Why ginger is the ultimate cold killer (plus hacks if you hate it)

Woman buying ginger root at food market. Getty

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If you don’t want to get knocked out by a bug this fall, now may be the time to be proactive in levelling up your immunity. One simple way to do that is with ginger. It’s been well-documented that ginger root offers a myriad of benefits. Perhaps best known as an effective aid for motion sickness, ginger also has anti-inflammatory and immune-boosting benefits.

“Because ginger is anti-microbial and anti-bacterial, that’s going to help not only reduce the symptoms but also the duration of cold and flu because it’s dealing with the inflammation,” said Marilia Pereira, Registered Holistic Nutritionist and Culinary Nutrition Expert.

Pereira shares a ginger remedy her mother used to give her as a kid upon first signs of feeling a tickle in the throat. “My mother would take a slice and coat it in a little bit of salt and have me chew it raw” each morning and evening for a few days – it worked really fast, she said.

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But if raw ginger is too spicy to handle, even with the help of salt to mitigate the burning sensation, Pereira said there are a multitude of ways to include ginger in your diet. This can include using it in its whole food or powder form — ideally organic, as there’s more nutritional value — to be used in sautés, smoothies, tea, soups and stews, and in liquid format and capsules.

If you look at the label, it will usually show you the dried extraction ratio and that indicates the potency of the herb, and “the potency in capsules will vary by brand,” Pereira said. “If someone is dealing with strep throat, which is bacterial-related, they would perhaps use ginger therapeutically in a higher dose for a short period of time to bring down the inflammation in their throat.”

But she warns that when using ginger therapeutically in high doses, it’s essential to first check with your doctor to ensure there are no conflicts with medications you may be on, and second, to use it away from food, supplements and medication – for example, 50 minutes away from meals or other supplements, and two hours away from any medication.

Ginger also comes as an essential oil, which can be used environmentally. Pereira recommends putting a few drops in an oil diffuser when someone at home is sick with a respiratory virus – as ginger’s anti-microbial properties may help prevent it from spreading.

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When it comes to supporting the immune system overall, it’s important to focus on gastrointestinal health – “because 70 to 80% of our immune system is located in our gastrointestinal system,” Perreira said. She recommends eating a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, five to seven servings a day, to ensure you’re getting the proper vitamins and minerals to help support and sustain a healthy immune system.

Some ways to add more ginger to your life


If you hate the taste of ginger but want to reap its health benefits, there’s no easier way than with a quality supplement.


Fall is a time for cozy and comforting drinks like warming chai. Along with organic spices of cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, it also contains ginger and a hint of vanilla.
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Skip the candy full of artificial preservatives and colours in exchange for these healthier alternatives to curb your sweet tooth. Available in original ginger, orange-ginger, mango-ginger flavours, peppermint-ginger and peanut butter-ginger. Bonus: They’re gluten-free, non GMO, and contain natural sugars.
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Use it in a diffuser for a warm and spicy aromatherapeutic scent and may also support a healthy environment in the home.
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