apple flavor. By like I mean it’s ok. I don’t love ginger flavor unless it’s mixed in a recipe. With one candy I can go from go car sick to being able to read in the car! Amazing. Be careful though bc some ginger candies don’t actually have any ginger in them. Like Newman’s Own. So check labels. ginger is also a natural antiviral so when I add it to my morning smoothie/juicing I rarely get sick. I do get tired of it and stop using it, so if I do feel something coming on I start adding the ginger back in.
My Korean sister-in-law read a Korean book recently that also discussed the powerful detoxifying nature of ginger, it’s ability to promote weight loss with just a cup of the tea every day and no dietary changes, and it’s ability to create regularity. Amazing stuff!
Ginger root is something I always like to have in the house.
Great in teas, stir fries, smoothies, and anything made in a crock pot.
Also a great way to “warm up” during the colder months.
One great way to use ginger is with a Ginger Beer Plant. It makes a delicious drink very similar to water kefir just stronger in flavor.
I love juicing with ginger. I definitely feel healed from the inside out!