The holiday season seems to leave many of us with upset stomach, indigestion, heart burn, diarrhea and other tummy troubles. If you're coping with stomach flu symptoms, you should take a look at this post to find out why the BRAT diet is probably not your best option. For extra protection against food-borne illness, check out “Protect Yourself from Salmonella and E Coli Naturally“. For general indigestion, I've compiled this home remedies for upset stomach that may help sooth your aching belly, plus recommendations on how to avoid it in the first place.
Home Remedy for Upset Stomach #1 – Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
When it comes to home remedies, apple cider vinegar has got to be near the top of the list as a “go to” for just about everything. For stomach upset, most folks put a shot of ACV (roughly 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon) in a glass of room temperature water and drink it down. Some add a bit of honey to mellow the flavor. As we age, many of us produce less stomach acid, which bogs down digestion. A little extra acid helps get things moving again.
Home Remedy for Upset Stomach #2 – Raw Honey
Raw honey contains the enzymes diastase, invertase, catalase, glucose oxidase, acid phosphatase and inulase, which aid in digestion and assimilation. (See raw honey enzymes for more details.) Honey has also been found to be effective against E. coli and Candida albicans. Take a spoonful on its own or combined with your ACV drink (remember – raw honey will have the most active enzymes).
Home Remedy for Upset Stomach #3 – Papaya
Papaya fruit or papaya enzyme capsules are both effective at assisting with digestion. Papaya contains the enzymes papain and chymopapain, which are similar to digestive enzymes. Papain is used in many commercial meat tenderizers because it helps break down proteins. Enjoy some fresh papaya or take some papaya enzymes capsules, but don't expect the same results from dried papaya. The World's Healthiest Foods indicates that dried papaya is likely to be low on enzymes, which are heat sensitive. Look for organic papaya, as much of the papaya crop (roughly 80%) of the papaya crop is genetically modified.
Home Remedy for Upset Stomach #4 – Activated Charcoal
Activated charcoal is more likely to be effective for extracting problem substances than treating general upset stomach. Within hours of consuming the problem food, Health Guidance.org recommends keeping some activated charcoal on hand so that “it can be consumed in the scenario that a family member should ingest something potentially poisonous such as a medicine overdose, a household cleaner, gone off food, sedatives or narcotics. This will then reduce the body's absorption by up to 60% which could save their life. ” It should be consumed with plenty of water because it may cause dehydration, and should not be mixed with something like chocolate milk or syrup.
Home Remedy for Upset Stomach #5 – Baking Soda
Just add one half to one teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate (baking soda) to a glass of water, mix well and drink it down. Best for occasional use only, this fizzy drink can bring on a burp that may ease stomach pressure and will reduce acidity in the stomach. Caution: Do not use baking soda if your stomach upset is due to excessive overeating, as there has been at least one incidence of a man's stomach exploding from taking baking soda on a stunningly full stomach.
Home Remedy for Upset Stomach #6 – Spices
Cardamom, coriander, fennel, ginger, fenugreek, caraway (top right in photo above) and other herbs have a history of use as digestive aids. Simply chew a few seeds or nibble some candied ginger to help relieve nausea, soothe intestinal spasms and help you flatulate. (Better out than in, after all.)
Mountain Rose Herbs stocks a great selection of organic herbs, teas, spices and much more.
Home Remedy for Upset Stomach #6 – Herbal Teas
Peppermint tea was my “go to” drink for pregnancy nausea, and I still find it soothing for mild stomach upset. Other herbal teas recommended for upset stomach include chamomile, catnip, cinnamon, fennel, ginger, green, lemon balm, licorice, sage, valerian and yarrow. (Read more at “My Indigestion Remedies“.) In a pinch, if you don't have tea handy, strong mints (like Altoids) may have a similar effect.
Home Remedy for Upset Stomach #7 – Live Culture Foods/ Probiotics
If I end up eating a less than stellar meal that does not sit well, the first thing I do is grab for a bottle of kombucha when I get home. Kombucha is a live culture food, which means that it is loaded with friendly bacteria that help your body do its job. Milk kefir, water kefir, yogurt, kraut, kimchi or any fermented food will act to boost the populations of good microorganisms in your digestive tract. These are also very good to eat with a meal to avoid the stomach upset in the first place.
You can make your own live cultured foods for pennies on the dollar with starter cultures from Cultures for Health or other culture providers. Some cultured food can be made with nothing but the base ingredient (such as vegetables) and salt. If you'd like more information on cultured foods, you can visit the live cultured foods section of our recipe page or check out the book “The Complete Idiot's Guide to Fermenting Foods“.
How to Avoid Upset Stomach – An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure
If you pay attention to your body, you can probably figure out what triggering your upset stomach, and work to heal it or avoid it in the first place.
Common food related causes of upset stomach may include:
- food poisoning
- overeating ( or drinking too much)
- greasy foods
- spicy foods
Consuming probiotics with your meal (as mentioned above) may help ease digestion. Also consider adding some acid to your meal, such as a vinaigrette dressing or a splash of vinegar or lemon juice. Bitter herbs and greens (such as chicory, endive, dandelion or other strong flavored greens) help stimulate digestive juices. Enjoy in moderation, don't stuff yourself. Chew slowly and thoroughly, giving your stomach time to recognize that it's full.
Common lifestyle related causes of upset stomach may include:
- excess alcohol or caffeine
- motion sickness
- pregnancy (the good thing about this one is that it is generally temporary, plus you get a baby 🙂 )
Do try to relax when you get the chance, and avoid the other negative factors as you are able. When pregnant, be extra careful with anything you ingest. Mint tea is okay, but large amounts of chamomile, for instance, are not recommended.
This post is provided for informational purposes only and is not meant to replace a trained healthcare provider. If pain is severe, incapacitating or last more than 24 hours, please see a trained health professional.
Don’t forget to check out the rest of our Home Remedies Series including:
- Coping with Stomach Flu Symptoms (Why the BRAT diet may not be your best choice)
- Home Remedies for Headaches
- Home Remedies for Earaches
- The Best Cold and Flu Fighters – summary of all our cold and flu related posts
I hope you find this post useful for the occasional incidence of upset stomach. Please Share, Stumble or Pin if you like it. 🙂
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