We're talking about ginger...on a mental health blog?
There is an old Indian proverb: "Everything good is found in ginger"
This spicy, yet warming root has long been recognized for its physical and mental health benefits. Many ancient wellness traditions elevate ginger to medicinal level and celebrate its versatility in supporting a large range of health concerns.
Yes, it's not much to look at. However, we would be at a loss if we judged the mighty ginger root by it's appearance!
Before we dive in, please note that this piece is not a replacement for medical or mental health advice! Discuss medical and mental health concerns with your doctor and therapist. Even though ginger root is well-established natural support for many health issues, it won't suit everyone. You know how your body responds best, so always make the decisions that are right for you :)
In this post, we will:
- Explore ginger in the Ayurvedic tradition
- Discuss the mental and physical health benefits
- Share a recipe for warming, healing ginger-lemon-honey tea
Ginger: The 'Universal Medicine" In Ayurveda
If there was a queen of all roots, my guess is ginger would would take the crown! Or at the very least, the queen of alternative medicines. Speaking of which, ancient Ayurvedic philosophy dubs ginger the 'universal medicine'.
Ayurveda is one of the world's oldest holistic healing systems and philosophy, dating around 5000 years back. Originally an oral tradition, the Ayurvedic way of life was recorded in 4 Sanskrit texts called the Vedas.
A holistic tradition in nature, Ayurveda takes into account our mental, physical, and spiritual health.
As a 'universal medicine' in Ayurvedic tradition, ginger is thought to affect all bodily systems, especially the digestive, circulatory, and respiratory systems.
Most of us use ginger as a digestive aid and also to boost our immunity during cold and flu season. Ginger has also been used to treat morning sickness and chemotherapy-induced nausea
What Makes Ginger Special?
Many of ginger's medicinal proper can be traced to a compound called gingerol. This compound is also behind ginger's spicy flavour- it literally activates spice receptors on your tongue! Steeped in a tea or used in other forms, that unique spice-warm sensation feels incredibly soothing.
Ginger is also full of powerful antioxidants, which fight the free-radicals in our body. Ginger has strong anti-inflammatory properties as well.
How does all this benefit our mental health though?
Ginger Root And Mental Health
The humble ginger root has some surprising brain and mental health benefits.
Ginger potentially benefits how our brain ages memory function, attention, anxiety, depression, and possibly more!
Studies have shown that the anti-inflammatory properties of ginger help to slow down the drivers of Alzheimers disease.
Additionally, ginger has been shown to increase blood flow to the brain and improve vagus nerve function. The vagus nerve is something that deserves its own dedicated blog. It is the main facilitator of the mind-body connection and plays a huge role in our ability to self-regulate and co-regulate with others.
Improved vagus nerve function may have positive effects on our overall mental health!
Moreover, ginger's soothing effect on the digestive system has strong implications for our mental functioning as well.
Researchers have found that a gut-brain connection exists. The body’s gastrointestinal (GI) system and brain communicate with each other. This connection goes both ways!
For example, if you are experiencing any bloating, diarrhea, nausea or stomach cramps, it can affect your anxiety. The same is true vice versa- feeling anxious or stressed can lead to stomach issues.
SO anything that soothes our digestive system can potentially benefit our mental health too.
A Warming Ginger-Lemon-Honey Tea You Will Love
I couldn't leave you without a perfectly simple (and simply perfect) recipe for warming ginger tea!
I make this on days when I'm experiencing a 'nervous stomach'. It soothes my digestive system and also my nerves- especially if I'm about to do a presentation or get on an IG live! This tea has also been a go-to since childhood for treating common colds and flu.
On exceptionally busy work days where I only have a few minutes between clients and commitments, sipping on this tea is a grounding and calming gift to myself.
It's a gift I'd like to share with you. So without further ado, here we go:
- Approximately 2-3 inches of fresh ginger root (depending on how strong you want the ginger flavour), peeled and sliced thinly
- 4 cups of water
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tbsp good quality honey
- Slice your ginger nice and thin to maximize the surface area and ensure that as much of that juice will steep into the water
- In a small pot, bring the water and ginger to a boil for 10 minutes. You can leave it on for longer if you prefer a stronger ginger flavour
- Remove the pot from the heat and pour the ginger tea into mugs through a sieve
- Add lemon juice and honey to each mug (feel free to customize the amounts to your taste) and stir
- Slip slowly :)
I love savouring the spicy warm of the ginger with each sip! This recipe is as simple as it gets. Feel free to customize the sweetener. I've seen people use maple syrup or agave instead of honey.
On some days, I skip the lemon juice and just drop a whole lemon slice into my mug, pouring the ginger tea over the lemon. The lemon flavour intensifies as it steeps, and it's really lovely!
I want to hear from you: What is your FAVOURITE go-to recipe that uses ginger? I would genuinely love to know! Leave me a comment :)
Until next time!