What is Ginger? Ginger has been in use as a popular spice, preservative and herbal medicine for thousands of years. It is one of the most popular household spices used today and is highly sought after in Jamaica. Ginger is a thick, knotted underground stem known as a rhizome and not as a root as it is often mistakenly called. The stem grows upwards from the ginger rhizome to a height of about 12 inches above the surface. It is native to South Asia but it has become heavily cultivated in other parts of the world including the Caribbean. Ginger is known to contain a number of volatile oils and mixture of terpenoids which causes the popular spice to have that characteristic aroma. The non-volatile oils present in ginger are responsible for its pungent nature and warm sensation when placed in the mouth. How to use Ginger? Ginger is widely used in Jamaica as a spice when cooking to add flavor to a wide range of dishes, meat, baked goods and juices. When treating illnesses, the most popular way to prepare ginger is as a herbal tea. Ginger tea is made by cleaning and stripping a sufficient piece of the stem or by using it in its powdered form. The piece of ginger is then allowed to steep in hot water for a few minutes before being sweetened with honey. The ginger may also be mixed with other herbs such as cinnamon to make an even more potent roots tea. Ginger can be used daily for health benefits but it is recommended by the University of Maryland Medical Center that you do not use more than 4 grams daily. Health Benefits of Ginger Ginger has been used in traditional medicine to treat a large number of illnesses such as the cold, migraines, heart diseases and chronic fatigue. Ginger also contains a host of medicinal properties. Some of the properties are antifungal, antiviral, anti-inflammatory, antiseptic and antiemetic. Those are however only a few of the medicinal properties that the herb possesses hence one can see why ginger is used to treat so many different ailments. The combination of ginger and honey has traditionally been used to treat respiratory problems. Other illnesses and conditions that ginger is used to treat here in Jamaica are diarrhea, sore throat, diabetes, menstrual problems and motion sickness. Its anti-inflammatory properties also make ginger effective in the treatment of arthritis and rheumatism.