Upset stomach remedies are one of the first things I learned when I started becoming interested in home remedies. My approach was something like this: research the most likely illness that we get, and find good natural treatments. Though stomach ache treatments are commonly passed down through family lore, we didn’t really have a good go natural go to for upset stomach. (I’ll pass on the Pepto, thanks.)
After lots of reading and testing, these are my best remedies for things like tummy aches and stomach bugs. My favorite natural remedies are things I keep on hand at all times, or that are easy to pick up at any grocery store or health food store…even on vacation! And these fit the bill.
Identifying Upset Stomach Types
Not all upset tummies are created equal. There’s the “I ate a hotdog and then ran around and got overheated” type. I find with kids, that this one is pretty common if they’ve gotten too hot or too active right after eating. Usually just cooling down and resting helps.
Then there’s the second type. The “Gee, that double footlong bacon chili-cheese-dog basket with curly fries was really not a good dinner choice” and the “I never really feel good after eating ice cream” types. These are both rooted in the stomach not liking what you’ve put into it. A bit of diluted peppermint oil or extract on the tummy and some digestive bitters may help you along in the case of poor food choices.
If you notice consistent problems with a specific food group, or just have very frequent digestive problems, I’d look for a functional medicine doctor or natural health practitioner who can help you with some testing to identify allergies, an unstable digestive flora or lining, or deeper digestive issues that I won’t be able to cover today.
The stomach ache remedies I’m sharing today are of the third type. You know the one…we all dread it. These work for the <whispering> stomach bug or food poisoning ilk. The “Mommy, I don’t feel good! I think I’m gonna frow up…” type.
I see LOTS of questions on my Herbal Chick Chat group on Facebook along these lines:
Help! My 3 year old just threw up. I don’t want the rest of us to get sick too…what can I do?
I’ve got you covered. This has worked SO many times both to avoid and to hasten recovery here that I’ve lost count.
Stages of Upset Stomach
OK, let’s talk early response. With a stomach bug (or food poisoning), you’re dealing with a *bug*. The earlier you can interrupt said party, the better. Microbes multiply quickly, and they are smart enough to make the place more hospitable for reproduction.
That’s SUPER important, so I’m going to say it again: the earlier you can intervene with remedies for a stomach bug, the better chance you have of stopping it in its tracks!
So if you *know* that there is a stomach but going around, then be on the lookout. Early response is your BEST friend in upset stomach remedies. I’m telling you, I can shut the party down in a couple of hours and avoid the throw ups if I use these treatments.
My first signs are:
- I’m not hungry when I normally would be
- My stomach still feels full and/or I’m still burping up food from my last meal a couple of hours later. (Digestion is slowed WAY down.)
Notice I didn’t say, “I feel like I have to throw up.” By the time you reach that point the body is gearing up for a purge, you’re past the early onset stage. But don’t worry…these upset stomach remedies still work even at that point. Just not as effectively.
For most of us, we’re used to just plowing through and not paying much attention. But I’ve found that if you can catch it at the earliest stage when you’re feeling just a teensy bit *off* then you can avoid the whole throwing up game.
The trick is catching it early with kids. You have to tell them what to be on the lookout for, and then interrogate them if they are acting strangely at all. Babies and toddlers are super tricky, because they’re just too little to tell you what’s wrong. Just keep a close eye and try to catch symptoms as early as you can.
Upset Stomach Remedies
Here’s what I keep on hand for treating a stomach bug or food poisoning:
See resources at the bottom of this post for product links & recommendations.
- 100% grape juice (not pictured) or Cold & Flu Brew ingredients (see below)
- a good basic probiotic (and a baby/toddler probiotic if you have little ones)
- activated charcoal capsules
- lemons- I keep these in my fridge all the time anyway
- small natural applesauce cups
- raw or local honey
- canned peaches (really!)
Avoiding a Stomach Bug
If you know a stomach bug is making the rounds, there are three things I encourage my kids to do after having the “symptoms to tell Mommy about” chat.
- First, we review the importance of hand washing.
- Next, we start a daily probiotic, and
- I allow them to have a small glass of juice or a warm mug of Cold & Flu Brew each day.
