Zingiber officinale is native to southern China, but the historical origins of ginger are at best nebulous as it was cultivated long before records began. Some say ginger was used 7,000 years ago, which is unlikely, while others are more inclined to say 5,000, although some historians question China’s history, reported there. 5,000 years ago, according to The China Project.
From written records, we know that Confucius wrote about ginger around 500 BC in his book the Lunyu (Analects). He even claimed it was part of every one of his meals (via University of Iowa). And, much later in 1578, the spice was included in the Compendium of Materia Medica by Li Shi-zhen known as Ben Cao Gang Mu (via UNESCO). It seems that the Chinese, since ancient times, have always believed that ginger is both food and medicine.
In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a practice at least 3,000 years old, ginger is called sheng-jian, note Me & Qi. The spice is used in formulations to “harmonize the stomach”. Ginger is considered a powerful antidote to morning sickness, seafood poisoning, hiccups, and the list goes on. TCM describes the taste of ginger as pungent and therefore associates it with the treatment of the lungs, spleen and stomach. Research has shown that prescribing ginger can lower glycemic indexes in people with type 2 diabetes as well as relieve symptoms of osteoarthritis and nausea associated with chemotherapy.