The food and spice called ginger is the rhizome of a perennial herb. The well-known garden ginger is Zingiber officinale. Other notable members in this botanical family include turmeric, cardamom, and galangal, which is a more potent rhizome than garden ginger.
Ginger is indigenous to southern China, from whence it spread to the tropical areas of Asia, Africa, and the Caribbean. Ginger reached Europe via India by the 1st century.
Ginger is a key ingredient in Indian cuisine. Ginger figures prominently in Ayurvedic medicine: to whet the appetite, aid digestion, improve assimilation and transportation of nutrients, and detoxify and flush cellular wastes.
Ginger is used in other traditional folk medicines around the world: to reduce fatigue, nausea, motion, and morning sickness, and settle the stomach. Japanese folk medicine figures ginger good for blood circulation and inflammation.
Ginger has an analgesic effect on the joints, and so is especially helpful during the early stages of rheumatoid arthritis.