Ginger – At the Root of Healing

Like many people from Asia, I’ve always loved ginger. Besides tasting wonderful in soups, stir fries, rice dishes, beverages and desserts, it’s like a little medicine chest of natural remedies and health benefits. Traditional Indian medicine calls ginger the “universal remedy.” It’s commonly used to relieve nausea, can stimulate circulation, relax muscles, relieve pain and as an anti-inflammatory. As a child, my mother made a Chinese porridge with ginger for me, or she’d boil ginger and make it into a tea with honey to cure a cough and sore throat. I still find ginger tea very soothing to this day. There are so many ways ginger can detox, help heal or just make you feel better.

When I was at the Natural Products Expo in Anaheim, California last month, I had the pleasure of meeting Abbie Leeson, Executive Vice President of the Ginger People Group. I had been looking for an organic ginger juice for the cold pressed juices I like to make, which are both delicious and beneficial. You can order the organic ginger juice online from Abe’s Market. Whole Foods has some delicious ginger drinks called Red Energizer drink, which has ginger and apple juice, and Blue Soother, which contains ginger, lemon and honey.

At the Expo, we also saw ginger in a variety of new products including ginger-flavored yogurt, tonics, teas, bars and more. According to Abbie Leeson, “More and more manufacturers are specifying ginger for their products. Ginger also lifts all other flavors in a recipe – much like salt does. We’ve been seeing it incorporated into fruit jams, sauerkraut, even cheeses. Our latest product, the Arjuna Ginger Bar uses organic ginger and organic coconut sugar, and the flavor combination is fantastic.”

The benefits of ginger are impressive. Ginger:

  • Has antibacterial, antiviral, antioxidant and anti-parasitic properties. The antioxidants protect the body from damaging free radicals that can cause disease.
  • Detoxifies the body by stimulating circulation.
  •  A good source of vitamin C, magnesium, potassium, copper, and manganese.
  • Can help open up the capillaries in the nose and sinuses. Boil gingerroot and add honey to create a tea that’s effective for relieving a sore throat and reducing nasal congestion.
  •  Helps relieve nausea associated with post-surgery, morning sickness, motion sickness or chemotherapy. Simply chew on a small piece.
  • Helps reduce gas and flatulence.
  • Sipping ginger tea or chewing on some ginger root can help relieve menstrual cramps. It may work as well as ibuprofen.
  • Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties can relieve joint pain and help reduce the swelling in bronchial tubes associated with asthma.
  • Research published in the British Journal of Nutrition has demonstrated ginger’s anti-cancer activity, suggesting it may be effective in the management of prostate cancer. Other studies have indicated that ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties may help fight tumors of the pancreas, ovaries, colon, breast, lungs and skin.
  • According to Dr. Joseph Marcola’s website, there is evidence that ginger reduces severity of migraine headaches as effectively as the migraine medication Sumatriptan – with fewer side effects.
  • Traditional Indian (Ayurvedic) medicine suggests that ginger is an aphrodisiac, so go ahead and spike the soup!

Ginger is so delicious, healthful and versatile, you’ll always want to keep some in your refrigerator.  Fresh gingerroot has the highest concentration of active ingredients, but dried and cooked ginger maintains its healing properties. Buy the whole gingerroot, then peel the skin off just what you need and slice. Put the remainder back in the refrigerator to peel and grate for the next dish. There are a number of recipes in my cookbook, FOODTRIENTS – Age-Defying Recipes for a Sustainable Life, that contain gingerroot — savory Buckwheat Crepes, hearty Cornish Game Hen and Brown Rice Stew, exotic Shrimp and Moringa Curry, tasty Tilapia Fillets with Cilantro. Here are a couple of recipes featuring gingerroot that you’ll enjoy anytime.


Gingerroot Black Tea
¼ inch gingerroot, peeled and sliced thinly
2 black teabags
2 cups boiling water
2 rock sugar stirrers (optional)

  1. Combine the gingerroot and the teabags in a pitcher with the boiling water. Steep for 1-3    minutes; strain
  2. Pour into two teacups; serve with rock sugar stirrers, if desired


Tangy Ginger Dressing

1 Tbs. grated gingerroot
1Tbs. soy sauce
1Tbs. mirin (seasoned rice wine)
1 Tbs. sesame oil
Dash of pepper

Combine all the ingredients in a container with a tight-fitting lid and shake until well blended.
This dressing is great with my Green Tea Noodles with Edamame, Spinach and Grapefruit Salad or any green salad.


About Grace O

Grace O has been cooking and baking professionally and recreationally all of her adult life. As a child in Southeast Asia, she learned the culinary arts by her mother’s side in her family’s cooking school. She became so well versed in hospitality and the culinary arts, she eventually took over the cooking school and opened three restaurants. She is widely credited with popularizing shrimp on sugar-cane skewers and being one of the first culinarians to make tapas a global trend. She has cooked for ruling families and royalty. Grace O’s move to America precipitated a career in healthcare, inspired by her father, who was a physician. Twenty years and much hard work later, she operates skilled nursing facilities in California. Grace O strives to create flavorful food using the finest ingredients that ultimately lead to good health. Her recipes, although low in saturated fat, salt, and sugar, are high in flavor. Grace employs spices from all over the world to enliven her dishes, creating food that is different and delicious. She believes that food can be just as effective at fighting aging as the most expensive skin creams. And since she’s over 50 herself, she’s living proof of that.
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