Credit: Contributed

My first introduction to an ethnic cookie was the gingerbread boy or girl that I saw in the window of my local bakery. My mom would buy me one of those soulful cookies and I would consume it slowly, starting from the feet and ending up with the smiling face. Little did I know how beneficial the ginger in that cookie was to my well-being and health.

When I was a youngster, I also loved ginger snaps. They not only were sweet but also left a mild tingling sensation in my mouth. I remember how my mom would give me a ginger snap when I had an upset stomach. They were so good that I almost wished I had a stomachache more often.

Down home in Virginia, where my mom came from, you could always find a barrel of ginger snaps in the general store. I thought they were free and would eat a few while my mom was shopping. These little hard cookies were a part of the old and young folks’ diet. The ginger snap had the ability to calm down the digestive system and get rid of gas. There were no store-bought antacids in those days and ginger was relied on. When a young lady got pregnant and experienced nausea and vomiting, a cup of ginger tea would give her some relief. Migraine headaches also responded to this wonderful herb.

Recently, ginger has been found to calm the painful swollen joints of persons with rheumatoid arthritis. When experiencing car- or sea-sickness, ginger can be a winner in relieving nausea, vomiting and dizziness. One half-teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in tea, 20 minutes before a car or boat trip, can do wonders.

It is important, however, not to overuse ginger because it is a natural hallucinogen (a fuzzy feeling). It seems that African and Indian ginger are more potent.

During the winter and hay fever season, when you are filling up with thick phlegm and you can’t get to sleep because of coughing, a little ginger tea will be helpful.

Ginger can be bought in almost any store. It may look unsightly, but a quarter of an inch of fresh ginger root can be brewed to make an ample amount of tea to be used over a period of time. It is important when brewing to use very thin slices. Ginger tea, when stored in the fridge, does not lose its potency.

If you are under a doctor’s care and taking other medications, be sure to inform him of the use of ginger. I’m not only a gingerbread boy but also a ginger-prescribing doctor.

For great health tips and access to an online community of physicians and other healthcare professionals visit DrDeas.com.