PLANT ALLIES FOR WOMEN: Ginger root
Ginger root is one of those plants that we think of more as a culinary herb rather than a strictly medicinal one.. Anyone can use it, it's easy and cheap to find, and it can be used in a culinary context. For these and many other reasons, ginger root is one of my top go-to's for women's health.
Ginger comes from the same family as cardamom and turmeric, and has some of the following medicinal actions:
analgesic (relieves pain)
anti-emetic (helps relieve nausea)
I think of ginger root anytime someone complains of pain and or nausea during the menstrual cycle. Some studies have actually found it to be as effective for pain relief as ibuprofen! Keep in mind that this was in the case of primary dysmenorrhea (which is medical speak for pain when there is no pathology or obvious cause for the pain). It can often resolve cramping pain during the menstrual cycle, or it can decrease it to the point where other over-the-counter medicines aren't required. Over the long-term this is an incredible thing since most of the patients I see use some form of over-the-counter medicine during their menstrual cycle. Over a woman's reproductive years, that adds up to a lot of medication, which may have a negative impact on overall health (and your liver!)
The best way to use ginger is to purchase fresh, organic ginger root. You can make a strong tea with it and sip through out the day of your menstrual cycle. This is a simple guide but you can really use as much as you like:
1 piece of ginger about 1/2 the length of your thumb.
1 cup of spring water (250 mL)
Grate the ginger or cut it finely and let steep in boiled water for 20 minutes (covered). This will make quite a strong tea. Add raw honey if you need a little sweetness.
Other ways to use ginger include:
Capsules (of the dried root) taken orally
An infused oil rubbed directly into the uterus. This is especially nice after a bath.