As the name implies, ginger ale contains the herb ginger, which may have medicinal properties. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginger helps relieve upset stomach from a number of causes. It has also been used for centuries to treat inflammatory conditions such as osteoarthritis, although more clinical trials are necessary to confirm this benefit. Ginger ale is high in sugar, however, so consume it in moderation.
According to UMMC, ginger products may help relieve nausea from motion sickness or chemotherapy. Medline Plus specifically recommends drinking ginger soda to ease nausea and vomiting from morning sickness. In a study published in the "Journal of the Medical Association of Thailand" in 2007, researchers compared ginger capsules with the anti-nausea drug dimenhydrinate in pregnant women. Nausea levels appeared identical for those taking ginger and those taking the drug, although the ginger group vomited more often on the first two days of the seven-day trial. Most of the medicated group experienced drowsiness, while most of the ginger group did not.
Many store-bought brands of ginger ale contain very little ginger, and may not provide the same health benefits as using the fresh herb. Some brands are even artificially flavored, and contain no ginger at all. Do your research before buying, or consider concocting your own ginger ale at home. You can make ginger syrup fairly easily on the stove top, and then add soda water to make ginger ale.