Until recently, the nearest I could go to ginger root was in the form of a mild herbal tea. Honestly, too strong to chew – right?
Well. As you spiritmommies out there know, this spring I had to take two rounds of antibiotics in a month. Next time I needed a pain killer, I was determined not to get a drug full of side effects.
I researched on the internet and in my favourite bookshop and decided to give a try to a natural anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, digestive system soother that everybody seems to swear by. Yep, you guessed right: ginger!
(Scroll down for a quick, child-friendly, ginger smoothie recipe).
Ginger belongs to the zingiberaceae botanical family, together with its noble cousins turmeric and cardamom. The medicinal properties of ginger root have been studied since the beginning of human history, from ancient India and China to the cradle of western world, Greece and Rome.
Known to contain more than twelve types of anti-oxidants, ginger sports an almost endless list of medicinal properties. If you can stomach the spiciness – and believe me, it is not too strong when you get used to it – its properties will ultimately make you want to keep a root always handy in your home.
- Inflammation: Gingerols is the anti-inflammatory source in ginger. It helps with various inflammatory disorders like rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis. It provides noticeable relief in pain caused by inflammation and help decrease swelling and morning stiffness.
- Menstrual pain (dysmenorrhoea): Period pain being basically an inflammatory problem, ginger can be a sound relief. Dr Mercola writes “Ginger has even been found to be as effective as ibuprofen in relieving pain from menstrual cramps in women”. It definitely worked wonders for me. After suffering for years from very painful periods, I got sadly used to the idea that the first day of bleeding I had to take a pain relief drug. But that was before I discovered the pain-relieving and anti-cramping properties of the ginger root! Try peeling a small piece of ginger root (one centimetre or two is enough) and boiling it with a cup of water. Drink it hot two or three times a day, starting a few days before your period starts, and continuing every day until the bleeding stops. It will surprise you. (I could not resist adding a pic of my ginger cat studying my ginger tea this morning).
- Sickness: Ginger has been traditionally used by sailors to cure sea sickness. Half a spoonful of ginger powder, mixed with food, can also alleviate morning sickness, motion sickness, dizziness and even nausea caused by chemotherapy or anesthesia. Useful also for mild symptoms of pregnancy sickness. Michael Greger M.D. (in his excellent non profit website) says that “Ginger may also reduce DNA damage from radiation and provide some protection from industrial pollutants”.
- Local painkiller: Ginger makes an excellent painkiller, even when applied locally. With toothache or sore throat, a small piece of root can be put inside your mouth near the source of the pain and left there for few minutes, not chewing it nor swallowing it. Or try applying it externally either on the cheek or on the jaw area. Migraines can also be alleviated with ginger: check out this video by Dr Greger.
- Ginger can also help with hypertension, fatigue, as an anti-coagulant, to treat cold and cough, and as a digestive help. It also had encouraging results in the prevention of diabetes and cancer*. Many swears it has also a potent aphrodisiac effect.
On a practical level, I add ginger as a powder on numerous savory dishes, as in the ginger stir fry I had for lunch today (check out pic below). It is a vegan, nutrient-packed easy dish that can change all the time, depending on what I have in the kitchen as fresh ingredients. The only staple is ginger! You can find ginger powder in most supermarkets. I would rather suggest taking the certified organic one, you can find it on Amazon (UK or US).
What about children – can they also benefit from ginger? The short answer is, probably yes. In moderation.
Ginger can be beneficial for little humans as young as babies (obviously after weaning) if given in a small amount – with babies, try the size of an appleseed, grounded and mixed with pureed vegetables – for alleviating exactly the same problems than in grown-ups. This includes bronchitis, colic, flatulence, cough, colds and upset stomach. The antispasmodic properties of ginger can help settle down the muscle contractions in the tummy.
You could make a ginger smoothie for your older kids, to familiarize them with the taste. As you know, I love smoothies.
Here’s a quick recipe:
- 2 bananas, frozen
- 1 cup baby spinach
- 1/2-inch piece peeled ginger
- 5 strawberries
- 2 cups almond milk (or milk of choice)
Blend all ingredients together until smooth. Unpeeled ginger will last in the fridge up to three weeks. This smoothie has all the essential oils, protein, calcium, phosphorus, iron, vitamin C, choline, folate, inositol, manganese, panthotenic acid, silicon (and a small amount of vitamin B3) of ginger – plus all the amazing properties of the other fruits and vegs.
A word of warning. Some do not consider ginger safe for babies and children under the age of two, as the flavor is very strong and it has not been clinically tested extensively in the Western world.
I am not a medical doctor and I do not give medical advice, so please always discuss herbal remedies with a pediatrician and consult your doctor if your child (or you) have a serious medical problem. Herbs and roots can cause some side effects and pose the risk of drug interactions, so be careful.
Because a remedy is natural, it does not mean it has not powerful effects! Never underestimate the strength of herbs.
For minor illnesses, a natural approach has the benefit of not having the same (often strong) side effects as pharmaceutical drugs. Even for children. And this is a great benefit, in my opinion.
As always, I hope this serves you (and your child).
* Dr Mercola’s website