For many people, the most common side effect of today’s busy lifestyle is an upset stomach. Whether from poor diet, or too much stress we often fall back on the quick remedy of over the counter medications without taking the time to try more natural solutions. Having an upset stomach is a problem as old as man himself, and some of the solutions have been around just as long. Here are a couple of my favorite remedies used for coping with an upset stomach which utilize common ingredients from the kitchen.
According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, Ginger has been used as a treatment for stomach disorders for over 2000 years and is still commonly used by doctors for the treatment of nausea associated with pregnancy or chemotherapy. Ginger can easily be kept available for instant use in the form of ginger ale, or my favorite, ginger snap cookies. The effect of ginger is an overall warming starting from the mouth and spreading down to the stomach to rapidly ease unpleasant symptoms. Perhaps the most effective form of ginger is to prepare a ginger tea directly from fresh ginger root. Ginger root, which is readily available at most supermarkets, can be kept frozen in a zip-loc bag stored in the freezer. When needed for an upset stomach, simply grate the frozen root directly into a cup of freshly boiled, but not quite boiling, water. Allow the drink to cool until it is just warm, then sip slowly as the spice does its job.
Along with Ginger, Peppermint is perhaps the oldest upset stomach remedy and is the only herbal remedy mentioned by the Mayo Clinic as a treatment for indigestion. Peppermint works by relaxing the the muscles of the stomach, allowing food to be digested more efficiently. It also increases the body’s production of bile which allows fat to be digested faster. For these two reasons, Peppermint is an ideal solution for indigestion brought on by over eating. Peppermint is very commonly available as a tea which is prepared in the traditional manner by steeping in very hot water.
Peppermint is not recommended for stomach discomfort caused by gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) as the relaxing effect of the herb can cause the sphincter muscle that closes the top of the stomach to open allowing acid to travel back into the esophagus leading to heartburn.
Of course, the simplest solution is simply to avoid the behaviors that cause your upset stomach in the first place. However, if indigestion strikes, these ancient remedies provide high speed, modern relief.
University of Maryland Medical Center, Medical Reference