Ginger works wonders as a flavoring agent (you most often see it popping up in Asian and Indian cuisines), but it’s also becoming more recognized by Western medicine as a positive force for health—something traditional Chinese medicine practitioners caught on to centuries ago.
Ginger has been proven to work for pain relief, cancer suppression, and as an anti-inflammatory. It’s most widely known outside of culinary circles as an anti-nausea medicine (have you ever popped a ginger candy during a trafficky car ride?), but what many don’t know yet is that ginger also protects cardiovascular health and is chock full of antioxidants.
Out of respect for the power of ginger, I’ve looked beyond ginger tea to find more creative ways you can use the root, whether it’s a new way to consume it, apply it to your body, or even scent your home.
Keep reading for 8 ways to use fresh ginger you probably haven’t tried yet.
1. Take a ginger detox bath
Ginger helps fight bacterial infections. Whether you feel the sniffles coming on or you just feel like it’s time to purge some toxins from your system, a ginger detox bath can help you sweat it out of your system. To make a ginger detox bath, run a hot bath and add a ½ cup of fresh grated ginger. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Relax with a ginger compress
To help relieve pain caused by back strains, sprains, or bruises, you can make a ginger compress. Simmer ½ cup of fresh ginger in 2 cups of hot water for five minutes. Let the ginger steep for 15 minutes, then soak a cloth in the liquid and apply to the injured area until cool. Repeat as needed.
3. Soak your tootsies in a ginger foot bath
Who doesn’t love soaking their feet after a long day? Adding fresh ginger to your foot bath not only feels good, but it can help kill bacteria and fungus on the skin that cause infections. You can try it daily for relief of athlete’s foot.
4. Steep your tea with ginger to stave off bad breath
If your probiotic toothpaste just isn’t cutting it in the breath-freshening department, ginger tea might be your new go-to. According to a recent study published in the Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, the 6-gingerol compound found in this golden spice stimulates an enzyme found in saliva that breaks down the substances that make your breath stink.
5. Mix up a ginger facial cleanser
Ginger contains over 40 antioxidants, which help protect your skin against aging. DIY your own ginger cleanser by combining grated ginger, honey, and castile soap. Honey, a humectant, helps draw moisture to the skin.
6. Make ginger oil
Ginger oil can be applied to the body topically and rubbed into the skin to soothe aches and pains, and it can also be ingested to treat indigestion or upset stomach. It can even be used to help treat food poisoning (super helpful if you’ve been noshing on pre-cut fruits and veggies this summer!). You can make ginger oil at home by combining olive oil and fresh ginger and baking it at 150 degrees for two hours. Strain the oil to remove pieces of ginger before use.
7. Cook up a stovetop ginger potpourri
You can simmer fresh ginger on the stove to make your house smell amazing. Select a few other fragrant ingredients you might have on hand, such as vanilla, cinnamon, orange, apple, or clove to add to the pot to round out the scent.
8. Sip on a ginger smoothie
While you may be accustomed to consuming ginger in hot dishes, you can also casually toss a small knob of ginger into your morning smoothie to get all the cancer-crushing, cardio-health-boosting benefits that ginger offers. Ginger goes well with a variety of different fruits, such as pineapple, mango, bananas, oranges, and peaches. Start with this recipe for a ginger and mango smoothie—you won’t be sorry.
Originally posted on July 5, 2018; updated on August 10, 2018 with additional reporting by Kells McPhillips.
If you’re reaching for the ginger to help reduce inflammation, check out these other habits to add to your routine. And if you’re sick of your daily dose of ACV, here’s how to whip up a ginger shot instead.
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