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Why ginger is good for you

Use it for travel sickness, indigestion, catarrh, even as an aphrodisiac.

Cornelis van Dalen explains

'Bite into a fresh ginger root, and you will feel the sun's fire stored in the paper brown wrapper'. The quote is from an unknown source, but the writer got it right. The skin of fresh ginger is remarkably like brown paper, though usually it is peeled very thinly before the root is used.

As for the sun's fire, it is not only a hot spice; it is also a very powerful one. Ginger root – called a rhizome – is said to have originated in Asia but is now cultivated in many hot and tropical climes. It is a medicinal herb, used fresh, powdered in capsules or dried, also used as a spice for culinary purposes. When combined in herbal formulations, it has the ability to support and enhance the action of other herbs.

Fresh ginger combined with cumin and coriander helps to break down high-protein foods such as meat and beans, and lessens the formation of uric acid in the body. With beans, it counters the problems of flatulence. In Indian cooking, no dhal or bean dish is ever contemplated without the addition of ginger. Here we have a great secret of traditional cuisine – food that not only sustains life and promotes growth, but also incorporates cooking techniques that aid digestion.

Best ways to take ginger

  • For maximum effect on lungs and head, for mucous and catarrhal conditions, drink ginger as tea - see recipe below.

  • Or mix the grated root with a little water and squeeze the milky liquid as a dressing on foods.

  • For action on colon, kidneys and lower extremities, add ginger at the beginning of cooking: e.g. sauté with onions at the beginning of bean or pulse cooking. Or take in powdered form or in capsules, following stated dose on pack.

  • If your stomach is upset, a glass of fresh ginger tea will settle it.

To make ginger tea, cut several slices of fresh ginger, add to water and brew - the longer the stronger. Ginger tea can offset the craving of sweet and alcoholic drinks. 

Drinking ginger tea after eating Indian food of an indigestible nature once saved me.

I had been eating flat bread, or roti, made with white flour and copious baking powder, something I learned to avoid (it is best made with wheat flour and no baking powder). I felt this heavy lump in the stomach and was feeling most uncomfortable.

Fortunately, my hostess had ginger tea brewing on the stove. Within a few minutes, I felt a warming sensation and thereafter total physical relief.

  • Ginger is a pungent food that promotes energy circulation and increases the metabolic rate. Naturopathic medicine uses it for heart and artery renewal and hypertension.  If you are on medication for these conditions, seek professional Naturopathic advice, but do not give up your normal medication without consulting your doctor.

  • As a general tonic, incorporate ginger in the diet, having it as an occasional tea or take capsules for dried ginger as directed on the product.

  • Ginger has a warming nature and should not be used when there are signs of heat, such as when a person feels hot, fears or dislikes heat, and is attracted to cold. Signs of heat include bright red tongue, red face, red eyes, high blood pressure, fever and inflammation.

  • Despite this, fresh ginger as tea helps disperse temporary body heat in summer – having a cooling effect – this is why hot spices are often used in hot climate countries (cayenne pepper, horse radish, black pepper).


Ginger for travel sickness

The most convenient form for this purpose is capsules. Take half an hour or so before travelling or have crystallised ginger on hand when motion sickness occurs. This does the trick for some people. Several studies show the positive effect of ginger on travel sickness, though doses vary. One study suggests taking 500mg 1 hour before travel and then 500 mg every two to four hours as necessary.

Half doses can be given to children - if they are willing to try the spicy flavour.

  • Ginger as a warming spice can be added to milk to improve its digestibility.

  • Ginger protects the lungs and the colon. Its healing qualities can transform, reduce, or expel phlegm in the lungs. Cold-type asthma (white, clear, foamy discharge, with cold extremities and pale complexion) is alleviated by the addition of fresh ginger to the diet.

  • For throat inflammation and asthma, bronchitis and coughs, boil half an oz grated raw ginger to 1 pint of water and allow water to reduce by half. Cool and then add half teaspoon honey.

  • Oil of ginger stimulates circulation and is useful for arthritic and rheumatic disorders, especially for muscle complaints due to age; the oil should be massaged into affected parts. I recommend that persons suffering from these conditions should avoid all meat and animal produce.

  • For an aphrodisiac effect, the root is combined with honey, cloves and olive oil. (The quantities of each are not stated so experiment at your joyous peril!)

  • Ginger is a natural diuretic (take as tea), is good for constipation (use in cooking and try the ginger dressing mentioned above) and for urinary difficulties  (tea or capsules as directed on pack).   

Powerful herbs and strongly medicinal foods should be used cautiously in the normal diet. To use ginger as a medicinal aid, remember that each person will react differently, as they do to any other herb or spice.  The amount that suits you is a matter of moderate experimentation and observation. To get best results, you may want to seek advice from a Naturopathic practitioner. A Chinese folk saying warns, “Healthy people who regularly use medicines become ill.”


Cornelis van Dalen has more than ten years experience in the Naturopathic approach to health and well-being. He is the media liaison for the College of Naturopathic and Complementary Medicine (CNM) and Secretary-General of the Association of Naturopathic Practitioners (ANP).

For any questions regarding courses in Naturopathy and Complementary Medicine (Homoeopathy, Herbalism, Traditional Chinese Medicine, Nutrition), you are invited to contact the CNM Head Office, at Unit 1, Bulrushes Farm, Coombe Hill Road, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 4LZ. Telephone 01342 410 505, Fax 01342 410 909

or e-mail

If in any doubt about any of the information covered in health related articles and its relevance for you, consult your GP


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