Ginger is one of the most flavorful, medicinal superfoods growing on this planet. It originated in India, which still supplies over a third of the world’s exported ginger. Ginger has been around for at least 3000 years in India and China, in the 19th century it became more popular among rich European people who used it as much as salt on their tables. In the 13th and 14th centuries, a pound of ginger was equivalent to the cost of a sheep. After the ancient Romans imported ginger from China almost two thousand years ago, its popularity in Europe remained centered in the Mediterranean region until the Middle Ages when its use spread throughout other countries. The plant’s botanical name is thought to be derived from its Sanskrit name singabera which means “horn shaped,” a physical characteristic that ginger reflects.
Though ginger is called a root, it is actually a rhizome and is related to turmeric, cardamom, and galangal. A rhizome is a defined as an underground plant stem which is able to produce root and shoot systems of a new plant. It contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds that are great for treating arthritis pain.
Ginger’s most common medicinal uses are to stimulate gastric juices, help treat stomach issues, and provide warming and soothing effects for colds and coughs. It is safe to use for morning sickness and is known to help prevent stroke and heart disease, boost the immune system, fight bacterial and fungal infections, improve diabetes, reduce menstrual pain, and lower cholesterol.
Slice some up and make a tea with lemon for a digestive boost. Use ginger powder for an extra kick in your favorite spice mix. Blend it up with herbs, garlic, oil, and vinegar for a quick salad dressing.