Ginger is a flowering plant, the root of which gives us the well known spice of the same name. Ginger is native to the rainforests of South Asia, but it was known to the Romans, and formed a major part of the lucrative spice trade.
The main active ingredient in ginger is gingerol, which is a powerful antioxidant and also has anti-inflammatory properties. Since antioxidants protect against cell damage caused by free radicals, and since low level inflammation is associated with many diseases, this is thought to be at the root of many of ginger's health giving properties.
Studies have shown that ginger is highly effective against nausea, be that morning sickness, motion sickness, or nausea caused by drug treatments such as chemotherapy. It has also been suggested that ginger may help relieve indigestion and dyspepsia, probably by speeding up the emptying of the stomach.
Ginger's anti-inflammatory properties have also been shown to be effective in the long term reduction of muscle pain, and may be of help to those suffering from osteoarthritis.
Recent studies have suggested that ginger may lower blood sugar in diabetics, although more research is needed in this area.