In this winter’s cold, snowy weather, which is highly unusual for my fiery region, my inner fire started to seriously lag. We’d just been through our second snowy-icy spat for the season. As my garden froze over, so did my motivation. I found myself wanting nothing more than to lay in bed, daydream, and maybe read a novel. The excitement I’d had for the New Year had ground to a halt in just 5 days!

Ginger essential oil is perfect for just such occasions. Classic herbal medicine traditions agree on ginger’s affinity for the stomach, digestion, or internal fire. That translates to what is known in Ayurvedic medicine as the third chakra, the seat of willpower, and agni. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, it’s the yang energy as well as the Zhi, or Will. In Traditional Western Herbalism it’s the Central Fire. Ginger is a classic remedy for conditions of sluggishness or chill in those areas no matter which tradition you consult. That makes ginger essential oil a perfect fit for times when you just can’t seem to get enough motivation to get moving, which is what I struggled through this winter.

Whether you’re working with the essential oil or whole root, ginger is a mover of energy, a stirrer of motivation, a gentle but firm kindling that eases the symptoms of lagging fire. The essential oils in ginger root stimulate and detoxify as well as reduce inflammation. They can be applied topically or taken internally to ease digestive complaints like nausea, indigestion, and to stimulate appetite as well as to ease flu-like digestive symptoms. From an energetic perspective, when these symptoms are associated with stagnant, cooling or cold energy, the kind of fiery boost ginger essential oil offers counters the problem gently but firmly.

In Ayurvedic healing, ginger essential oil can be used to help balance Vata; it is associated with both water and fire, making ginger’s action one of warming and moistening. When added to a formula for balancing Vata, ginger essential oil offers the solid, rooted energy of warmth combined with moisture that nourishes and supports the Vata constitution. It can also help balance Kapha energy with its stimulating, warming qualities. In Kapha balancing formulas, ginger’s affinity for warmth that moves helps get stuck Kapha energy moving once again.

Traditional Chinese herbalists use ginger essential oil to warm the Middle Warmer, thus resolving damp and painful digestive conditions like slow digestion or partial digestion especially that accompanied by cold in the extermities. They can also use ginger essential oil to to ease stomach cold that’s paired with Chi rebellion, which shows up as nausea, hiccups, and vomiting. As a mover of lung energy, ginger essential oil can be used in formulas where the lungs are cold and damp, with excessive phlem, coughing and chest distension, and cold in the hands or feet.

Topically, ginger essential oil is often included in formulas designed to heat and move the blood. It helps reduce inflammation in the areas it’s applied, making ginger essential oil a good component for salves, balms, lotions, and liniments designed to ease muscle strain, sprain, and tension as well as deeper ligiment and joint pain as results from either injury or conditions like arthritis and rhumetoid arthritis. Ginger essential oil helps to relieve spasming and reduce inflammation while promoting proper and healthy circulation.

Traditional Chinese Herbalists may include ginger essential oil in formulas to help invigorate the blood topically or internally, making use of ginger’s stimulant nature to help move lower warmer Qi, warm the blood and remove blood stagnation as results in symptoms like scanty or absent periods and cramping. Because ginger essential oil is a uterine stimulant, it is unwise to use it during pregnancy.

From a psychological-emotional perspective, ginger essential oil is king for when your get-up-and-go has vanished. Folks who suffer from a lack of focus or the ability to get their feet on the ground and run with their ideas are helped by ginger’s stoking of the fires. Ginger essential oil paired with rosemary and peppermint is a wonderful formula for students who need to focus as well as folks who have ideas percolating but lack the focus and force necessary to make them a reality.

Ginger’s ability to move the blood supports the energies of our hearts and will, making it a good choice for formulas designed to instill confidence and courage. When you feel your self-esteem lagging or you need a boost in confidence to keep you moving or get you through an event or period in your life, ginger essential oil is a good ally.

Paired with cedarwood or benzoin essential oils, ginger can help bolster your confidence and give you the solid connection to Earth you need to stand strong. Rosemary and clary sage are often paired with ginger essential oil to boost confidence and stimulate one’s ability to focus and have the courage needed to make wise choices and take proper supporting actions.

If you feel drained by life, ginger paired with juniper and vetiver essential oils can help you hold your own while you rebuild and replenish your fire. As a mover of obstacles, ginger essential oil synergizes well with those that help shift mental blocks, like carrot seed and caraway.

My solution to the complete lack of motivation I had this winter was a blend of ginger, Atlas cedarwood, bergamot, and pine essential oils. It helped lift my spirits despite the cold, snowed-in conditions and got me re-connected with my inner fire and joy. I used it in my office diffuser, where I spend much of my day snow or no snow, with the side benefit that it helped perk-up my family’s fires, too.

Cautions: Ginger essential oil is a uterine stimulant. Avoid using ginger essential oil during pregnancy and potentially when breast feeding. Excessive use of ginger essential oil topically can potentially cause sensitivity; use a dilution rate of 1-2 percent for massage oils and 2-5 percent for liniments.


For More Information on Ginger

For more information on ginger, purchase a copy of  Ginger: Warming Spice for Health and Life (The Practical Herbalist’s Herbal Folio Book 6). This Herbal Folio contains expanded information, including:

  • Gardening and Gathering
  • Animal Husbandry
  • Household Formulas
  • History, Folklore, Myth, and Magic
  • Cautions
  • Recipes
  • A Printable Quick Facts Card
  • References

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