Sorry, Ginger Ale Can’t Cure Your Stomachache

updated May 30, 2019
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Here’s a piece of widely accepted knowledge that no one ever questioned, at least when I was a kid: Ginger ale will soothe nausea or an upset stomach. But as one viral tweet recently pointed out, this fizzy drink is not the miracle cure for all of your digestive ailments. My world has officially been turned upside down.

According to one doctor named Gina Sam, who spoke with local news station WBAL, the mythology of ginger ale’s healing powers stems from its name: People simply assume that because it has “ginger” in the name, it also the same, very real and proven, anti-nausea effects of ginger in its herbal form.

There is, in fact, mostly sugar and carbonated water in ginger ale, and very little actual ginger. That should seem obvious, and yet instead of reaching for say, ginger lozenges during a bout of nausea, most people go straight for the soda. And thus, this old wives tale has persisted through the ages.

In fact, not only will ginger ale not help, but it also may actively hurt you even more. According to Dr. Sam, all that sugar feeds that bacteria causing your stomach pain, making it multiply. If you’re really looking for relief, try a cup of herbal ginger tea instead. Yeah, the soda probably tastes better, but the higher concentration of ginger is what will actually settle your stomach. In fact, Dr. Sam recommends grabbing a stalk of fresh ginger root from the store, peeling it, and adding a couple slices directly to hot water for maximum effect.

Now personally, I can truthfully say that ginger ale has helped soothe nausea in the past, but should I chock that up to the placebo effect — or the power of suggestion — now that I’m armed with this new information? Maybe, but next time I’m feeling sick I will probably still reach for good ol’ reliable ginger ale. You know, just in case.