Ginger: The universal medicine of Ayurveda
Ginger is a perennial herb native to China and India known as Zingiber officinale.
It has an such an abundance of healing properties, that in Ayurveda ginger is regarded as “universal medicine”. It is slightly spicy, but at the same time sweet and warming. The perfect antidote for cold, damp weather!
Ginger is traditionally used as a natural remedy for colds, coughs and flu. While there is no definitive evidence that it can cure these ailments, research suggests that it may prevent them, as well as significantly relieving their symptoms. (See below Sri Swami Purohit’s recipe for ginger tea.)
Another key benefit of ginger is that of enhancing the digestive system. There is a sutra (verse) in Ayurveda, which says that everyone should eat fresh ginger before lunch and dinner in order to enhance digestion. This is because ginger stimulates the appetite and improves the transportation and assimilation of nutrients to the different areas of the body.
Ginger contains compounds called gingerols and shogaols. Research suggests that these are what gives ginger its medicinal properties.
A 2011 laboratory study found that ginger showed a higher antibacterial effect than antibiotics against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pyogenes, which are the bacteria that cause the condition known as “strep throat”.
A more recent laboratory study confirmed that the antibacterial effects of ginger are significant.
Studies have indicated that ginger has certain antiviral properties, and that fresh ginger may be beneficial against respiratory viruses. A 2013 laboratory study showed that fresh ginger also appeared to stop the reproduction of a virus. Dried ginger, however, did not seem to have the same effects.
There is currently no evidence to suggest that ginger can protect against SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
In laboratory models of throat infection, ginger showed anti-inflammatory activity. The research suggests that ginger could reduce pharyngitis, which is inflammation at the back of the throat.
In addition, a 2012 laboratory study of ginger, alligator pepper, and nutmeg found that ginger had the highest antioxidant effect of the three spices. Antioxidants help prevent the cell damage that is caused by inflammation.
Traditional Ayurvedic texts recommend ginger for therapeutic use of joint pain and this is supported by modern research.
Ginger has also been shown to alleviate nausea. Try boiling some fresh ginger in water and sip the water during the day until you feel better. It may also help with motion sickness.
For general purposes, the best way is to eat ginger raw (if you can!), either on its own or dipped in a little salt and lime juice.
Alternatively, you can add it to your meals; it can be sliced, then stir fried or boiled with vegetables or pulses, or it can be grated and added to soups and hot drinks. Ginger is also now available in capsule form.
Sri Swami Purohit’s ginger tea for colds and coughs:
Whenever you feel you may be getting a cold, try drinking this ginger tea. It will alleviate symptoms and may prevent the cold from developing further.
- Cut some fresh ginger into thin slices and place them into a pan of boiling water.
- Simmer on a low heat for at least half an hour.
- Remove from the heat and allow to cool.
- Add honey to taste and sip this warm, soothing drink regularly to ease your symptoms.
Ginger is a very safe herb and can be taken daily. However, there are a few cases in which ginger is not recommended. You should avoid taking ginger if you suffer from hyperacidity, any type of haemorrhage (including menstruation), vertigo or any chronic skin disease.
If you are not sure if ginger, or any other natural remedy, is safe for you, always check first with your doctor.