In 17th-century England, a pound of ginger could be traded for one healthy sheep.
In fact, this gnarled, tangy spice has been valued as a seasoning and a medicine for thousands of years - it has even been Dr. Oz's Herb of the Month. Currently, scientists are investigating whether it can help prevent colon and ovarian cancer. Its other powers include:
Calming nausea. As a tea or cooked into a congee (a therapeutic rice porridge) it can ease morning sickness, motion sickness and sluggish digestion. Tea: Cut 2 inches of cleaned and peeled ginger root into small pieces or thin slices; put in a pan with a few cups of water; boil for at least 10 minutes. Stir in lemon, mint or lime juice - add 1 teaspoon of honey if your taste buds require.
Soothing sore joints and muscles. Ginger contains anti-inflammatories. You can drink it as a tea or grate the root, wrap it in cheesecloth, place in hot water for 30 seconds, and when cool enough, apply directly to your achy areas for 20 minutes.
Keeping your immune system strong. For a sore throat, sniffles or the flu, try a powdered ginger supplement; ask your doctor about taking 250 mg daily (it's not for anyone on blood thinners). The max, according to the American Cancer Society, is 5 grams a day.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. To live your healthiest, visit sharecare.com. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.