Pacific American-News Journal
`Okakopa - October 1996 Volume 2 Issue 10
Ginger: The Universal Medicine
by Linda Mae Kaholokai
Wouldn't it be nice to have one medicine in your home that
could ward off a cold and fever, soothe aching joints, break up
congestion in the lungs, prevent motion sickness, alleviate the
pain of arthritis, calm a headache, improve circulation--and
more? A spice and yet a powerful medicine, ginger is used around
the world for these and many more ailments. It can be found in
supermarkets across the country, and grows abundantly here in
Hawai'i. Seemingly limitless in its potential, it has been called
the universal medicine, and a wonder
drug. Research scientists have been tracking down the
specific components that make it so valuable. Parents would not
have been giving it to their children for generations for colds
if they doubted its value.
Zingiber officinale is its scientific name. Here in
Hawai'i we call it awapuhi pake, to distinguish it from
the many gingers that grow here. It is the root (technically,
rhizome) of the plant that is commonly used either fresh or
Pungent and astringent to the taste, ginger is a cleansing,
eliminating and stimulating herb. It warms the body, increases
circulation, and breaks up congestion. By enhancing the digestive
fire, it is of benefit to the entire body. When the digestion is
weak, the poorly digested particles end up circulating throughout
the system causing blood stagnation and congestion in the body.
The holistic doctors of India consider a weak digestive system to
be the root cause of diseases like arthritis and asthma. Ginger
is their herb of choice in treating these ailments. In cases of
colds and the flu, ginger aids the body in eliminating the toxins
and congestion. Because of its anti-nausea properties, it is
becoming popular as an over-the-counter remedy for motion
In China, it is added to countless herbal remedies to increase
the action of the other herbs. In Fiji, it has been used for
earaches and coughs; in Papua, New Guinea, for toothache,
tuberculosis, stomach worms; in Malaysia, as a tonic after birth;
in Indonesia, for snakebite; and in Thailand, for headache and as
a heart tonic. No wonder an ancient Indian proverb states
every good quality is contained in ginger!
The following is a guide to some of the uses of ginger as a
healing herb. However, we recommend that you be wise when taking
herbal supplements and that you consult a health care
professional when in doubt.
For children and adults.
Add 1 Tablespoon of freshly grated ginger root to 4 cups of
water. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Strain. Add lemon and
honey to taste. (For children, you may dilute the tea with more
water to taste.) Drink throughout the day as needed for colds and
flu. For weak digestion, sip tea about a half hour before meals.
For a stronger brew for adults, add an additional teaspoon of
ginger powder for colds and flu.
Add 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of powder to the bath to soothe muscle
strains and to help ward off a cold. Be certain to mix
thoroughly, ginger is hot!
Grate the fresh root and squeeze out the juice - or juice in a
For adults: Add one half to one teaspoon a day to water or
juice. Take first thing in the morning before breakfast. This is
a good tonic for those with asthma or arthritis. It is a useful
aid for poor digestion, flatulence, candida and is a preventative
For relief of indigestion, take 1 teaspoon of ginger juice
with 1 teaspoon of lime juice after eating.
Add one part of the fresh juice to two parts honey.
Use as a cough syrup for coughs due to colds. Take a teaspoon
as needed. Keep refrigerated. Lasts about a week.
Make a ginger tea as above. Strain and remove from heat. When
the tea is still hot, but not scalding, dip a terry cloth hand
towel in it and apply at the site of pain. The compress should
stay warm for 15 minutes. Use externally for general and sinus
headaches and for muscle aches and stiffness.
A healing herb of endless uses, honored by cultures around the
world--ginger is truly a universal medicine! Malama oukou!
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Copyright © 1996 Hale Pai Pacific American-News Journal
Last modified: February 28, 1998
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