I was looking through recipes the other day and found myself frowning! Thats a bit unusual, since Im usually upbeat when I think about cooking. I hesitated though, when I came to one recipe, because it included a picture of ginger root. Ginger, who? Ive used ginger for years, but what is it, really? A spice? A herb? Medicine? I decided to find out more about this funny- looking ingredient.

Ginger root has an identity crises going on! It really isnt even a root! Its a stem that grows under the ground. I suppose its called a root because thats exactly what it looks like! Its pretty ugly! It reminds me of something thats very old and wise. Ancient healers in China and India used it for its healing properties 3000 years ago!

I put together a list of some of todays common uses for ginger:

Ginger has powerful anti-inflammatory properties. Its an effective pain reliever and can help reduce swelling in arthritic joints. Its warming properties help increase blood flow, sending soothing relief to aching muscles, allowing them to relax. When muscles are relaxed, theyre more flexible and less prone to injury.

Migraine sufferers have found that ginger can reduce the intensity of the pain they suffer. By taking a little ginger when they first feel a migraine coming on, the intensity of the headache and its duration are lessened.

Ginger is probably best known for its ability to effectively treat stomach and intestinal disorders like indigestion and motion sickness. Its able to decrease gas and bloating, and it relaxes and soothes the gastrointestinal tract. Have you ever sipped Ginger Ale when your stomach was feeling queasy? If you felt better, credit the ginger!

Its especially useful in treating sea-sickness. It helps not only nausea and vomiting, but also other motion-sickness symptoms like dizziness and cold sweating. Im not planning a vacation cruise soon, but this is good information to keep in mind for the future!

All of this is really useful information, but what I really want you to know about ginger is this: A study at the University of Minnesota found that ginger may help to slow the growth of colorectal cancer cells. And, at the Michigan Comprehensive Cancer Center, a study was done that showed ginger powder killed ovarian cancer cells. You may have a safe and effective weapon against cancer in your own kitchen! Why not include it in your morning tea?

Morning Ginger Tea
4 cups water
2-inch piece of fresh ginger root, peeled and thinly sliced
Honey and lemon to taste

Bring the water to a boil in a saucepan. Once its boiling, add the ginger. Cover the saucepan and let simmer for 15-20 minutes. Strain the tea. Add honey and lemon to taste. Enjoy!

I think ginger is remarkable! It has amazing benefits without any of the troubling side effects frequently found in prescription medication. Its easy to prepare, requires no special storage and has proven its worth over thousands of years! Only time will tell what other surprising uses will be found in the future for this little stem!