Ingredient Spotlight: GINGER (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a pungent aromatic in the botanical family, Zingiberaceae. We include locally grown, fresh, baby ginger rhizome in 3 of our 4 tincture formulas as a small part. In each formula we are calling on a different attribute of ginger, but there is also a common thread. Ginger makes up 7% of the Cramp Support formula, and we call on it for its property as a stimulant of circulation, as an inflammation reducer, and for it’s well known ability to settle an uneasy stomach. In Ground & Glow, Ginger makes up 16% of the total formula. Here it is employed as a carminative, promoting gastric secretion and adding warmth to a formula of energetically cooling bitters. Divine Nervine counts Ginger as a small part, 7%, and includes this spicy, aromatic herb to bring warmth, movement, and tastiness to the nourishing nervine blend. The common thread in these formulas is that Ginger is the formula catalyst in each one. When I’m formulating, I’m thinking about key herbs, supporting herbs, and catalysts. Stimulating, pungent, warming, aromatic, herbs included in small amounts help to activate a formula. Ginger is a classic catalyst. My formulas have also included Rosemary and Lobelia (low dose herb!) as catalysts. I talk more about formulating in my Medicine Making course if you are curious.
Outside of our tincture formulas, I use fresh & dried ginger in my own home kitchen and apothecary frequently. Did you know dried and fresh ginger have distinct properties? Both are warming and drying, but dried ginger much more so. When I am feeling chilled to the bone, or like I might be coming down with something, I run a hot bath and add a few tablespoons of dried ginger. You can really feel ginger’s diaphoretic (sweat inducing) properties this way and the gingery bath is so warming and lovely. Fresh ginger alone holds anti-viral properties that I love to harness when someone around me is fighting off a cold. To do so, I make a decoction of chopped fresh ginger and fresh garlic. I simmer the herbs in water for at least 15 minutes, and then strain and serve with lemon and honey.
Ginger can also be applied topically as a rubefacient, to bring blood to the surface and promote healing where there is an injury or bruise. There are so many ways to work with Ginger! I would love to hear the ways you work with Ginger if you are inclined to share :)