Nothing can be so irritating as getting a chill that won’t go away. It seems to come from the core; hence the phrase “chilled to the bone.” Many people are very susceptible to internal chilly conditions, especially in the cold months. Temporary relief and comfort can come from warm baths, electric blankets, heating pads and the like, but lasting basic bodily warmth and comfort can be elusive.
Luckily, there are some easy remedies that really work. The plant kingdom is our friend, and it’s wise to take advantage of our lucky, lovely postmodern grocery store shelves. Use these remedies and tips below, and warm up.
Ginger is perhaps the single most important warming botanical available. Simply put, a moderate to heavy therapeutic use of ginger is almost infallible in its ability to warm up a chilled body. Emphasis on the word therapeutic.
Finding your own therapeutic dosage is a matter of taste and tolerance, level of chill and desired results. But, to gain any tangible results, it’s going to be more than a matter of a usual culinary usage. Sprinkling or grating a bit on a salad may be tasty, but is not therapeutic. There are several ways to effectively use ginger.
For those who own a juicer, start by incorporating approximately a ½ square inch of fresh, peeled and cut, cube of ginger into a serving of fresh juice. Ginger blends great with any juice, but is especially tasty with apple juice, with a half lemon squeezed in. It’s also exceptionally yummy with carrot juice, and any apple-carrot base mix. Run the piece of ginger right through the juicer, layered in with other pieces of vegetables/fruit.
Take the juice up to 4 times a day, and if no or insufficient warming effects are felt, increase the ginger in each dose to 1 inch square. For those with a high tolerance for fresh ginger, (it is spicy and hot) larger pieces can be used. The warming effects from larger doses may be felt almost immediately.
For those wishing a warm drink, fresh ginger can be grated in boiling water, to make a ginger tea. Using the above recommended amounts, simply grate fresh, peeled ginger into water. It may be grated (using a fine or parmesan cheese style grater) into cold water and heated along with the water and then strained, or grated into already-boiled water.
In either case, allow ginger/water infusion stand and steep for 5 minutes before straining and drinking. It’s very good with honey and lemon, but may be taken straight. Do not add milk or cream-it can separate with larger ginger doses, and may affect the potency and/or ability of the ginger to be quickly absorbed and properly delegated into the system. This tea can be taken as often as indicated, and as often as 4 times a day until effects are felt.
Fresh ginger can also be used topically. Grate 2 inches of peeled ginger into a cup of salt or sugar, with a tablespoon of olive oil, to form a very warming body scrub or bath salt soak (don’t use sugar for a bath soak.) This scrub or soak is very effective in penetrating a deep chill, and is all the more bolstered with an accompanying ginger drink. Be warned though, it’s not a slight effect. Those just getting accustomed to ginger’s spicy effects may want to start with a smaller amount of grated ginger in the salt or sugar mixture-perhaps just ½ or 1 inch. To test the strength, it may be advised to wash or soak your hands in the mixture first.
Although I am partial to fresh ginger, powdered is also highly effective and potent. I have found that the potency varies from batch to batch, and that the ‘cheap’ kind I have found in large plastic containers in dollar stores is consistently strong and effective.
Although powdered ginger can be used to add to fruit drinks, either fresh squeezed, or regular juice, it does not dissolve, so it must be strained. Start with 1 teaspoons to 12 or 16 ounces of liquid, shake or process the juice and ginger with a blender, then strain with cheesecloth or a fine strainer. Add more ginger as necessary, and repeat the process. You’ll have to experiment with this method to find the proper dosage and strength. The factors are variable: the strength of powdered herb, personal tolerance, and amount infused and strained in the processing.
Teas can be made from powdered ginger. Empty teabags can be found in grocery stores, and these are great for straining powdered ginger. Otherwise, because it does not dissolve, it must be strained with a fine strainer or cheesecloth. There still may be sediment on the bottom, so for picky tea drinkers, powdered ginger may not be indicated. Follow the same dosage parameters as indicated in powdered ginger juice drinks above.
There are also some very good commercial ginger teas on the market, that can be found among the regular tea section on supermarket shelves. When I use these teas therapeutically, I use more than one teabag per serving. If you’re unsure about your tolerance, start with one, and increase accordingly. Take a serving a tea up to 4 times a day.
Powdered ginger is perfect for mixing in scrubs and bath soaks. Follow the same recipe for a basic salt or sugar scrub above, and start with 2 teaspoons of powdered ginger. Try the strength out with a handwashing, and add more ginger is necessary. A note about the scrubs and soaks: The longer the ginger mixture has contact with skin, the stronger the effects, both acutely and longer-term. As I stated before, these warming effects are strong, and may provoke redness and flushing of the skin. This is a normal effect of ginger, and should not cause alarm. With higher doses, however, skin irritation may occur, so start with even lower ginger doses if you have sensitive skin.
Ginger essential oil
Ginger essential oil is wondrous for warming effects. It is only to be used topically in this case. To take advantage of this therapeutic oil, start by adding 10 drops to a tablespoon of olive or other high quality culinary oil. Apply the oil (a whole tablespoon at a time) up to 4 times a day. Increase the amount of essential oil as necessary to get optimal warming effects. For those interested in aromatherapy, I have found that adding some drops of patchouli and/or orange essential oils seem to increase bolster the pleasant warming effects of ginger.
It’s a common practice to add cayenne to therapeutic juice drinks; cayenne effectively opens the way for accompanying therapeutic ingredients to take effect. However, it is not indicated for drinks intended for warming effects. It (counter-intuitively, perhaps) actually has powerful cooling effects on the body. It likewise may be indicated to avoid even mild amounts of spicy peppers when going through a chill.
The remedies above are meant to be used as a course of therapy until effects are felt, and a chill is countered. The course will vary, and lasting results may be had in as little as one day, to as long as 10 ten days. You may determine if the chill is gone by noting if external cold is perceived as a topical “skin” sensation, rather than a deep, “bone,” “organ,” or overwhelming one.