Ginger, Zingiber officinale, is a reed-like plant native to Asia, but has been introduced to most tropical countries, and grows freely in some parts of the West Indies, South America, Western Africa, Australia, etc. It was known to the ancients, being extensively used by the Greeks and Romans, who considered it an Arabian product because it came to them, among spices from India, by way of the Red Sea. It was an article of common import from the East to Europe from the eleventh to the thirteenth centuries A. D., and probably for a long period preceding that time. Ginger was taxed as a spice, in common with pepper, cloves, galangal, cubebs, etc. It was frequently named in the Anglo-Saxon domestic works on medicine of the eleventh century, and was used by the Welsh physicians (507) of the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, being then next to pepper in common use. Marco Polo (518) observed it in China and India about 1280-90. In fact, ginger has been a spice and a domestic remedy from the earliest records, being extensively employed both as a spice and as an aromatic stomachic. It is still a popular domestic remedy as well as a favorite with many physicians.
The History of the Vegetable Drugs of the U.S.P., 1911, was written by John Uri Lloyd.