What it is: The use of flowers, leaves, roots, stems, bark and other natural materials to treat ailments, which has been done since prehistoric times. Today, about 25 percent of the ingredients in pharmaceutical drugs come from medicinal plants. Western science is increasingly working to quantify the health benefits of various herbs, and more than 80 million Americans use some from of natural medicine.
Ideal for: Those frustrated with the side effects of mainstream medicine, a lack of effective treatment options and drawn to natural health and green living.
Try-it-yourself technique: Have a soothing cup of hot ginger broth (with or without a natural sweetener) or add a bit of the fresh root to soups, stews, skillet meals or stir-fry dishes. Traditionally, ginger has been used in China to treat everything from arthritis to yeast infections. There is significant scientific evidence that shows the herb eases nausea and vomiting stemming from PMS, morning sickness, sea sickness and chemotherapy treatments.
Western alternatives: Research has linked cinnamon to lowering bad cholesterol (by helping the body to better process fat and sugar); turmeric to preserving mental function; oregano to the destruction of bacteria; and regular tea consumption to lowered risk of high blood pressure, heart disease and cancer.
We recommend: For a best of both worlds brew, try New Mexico Tea Company’s Organic Ginger Cinnamon Tea. $3-$26.40, 1 oz. to 16 oz.; nmteaco.com.
To learn more about ginger and other healthy foods, read our post on Chinese Superfoods.