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Excerpt from "Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide"

by Rosemary Gladstar

How to Make Your Own Herbal Remedies

Join me in the kitchen! If you know how to cook, you can make effective herbal remedies. Even if you’re a novice in the kitchen, you can still make great herbal remedies. Though there is an art and science to making herbal medicine that can only be perfected over time, it’s easy enough that often your first remedies will be nearly as good as those you make 20 years from now. As your knowledge and understanding of the plants expand, your ability to work with them also deepens. Relationship has as much to do with healing as exact measurements, ingredients, and temperature. Making home herbal remedies is simple, fun, and easy, and the quality of the products you can make yourself in your own wondrous kitchen is as good as that of any product you can purchase, once you learn a few basic steps.

Ginger / Zingiber officinale

Another of our kitchen medicine miracles, ginger runs a close second to garlic in versatility and popularity, both culinarily and medicinally. It’s a tasty remedy, so people are more willing to use it. I often mix ginger with less tasty medicinals to make them more appealing. And ginger is highly regarded as a medicinal herb. It’s an effective remedy for cramps, nausea, morning sickness, and motion sickness. When they were teenagers, my twin daughters found it quite effective for the occasional menstrual cramps they would experience, and they soon turned their friends onto it; hot ginger honey tea was a favorite remedy at Spalding High. While I can generally convince my husband to try anything, he’s especially fond of Hot Ginger Balls, which he uses ardently to calm the motion sickness that often plagues him when he’s deep-sea fishing. Ginger is also wonderfully warming and decongesting; hot ginger tea with lemon and honey and a couple of Cold Care Capsules is often all it takes to activate the immune system.

Growing Ginger

Ginger, a native of Asia, thrives in hot, humid environments in rich, moist soil. I grow ginger year-round in my sunroom, usually starting it from ginger that has sprouted in my kitchen, but the plant goes dormant in the cooler, drier winter temperatures.

Plant pieces of the rhizome with a growing nub or two attached just under the soil. Don’t plant deeply or the rhizome will rot. Water frequently, keep the soil moist, give it plenty of sunshine, and your ginger will thrive. Generally, rhizomes are ready to harvest in 8 to 10 months.

Please note: There is a “wild ginger” native to North America, known as Asarum canadense. Though medicinal as well, Asarum canadense is much stronger and can be toxic if used in large amounts. It is not a replacement for true ginger, Zingiber officinale. Don’t confuse the two; they are entirely different genera.

Medicinal Uses

Ginger contains a proteolytic enzyme that has been shown to reduce inflammation and help repair damaged joints and cartilage tissue; no wonder it’s been a longtime favorite for treating arthritis and joint pain. It improves circulation in the pelvis and is often a main ingredient in reproductive tonics for men and women and in formulas for menstrual cramps and PMS. Numerous studies confirm that ginger lowers blood-level triglycerides linked to diabetes and heart disease. And several clinical studies find ginger more effective than over-the-counter medications for nausea, motion sickness, and seasickness (something every herbalist knows). Clinical studies also show that ginger rivals antinausea drugs for chemotherapy, without their side effects. Its antiseptic properties make ginger highly effective for treating gastrointestinal infections, and it is used in formulas for food poisoning. It is a popular warming, decongesting herb used for cold-type imbalances such as poor circulation, colds and flus, respiratory congestion, and sore throat. All this and it’s delicious, too!

Hot Ginger Balls (a.k.a. Hot Balls)

2 tablespoons gingerroot powder

1–2 tablespoons carob or unsweetened cocoa powder

1 tablespoon cinnamon powder


To make the balls:

Combine the ginger, carob or cocoa powder, and cinnamon in a bowl, then mix in enough honey so that the mixture takes on the texture of bread dough. Add ½ teaspoon water, mix well, and knead for a few minutes. (Add more ginger powder or carob or cocoa powder to thicken if necessary.) Roll into pea-size balls. Let dry at room temperature or in a dehydrator, and store in a glass jar with a tight-fitting lid. Kept in a cool, dark location, these little balls will keep for 3 to 4 weeks; they’ll keep even longer if stored in the refrigerator.

To use:

Take two or three balls as needed to calm an upset stomach. For motion- or seasickness, take two or three balls an hour before traveling, so they have a chance to start working, then take as needed.

Rosemary Gladstar is a renowned herbal teacher and practitioner with more than 35 years of experience working with herbs. She’s the author of Rosemary Gladstar’s Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health and Herbal Healing for Women, director of the International Herb Symposium and the annual Women’s Herbal Conference, cofounder of the Traditional Medicinal Tea Company (for which she formulated the original blends), and founding president of the nonprofit United Plant Savers.

Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide

Rosemary Gladstar

Storey Publishing, March 2012

224 pages; 7" x 9"

Full-color; photographs throughout

$14.95 paper; ISBN 978-1-61212-005-8


Excerpted from Rosemary Gladstar's Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner's Guide © Rosemary Gladstar. Used with permission of Storey Publishing.

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