Kitchen Herbs: Ginger

Ginger – where would we be without it?

Ginger is one of the most therapeutically useful herbs in common use in the kitchen, and has been revered as a healing herb for thousands of years in China and across the world. According to Chinese medicine, fresh ginger and dried ginger are both useful, but in different ways:

Fresh ginger has 3 main uses:

1. It warms and regulates the digestive system, helping conditions such as indigestion and bloating. Try a cup of fresh ginger tea every day.

2. It also relieves nausea, and can be used for travel or morning sickness. Slow-release ginger tablets or capsules are ideal for this. Take them following directions on the packet.

2. It promotes sweating, and helps to drive off colds. If you come down with a cold, try plenty of fresh ginger to help you fight it off, especially if you feel cold and shivery. Plenty of ginger tea normally does the trick. Or you can try what my teacher Dr Feng does, and keep a piece of fresh ginger in your cheek throughout Winter, chewing occasionally, to keep coughs and colds at bay!

Dry ginger one the other hand, is much more heating than fresh ginger, and really helps to warm the body.

Use it if you are one of those people who really feels the cold, especially if you normally have cold hands and feet. It will improve your circulation and help to warm you up.

It has also been used traditionally to bring heat and warmth back into the mind and emotions – to stir up the passions, improve a waning libido, and help with motivation and drive. In Chinese terms it is a Yang tonic.

How to use ginger

Fresh ginger can be finely chopped or grated and added to stir-fries or other Chinese style dishes. A slice or 2 of fresh ginger in a cup with boiling water on makes a refreshing, warming tea. Use fresh slices to flavour soups and stocks.

Dried ginger has a stronger flavour and can be used in a wide range of Chinese and Eastern dishes, and also in sweet dishes such as puddings. You can also get dried ginger in tea bags, for an easy warming cuppa.