If you’re an avid cook, chances are you have this knobby root in your pantry. Fresh ginger (from the plant Zingiber officiale) is used in both food and beverages and is especially popular in Indian and Asian cuisine. In baking, ground ginger is often used in cookies and breads. But did you know it has some amazing medicinal properties?

Ginger has been used for a long time (as far back as 400 BC), where the Greeks used it for nausea, stomach ache, and even diarrhea. Today still, it’s a popular remedy for nausea, said to be safe for pregnant women experiencing morning sickness. While studies are still in its infancy, it seems like ginger has a destructive effect on isolated cancer cells.

The compound in the ginger responsible for its many health benefits, is a chemical called 6-gingerol. More specifically, it’s especially effective against Type 2 diabetes. It can lower blood glucose levels, and in studies conducted on rats, it showed to affect the genes related to glucose metabolism.

There’s another useful compound in ginger, called 6-shogal. This chemical not only gives ginger its pungent taste and characteristic aroma, but studies now suggest that it has a protective effect on the brain. Moreover, another study in 2015 suggested that this compound could perhaps be used in the same way as conventional chemotherapy.

While all the studies surrounding ginger and its effect on cancer and diabetes are still under scrutiny, you can still benefit from its medicinal properties. For overall health, make ginger water a part of your daily routine. Simply combine 2 tsp fresh ginger (grated) with 4 cups of water. Let it steep for at least 10 minutes before straining out the ginger pieces. You can drink the water either hot or cold (and you can even add a dash of lemon juice or honey!).

Next time you feel cold or flu symptoms coming on, make yourself some ginger tea. In a small pot over medium heat, combine 6 cups of water, 2 Tbsp fresh ginger root (peeled), a cinnamon stick, and 5 cloves. Let it simmer for at least 30-40 minutes. You can then add 1/3 cup honey and the slices of one lemon. Once cooled down, pour it through a mesh strainer, and drink warm. This tea will help to relieve general flu symptoms, but will also be useful for sore muscles and period pain.