Ah, Flu Season, my ancient enemy. We meet again. Yep, a flu-bug has made it's way into this household, though thankfully it seems to be a mild one. Still, it's time to whip out Mom's old bag of remedies. I have no problem with OTC medicines--frankly, decongestants are my best friend this time of year, but when it comes to keeping the flu-beast at bay, I am a firm believer in Hippocrates: "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." No, I don't plan to fry up a big batch of Sudafed (maybe topped with Vicks Vaporub?). Instead, I'm going to visit my standby, all-purpose remedy--ginger.
Ginger root is the rhizome of the ginger plant (zingiber officinale) which thrives in damp tropical climates. It's a lovely plant that's easy to grow either in pots or in most southern gardens, and you can start it from the ginger you buy in the produce section at you local grocery store if you choose well. If harvested regularly, it is moderately well-behaved and quite lovely. In the witch's garden it is said to bring prosperity, love and success. When used in witchcraft it adds a certain "umph" to most spells it is added to. Ginger roots that resemble the human form are said to be very powerful tokens.
Ginger is truly the wunderkind of the medicinal plant family. It has antibacterial, anti-fungal, antiviral, anti-everything properties. I could fill pages with it's uses, but since you have access to the same information I do, I'll move on. It's wonderful in both sweet and savory dishes and during the holiday/flu season, ginger is the perfect spice to add to most any dish or drink. As I write this I am baking up a batch of spicy ginger snaps which are smelling up my house quite nicely and which I will force upon my sick offspring with a cup of warm honey-ginger tea to help him sweat out his fever. Later I will probably add some to the chicken soup I make for dinner so everyone can benefit from it. So if you feel the sniffles coming on, or even if you don't, head for that neglected hunk of ginger sitting in the back of your fridge and enjoy.