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Aid Digestion with Ayurveda: Ginger Root 5 Ways


All hail GINGER! It's a staple for your herb cabinet. So head over to Mountain Rose Herbs and purchase some organic, powdered stock for your kitchen. I love this picture of ginger root. It reminds me a little bit of the purple sea fan or Gorgonia ventalina. Nature is so beautiful.

If you are someone who has no idea how to use it in your meal plan I've put together some ways for you to incorporate ginger into your diet!

There are two ways ginger is used in Ayurveda (fresh and dry/powdered). Ginger is beneficial in many ways. At the clinic if we put together a specific herbal choorna or powdered herb mixture for a client we often will include ginger powder as one of the herbs because it is helpful for many people!

Because both fresh and dry ginger are katu or pungent and increases heat in the body. This is especially true of fresh ginger. It is more heating then dry ginger. You may want to use less in the Summer and Fall seasons and use more in Spring and Winter.

Common name: Ginger

Latin name: Zingiber officinale

Sanskrit: śunthī शुण्ठी (dry/powdered)

Rasa (taste): katu (pugent) & madhura (sweet)

Virya (energy): ushna (hot)

Vipaka (post-digestive effect): madhura (sweet)

Doshas: balancing to vata and kapha, increasing to pitta

Indications/Uses: Agnideepana or increasing to digestive fire and amapachana or burning of ama which is undigested foods/particles and toxins residing in the body via srotas or channels. Helps to mitigate nausea and relieves constipation by breaking any small obstructions or blocks. Powdered ginger is slightly drying and helps with VK arthritis, filariasis, flatulence, hemmorhoids, diseases of the heart and abdominal pain or enlargement.

Sanskrit: ārdraka आर्द्रक (fresh)

Rasa (taste): katu (pungent), madhura (sweet)

Virya (energy): ushna (hot)

Vipaka (post-digestive effect): katu (pungent)

Doshas: balancing to vata and kapha, increasing to pitta

Indications/Uses: Although ārdraka has some similar properties to powdered ginger like being slightly drying and heating it is heavier in nature and harder to digest. It also has a vipaka that is katu (pungent) so it will be more sharp to the system. If you're digestive fire is good and balanced, meaning you have hunger for 3 meals a day you can happily use fresh ginger but I would go with dry ginger if agni (digestive fire) is a little less for you. If you are more prone to pitta vikriti (imbalances of pitta or fire) then use dry ginger instead of fresh ginger.

Ardraka has many of the similar uses and indications that dry ginger does.

Please consult an Ayurvedic Doctor or practitioner if you have any questions before using.

Contraindications for both fresh and dry ginger: If there is increased pitta (fire) dosha causing heartburn, dysuria, profuse sweating, ulcers, acid-reflux, burning of skin or joints or eyes and piercing or sharp pains in any part of the body including head. If any redness is present in the skin in the form of a rash or inflammation. Fresh ginger is not advised with a diagnosis of anaemia, leprosy or if agni is very low. Use dry ginger instead as it's lighter.

How to incorporate ginger in your diet?

1. Make a DIGESTIVE TEA and drink 30 mins before a meal to help stimulate appetite. Appetite suppression is never suggested in Ayurveda!

Morning Digest Tea

1 tsp. ginger powder boiled on medium heat in 1 1/2 cups water for 10 minutes. Let it cool to warm and then add a slice of lemon and honey. For those with pitta prakriti you might want to use less ginger such as 1/2 - 3/4 tsp.

Honey intake for your dosha

Vata 1/4 tsp.

Pitta 1/4-1/2 tsp.

Kapha 1/2 tsp.

Whenever we heat herbs in water, it allows for the potency of the kashāya or decoction to increase. This is especially necessary for any plant where we are using the root.

Here are a few examples of Ayurvedic herbs that should be warmed/boiled in water (but sometimes milk) for some time on the stove top for maximum benefits:

  • Ashwagandha --Withania somnifera

  • Bala --Sida cordifolia

  • Erandamoola (castor) --Ricinus communis

  • Ginger --Zingiber officinale

  • Guduchi --Tinospora cordifolia

  • Punarnava --Boerhavia diffusa

  • Shatavari --Asparagus racemosus

  • Turmeric --Curcuma longa

  • Yashtimadhu --Glycyrrhiza glabra

2. COOK with ginger

I like to use fresh ginger when on hand but powdered ginger is always in my herb cabinet. You can grate ginger so that it's broken up into lovely fine bits and add to almost any meal including soups, broths, breakfast foods like pancakes or porridge and oats and any one pot meal.

If you're using powdered ginger you will not need as much since it's more concentrated. For 2 servings 1/2 tsp. of powdered ginger may be enough vs. 1 teaspoon of fresh grated ginger.

3. Add ginger to a SMOOTHIE

As an Ayurvedic Practitioner I am a huge proponent of smoothies over juicing. Why? Because fiber is a necessary part of our diet that not only helps with downward flow, it slows down the rate at which sugar or carbohydrates enter into the blood stream so it prevents a sugar spike and the pancreas from overworking so quickly. With juicing the natural fiber of the fruit or vegetable is removed so sugars/carbs go right into the bloodstream.

Use 1/2 inch cube of fresh ginger per serving in your smoothie or 1/2 tsp. of powdered ginger.

4. BAKE with ginger

Do you enjoy baking breads, desserts, cookies? Although ginger is often associated with holiday cooking I think it can be great anytime of year. If you are fond of baking try adding powdered or fresh ginger to the recipe. Not only will it be a great taste is will also be good for your digestion!

5. Enhance your PALATE

In one of the Ayurvedic texts called Bhāvaprakāśa it is recommended to eat a small slice of fresh ginger and a sprinkle of lavana (salt) together "to enhance digestive fire, taste perception and purifies the tongue and throat." I suggest using ground Himalayan pink salt.

Thank you so much for reading this post. Much love to all of you!

Namaste, Dayna Holli

(reference: Bhāvaprakāśa of Bhāvamiśra Translated by Prof. K. R. Srikantha Murthy)

 

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