News & Features

Wednesday 6th January 2016

Ginger - a therapeutic winter warmer

Fresh ginger root is a vital winter ingredient – as well as giving a spicy pungent flavour to soups, stews and stir-fries, it warms the body by promoting circulation.

Scientific research has backed up what oriental medicine has known for thousands of years, that ginger has many therapeutic properties including anti-inflammatory effects.

The school’s founder, teacher and author Oliver Cowmeadow explains: “Ginger is excellent at this time of the year, it’s very warming and promotes Ki and blood circulation which helps to prevent stagnation which can lead to many health problems including inflammatory conditions.

“It is also great to add a spicy pungent flavouring to food as other spices ultimately cool the body so are not good to have in the winter.

“For people who really feel the cold, and get sluggish in the winter, a ginger compress on the lower back is an excellent way to stimulate the Kidney energy and get the Ki moving.”

Fresh ginger root is a vital winter ingredient – as well as giving a spicy pungent flavour to soups, stews and stir-fries, it warms the body by promoting circulation.

Scientific research has backed up what oriental medicine has known for thousands of years, that ginger has many therapeutic properties including anti-inflammatory effects.

The school’s founder, teacher and author Oliver Cowmeadow explains: “Ginger is excellent at this time of the year, it’s very warming and promotes Ki and blood circulation which helps to prevent stagnation which can lead to many health problems including inflammatory conditions.

"Ginger also contains anti-oxidants that boost the immune system so can help fight off winter ailments.

"It’s also well known as an aid to digestion, as well as being used to help symptoms of nausea and vomiting in herbal medicine. Oliver says: “If you have problems digesting beans, try adding some slices of ginger at the beginning of cooking.”


Tips for preparing and using ginger

  • Remove the skin with a paring knife – the ginger can then be sliced, minced, julienned or finely grated and the juice squeezed out. If added at the beginning of the cooking process, there will be a subtler taste, or more pungent if added near the end.
  • Enhance rice and other grain dishes by sprinkling grated ginger, sesame seeds and nori strips on top.
  • Combine ginger juice, soy sauce, olive oil and garlic to make a tasty salad dressing.
  • Add grated ginger to your favorite stuffing for baked apples.
  • Spice up gently sautéed vegetables by adding freshly minced ginger. 

Ginger Compress

ACTION: dissolves stagnation, reduces tension, stimulates blood and Ki flow, warms the body.

GOOD FOR: tense muscles, back pain, weak Kidney energy, digestive problems, feeling deep cold in the body.

CONTRAINDICATIONS: do not use on the head, on the abdomen during pregnancy, over appendicitis, or on babies or small children.

You need:

300-350g root ginger

Muslin cloth (approximately 50cm square)

A large pan

 Method:

Grate the ginger finely, put into the middle of the piece of muslin and tie up the muslin with a piece of string.

Heat a large pan of water (around 3-4 litres), then add the muslin bag, and keep just below simmering for 15 minutes. Give the bag a squeeze with a wooden spoon.

Take a hand towel by the two ends, and dip the middle into the hot ginger water. Wring out the towel, and flap it around a little to cool it down before placing over the kidneys on the lower back. Warning – tell the receiver to say “off” if it is too hot, there is a danger of burning the skin!

When you have cooled the towel enough and the receiver is happy with it on the lower back, cover with another large towel to keep the heat in.

After a few minutes the towel will cool down, so remove from the body, dip it into the hot ginger water again, wring it out and cool down until the receiver is happy with it. Cover with large towel.

Repeat this process 5 to 7 times, over 15-20 minutes, until the skin has become red.


Further information: Macrobiotic Home Remedies, Michio & Aveline Kushi. Japan Publications.