Ginger comes from the ginger plant, which in turn comes originally from Southeast Asia. This is a plant with yellow flowers and a very distinctive and potent scent. The ginger that we use in cooking is actually the rhizome, which as it happens also has a large number of different health benefits – including fantastic abilities when it comes to fighting the common cold.
A cold is an upper respiratory infection that can be caused by a range of different viruses. These penetrate the mucous layer of the nose and result in irritation in the throat, blocked sinuses, running phlegm, headaches, temperature, and fatigue. Of course, these are symptoms we’re all very familiar with and most of us do not need an explanation of what a cold is!
What we want to know why is ginger for colds such a great remedy and how best to use it.
Ginger has a lot of properties that make it ideal for combating colds and helping you to make a speedy recovery.
For starters, ginger is antiviral. If you recall, a cold is caused by an infection and thus by killing off the viral bacteria, ginger is able to help combat the root cause and turn back the nasty effects.
Another advantage of ginger is that it can stimulate perspiration. In other words, it makes you sweat! This is great if you have a temperature as sweating is actually the body’s natural way of staying cool and by producing those drops of moisture, heat energy is transferred away from your body. This also helps to cleanse the system as the pours are flushed.
Better yet, ginger also contains antiseptic and anti-inflammatory benefits. These can boost the immune system by helping to combat the foreign invaders, while the anti-inflammatory effect can help to soothe an irritated throat which is normally caused by inflammation in the first place!
Ginger can also act as an antihistamine, which is great for reducing the symptoms of immune response. This means it can further help to reduce inflammation, as well as regulating the temperature and preventing headaches and tiredness. What’s interesting to note is that the reason we feel ill when we are sick is because the body is causing those reactions when fighting the infection. You don’t ‘feel’ the effects of the virus itself, you feel the effects of your body trying to fight it. When you use antihistamines, these effects are mitigated.
As though all that wasn’t enough, ginger also contains chemicals that are known as sesquiterpenes. These are used to target rhinoviruses – the most common types of viruses and the ones that act on the nose in particular.
And as an added bonus, ginger is also a natural, mild sedative which can help you to get off to sleep.
To use ginger for colds, there are a few different options.
One is to take a cup of boiling water and add grated ginger before steeping for 3 minutes. You can then add a tablespoon of lemon juice (which provides a bit of vitamin C and a tangy flavor) and a tablespoon of honey (this is an antibiotic and may have more antihistamine properties of its own). Stir this well and dissolve the honey before drinking.
To make this ginger tea for colds, you might need a tea strainer which you can use to steep the ground ginger. You’ll then be able to keep this warming and comforting drink on tap in a pot and pour yourself cups as needed. When you’re feeling ill, it is always nice to nurse a warm cup of tea!
Of course, lemon and honey are optional extras. If you prefer, you can opt against those inclusions or you can swap them out for other ingredients. These could include cinnamon (which is also an antiseptic) or even garlic, which is even more potent when it comes to killing off bacteria. Just note that this is supposed to be something you can bear to drink and it would be nice if it was soothing rather than traumatizing!
When using these mixtures, you can enjoy a few cups throughout the day without worrying about overdose or any side effects. However, if you are only going to use it once a day, then the preference would be to consume this just before bed. That way, you will benefit from the sedative properties and should experience a fuller night’s sleep as a result. A good night’s sleep is actually one of the very best things there is for a cold!
While this ginger tea for colds is excellent at helping to speed up recovery, there are a few more things you should consider as well to give yourself even more of a fighting chance.
In particular, it’s always important to drink plenty when you have any kind of illness. This will help to flush the system and keep you hydrated. Staying hydrated is always very important as dehydration is actually one of the biggest risks associated with getting ill.
This is especially important if you are drinking lots of ginger tea for colds. Remember: this can encourage sweating which is great for your cold but not if it is going to leave you dehydrated and dried out! Make sure you’re replacing that fluid and while you’re at it, eat a little salt to restore your electrolyte balance.
You should also make sure you are eating lots of fruits and vegetables which will help to strengthen your immune system against the current assault and future attacks. Vitamin C is one of the most popular and widely praised options for enhancing immunity but lately vitamin D has also been getting a lot of attention from the media and has even been compared to the effectiveness of flu and cold vaccinations!
Finally, just make sure that you are giving yourself the time you need to recover and avoiding stress during that time.