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A weekly show where we endeavor to answer one of your big questions. This week, Kevin asks, "Does ginger ale really help with stomach aches?"

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Craig: Hi, I'm Craig, I just drank a bucket of ginger ale and this is Mental_Floss on YouTube. Today I'm gonna answer Kevin's big question: Does ginger ale really help with stomach aches? Well, not for me right now. I just drank a lot of ginger ale. You shouldn't drink a bucket of anything really, Kevin. 

So there are a few things going on here that can affect your stomach, carbonation, ginger, and the combination of those two things in ginger ale. And whether or not any of these help is actually still being debated in the medical world, so I'm gonna talk about that today. Let's get started.

(Mental_Floss intro plays)

Experts don't totally agree on whether carbonation in soda helps with a stomach ache. Some claim that the air bubbles from soda in a stomach might make a person feel better, but according to the Mayo Clinic, carbonation can lead to our old friend bloat and gas, so it's possible to make your stomach issue worse by drinking soda.

And a 2008 review of medical literature about whether soda alleviates a stomach ache found no scientific evidence that it can. They also looked at the possibility that it would be rehydrating for a sick person to drink coke, ginger ale, or clear soda, but they determined that it wouldn't be.

According to the researchers, (old person voice) "carbonated drinks, flat or otherwise, including cola, provide inadequate fluid and electrolyte replacement and cannot be recommended." I don't know if the person that said that sounded like that, but you don't know either, so...

Ginger, on the other hand, has a reputation for being good for digestion, but there are some conflicting studies on whether it actually is. One 2011 study examined 444 cancer patients who were receiving chemotherapy, which typically makes people nauseous. Some were given a placebo and three others were given varying amounts of ginger. The study was randomized and double blind, meaning neither the experimenters nor the patients knew which groups people belonged to.

According to the results, "all doses of ginger significantly reduced acute nausea severity compared to placebo on Day 1 of chemotherapy. The largest reduction in nausea intensity occurred with 0.5 g and 1.0 g of ginger."

Additionally, there have been studies that show that ginger can help with nausea during pregnancy, motion sickness, and post-surgery. That sounds promising, but the writers of the study I described earlier did note that their results conflicted with a very similar study in 2009. It was also randomized, double blind, and placebo controlled. The researchers examined 162 cancer patients and found that ginger did not help alleviate chemotherapy induced nausea.

So at last, we can finally, definitively say, it's hard to say. If it helped in the past, there's no reason you shouldn't have some ginger ale if you're feeling sick. Since ginger has been shown to help with stomach issues in some cases, try to find ginger ale with ginger root in the ingredients.

Thanks for watching Mental_floss on YouTube, Made with the help of all of these nausea-inducing people. If you have a question of your own, leave it below in the comments. See you next week.

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