Ginger has a myriad of uses, but it's not always convenient to start peeling, chopping, and steeping the fresh root. Chewing on raw ginger root is hardly for the faint of heart, and converting fresh ginger into a ground powder isn't really a DIY project. It turns out, however, that the slightly sweet, crystallized version of the root is an easy, ready-to-go fresh ginger replacement.

So, what's the difference between stem ginger vs. crystallized ginger? For the most part, just a bit of sugar and no need to get out the peeler. Crystallized ginger is made by peeling the fresh root, cutting it into small pieces, and boiling these in sugar and water. As a final, tasty touch, the results (which are shelf-stable for two years) are rolled in sugar crystals. And while this might sound like nothing more than candy, you can absolutely use pre-made crystallized ginger to help relieve a host of ailments.

Calm asthma symptoms with crystallized ginger

Don't throw away your inhaler, of course, but do give crystallized ginger, mixed with honey and water, a shot as an accompaniment. Crystallized ginger is known to help open sinuses and bronchial tubes, while the honey soothes the throat and eases the urge to cough.

  1. Boil crystallized ginger, remove pan from heat and place it on a trivet. Add 1 Tbsp of honey.
  2. Lean over the pan with a towel or other cloth draped over your head and the pan. Take long, slow breaths of the steam. Hold your breath for five to 10 seconds every five breaths, then resume inhaling the steam. This helps calm the bronchospasms and anxiety that accompany asthma attacks.

Relieve indigestion with crystallized ginger

Ginger's ability to calm an upset stomach is widely known. If you're dealing with morning sickness or dizziness, try chewing a small piece of crystallized ginger while you're still lying in bed. You can also keep crystallized ginger on hand throughout the day to whip up a quick indigestion treatment.

  1. Chop up crystallized ginger into small pieces and let it steep for a few minutes in just boiled water.
  2. Add honey and lemon to taste. 
  3. Mix with club soda and sip whenever you feel nauseated or bloated.

Soothe a cold with ginger tea or a compress

If you can get a hold of warm gingerbread made with chunks of crystallized ginger, drizzle it with honey for a truly delightful sick day snack. More realistically, you can also alleviate your symptoms by mixing up a quick tea made from crystallized ginger, honey, lemon, and a small pinch of salt. Alleviate congestion with this simple compress of crystallized ginger—this would work with a ground ginger substitute, too.

  1. Steep the ginger as if you were making a tea.
  2. Carefully dip a clean dish towel or small washcloth into the liquid after it has cooled enough to comfortably come into contact with it without burning yourself. 
  3. Wring out the cloth so it's damp but not dripping wet (no need to make a mess when you're already dealing with being sick). 
  4. Lie down and place your ginger compress on your chest or around your throat to relieve congestion.

Crystallized ginger can boost efforts to quit smoking

Yes, quitting smoking is tough, and you might very well need other aids. However, keeping crystallized ginger on hand is totally worth a shot. If you're looking for a habit replacement technique, you can substitute for crystallized ginger: Try chewing a small piece whenever you're tempted to reach for a cigarette. And if you're simply looking for a complementary treatment, use the steam inhalation technique recommended for those with asthma. The steam from crystallized ginger can help open your lungs, encouraging you to cough out buildup from years of smoking.

Crystallized ginger for relieving pain

It has been demonstrated in an NCBI study that ginger powder is almost as effective as ibuprofen in relieving inflammatory pain, at a much lower cost. Meanwhile, WebMD reports that ginger might offer relief for those with rheumatoid arthritis or other pain. If you're dealing with the latter, try chewing crystallized ginger daily as a tasty way to seek out relief. And if you've got a sprain or strain, give the aforementioned ginger compress a shot.

Best of all? Prepping these remedies, particularly when you're sick or dealing with pain, is way easier when you've got a convenient bag of crystallized ginger on hand. What a relief.