The most widely used species of ginger ( Zingiber officinale ) comes from China. The root contains most of the plant's medicinal properties. "If you feel a cold coming on, a cup of ginger tea and a warm ginger bath or footbath (add one quart of ginger tea to the bath-water) will help move any mucus or cold symptoms out of the body," says Ms. Griffin. She also suggests placing ginger powder inside slippers or shoes on very cold or damp days when your feet cannot seem to get warm -- no matter how many pairs of socks you put on.
Anyone who has ever soothed an upset stomach with a glass of ginger ale knows that ginger is also a helpful digestive. Sipping ginger tea or chewing on fresh ginger helps digest heavy foods or hearty meals, and children may chew on ginger to ease a stomachache or to relieve motion sickness. In fact, a study reported in the British medical journal The Lancet in 1982 found that ginger was more effective than dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) in reducing motion sickness. "The easiest way to prevent motion sickness is to carry candied ginger in your pocket and suck on it throughout your trip," notes Ms. Griffin. Depending on your weight and size, more candy may be nibbled on every 45 minutes.
Ginger compresses may be used to treat headaches and relieve arthritic aches and pains. Keep a batch of ginger-tea ice cubes in your freezer for making the compresses -- this way, both hot and cold ginger remedies are readily available. For a tension headache, soak a clean washcloth in melted -- but still cold -- ginger-tea ice cubes. Place the cold compress on the back of the neck or the shoulders for 15 to 20 minutes. Repeat with fresh, cool tea as necessary. For an arthritis ache, soak a washcloth in warmed tea and apply to the site of the pain. Again, repeat as necessary.
Healing Ginger Recipes
Ginger tea: Grate 2 teaspoons of fresh gingerroot in 1 1/2 cups of room-temperature water. Steep for 10 to 15 minutes, then drink.