ginger ale

From backseats to off the bow, I have had my fair share of motion sickness. The blue shade of skin is nothing compared to that dreaded feeling of nausea that I think we can all agree, is the worst! As the symptoms set it, my parents always reached for the ginger ale, as did their parents before them. Well, when (if) I become a parent, will I grab for the same thing?

From ginger ale to cranberry juice, we’ve all sipped our way back into health at one time or another. Or have we? Let’s take a look at some common curatives that come in a cup and see if they really have what it takes to naturally remedy what ails us. 

Ginger Ale

The Alleged: Relieves nausea and vomiting

The Truth: Well, there’s truth and fiction in the claim here. Ginger: Yes. Ginger ale: No. Ginger root itself has been shown to settle the stomach. Unfortunately, commercial ginger ales today don’t contain ginger at all, but artificial flavoring! So, look instead for ginger beer, a non-alcoholic drink that will actually contain real ginger. You can also steep 1 to 2 grams of fresh ginger root in boiling water to make a tea or eat about 2 teaspoons of candied ginger. Don’t overdo it, though, for you can induce the opposite effect. 

Cranberry Juice

The Alleged: Treats Urinary Tract Infections

The Truth: Once you already have a urinary tract infection, chugging cranberry juice may give you a dose of phytonutrients but is not likely to clear things up, according to many a lab study, animal study and human study. Wive’s tale indeed. That said, there is some promising evidence that suggests those same phytonutrients – anthocyanins or flavonols – can in fact help prevent urinary tract infections (UTIs). They make it more difficult for bacteria to adhere (and grow) to bladder or urethral walls, but do little in the way of a curative. 

Coffee 

The Alleged: Alleviates headaches

The Truth: There is truth to the idea that caffeine can help with headaches, about two cups has been shown to be effective. That said, we’re not sure it’s worth the trade off. Coffee has been shown to treat but also cause headaches, so we hardly think it’s worth the chance. Being a stimulant, caffeine works on the central nervous system and makes you more alert. It also acts as a vasoconstrictor (constricts your blood vessels), as a diuretic and it may even increase blood pressure. And it’s addictive in the sense that you can experience withdrawals. We don’t think relying on coffee as a curative is so much of a good idea. 

image: James Qualtrough