Have a cold, stomach bug, the flu, even a sore throat? Chances are, you won't reach for actual medication until after you've reached for the ginger ale. Just a few ounces of this liquid gold can make almost anyone feel just a little better.

Ginger ale has been around since the 1850s, and was first created in Ireland. It wasn't available in North America until the 1890s, when John McLaughlin, a Canadian, started producing it for his soda shop. This early soda eventually became Canada Dry Ginger Ale. The first American made ginger ale was Vernon's, created by a man living in Detroit, Michigan. Vernon's Ginger Ale was only available in select areas of the country, which is still true today.

Ginger ale is made from the juice of the ginger root, which has been used for centuries as a natural curative for all types of health conditions. It can effectively reduce the symptoms of digestive tract infections, morning sickness, upset stomachs, and flatulence. Ginger naturally soothes and settles the stomach. For some people, flat ginger ale, with all of the bubbles stirred out, is more effective for upset stomachs than carbonated ginger ale.

Ginger Ale can also be used to treat coughs and sore throats. This is even more true of ginger root, as a juice or as a dried powder. If you mix a little ginger juice with honey, it can be taken as a cough suppressant. Dried ginger root powder can be mixed with a little bit of water, and then used to treat pain caused by toothaches or ear infections. This same mixture may be able to help with headaches if it is applied to the temples.

Ginger root is a powerful antioxidant. Although this property is someone decreased through the processing done while making soda, some of the effects can still be felt. This makes ginger ale an ideal drink for those suffering from arthritis and other inflammatory disorders. It may also have a positive effect on certain heart conditions, as it has been shown to reduce cholesterol levels and thin blood. Ginger ale can also be an effective weight loss tool, although it shouldn't be heavily relied on, because it is still soda.

There are three ways that ginger helps to make a person feel better. The first is that it dilates, or enlarges, the blood vessels, reducing inflammation, headaches, and providing a warming sensation. The second way is through the antioxidant, gingerol, which, in addition to the effects above, also removes irritants from the digestive tract, reducing nausea. The third benefit seen from ginger is that it is able to block serotonin receptors, further reducing nausea and other feelings of discomfort.

These benefits are available through drinking ginger ale, but if you really need relief, you will be better off reaching for actual ginger. Ginger root can be bought fresh in many grocery stores, and then brought home and chopped up to be added to food. Dried ginger can also be added into foods, or mixed into drinks. Ginger root capsules, available at many pharmacies, can also be a way to get the full benefits of ginger.

Anything that is made from real ginger, including ginger snap cookies, can help relieve discomfort caused by an illness. Ginger tea, which can be a welcome change on a cold morning when you need something to help with an upset stomach or other health complaint, is a very popular option. The heat and steam from the hot tea makes it especially useful for sore throats, sinus infections, and other respiratory infections.

There is no substitute for the soothing, and even restorative, properties of ginger ale when you are feeling your worst. Although ginger ale should not be taken as an alternative for actual medical care, it can be a great way to treat the symptoms of many minor illnesses. It is widely available, and costs less than most over-the-counter medications. Mixed with orange or cranberry juice, it becomes even more effective. Ginger ale is one of the few remedies that, when enjoyed in moderation, has almost no negative side effects. With so many reasons to turn to ginger ale when an illness strikes, it is no wonder why ginger ale remains one of the top soda pop choices in the world.