Food As Medicine: Healing Power of Ginger + Recipes

By Marcus Samuelsson |

Indigenous to Asia, now common all over the globe, ginger is an impressive healing food. This powerful and medicinal root is widely known as a digestive aid. How many times have you or someone else been recommended Ginger Ale for an upset stomach? This is just one example of ginger’s prominent role as a “healer”.

When we are considering food as medicine, there are better options than store bought soda which contain harmful ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup, artificial coloring and preservatives. Using ginger in its whole form is the best way to reap the healing benefits.

Ginger’s stimulating power and wide range of “anti” benefits can support the body in many ways, including:

– Immune system stimulant with tremendous anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties to combat colds and flu’s. Ginger’s circulation, stimulating and diaphoretic properties also help to induce sweating, which in turn helps to reduce fevers and in fact ginger has a long history known for treating Malaria

– A digestive stimulant and anti-nausea food know for soothing the digestive tract and treating all types of nausea including morning sickness, motion sickness and nausea from chemotherapy

– A strong anti-histamine that stimulates upper respiratory circulation

– A powerful anti-inflammatory when applied to burns, blisters and achy joints and equally powerful for the body when ingested, linked to easing migraines

– Topical application of this anti-fungal root can cure athletes foot

– Ginger’s anti-arthritic benefits reduce aches and pains, as well as inflammation through both internal and external application

– Ginger’s anti-tussice (cough) effect rivals that of codeine, try ginger tea the next time you are suffering from an upper respiratory infection

– Enjoy ginger daily for its anti-coagulant benefits to guard against blood clots, preventing heart attacks

– Ginger is a warming stimulate that gets our blood pumping and circulating in a way that cleanses our skin, bowels & kidneys, normalizes blood pressure, eases lung and throat congestion, supports our nervous system easing depression and chronic fatigue, increases a low libido and fertility

Ginger is totally delicious, versatile and easily enjoyed in a variety of sweet or savory recipes. Use ginger in beverages such as ginger ale, ginger beer or hot/cold ginger tea, pickled as condiment, in dressing to add a kick, sauces, marinades, stir fry, use fresh or candied ginger in baked goods such breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, ice cream, sorbet, pudding or candy. There is no need to peel ginger if you purchase organic. Just wash the outer skin and use as is.

For external application, grate and juice ginger and apply straight or with a hot water compress until pain subsides.

The best way to approach herbal medicine is by incorporating these amazing healing foods into your daily diet. Find recipes that you will enjoy and let the healing process be a delicious journey! In the words of Hippocrates “Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food”.

Eat well!

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For Ginger Tea

1 oz ginger, chopped or grated

8 oz water

For Honey Ginger Sparkler

1/3 cup honey

2 tbsp lemon juice

1 inch piece of ginger, grated

1 bottle (750 ml) sparkling mineral wateror 3 cups of seltzer

For Sweet Ginger Tahini Dressing

1/4 cup lemon juice

1/4 cup tahini

1/4 cup maple

1/2 tbsp dulse

3 cloves garlic

1 1/2 inch piece of ginger

2 tbsp filtered water

2 tbsp toasted sesame oil


Photos: Rena Unger

To Make Ginger Tea:

1. Grate/chop ginger and add to a pot with water

2. Bring to a boil and boil for 10 minutes

3. Turn off heat and cover, let steep for 10-20 minutes depending on desired strength

4. Strain the tea or enjoy with the bits of ginger

To Make Honey Ginger Sparkler:

1. Whisk honey, lemon juice and grated ginger until well mixed

2. Add sparkling mineral water and gently mix

3. Serve cold or room temperature

To Make Sweet Ginger Tahini Dressing:

1. Blend lemon juice, tahini, maple, dulse, garlic, ginger, water and toasted sesame oil

2. Salt to taste and add more water if needed to reach desired consistency

3. Serve with any salad, roasted vegetable or as a sauce for any protein