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Within the realm of herbs and plants, ginger root is perhaps one of the most well-known (if not the most well-known) for its healing properties. It’s role in diverse cuisines from all over the world, in diverse forms, certainly gives it some great name recognition.

Ginger itself is a flowering plant (quite vibrantly colored depending on the variety), but as the title of this particular piece gives away, it is the root of the plant that holds great healing potential.

Turn Up the Heat to Relieve Sore Muscles

Ginger root has warming properties that encourage the circulation of blood, reducing inflammation. This includes inflammation and pain caused by arthritis or even just sore muscles.

While ingesting ginger tea is the most tried and true way of reaping the healing benefits, a ginger bath can also be beneficial to sore muscles. It’s like sitting in a giant tea cup full of ginger tea. Now, due to its warming properties and effects on circulation, your body will heat up quickly and stay warm for some time after, relaxing your muscles.

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The ginger bath can be accomplished by grating some fresh ginger into a bathtub full of hot water or making a ginger tea and pouring it into the bath. As always, make sure the water is not too hot. If a bath is not too your liking, you can pour ginger tea onto a towel and use it as a compress for your sore muscles or arthritic joints.

Internal Benefits of Ginger

Perhaps the most common reason to ingest ginger is an upset digestive system (e.g. nausea). A bit of fresh ginger (or powdered, but fresh is much more effective) is stimulating to the digestive system, not least because of its effects on circulation. But, be careful. Too much ginger can actually have the opposite effect.

Ginger root also helps to alkalize the body (making it less acidic). Why is this a good thing? An acidic internal environment can result in inflammation of the lining of the stomach and elsewhere, and throws homeostasis off kilter (thus creating an imbalance).

Too much sugar in your diet can result in an acidic internal environment, as can poorly digested protein. Various bacteria and fungi thrive in more acidic environments and they can cause imbalances in your intestinal tract, which in turn can manifest as skin conditions (e.g. fungal infection). By helping to alkalize the body, ginger helps your internal environment stay balanced.

Making Ginger Tea for Internal Harmony

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While powdered ginger is still ginger, fresh is ideal. To make a good ginger tea:

  1. Cut 3-5 slices of the root (depending on its size…fewer slices for a larger root).
  2. Put them in your favorite mug.  
  3. Pour hot water into the mug.
  4. Let it steep for 4-5 minutes.

You may also steep slices of fresh ginger root in chamomile tea, which has some properties in common with ginger (like being anti-inflammatory). Chamomile is also good for relaxing the digestive system.

No More Cold Shoulder

Ginger root has strong antiviral and detoxifying properties, making it very beneficial when your body is fighting off the cold or the flu. Illness tends to come around when the weather changes, so you might want to keep some ginger in the house as the seasons change (if you don’t already keep it year-round), particularly summer to fall and fall to winter.

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In addition, ginger’s warming properties will help dry out stubborn phlegm, which, as we all know, is an unfortunate byproduct of both the cold and the flu (especially when it gets into the sinuses). As with digestive issues, I recommend drinking fresh ginger tea so that it is more easily absorbed into the bloodstream.

However, if you have a persistent cough months after your cold or flu has run its course, it could be a sign that there is phlegm in your lungs that is too dry to be expelled normally by coughing. If this is the case, the ginger root may be compounding the situation and another herbal remedy would be more appropriate.

Ladies First  

Not only is ginger root anti-inflammatory, it also calms internal muscle spasms (including smooth muscle, which make up your internal organs). As such, a ginger tea can help with menstrual discomfort and cramping. It does not have to be menstrual cramping for the ginger to be effective, however. The effect can be similar for other muscle spasms as well. Ginger can also trigger a delayed menstrual cycle due to its energizing effect on the body’s blood circulation.

Tea Time

Ginger, among other herbs, has been used for thousands of years in the manner that medicines are used today, but if ginger root will take care of your digestive distress, why take heartburn medication developed from unnatural sources? The alternatives to many prescription medications aren’t so much their alternatives as their precursors.

As you would with any prescription medication, make sure you are using ginger root as directed for whatever ailment is ailing you. When in doubt, you can always make an appointment or have a chat with your doctor to make sure that you will get your desired outcome…namely good health.

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Dr. Aram Nalbandyan
Acupuncturist
Dr. Aram Nalbandyan is a devoted husband, father of three, and Hung Gar practitioner and teacher. His study of traditional Gung Fu (Kung Fu) has given him a deeper understanding of qi and healing. What others know, he actually feels.After completing a total of 12 years of study in ancient methods through apprenticeship and formal education at the American Acupuncture Academy and then Emperor’s College of Traditional Oriental Medicine, Dr. Nalbandyan’s achieved the prestigious title of Doctor of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (DAOM), a title earned by fewer than 100 practitioners in the United States. Dr. Nalbandyan’s approach to balance, healing, and well-being is characterized by his overwhelming dedication to help others in pain. Himself a lifelong athlete, he is no stranger to the physical pain that comes with training, or the mental and emotional toll it can take. This makes him uniquely qualified to treat it in others.
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