Cold & Flu brew is made with 100% unsweetened cranberry juice, pressed apple cider with the pulp, cinnamon sticks, star anise, cloves, ginger, allspice, and orange slices. (full recipe here) If we’re all feeling under the weather this has been a life saver. I just keep it warm in the crock pot. And it’s SO tasty!
Any acidic beverage will do, but many of the Mama’s on the Herbal Chick Chat group swear by 100% Purple Grape Juice in helping to avoid stomach bugs.
Early Response: Activated Charcoal
Activated Charcoal is what I use at first signs of an upset stomach when I suspect a stomach bug or food poisoning.
What is it, and how does it work? Activated charcoal is a heat treated charcoal -it’s a very porous blend of carbon molecules that naturally hold a negative electrical charge. These little molecules create bonds to anything they can attach to, and basically render them inactive to be safely flushed out of the body. A friend who is an ER nurse said that they use it for drug overdoses and some of the chemical ingestion cases because it’s so effective at disabling toxins.
Because it’s so effective at bonding, I *do not* use this as a preventative, as I want to only target unhealthy flora blooms. Taking this if you’re *not* sick, in my opinion, would weaken your stomach’s natural defenses and possibly weaken your healthy digestive flora balance.
For an adult: If you’re suspicious of a stomach bug or are feeling early nausea, then I take 3-4 capsules of activated charcoal in one dose. I repeat as necessary if I still feel off an hour or so later, but usually that knocks it out completely.
For a child: When treating a child that’s already got an upset stomach or has already started feeling nauseous, I mix one capsule into a half cup of unsweetened applesauce. It couldn’t be easier:
The charcoal doesn’t add to the taste at all. Fair warning: if the charcoal comes back up, it’s NOT fun to clean up. But on the bright side, charcoal (and from road trip experience, rainbow twizzlers) mean no smell clean up. Be sure to have a ‘just in case’ bucket close by.
If you think your child is very close to throwing up, save the applesauce until RIGHT after. Throwing up is your body’s way of purging the bug, so the bad bug population will be at its lowest point just after vomiting, and it’s a great time to tackle it.
If my child is at the stage where they’re throwing up repeatedly, then I don’t start with charcoal. I grab the can of peaches instead. A friend of mine who is a nurse told me about using tiny sips of the juice from canned peaches. It contains fructose, which is the main ingredient of the commercial (pricey!) anti-nausea medicines. If I’m concerned about hydration, I will do a warm soak in the tub (with the ‘just in case’ bucket close by), and encourage tiny sips of liquids or even a popsicle.
Once the vomiting slows down, I’ll serve the black applesauce.
After the charcoal, I usually encourage a nap or movie on the couch (with a ‘just in case’ bucket very close by). If they can handle tiny sips of juice or water, I’ll offer that. Sometimes, a very warm rice sock or hot pack is comfy on the tummy. If they’re feeling perkier in a couple of hours and asking for food, we start recovery phase. If not, I repeat the applesauce or charcoal. But it usually only takes one round to handle things here if I can catch it early enough.
Now, not all bugs are created equal. Some may not respond to charcoal. If I’m not seeing improvement after 2 treatments, then I start asking around and/or take my child in to the doctor.
Recovery Stage: Probiotics and Acidic Drinks
The stomach is naturally acidic, and that’s to protect us from (and kill off) invading microbes or germs. One of the tricks that many of the digestive altering bugs pull is to slow down or inhibit the acid pump cells in the stomach so they can take over and party.
Well, party’s over guys. Once we tame the nausea with charcoal, I’ll wait an hour or two and then offer a yummy homemade lemonade or other acidic drink. For the lemonade, I use half of a lemon, a drizzle of raw honey, and a teensy pinch of salt. Stir to combine well, and serve at room temp or warm. I also like to give a probiotic, just to support healthy gut flora.
I usually know we’re on the upswing when the upset stomach patient begins to feel hungry again. We choose easy to digest foods from the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. I’m usually wary of giving carbs without proteins, but if the body has been under attack, I find that healthy carbs are the fastest way to really fuel the immune system and get the digestion back on track. We return to normal meals when they feel they’re ready. Some form of noodle soup is the most requested option here.
So that’s our upset stomach remedies. Below, you’ll find the recommended resources, and a nice pin to keep this info handy.
Do you have a favorite home remedy for upset stomach? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
What I Use:
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