Can Ginger Ale Really Help Cure Your Stomachache?
Your parents may have conditioned you to believe that ginger ale was the remedy for an upset stomach, but it turns out the soft drink may not be as magical as you were led to believe.
We know, you've most likely been living a lie for, well, your whole life. To debunk the infamous theory that ginger ale is the number one cure for a stomachache, we consulted Maryann Walsh, MFN, RD, CDE, to find out the truth about the supposed healing powers of ginger ale, once and for all.
How does ginger cure a stomachache?
"The basic explanation of how ginger cures a stomachache is that it has spasmolytic properties," says Walsh. She explains that ginger works to calm the spasms that occur in the smooth muscle, which is the type of muscle found in the stomach and other organs that comprise the digestive system. Walsh says that these spasms are likely what's causing your stomach to be in pain.
"Ginger is also known as an antiemetic, meaning it is a remedy for nausea and vomiting as well, which can often accompany a stomachache," she says.
So, does that mean ginger ale has the same ability to cure a stomachache?
"Many [people] choose to sip on ginger ale when they have a stomachache and claim they feel relief, and that may be true. However, because soda manufacturers don't usually indicate the amount of ginger in each serving of ginger ale, there's no way of knowing if you are truly receiving what is considered an effective dose of ginger," explains Walsh.
Not to mention, one 12-ounce can of Canada Dry packs a whopping 35 grams of added sugar—that's about 9 teaspoons worth of the sweet stuff. For context, the American Heart Association suggests consuming no more than 25 grams of added sugar per day if you're a woman and no more than 36 grams if you're a man. As far as we're concerned, all of that added sugar, coupled with the carbonation of the fizzy pop, will just make your stomach feel even worse. Ginger ale is soda after all, and we all know the soda dangers that come with frequently guzzling the sweet stuff.
What would be an effective way to reap the benefits of ginger?
Walsh says the best way for someone to experience ginger's healing powers is to buy ginger in its purest state, which would either be in its root form or freshly minced in the produce section.
"Remember to check with your doctor prior to using ginger, as it may interact with some medications," advises Walsh.
What other natural remedies can cure (or at least alleviate) stomachache symptoms?
"Research has shown that peppermint oil can be effective for reducing and aiding an upset stomach," says Walsh. "Similar to how ginger works to relax smooth muscles, peppermint does the same, therefore sipping on mint tea may prove to be helpful for those experiencing stomach pains."
Now that you know the truth about ginger ale, you're better off noshing on some fresh ginger rather than popping open a can of the bubbly stuff.