Anyone who’s cracked open a cold ginger ale on a bumpy plane ride knows that ginger has a unique and soothing spiciness to it.
Ginger is a tropical plant that produces an array of large, colorful flowers. For over 5,000 years, people have used its brown, knobby root as both a food and a medicine. Ginger was a highly sought-after and expensive commodity throughout the Roman Empire and Medieval Europe.
The enduring popularity of ginger is, well, rooted, in the wide array of conditions it’s purported to treat, from digestive issues to migraines. Credible studies have found that it may even stave off cancer. I’m a fairly recent juice-at-home convert. I love throwing produce that’s about to go bad into my machine for a fresh juice with breakfast, and I was curious about whether adding a daily ginger shot to my routine for a week would yield any kind of noticeable difference to how I generally felt going about my day.
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I’ll note here that you don’t need a juicer in order to make ginger shots. You can also peel the root, throw it into a blender and strain with a sieve or cheesecloth. Whether you’re juicing or blending, preparation and cleaning takes a few minutes, so I recommend making them in batches. The shots stay good in the fridge for about three days. I made my shots with ginger alone, but you can also add roots like turmeric for an additional antioxidant boost, or fruits like apple or lemon for flavor.
I kicked my week off with a trip to the produce section, where I scored enough ginger root for a week — three huge pieces for just four dollars. This price felt especially satisfying later that day when, at the hip pour-over coffee place on my street, I saw individual bottled shots on sale for five dollars.
On morning one of my new routine, I decided to have the shot as a sort of breakfast aperitif after my coffee, eggs and toast. The piquancy of the shot would have been a bit much to have before or during my meal, and it definitely woke me up. The heat sits more in one’s nose and throat than something like a hot pepper might. It was intense enough for me to issue a loud “whoa!” Pretty invigorating way to kick off the day.
Ginger has been shown to regulate appetite, in part because it has a thermic reaction with the food we eat. That means that it makes us feel full longer. For this reason, it can be helpful for people who want to lose weight. I noticed this effect right away. I felt like it kept me from dipping into “hangry” territory, as I sometimes do if I get absorbed in work and don’t get lunch on time.
A couple days in, I had some seasonal allergies. I still had allergies all day, but my morning ginger shot did feel really satisfying. The heat through my nose and sinus area felt like it was burning away congestion. Allergies are a type of inflammation, so it makes sense that consistently taking an anti-inflammatory like ginger could help alleviate allergy symptoms as well as an OTC medication like Claritin.
A few mornings a week, I like to head straight to my run. I don’t like to eat a big breakfast before doing cardio, so those days I generally stick to a quick coffee and banana before heading out. Adding a ginger shot to this combo felt like it took some of the jittery edge off of having coffee on a fairly empty stomach, and the intense shot got me in the mindset to go hard when I hit the track. During my workout, I was energized and focused.
As a runner, I am always on the lookout for ways to deal with muscle soreness. I was interested to learn, then, that regular consumption of ginger root has been shown to be an effective means of managing long-term pain in athletes. It would take longer than a week to find out whether a daily ginger regimen could dull the effects of a long training run, but since I can’t seem to stop signing up for road races, I’m curious to see whether a ginger shots are an effective and safer alternative to drugs like ibuprofen.
While ginger works as an appetite suppressant and digestive aid right away, many of its most impactful medicinal qualities seem to require consistent long-term consumption. From just one week of daily pressed ginger, though, I learned that I enjoyed the taste and experience of the shots enough to keep doing them on a regular basis. The amount of compelling evidence speaking to its cancer-preventing properties, in my mind, also makes it a habit worth adopting. Four dollars a week seems a small price to pay for a substance that may stop tumors from growing.
In any case, this spicy, face-warming drink has to be a much healthier way to kickstart your heart rate in the morning than checking social media.