ginger compress

If you are familiar with the concept of Yin and Yang, which is used in macrobiotics and oriental medicine, it’s easy to understand that ginger has extreme yin and yang components. Therefore, it has so many diverse health applications and can be used in so many different types of cuisine. 

Some benefits of ginger include: aiding digestion, settling the stomach, clearing mucus from the bronchi and sinus, activating circulation, and serving as an anti-inflammatory. 

Why Ginger?

Ginger has two distinctly different qualities. First, it stimulates circulation very actively. Secondly, it can gather and penetrate deeply into the body and help to dissolve or disperse calcifications, stones, and cysts. For health-related remedies, ginger can be used in three main ways: as a compress, a soak, or a salve (similar to topical OTCs for pain relief).

It can also be followed by a cold compress using bruised cabbage that can further relieve inflammation. A bruised cabbage leaf can promote deeper healing and flexibility than an ice pack. Alone, bruised cabbage can reduce pain, swelling, inflammation, as well as promote healing, being more effective when following a ginger compress. 

What are the Benefits of Using a Ginger in Remedies*?

Ginger compress can help muscles and joints and promote healing in certain organs. It is commonly used to improve kidney health, lung health, and intestinal function. In addition, it is also used to help naturally dissolve kidney and gall bladder stones. 

A ginger soak can be used instead of or in addition to a compress. If you’re doing a compress on the kidneys or intestines, follow that up with a 5 to 10-minute ginger foot soak for further or increased benefit. And, if you’re doing a ginger compress on the lungs, it is better to do a hand soak for 5-10 minutes afterwards. For arthritis in the hands, you can simply use a ginger hand soak without the compress.

Ginger sesame oil is a simple, yet effective home remedy that can be used to relieve muscle or joint pain.  Put a small amount of sesame oil into a dish, grate some fresh ginger, squeeze out an equal amount of ginger juice, and mix with your finger to make an emulsion. Then, apply locally as needed.

How to Prepare & Use a Ginger Compress

The first thing you need to do is to gather the necessary ingredients and equipment – luckily, that is a pretty short list. First, you need a large pot that can comfortably hold a gallon of water (or a basin that your hands or feet can fit in, if you plan to do a soak as well). Next, grab two cotton dish towels, a bath towel, a large handful of ginger, a fine ginger grater, and water. 

To begin to prepare the compress, you need to bring a large pot of water to a boil. While the water is coming to a boil, finely grate about a cup of ginger. Once the water comes to a boil, turn down the heat to just below boiling (DO NOT boil the water once the ginger has been added.) Next, add the ginger to the hot water by first wrapping the grated ginger into a cheese cloth, followed by squeezing the ginger juice into the pot. After you have squeezed as much juice out as you can, place the remaining sack of ginger into the pot and let it steep for 5 minutes to further activate it. 

Next, you take the cotton dish towel and dip it into the pot. Try your best to dip the center only and keep the ends dry. Then, wring out the towel so that it isn’t dripping, but is still damp. Make the first compress comfortably hot to allow the skin to adjust. It’s more effective when the compresses are hot. Be sure to wait a while before applying it to the kidneys (or wherever the targeted spot is) because it will still be very hot and you want to be mindful not to burn or scald someone or yourself. Once it is at a reasonable temperature, you can then apply it to the skin and then lay the larger towel around it to keep the heat uniform. 

This compress will usually last around 2-3 minutes per dip into the hot water. So, after about 2-3 minutes, dip the second towel in the ginger water and replace the first towel. Make sure to keep the towel over the area while the compress is applied. Continue the alternating process for about 10-20 minutes total until a warm, comfortable feeling is achieved. Depending on skin tone, a bright redness is a good sign. 

What to Expect

After the compress has been completed, be sure to keep that area nice and warm for quite a while afterwards. It’s best to rest after doing a compress, ideally right before bed so you can fall asleep. This allows the compress to penetrate more deeply. Generally, the compress should be done 2-3 times per week for 2-3 weeks total for the best results. If you desire a more intense application, 2-3 days in a row is most effective. Spreading applications out produces a more relaxing effect. There are cumulative effects from continuing to do the compress over a long period of time.

The ginger compress enhances kidney function and the flow of urine. When applied to the intestines, the compress enhances digestion and bowel movement. When applied to the lungs, the compress enhances breathing, helps to clear mucus, and has even been shown to relieve symptoms of asthma. Even muscle or joint soreness can be relieved quickly upon application. So, there can be immediate benefits from a ginger compress that are noticeable right away and is an important remedy to understand how to use. 

*Disclaimer: It’s recommended to not use ginger compress in the case of a fever, tumors, or over the site of suspected cancers. Always consult with an experienced macrobiotic counselor before deciding to use these remedies.