Zingiber Officinale - culinary and medicinal herb
Known as a medicine by the Chinese as long ago as 2000 BC, the root (strictly, stem) of this plant has come to be known and used all over the world. The plant itself grows to about three feet, and is a perennial, the leaves growing up from the underground rhizome which forms the edible part of the plant.
Western history records that the Romans taxed ginger imports into Mediterranean ports, and it was known and used in Northern Europe from at least the 11th Century. Ginger is grown commercially in Fiji, India, Jamaica, Central Africa and China (although Australia exports a little, too).
In Chinese medicine, it is one of the most important herbs. Its use is indicated for inflammation of the joints, and in the treatment of many digestive troubles, nausea, vomiting and also to induce sweating when treating fever. In India, it was prescribed for coughs and respiratory problems, and it is still used in the West Indies as an inhalant to treat respiratory congestion. (On a personal note, I can vouch for the effectiveness of ginger tea as an aid to surviving a hangover.)
Modern Western medicine also acknowledges the efficacy of ginger, in particular the non-volatile components including zingerone and gingerol (which has been demonstrated to counter liver toxicity, by increasing the secretion of bile). The Lancet reported in 1982 that ginger preparations were more effective than standard treatments for motion sickness. Ginger was also found to reduce the cohesiveness of blood platelets, possibly helping to reduce risk of atherosclerosis. http://www.herbphoto.com/education/monograph/ginger.html
It is used as an essential oil in aromatheraphy to treat aching muscles, arthritis, nausea and poor circulation, and in general as a warming massage oil. It can be added to bath water or used in an evaporator to help clear nasal congestion.
Ginger crops up in almost all Oriental cooking, from China to India. Malaysian and Thai cooking in particular relies heavily on ginger as a flavouring spice. Candied ginger was a favourite among the Chinese upper classes, and at one time it was illegal for people outside some classes to buy it.
In Europe and North America, many beverages are made using the root - ginger beer and ginger ale, both home-made brews and commercial brands being highly popular.
Finally, the name of African island of Zanzibar may be connected with ginger. Also known as the "Spice Island", it was certainly grown and exported from there in the 17th and 18th Centuries.
Caution: The essential oil is slightly phototoxic. Do not expose the skin to sunlight for 24 hours following treatment.
Aromatherapy is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. If you have a health condition, consult your physician. If you are pregnant or breast-feeding, consult your doctor before using any aromatherapy products. Do not take essential oils internally. Keep essential oils and all aromatherapy products out of the reach of children. - http://www.celestialtouch.com