This is the first post in a series focused on ginger, its health benefits, and the versatility of this root in recipes. I would love to hear your favorite uses for ginger, so please feel free to comment or email if you have something you'd like to share.
Well, it's begun. The time of year when people everywhere are starting to cough and sniffle and contemplate flu shots. I personally just got over two week's worth of my own little illness, and let me tell you, it was a doozy. I coughed so much and so hard that I nearly threw my back out, and I spent several nights awake wishing I could vacuum the goo out of my lungs so I could just please stop the hacking and get some sleep. And then there was school to contend with. Laryngitis and public speaking class? They don't go together so well.
Some people in this condition might go see a doctor. Due to my distaste for pharmaceuticals and my lack of health care, I'm more of a wait-it-out and see-if-gets-better-on-its-own kind of person. I'm also a strong believer in the benefits of ginger tea.
Ginger root is thought by many (including myself) to be a natural immune-system booster. However, since it's classified as an "herbal remedy", Science has not yet done its job of providing sufficient data for mainstream health organizations to recognize it as effective in this arena. The Medline Plus website, through the National Institutes of Health, does acknowledge that ginger is used to treat upper respiratory tract infections, cough, and bronchitis, but they won't go so far as to say that the treatment is effective. Sooner or later, they'll catch up.
Honey, on the other hand, has actually been shown to alleviate coughing more effectively than some cough medicines. As in, Science is actually making a claim. Take that, pharmaceuticals! You can check out the abstract for the study I'm referring to here. Lemons are also thought to enhance the immune system with their high vitamin-C and bioflavonoid contents.
Regardless of whether you believe in the healing powers of these ingredients or not, there's no denying that they come together to make an incredibly soothing tea that is bound to make a sick person feel better, if only psychologically (I'm a huge fan of the placebo). Best of all, this tea is inexpensive and easy to make. You may already have all of the ingredients in your kitchen.
***If you are pregnant, breast-feeding, using medications, have a heart condition, or have diabetes, ginger may not be safe for you to use. I'm taking this information from the NIH MedlinePlus website. It's smart to consult your doctor before using any home remedy.
Ginger, Lemon, Honey Teamakes about 2 1/2 cups
3 C. water
1 - 2" piece of ginger root, thinly sliced
fresh lemon, cut into wedges
honey, preferably raw
Heat the water and sliced ginger root on high in a small saucepan, partially covered. When the water reaches boiling, reduce heat to medium and continue to boil, partially covered, for about 10 minutes.
Turn off the heat, completely cover the pot, and allow to steep an additional 5-10 minutes.
Pour the tea through a fine-meshed strainer into mugs, stir a teaspoon of honey into each, and squeeze a lemon wedge into each, as well. Stir and sip.
This recipe is fairly loose, and the quantities can be adjusted to your heart's content. The longer the ginger boils/steeps, the stronger the ginger flavor will be, and the darker-colored the tea will be. If I'm not feeling well, I'll often make enough tea for 3-4 mug fulls and then sip on them throughout the course of the day, reheating before each refill. Hopefully, I won't be needing this tea again this winter, but I always have ginger on hand just in case.