From the June 2000 Idaho Observer:

Ginger: More than just an exotic food herb

by Carol Geck, ND

GINGER (Zingiber officinale)

Ginger is a perennial plant which is indigenous to tropical areas.

It is used extensively in south Asia and especially Jamaica. The aromatic, knotty rootstock is thick, fibrous, and whitish or buff-colored. Most people recognize ginger as a food and a spice, but ginger has also been used medicinally for centuries. Practitioners of Chinese medicine discovered its wonderful healing properties at least 2500 years ago, and in China, as well as the rest of the world, it continues to be used medicinally.

Fresh ginger has been used in the Eastern civilizations for many complaints including rheumatism, bacterial dysentery, toothache, malaria, and for colds and moist conditions such as excess mucus and diarrhea. In the West, it is better known as a digestive aid, and for flatulence and colic.

The Tibetans used it to help those recovering from illness and in Japan a ginger oil massage was given to help alleviate spinal and joint problems.

To restore warmth to cold joints, stimulate circulation of blood and lymph, relieve colic, reduce internal inflammation, an external ginger fomentation (compress) is recommended. Simmer five ounces of fresh grated ginger root in two quarts of water for ten minutes. Strain and soak two cotton cloths (cotton terry cloth hand towels work great) in this tea. Apply the first cloth (compress) to the area of concern. Alternate the cloths to keep a constant warm temperature on the skin. A hot water bottle can be applied on top of the compress to keep the temperature fairly constant.

The skin should become red as the circulation increases. This helps to restore vitality to a part of the body that has been immobilized or weakened by disease.

On cold winter days a warm cup of ginger tea, made by grating one ounce of fresh ginger and simmered ten minutes in a pint of water, is used for indigestion, cramps, nausea and has been known to promote circulation throughout the body. Ginger tea or tincture, taken hot, has been known to promote cleansing of the system through perspiration. Adding honey and fresh lemon juice to ginger tea is an excellent treatment for colds and flu. Ginger is a diaphoretic herb which means that it stimulates perspiration and thus stimulates a “sweat” for the body.

Ginger is also used in treatments for sore throats, arthritis, chills, congestion, coughs, respiratory infections, sinusitis and sprains. Caution: If you are pregnant or under a doctor's care, please consult with your physician. Repeated use can possibly result in a rash called contact sensitization.

Current research has come up with some novel ways of using ginger. For instance, ginger has been shown to be more effective in treating motion sickness than some well known over the counter remedies; the added benefit being that ginger does not cause drowsiness, as do many of the commercial preparations. If you or someone in your family has a problem with motion sickness, try drinking a cup of ginger tea before the trip as well as bringing a thermos of ginger tea with you.

My personal preference is the use of the Essential Oil of Ginger, which is an unadulterated, 100 percent pure, therapeutic Grade A oil. Since many of us live in areas of the country where obtaining fresh ginger root may be difficult, we recommend having the Essential Oil of Ginger on hand. I always carry a small 5 ml. bottle in my purse for emergency situations. One never knows when the occasion will arise that you or someone else will have some intestinal digestive problems and be in dire need of ginger root for relief.

Our first personal experience with pure ginger oil was a real eye opener. We were on a cross country trip, eating restaurant food along the way. A few miles down the road after a restaurant stop, we both began suffering miserably from an attack of intestinal gas. I then remembered that I had packed the ginger oil. We rubbed a couple drops of the ginger oil over the area of our stomach and within minutes the pain of the intestinal gas subsided. I then added one drop of ginger oil to each of our water containers, which we continued to drink throughout the rest of the trip. We were not plagued with that problem again. At that point we vowed we would never be without our precious bottle of ginger oil.

Essential oils may react with chemicals stored in your body and cause skin irritation, nausea, headaches or other uncomfortable effects. In other words, essential oils can react with a build up of toxins in the body from chemicals found in food, water and the work environment. If you experience a reaction to pure unadulterated Therapeutic, Grade A essential oils, it may be wise to temporarily discontinue their use until you can consult with a natural health care professional.

If you are interested in attending workshops or would like information sent to you concerning pure unadulterated Therapeutic Grade A Essential Oils, please contact (208) 255-2307.


Carol Geck currently operates Heal-Thy Self Consulting in Bonners Ferry, Idaho. She is a certified IIRA Iridologist, Naturopath, and is also trained in Live Blood Cell Nutrition Analysis and Aromatherapy. You can reach Carol by calling (208) 267-6606.

Disclaimer: Consult you health care professional about any serious disease or injury. Do not attempt to self-diagnose or prescrible any natural substances such as essential oils for serious health conditions that require professional attention.

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