Ginger is one of my absolute go-to ingredients when my stomach starts to feel a bit on the upset side. I generously grate it into stir fries, chew on delicious chunks of crystallised ginger and, best of all when I need something soothing, whip it up into a drink.
I mentioned in my last post that April is IBS Awareness Month. To be honest I think every month should be about IBS awareness given so many people suffer from it (10-20% of the population according to The IBS Network). Which brings me back to ginger and IBS…
One of the things that has been important in managing my own IBS is having a few foods and habits I can turn to when I have a flare up. I also have a few things up my sleeve to keep me ticking over day to day. For a long time, adding a touch of ginger to my meals and drinks is something that I’ve found to be very calming in both states.
Ginger has long been known for it’s anti-nausea qualities, which is why it’s helpful having in your IBS arsenal if this is one of your symptoms. This is because ginger is an anti-spasmodic and it can help relax your digestion.
Unfortunately there isn’t a great deal of research specifically looking at ginger and IBS. One small scale US study showed it was actually no more effective than a placebo. (That said, a placebo effect is in itself kind of valid.) However because I love the taste and the smell – and the way it makes me feel – it’s something I like to sprinkle across my week both in fresh and powdered form.
I find having a warming ginger drink is something that particularly calms me. I think this is partly through the soothing warmth of a mug against my hands and partly because warming ginger intensifies the aroma.
I like to use the time to have a drink as a mini-mindful eating exercise, similar to what I do in my Hot Chocolate Meditation sessions. It’s a really lovely opportunity to just slow down and connect a little. Given that managing stress is a really important part of managing IBS, anything that helps with this is certainly beneficial in my own circumstances.
I’ve therefore put together 3 different ways you can infuse your drinks with gingery overtones so you can try this out for yourself. I’ve also added a few other tummy calming ingredients to complement the ginger. And of course, given my love of chocolate, one has to involve cacao.
These are the simplest of simple recipes that you can whip up at any time, from morning to evening.
I recommend getting yourself somewhere comfy and quiet, and giving yourself a little time to slowly sip one of these gingery concoctions.
3 Gingery Drinks for Belly Calm
1. Golden Ginger Cacao
2 1/2 tsp cacao powder (or cocoa powder)
1 tsp coconut sugar
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp turmeric
Good splash of hot water
200ml whole milk or mylk of your choice (my favourite mylk with cacao powder is oat or cashew milk)
1. Place the cacao powder, coconut sugar, ginger and turmeric in a small saucepan and mix together. Add a splash of hot water and combine until the cacao mixture is smooth.
2. Pour over your milk or mylk of choice and bring to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 2-3 minutes, stirring regularly (make sure you also lean over and breathe in all the lovely aromas). Pour into your favourite mug and leave it to sit for a minute or two before sipping slowly.
2. Spicy Ginger Tea
A generous thumb length knob of fresh ginger
A pinch of freshly ground black pepper
A stalk of fresh rosemary
1 tsp honey (or maple syrup if you want to make this vegan)
250ml freshly boiled water
1. Thinly slice the ginger (there’s no need to peel it) and place it in a large mug. Sprinkle over the pepper, add the honey and pop the rosemary stalk in the cup.
2. Pour over the boiled water and leave to steep for 5-10 minutes. Stir well, before enjoying at a leisurely pace.
3. Peppermint & Fresh Ginger Te
A generous thumb length knob of fresh ginger
1 peppermint tea single tea bag
250ml just boiled water
1. Thinly slice the ginger (there’s no need to remove the skin) and pop into a mug. Place the peppermint tea bag in the cup and pour over the boiling water.
2. Let the drink sit for 5 minutes. Remove the tea bag, but leave in the ginger before sipping (and maybe even with a little smile on your face as you do this!).
Miranda A.L. VAN TILBURG, PhD, Olafur S. PALSSON, PsyD, Yehuda RINGEL, MD, and William E WHITEHEAD, PhD. Is ginger effective for the treatment of Irritable Bowel Syndrome? A double blind randomized controlled pilot trial. Complement Ther Med. 2014 Feb; 22(1): 17–20.