The Truth About Ginger Ale: Does It Actually Calm an Upset Stomach?
When your stomach is turning, nauseous, and just feeling lousy, you'll likely try anything to calm it down. While there are countless natural remedies for easing an upset stomach, one of the most popular ones is to sip on a ginger ale. It's a go-to beverage for women in their first trimester of pregnancy, parents to help sick kiddos feel better, and anyone fighting off a stomach bug, but does it actually work?
Ginger root has been used as a natural herbal medicine to treat stomach ailments for thousands of years. Researchers studied the effectiveness of ginger on nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy and as a side effect of chemotherapy. They found that it's an effective and safe treatment option with little risk for negative side effects.
This is likely due to the powerful plant compounds found in ginger, some of which increase the speed of digestion to limit the time food spends sitting in the stomach, and others that block the communication of nerves in the gut that lead to nausea and vomiting.
In one small study, 67 pregnant women who complained of nausea and vomiting were given either 1,000 milligrams of ginger or a placebo for 4 days. Eighty-five percent of the women taking ginger had improved symptoms versus only fifty-six percent of the women taking the placebo.
Even though ginger has proven to be an effective treatment for an upset stomach, ginger ale probably won't have the same effect. Most ginger ale has very little actual ginger (or no ginger at all) while being high in added sugars that can even make your stomachache worse.
In 2018 the popular ginger ale brand, Canada Dry, had a lawsuit filed against them for misleading the public with the label "Made from Real Ginger," while the actual amount of ginger included was negligible. Many ginger ales only include "natural flavors" and don't even list ginger in the ingredients.
If you want to try a ginger ale to ease your upset stomach that does include real ginger, try Reed's Real Ginger Ale or Cape Cod Ginger Ale, both of which have real ginger high in their ingredient list.
If you'd rather avoid the added sugars in soda but still reap the stomach-soothing benefits of ginger, you can try ginger candies, tea, or supplements, but make sure to check the label for "ginger." When reading the ingredients list, the closer ginger is to the front of the list, the more ginger is included in the product.