Young ginger roots are juicy and fleshy with a very mild taste. They are often pickled in vinegar as a snack or just cooked as an ingredient in many dishes. Mature ginger roots are fibrous and nearly dry. The juice from old ginger roots is extremely hot and is often used as a spice in Chinese cooking to cover up other strong odors and flavors such as in seafood and mutton.
Ginger is also made into candy, is used as a flavoring for cookies and cake, and is the main flavor in "ginger ale", a sweet, carbonated, non-alcoholic beverage.
Dried and powdered ginger is used to add spiciness to gingerbread and other recipes. It tastes quite different from fresh ginger, and they can not be substituted for each other.
Medical research has shown that ginger root is an effective treatment for nausea caused by motion sickness, morning sickness or other illness. Powdered dried ginger root is made into pills for medicinal use. Chinese women traditionally eat ginger root during pregnancy to combat morning sickness. Ginger ale and ginger beer have been recommended as "stomach settlers" for generations in countries where the beverages are made. Ginger water was commonly used to avoid heat cramps in the United States in the past.
A dicotyledonous native species of eastern North America, Asarum canadense, is also known as "wild ginger", and the root has similar aromatic properties and should not be used as a substitute because it contains the carcinogen aristolochic acid. The plant is not, however, related to true ginger. This plant is also a powerful diuretic, or urinary stimulator. It is part of the Aristolochiaceae family.