Patients often ask me about the role of ginger in our overall health, circulation and in generally keeping our body’s Yin and Yang in balance.
Ginger is incredibly valuable for promoting health and wellness because it naturally stimulates good digestion and is often used to “fire up” a congested, clogged, sluggish or weakened digestion in patients.
In an earlier post this month, I wrote about the Water element. Ginger is also incredibly useful in drying dampness (Water) during the winter months as it helps the body to dispel cold.
Traditional Chinese Medicine considers ginger to have warm characteristics that help to improve the spleen and digestive systems to increase Spleen Qi and yang. Especially during winter, eating a little of ginger can help raise your Qi and yang energy. In Western term these functions may be called “boosting the Immune system”.
For those patients that I may have described as naturally having a warm constitution, be careful how much ginger you eat since you’re already warm and don’t want to overheat unnecessarily. A ginger tea taken once or twice daily should be fine for those constitutions.
Ginger root, in both its fresh form “Sheng Jiang” and its dried form, “Gan Jiang” stimulate our digestive enzymes and hydrochloric acid, a process that is part of stimulating the transformation and transportation of the solids and fluids in Chinese Medicine. So its not just that ginger stimulates digestion, but that it aids in assimilation of nutrients making them more “bioavailable” in the blood stream, and with its warm, pungent nature helps to ignite the ministerial fire in Chinese Medicine.
Ginger’s fibrous rhizome is spicy and is also said to neutralize poisons in food, ventilate the lungs, and warm the circulation to the limbs. Today, many Chinese medicine practitioners use ginger in the treatment of cough (it acts as an expectorant) and common cold.
Ginger is typically also used in making teas as the powder is encapsulated for easy consumption. Personally I like to add smashed or sliced ginger to tea (as opposed to powdered ginger) and I will often dice it up to add to soups.
Here is one of my favorite recipes using this wonderful herb … give it a try some time!
Ginger and Spring Onion Porridge
(This is a very traditional porridge, cooked at home and also available for dim sum or yum cha. It will definitely help warm your circulation.)
Small handful of rice (if you like oats, you may use these instead)
2 cups of water
1 inch of ginger chopped very finely
2tblsp spring onion
Boil the rice and water until the rice is soft. Add the ginger and spring onion and cook for another minute. You can add soy sauce to taste. Yup it’s that simple!