Recently, a friend of ours was enjoying a fancy ginger ale and touting his love of ginger. “If you guys are wondering what to get me for Christmas,” he announced, “ginger!”
I thought that was a pretty weird thing to say.
Seven days later, for entirely unrelated reasons, I became obsessed with ginger tea.
John and I had had terrible colds all week, and as we were finally beginning to see the end, I felt a cough coming on. That’s how it usually goes for me: after a week’s worth of post-nasal drip, my throat is so irritated that I can’t help coughing, which irritates my throat more, so I cough more, for at least a week. It sucks.
I looked up cough-suppressing remedies and ginger came up. Ginger always comes up when you’re looking up remedies, have you noticed that? Sore throat—ginger. Stomachache—try ginger. Late mortgage payment—how about some ginger. But I had never heard of it as a remedy for congestion, and I loathe congestion, so I decided to try it. And while we’re at it, here’s everything else ginger wants to help you with (sources at the end of this post):
Ordinary benefits of ginger
- Digestion, nausea, gas, etc. That’s a classic, but did you know it also improves your appetite if you have some before a meal? I didn’t.
- Congestion. Ginger is good for loosening phlegm and mucus from the lungs, which is nice when you’ve got a cold. It’s also an anti-inflammatory, so it can help reduce the swelling of your sinuses that aggravates your stuffy nose.
- Arthritis. Give that joint an anti-inflammatory. Joints love anti-inflammatories.
- Motion sickness. Studies suggest that while it’s not as effective as motion sickness medicine, it’s better for motion sickness than nothing at all. I think they say something similar about those silly magnet bracelets, though, so…grain of salt. Unless you dig those silly magnet bracelets. Maybe you’re right.
Curious claims of ginger
- Aphrodisiac. It’s something to do with blood flow, I think, but a lot of info on this is obscured in ancient philosophy so I can’t really say. If you’re willing to accept medical data in dead languages, then look no further; this research comes from ancient Sanskrit texts.
- Cure for cancer. Something in ginger is being studied because it slows metastasis, and some studies have shown ginger killing cancer cells in test tubes. They’ll keep studying this, presumably.
- Dosha balance. Doshas are the three biological energies of the body and mind, according to Ayurvedic wisdom, and the prevalance of any one of them defines your character and weaknesses. It’s best to keep all three in balance, which apparently ginger is ideal for. Watch out, though—if you have too much ginger, you could aggravate your pitta, turning you into a hot-headed pain in the ass. If you are already predisposed to being a hot-headed pain in the ass, one or two daily cups of ginger tea is plenty for you. Earthy-watery Kapha types like me can have all the ginger tea they want. I think.
- Late mortgage payments. I definitely made this up.
Aaaanyway, I was doing my cough-research and I had some fresh ginger on hand, so I made some ginger tea and prepared to choke it down in the name of medicinal value.
I was not expecting it to taste good, like hot, spicy ginger ale. But better, less sweet, and soothing.
So I made some more ginger tea.
And more ginger tea.
Now we keep ginger tea in the fridge because we like it so much. Also, it does seem to help with our congestion. And my friend who wanted ginger for Christmas? He’s getting a gallon of it, specially labeled. I don’t think he’s sick or anything, but now he never will be. Plus it should keep his doshas in line. So. That’s good.
How to Make Ginger Tea
1. Wash, peel and thinly slice some ginger root. I like my ginger tea strong because I want to feel it working. In general, I make three mugs’ worth at a time, using 20 slices of ginger; use as little as half of that if you prefer less bite. To make a whole gallon of tea, I used about four inches of ginger root.
2. Bring water and ginger to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for about half an hour. Strain and stir in honey to taste. Enjoy hot, or chill and drink cold.
If you’re making a jug or a pitcher of tea to keep around or to give as a gift, feel free to download and print my ginger tea labels! (Horizontal and vertical versions are included in the PDF.) Printing the labels out on inkjet sticker paper makes quick work of labeling bottles for optimal awesomeness.
Or if you’d like to be able to edit your label in Photoshop or Illustrator, template.net offers a free ginger tea bottle label download (and a bunch of other customizable designs).
- The U.S. National Library of Medicine
- Dharma Ayurveda Guide
- University of Maryland Medical Center
- Natural News presents some curious/dubious/awesome claims for ginger, like slowing the advance of cancer
- Ayurveda 101 (This one isn’t about ginger; I’m including it in case you’re curious about the three doshas. I sure was.)