Many herbalists would say that if you only keep one medicinal herb on hand, it should be ginger. Ginger is considered “the universal medicine” because it offers benefits for everyone and most every disease, especially vata disorders.
When using ginger, think “digestion, lungs and circulation” - because these are the areas where ginger rules supreme. It destroys ama (toxins), stimulates digestion, prevents nausea, alleviates cough and breathing difficulties, tonifies the heart, and alleviates pain. It’s also a rejuvenative, or what Ayurveda calls a “rasayana.”
Fresh ginger is great for colds, coughs, vomiting, digestion and generally for imbalanced vata dosha. Dry ginger is hotter than fresh, and is good for reducing excess kapha and increasing agni (digestive fire). However, dry ginger can be too hot for pitta, so use with caution if you tend towards overheated digestion. Interestingly though, even though ginger is heating, it has a “special action” of having an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. Herbs are like that sometimes!
By Marisa Laursen, C.A.S., P.K.S., A.Y.T., Faculty at the California College of Ayurveda