You’ve probably heard of ginger in various different contexts, apart from its role – often together with garlic – in various curry recipes.
It’s often recommended as a useful first aid for nausea and morning sickness; chew a piece of ginger root or stem, or drink a hot tea made with grated root ginger.
And if you investigate ways to ease the pain of arthritic joints or cancer or pelvic inflammatory disease, you’ll find that a hot ginger poultice can help, both by stimulating circulation to the area, by reducing muscle spasm and tension in the surrounding tissues, and by reducing inflammation.
All of that is true. But ginger has a quality that underlies all of these apparently disparate problems.
It’s very simple: wherever it is used, it brings heat. It’s not the fiery heat of chilli, but a gentle steady glow, and it will help wherever things are not quite as dynamic as they should be, from your digestive system to your joints and muscles to your reproductive system, and your circulation in general. When it’s included in a herbal prescription, it helps all the other herbs to do their jobs better, just as it does in a curry spice mix.
You might think that a hot and swollen joint would respond to cold rather than heat.
It’s paradoxical; the hot compress causes blood vessels in the area to become engorged, and the skin becomes red. That helps the products of inflammation to be carried away in the bloodstream, especially if you follow the hot poultice with a short cold splash or application of ice. The pain will ease and healing will be faster. If you do this regularly, even chronically inflamed joints will respond.