7 Natural Remedies for Soothing an Upset Stomach
Stomachache? Bloating? Nausea? Here are some great at-home remedies for tummy troubles.
You don’t need stats to tell you that stomach issues like bloating, constipation, and nausea are rampant. Just cruise down the medicine aisle of any grocery store and you’ll see dozens of over-the-counter (OTC) medications promising to ease whatever’s upsetting your stomach. OTC meds aren’t always necessary, though, especially once you consider how many natural remedies exist for various tummy troubles.
“Natural remedies can be an excellent first choice when treating nausea or an upset stomach,” says Saundra Dalton-Smith, MD, internal medicine physician in Birmingham, Ala., and author of Sacred Rest. Many of these stomach-soothers are found in your pantry while others are habits you can easily adopt. Here are eight natural options worth trying.
What it does: Ginger has long been touted as a natural remedy for seasickness. Turns out, it really does do wonders for tummy issues. “Ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help decrease the excessive stomach acids that can cause nausea and indigestion,” Dr. Dalton-Smith says. “By increasing the absorption in the stomach, ginger helps improve the digestion process.”
How to get the benefits: Suck ginger lozenges or use fresh ginger directly from your pantry, adding the spice to meals you’re making. You can also sip ginger tea, says Elena A. Ivanina, DO, MPH, assistant professor of medicine and assistant program director of the gastroenterology fellowship at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, adding that this is particularly beneficial for morning sickness during pregnancy. To make it, peel and slice two inches of fresh ginger root and add it to a pot of water. Bring that to a boil for 10 minutes and then strain. Wait until it’s reached room temperature to enjoy.
What it does: Chamomile is an anti-inflammatory that helps relax the muscles in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and decrease GI contractions caused by an upset stomach, Dr. Dalton-Smith says.
How to get the benefits: Sip it as a warm tea, and you’ll get double the benefits. “The heat will provide added benefit by further relaxing painful stomach cramps,” Dr. Dalton-Smith says.
What it does: When you’ve got a case of diarrhea, cook up some rice. That diarrhea is caused by bacteria releasing toxins, which increases fluid in the GI tract. But because rice is a bulking agent, “it can help absorb some of the fluid in the gut and decrease the amount of loose stools,” Dr. Dalton-Smith says.
How to get the benefits: Eat half a cup of rice with meals to alleviate some of your discomfort.
What it does: Feeling a little bloated? Try intermittent fasting. “Gut motility is the underlying issue for many people with bloating,” Ivanina says. Through fasting, you can optimize the motility of your small bowel.
How to get the benefits: Try doing a 16:8 cycle (where you fast for 16 hours and eat during an eight-hour window) for just a few days.
What it does: Credit banana’s magnesium and potassium content for helping relax muscle spasms and cramps. Bananas can also help curb diarrhea, Dr. Dalton-Smith says.
How to get the benefits: Fortunately, you don’t need to eat a whole bushel of bananas. Just nosh your normal amount whenever you’re experiencing these symptoms.
What it does: If you’ve got trapped gas—and thus bloating and constipation—yoga could be a good salve. “Twisting poses are said to stimulate the gut,” Ivanina says.
Kefir or Yogurt
What it does: The active cultures and probiotics in these two foods can help combat the bad gut bacteria which are often responsible for bloating, poor digestion and stomach pains by increasing the amount of available good bacteria in your gut, Dr. Dalton-Smith says.
How to get the benefits: When buying kefir or yogurt, avoid those with lots of additives and sweeteners. Instead, choose plain, unsweetened versions and consume a regular serving size, typically about a half cup, once or twice a day.