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Hale Pai
Pacific American-News Journal

`Okakopa - October 1996 Volume 2 Issue 10

 Ginger: The Universal Medicine

by Linda Mae Kaholokai

Wouldn't it be nice to have one medicine in your home that could ward off a cold and fever, soothe aching joints, break up congestion in the lungs, prevent motion sickness, alleviate the pain of arthritis, calm a headache, improve circulation--and more? A spice and yet a powerful medicine, ginger is used around the world for these and many more ailments. It can be found in supermarkets across the country, and grows abundantly here in Hawai'i. Seemingly limitless in its potential, it has been called the “universal medicine,” and “a wonder drug.” Research scientists have been tracking down the specific components that make it so valuable. Parents would not have been giving it to their children for generations for colds if they doubted its value.

Zingiber officinale is its scientific name. Here in Hawai'i we call it awapuhi pake, to distinguish it from the many gingers that grow here. It is the root (technically, rhizome) of the plant that is commonly used either fresh or dried.

Pungent and astringent to the taste, ginger is a cleansing, eliminating and stimulating herb. It warms the body, increases circulation, and breaks up congestion. By enhancing the digestive fire, it is of benefit to the entire body. When the digestion is weak, the poorly digested particles end up circulating throughout the system causing blood stagnation and congestion in the body. The holistic doctors of India consider a weak digestive system to be the root cause of diseases like arthritis and asthma. Ginger is their herb of choice in treating these ailments. In cases of colds and the flu, ginger aids the body in eliminating the toxins and congestion. Because of its anti-nausea properties, it is becoming popular as an over-the-counter remedy for motion sickness.

In China, it is added to countless herbal remedies to increase the action of the other herbs. In Fiji, it has been used for earaches and coughs; in Papua, New Guinea, for toothache, tuberculosis, stomach worms; in Malaysia, as a tonic after birth; in Indonesia, for snakebite; and in Thailand, for headache and as a heart tonic. No wonder an ancient Indian proverb states “every good quality is contained in ginger!”

The following is a guide to some of the uses of ginger as a healing herb. However, we recommend that you be wise when taking herbal supplements and that you consult a health care professional when in doubt.

Ginger Tea:

For children and adults.

Add 1 Tablespoon of freshly grated ginger root to 4 cups of water. Simmer gently for about 15 minutes. Strain. Add lemon and honey to taste. (For children, you may dilute the tea with more water to taste.) Drink throughout the day as needed for colds and flu. For weak digestion, sip tea about a half hour before meals. For a stronger brew for adults, add an additional teaspoon of ginger powder for colds and flu.

Ginger Bath:

Add 1/2 to 1 Tablespoon of powder to the bath to soothe muscle strains and to help ward off a cold. Be certain to mix thoroughly, ginger is hot!

Ginger Juice:

Grate the fresh root and squeeze out the juice - or juice in a juicer.

For adults: Add one half to one teaspoon a day to water or juice. Take first thing in the morning before breakfast. This is a good tonic for those with asthma or arthritis. It is a useful aid for poor digestion, flatulence, candida and is a preventative for parasites.

For relief of indigestion, take 1 teaspoon of ginger juice with 1 teaspoon of lime juice after eating.


Add one part of the fresh juice to two parts honey.

Use as a cough syrup for coughs due to colds. Take a teaspoon as needed. Keep refrigerated. Lasts about a week.


Make a ginger tea as above. Strain and remove from heat. When the tea is still hot, but not scalding, dip a terry cloth hand towel in it and apply at the site of pain. The compress should stay warm for 15 minutes. Use externally for general and sinus headaches and for muscle aches and stiffness.

A healing herb of endless uses, honored by cultures around the world--ginger is truly a universal medicine! Malama oukou!


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Copyright 1996 Hale Pai Pacific American-News Journal
Last modified: February 28, 1998

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