Having an upset stomach is not only uncomfortable (constant pain, gas, bloating, disturbed defection)–it can also be downright embarrassing. Don’t worry though because you are not alone. Fortunately, for as many causes as there are for an upset stomach, there are almost as many natural remedies. Before we dive into that, let’s try to get an idea of what an upset stomach really is.
It is a puzzling syndrome with no clear-cut mechanical defect or biochemical cause that explains symptoms. The culprit can be as simple as eating too much too fast or a more serious problem such as an ulcer, gastrointestinal disease or irritable bowel syndrome.
Indigestion or Irritable bowel syndrome in medical lingo, is considered a gastrointestinal functional disorder, meaning that the natural rhythmic movement of the gut is flawed. It is the most common syndrome seen by gastroenterologists and keeps more people holed-up at home then the common cold.
Signs and Symptoms:
The signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can be different from person to person and may sometimes resemble those of other diseases. Among the most common are:
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- A bloated feeling
- Gas (flatulence)
- Diarrhea or constipation — sometimes even alternating bouts of constipation and diarrhea
- Mucus in the stool
You may get only mild signs and symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome on some occasions, while other times these problems can be disabling. In some cases, you may have severe signs and symptoms that don’t respond well to medical treatment. Because symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome can occur with other more serious diseases, it’s best to discuss these symptoms with your doctor before self diagnosis.
While over-the-counter treatments abound at local pharmacies, there are also several natural and home remedies that can be just as effective at soothing an upset stomach.
Peppermint and other members of the same plant family, including spearmint, were used to treat upset stomachs in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome. Today, peppermint oil and leaf are often paired with caraway to relieve irritable bowel and dyspeptic symptoms. The compounds menthol and menthone in peppermint may inhibit smooth muscle contractions, reducing gastrointestinal spasms.
Peppermint oil is an ingredient in most chewing gum, so you might try popping a piece at the onset of indigestion, or brewing a cup of peppermint tea.
For centuries, teas of chamomile have been used to treat ailments ranging from stress and anxiety to digestive ailments and even rheumatoid arthritis. While the many medicinal claims are not easy to prove, the use of chamomile to soothe and calm is widely accepted and those soothing effects seem to extend to the digestive system. Either purchasing a prepackaged herbal chamomile tea or making your own from steeping leaves, serves to help a tensed nausea patient relax-which may contribute to the stomach easing properties of the herb.
Charcoal is commonly used in hospitals for food or alcohol poisoning to help neutralize the toxins in the system. It is suggested that you go to the hospital if you suspect any kind of poisoning, but if you’ve just had one too many cocktails, the charcoal in the burned toast may help absorb some of the alcohol and neutralize the toxin. Black tea or anything with tannins (except wine in this situation) also helps neutralize toxins and process the alcohol in your system, which may be the reason coffee is prescribed to sober someone up. Toast is also part of the well-known acronym B.R.A.T. (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast), which was commonly used to treat children with stomach aches or diarrhea.
These seeds act very similarly to fennel seeds. They help with digestion and gas. You can either make a tea from the seed or you can do what people in Middle Eastern countries have done for centuries — simply chew on the seeds after dinner.
Caraway seed tea: Place 1 teaspoon caraway seeds in a cup and add boiling water. Cover the cup and let stand for ten minutes. Strain well and drink up to three cups a day — be sure to drink on an empty stomach.
The Baking soda sooths the stomach and it works within 10-15 minutes. This can be repeated after three hours if stomach upset persists. Baking soda costs less than $1 per box. Generic Baking soda is even cheaper. Baking soda can be used for a variety of things.