While I haven’t always loved the spice and warmth of fresh ginger, I’ve grown to really appreciate it in recent years. This strange-looking rhizome is a critical component in many Asian cuisines, and it pairs perfectly with some of my favorite fall flavors like pumpkin, sweet potatoes, applesauce, and maple syrup. (And let’s not forget the all-important ginger snap!) :-)
But recently I’ve been familiarizing myself with some of the ways to use ginger outside of the kitchen as well. Because as it turns out, ginger makes a useful natural remedy for all sorts of ailments, from digestive distress to cold and flu symptoms!
And since staying healthy has been so important for all of us this year, why not use all of the tools at our disposal? So here are 9 practical uses for ginger for you to consider, as well as instructions for making a simple tea using fresh ginger root!
9 Of The Most Practical Uses For Ginger
1. Fight Off Cold, Flu, And Asthma Symptoms
Wheezing, coughing, congestion, runny noses, and other respiratory symptoms are very common during the winter months. Ginger can help ease these symptoms by acting as a decongestant to release phlegm, and it’s even helpful for relieving asthma symptom too.
Ginger offers vitamins and antiviral properties that can help to prevent and speed up recovery from colds, sore throat, and more. One easy way to reap these benefits is to drink a cup of ginger tea (see below) two to three times per day.
2. Combat Stomach Discomfort
Ginger’s healing properties come from its volatile oils (gingerols and shogaols), which are also responsible for its pungent taste. The oils trigger the stomach to produce more digestive enzymes which helps with digestion and helps neutralize the acids that can cause nausea, cramps, and even diarrhea.
Ginger can also improve food absorption, which helps prevent stomach aches and bloating that can occur due to excessive gas. Again, a cup of ginger tea is a great way to soothe most tummy issues.
3. Relieve Morning Sickness And Motion Sickness
Since ginger can help settle digestion-related tummy discomfort, it shouldn’t be surprising that it can help soothe morning sickness and motion sickness too! To avoid getting nauseous during a trip, drink a cup of ginger tea before setting off on your travels or bring some ginger candies with you.
4. Reduce Pain And Inflammation
Ginger is an extremely potent analgesic, providing an all-natural painkiller effect without any harmful side effects. It also contains potent anti-inflammatory properties that can ease the pain of rheumatoid arthritis, sore muscles, and aching joints.
5. Support Healthy Blood Circulation
Ginger contains minerals like chromium, magnesium, and zinc that support healthy blood flow and circulation. These minerals, along with amino acids found in ginger, have a warming effect that can help prevent chills, fever, and promote healthy sweating that can help your body fight off infections.
6. Strengthen Your Immune System
Ginger is packed with antioxidants that can help support your immune system. Consuming a little bit of ginger every day can help keep the doctor away!
7. Cope With Stress
Ginger contains a potent antioxidant called gingerol, which can help relieve psychological distress by counteracting the hormones our bodies produce when we’re under stress. Ginger also stimulates the production of stomach acid, which is crucial to digestion and can break down when we’re stressed. (Helps explain why stress often leads to an upset stomach!)
8. Fix Bad Breath
Chewing a ginger candy is a very good natural remedy for halitosis or bad breath. Keep a few ginger candies or some crystallized ginger in your purse so you’re always ready with a quick fix after a fragrant meal!
9. Ease Menstrual Cramps
Consuming ginger during the first few days of a menstrual period can help ease painful cramping for women and teens who suffer from painful menstrual periods (dysmenorrhea). A 2009 study found women who used ginger experienced about the same amount of relief as women who took medications like ibuprofen and mefenamic acid.
How To Make Fresh Ginger Tea
- 2-3 ounces ginger root
- 8 cups water
- Lemon (optional)
- Rinse the ginger root thoroughly under cold water, then slice it into ovals that are roughly 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch thick.
- Pour the water into a pot and bring it to a boil on your stovetop. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the sliced ginger root.
- Simmer the ginger in the water for at least 30 minutes, or up to 90 minutes depending on how strong you want the tea to be.
- If desired, quarter a lemon and add it to the pot of simmering ginger during the last 10 minutes of cooking time.
- After simmering, remove the tea from heat, strain through a mesh sieve, and serve hot with a bit of honey or cinnamon, if desired.
- Pour any leftover ginger tea into a glass jar and store it in your fridge where it should keep for a couple of weeks.
What’s you favorite way to use ginger?