GoGinger are the Go-To People For All Things Ginger
I love ginger. I love the smell. I love the taste (ginger chews anyone?). I love it in my food, I love it in my tea. I’m constantly snacking on crystallized ginger. I find it absolutely delicious, always have. I’ve known for quite some time that ginger has almost unlimited health benefits, though always ingested, as an ingredient in food or in tea. A couple of weeks ago I saw GoGinger’s face moisturizer sitting on the table at the Abe’s Market office and on a whim took a bit and applied it to my face (I pretty much do this with all products in the office). It was a revelation! I felt immediate warmth and instantly perked up and felt energized. It got me excited. I just had to know more about ginger as a cosmetic ingredient. I turned to the wonderful Yanne Clerc of The Ginger People to share her ginger knowledge and she was more than happy to answer my questions.
Tell me about the history of ginger as a cure all for various ailments. Have different cultures throughout the world used ginger for similar medicinal purposes?
Wow, what a big question. We could write a book on this topic alone. Ginger has been used for thousands of years as an herbal medicine. Its key medicinal purposes are repeated in many cultures around the world. China and India are best known for the medicinal use of ginger. Today, it’s estimated that ginger is a component in two-thirds of all Chinese herbal medicines. In India’s Ayurvedic medicine, ginger plays a key role in digestive health. Ayurvedic practitioners believe that digestive health is at the center of overall wellness. Ginger is also used in the Japan, the Middle East and Africa as a digestive aid and to treat nausea-related conditions and the common cold.
Ginger is also a strong circulatory stimulant that encourages qi (energy), it relaxes the blood vessels, promotes sweating (which is also cooling to the internal organs). In the Far East, illness is often defined in terms of energy deficiency – either yin or yang – and is treated with a variety of energy or qi tonics. Ginger is often added to tonics to help “move” energy. In China and India, energy tonics are used to treat exhaustion or convalescence, such as after influenza or childbirth.
Using ginger externally (in moisturizer, cleanser) etc, is new to me. Tell me about the benefits of ginger on the skin? Has ginger been used in cosmetics before?
Ginger health benefits are also reaped externally. The goodness of ginger (the warming effect) can literally be felt on the skin. Ginger is used topically to treat poor blood circulation, skin burns and inflammation. Because of its ability to improve blood circulation, ginger is an effective energy booster for the skin. Ginger is also a powerful antioxidant, which helps slow the aging process, improve your skin’s elasticity and protect against environmental damage. Through the millenniums, ginger has been used topically to treat gout, headaches, menstrual cramps, muscular stiffness and aches, sinus congestion, spinal pain, stomach cramps and swollen glands. In addition, ginger oil or ginger essential oils can also be used externally to alleviate rheumatism. In Japan, massages using ginger oil is a traditional treatment for joint and spinal problems. Finally, a warm ginger bath is said to be able to invigorate the entire body.
Where do you source your ginger from? Is there one part of the world that is known for growing the very best ginger?
We source fresh ginger from many regions of the world. Each growing region has its own terrain and hence produces a product unique to its region. There is not one place in the world that grows the very best ginger as ginger is consumed in so many different forms, from fresh to dried, ground, candied and pickled. Each ginger-growing tends to specialize in a different ginger format. For example, China is known for producing tender baby ginger that is used for pickled and candied ginger. China also grows lemony, plump fresh ginger that produces high yields for ginger juice. Indonesian ginger is smaller and intense and is often ground when still fresh and blended into confections. Australia is also known for producing candied ginger made from immature, baby ginger. India and Jamaica are both known for its ground ginger. Madagascar’s remoteness and lack of pollutants assures a supply of a pure and potent organic essential oil.
What is the most common and the most uncommon use of ginger for health purposes?
Perhaps the most common of ginger’s health benefits is its ability to treat motion sickness and other nausea-related conditions, such as morning sickness and nausea brought on by chemotherapy. One of the most uncommon uses is to “repel dampness.” This was one of the first definitions bestowed on ginger by Chinese herbalists over 5000 years ago. Dampness was also defined as “cold disease” or “wind,” which was characterized as a loss of heat in body. Ginger’s warming properties were used to restore health and chase away chills, colds and influenza.