Ginger essential oil may be a little more difficult and expensive to come by in some areas, but I ordered it from Plantlife on amazon for only $6 (including shipping!) and it's great. I've never used ginger oil before, and it smells a little different than what I expected (more woody, less spicy) but I'm sure that can differ among brands a bit. (Psst.. I've used other Plantlife products in the past and I highly recommend them!)
Ginger is super yummy and it also has loads of health benefits. It's especially beneficial in the winter, as it literally makes you feel warmer and it's effective in fighting and preventing colds and the flu.
One of the reasons I decided to write about ginger next is because it's so easy for anyone to get their hands on it. You can find fresh ginger in the produce section of basically any grocery store. It's really inexpensive, I've been spending about $2 a month on fresh ginger and I use it nearly every day in the winter! It also lasts forever and if you get worried about it going bad you can just pop it in the freezer. (By the way, that blog I just linked to? Real Cheap Food? SO GOOD.)
The reason I got it was to soothe muscle pains in my neck and it works beautifully. I mixed it with a little lavender body cream that I have and massaged it in and felt loads better right away. After a couple of days, my neck was all better. I have a theory that if you have someone really cute do the massaging for you, it probably works even better.
I've read that you can use ginger oil in cooking too, but I haven't tried it yet. I don't know if I will, because I always have fresh ginger around anyway, and I'd rather save my oil for my muscles and for my diffuser. If any of you have used it in the kitchen, please tell us all about it!
Drinking ginger tea is my favorite way to get it in me. It's pretty simple to make: just drop slices of ginger in water, bring it to a boil, then let it simmer for about 10-15 minutes. You'll have to play around to determine how much ginger you like to use, but I use about 7 thin slices per cup. I think that's a lot compared to how a lot of people make it, but I like it strong. Add honey and lemon to taste. I haven't tried it, but I imagine a cinnamon stick would make a nice addition to a cup of ginger tea. (Maybe skip the lemon, then? I don't know!)
Ginger improves circulation! This is great if you are going to be outside a lot, if you want to lower your thermostat to help save the world, if you're sick and have chills or if you just have poor circulation in general. (Though if that's the case, please fire up the google machine and try to figure out what's causing that while you sip your ginger tea!)
Ginger tea is awesome when you have a cold or the flu! It help the aches and pains mellow out. It's also relieves congestion, because it helps makes the mucus more runny so you can get it out of your body more easily. Yummy. It also helps the congestion inside your body, flushing out toxins and allowing you to heal faster. Ginger also helps a fever pass more quickly, as a benefit of improved circulation and flushing out toxins. And again, the improved circulation will help with the chills that come along with a fever.
Ginger is also effective against headaches. Not much to say about this, other than yay. Because it's also stimulating, I imagine ginger tea would be nice to sip if you are trying to wean yourself off of caffeine.
Ginger helps relieve nausea and constipation and is safe for pregnant women!
Ginger tea isn't the only way to take it, though, so if you don't like it, don't despair! You can put it in your food, cut off small chunks and take them like a pill, mix powder with honey and eat a spoonful, take ginger capsules (available in health food stores, many grocery stores, and wally world) or if you are trying to relieve achy parts or cramps, make a poultice. You'll either need to chop up ginger very finely or just get some powder (much easier and less messy!), and use water to make a paste. If you're using chopped fresh ginger, I don't think you need to add any water. Rub the paste on wherever your muscles ache or on your lower tummy for menstrual cramps and hold a warm, damp cloth over it. I think doing this on your forehead would be really effective for a headache, too, but I haven't actually tried it yet.
If you're just generally sore, or if you have chills, try a ginger bath too. Make some strong ginger tea, skip the honey and just pour it in the tub as it fills.
In case you aren't ready for this monster post to be done, here's some more reading!
20 Ways To Enjoy Ginger (this is more about ginger being yummy than the health benefits, but it's all good!)