Ginger has a long medicinal tradition, which began in India and China, soon spread to Ancient Greece and Rome, and eventually conquered the rest of the world.
Here we will see what are the main properties of ginger and how to prepare it as an infusion to make the most of it.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is a plant that belongs to the family Zingiberaceae. This makes it a relative of other herbs recognized in the world of cooking and medicine, such as turmeric or cardamom.
Its rhizome, that is, the underground horizontal stem, is used for its fresh aroma, spicy flavor and healthy properties. Although the ideal is to consume it fresh, either grated, sliced or chopped, it can also be obtained as a powder.
How to make ginger tea?
Preparing this infusion is very simple and fast, since you only need ginger and water. Typically the ratio is five thin slices of ginger for every cup of water.
In a saucepan add the water and the ginger slices, and bring the preparation to a boil. Then reduce the heat to a minimum and cook for 10 minutes.
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The infusion is ready when the water turns dark and the fragrance of ginger becomes intense. Remove from the heat, let it rest for a couple of minutes, strain and serve hot.
Although there are those who prefer to take it alone, you can choose to add honey or lemon to flavor. You can also add other herbs during the cooking process to add flavor.
It all depends on your tastes, but the most chosen are usually cinnamon, cayenne pepper, star anise, green or red tea, citrus peels, rosemary and even garlic.
You can also let it cool and enjoy a delicious iced tea.
tip: if you have leftover infusion, pour it into a tray and freeze it. Then you can use these ice cubes to flavor other drinks, or to cool future ginger infusions without diluting the flavor.
Ginger is rich in minerals, such as phosphorus, iron, magnesium, potassium or zinc, among others, as well as vitamins, especially B and C. It also has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant compounds, such as capsaicin, curcumin, caffeic acid and salicylate.
Thanks to this composition, its consumption is linked to different benefits:
Ginger acts as a natural digestive, and is recommended to relieve stomach disorders such as cramps, flatulence, bloating, or vomiting.
Natural medicine recommends that pregnant women consume ginger infusion during the first trimester, as it seems to calm morning sickness.
In addition, there is evidence that shows appetizing effects of ginger, that is, it stimulates the appetite while preparing the digestive system for the arrival of food.
Does it reduce stress?
One way to calm the effects of stress is with ginger tea, since this drink intervenes in the function of the adrenal glands, responsible for controlling the body’s hormonal balance, including cortisol and other hormones that are released in response to stress.
Stress is a natural reaction of the body that has physical and psychological manifestations: it sets the brain on guard, the nervous system wakes up, hormones are released to enliven the senses, the pulse quickens, breathing deepens, and tense the muscles.
Against coughs and colds
A very common recommendation for people who have a cold or persistent cough is to drink ginger tea.
This is because the infusion has antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and expectorant effects, which seem to calm the symptoms of these conditions, and are even claimed to speed up recovery, although the scientific evidence in this regard is still insufficient.
Does it help relieve menstrual cramps?
For its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger tea has been used for centuries as a remedy to relieve painful or irregular menstrual periods.
Quickly, this use spread to help reduce other types of pain, such as those caused by inflammation, cramps, migraines or joint diseases, such as arthritis.
Although ginger tea is a long-standing home remedy, experts advise drinking it in moderation.
In excess it can cause heartburn, allergy, swelling, irritation, alterations in blood pressure levels and an upset stomach.
Its consumption should also be limited or avoided if you take immunosuppressive drugs such as Neoral or Sandimmune, for diabetes such as Amaryl, Diabeta, Actos, Avandia or Glynase, for blood pressure, such as Adalat, Procardia, Plendil or Norvasc or anticoagulants such as Plavix, Coumadin, Voltaren or Motrin.
It should also not be combined with other herbs or derived supplements that are used to control the conditions listed above. These can be garlic, fenugreek, angelica, cloves, ginkgo biloba, Panax and Siberian ginseng, sage, or cat’s claw, among others.
Until significant scientific evidence from human trials is available, people interested in using herbal therapies and supplements should exercise extreme caution.
Do not abandon or modify your medications or treatments, first talk to your doctor about the potential effects of alternative or complementary therapies.
Remember, the medicinal properties of herbs and supplements can also interact with prescription drugs, other herbs and supplements, and even alter your diet.
Sources consulted: Comprehensive Natural Medicines Database, US National Library of Medicine, US Department of Agriculture, National Institute for Complementary and Alternative Medicine.