Updated: Nov 7, 2020
My husband often accuses me of being ginger obsessed. Whenever I am feeling low energy or having trouble with digestion, my first go to is typically ginger or jengibre (in Spanish).
Jengibre is most widely known for its culinary and medicinal use. But here in Costa Rica you will see several different species of ginger that serve all of nature splendidly! It is plentiful and super fresh! Moving to Costa Rica I knew my Ayurveda pickings would be different and perhaps limited. Jengibre was one of the first items I spotted and was so excited!
Ginger is an anti-inflammatory so it is great for easing aches and pains, it boosts our digestion, helps with nausea and much more!
While warming food and drinks may seem contradictory in hotter climates, they can actually help cool the body faster than cold liquids. I recently read that when you travel south of the equator the foods get spicier because it is easier on the system. And even though I do avoid many hot spices here in the Costa Rica climate, I feel jengibre in small amounts is perfect!
The aromatic root of ginger has been cultivated in India and China for thousands of years. The majority of gingers in Costa Rica are originally from South and South East Asia from where they were brought to other tropical countries as ornamental garden plants.
Jengibre is great for igniting what we call Agni in Ayurveda which is our digestive fire. The Sanskrit word for Surya Agni translates to sun-fire. We have plenty of sun in Costa Rica and our Agni is actually similar color of the sun!
When Agni is in balance, we experience good digestion and our body is able to break down everything we put into it, while also assimilating all the wonderful nutrients. When Agni is out of balance, it can lead to all sorts of problems in our digestive system which in turn can lead to other dis-eases. Sama Agni is what we call Balanced Agni and that is what we want. It is the key to great health! If our Agni is slow-burning which in Ayurveda we call Kapha Agni, you will be left feeling tired and sluggish especially after a meal.
To combat this imbalance, I have ginger on hand. I love to make fresh ginger (sliced thin) with lime juice and salt. It´s simple and you may keep in a jar in your refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Have a slice before each meal, during your meal or when you are feeling a mid-day crash and want to reach for that bag of chips or sweet. I use ginger in my smoothies and in many food recipes.
Jingebre tea is divine. You may sip tea slowly up to 15 minutes before you eat your meal to wake up your digestion, or during your meal to help it go down better.
I’ve been playing with a variation of teas using fresh limes, (also abundant here at my home and is more gentle than lemon). I mix fresh squeezed lime juice, grated ginger and a touch of organic sugar. Sometimes I will add green leaf tea to make a cool (not iced!) refreshing tea for the Costa Rica weather.
Be careful if you’re a pitta type, or feel a Pitta imbalance. The heating qualities of jingebre may be too much. You may try in moderation but your Agni may be strong enough already!
Exploring different recipes that help me to feel more healthy and happy is something I am passionate about, which is another reason I love all things Ayurveda. The love of ginger is just the tip of the Ayurveda iceberg! Look forward to sharing more Ayurveda tips with you in my next blog!
Below are a few varieties of jengibre you will find here in Costa Rica
Amor y Luz
This popular ornamental gingers are native Malaysian plants with attractive red or pink bracts. Plants can flower all year round, and attract bees, butterflies and humming birds. Red gingers prefer a position in light shade with a moist, fertile soil where the plants can grow to 3-4 m in height.
Crepe Ginger, Spiral Ginger
Not a true ginger, but closely related to the Costacea ginger family. Originally from southeast Asia it is widely cultivated throughout the tropics as an ornamental plant. It has delicately-spiraled leaf stalks and often grows wild in Costa Rica, where it flowers from August to January. In traditional Ayurveda medicine the rhizome is used to treat fever, asthma, bronchitis, and intestinal worms. The rhizome also contains diosgenine, a precursor the hormone progesterone.
Beehive ginger is primarily grown in the West as an ornamental plant. In Indonesia, the plant has been used in traditional medicine to treat inflammation of the eyes. The bracts can differ in color, from dull yellow to reddish orange or rose. The flowers themselves are small and fragile, with purple petals and yellow spots. In Costa Rica it flowers from March until November.