As we enter into these colder winter months, it is important to switch our diets from the more fresh, cooling foods of summer (think fresh cooling cucumbers, salad greens, tomatoes and watermelon) to the deeper warming, nourishing and building foods of winter (think warming spices like cinnamon, cumin, ginger and all the hearty soups and warm drinks that winter brings).

One of the most wonderful warming spices we use in Chinese Medicine is ginger. Ginger has the amazing ability to warm the body in a very deep way. In addition to just balancing out the cold that comes in this winter season, this spice is particularly good for someone who suffers from cold symptoms.

A cold pattern in TCM would show up in someone who is, go figure, cold all the time (the one who is in a sweater when everyone else is in a t-shirt). They can have aches and pains that feel worse in cold weather including sore lower back and knees, they may have very frequent and pale urination often having to wake through the night to go pee. They may also suffer from looser bowels, tend towards edema or swellings and retaining water as well as having a constant running or drippy nose (particularly when outside) and may suffer from very low energy. This person would do very well drinking dried ginger tea or adding dried ginger to their meals.

Another healing benefit of ginger is for those suffering from what we’d call a wind cold pattern. What this means is those suffering from a common cold that exhibits more cold signs than hot ones: chills but no fever, running nose that is clear watery mucus with lots of sneezing. (If you’re suffering from a sore throat, thick yellow mucus or fever – ginger is not the spice for you. You’ll need a cooling spice like peppermint to clear the heat). The best way to consume ginger for this pattern is in its fresh/raw form. Fresh grated or sliced ginger in hot water with a bit of lemon and raw honey can do wonders for the onset of a cold.

Interested in putting ginger to good use? Try some of these recipes to help keep yourself healthy, happy and oh so cozy this winter season!

I’ve got Chills – common cold remedy

Love in a Cup

Warm Miso Dressing -For cooked veggies or to warm up a salad

Spiced Pumpkin and Cranberry Loaf (gluten free)

Breakfast Soup

Ginger Tea (mmmmm)