The title may be a bit deceiving because when someone complains of an “upset stomach” he or she could mean one of several conditions involving the stomach and intestinal tract. Upset stomach may be as simple as nausea or be worse such as vomiting, diarrhea and constipation. Therefore, a general or vague home remedy for “upset stomach” may not work for all causes of stomach problems. However, if you narrow down what symptom you are experiencing you will be better able to treat your upset stomach and find quick relief.
Nausea & Vomiting – There is nothing worse for me (except vomiting) than that nagging feeling of nausea that never seems to go away. There are several causes of nausea, including some medications, motion sickness, chemotherapy, pregnancy or viral gastroenteritis, but while it may be irritating, it is rarely life threatening. For years, pregnant women have used ginger as an herbal remedy to relieve the nausea and vomiting associated with morning sickness. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, ginger is used in Asian medicines to treat stomachaches and nausea and is an ingredient in many dietary supplements. Many individuals to calm queasy stomachs have used chamomile tea and adding a couple of drops of peppermint oil to a glass of water will also calm nausea. However, one trick that I learned after surgery (a post-op nurse told me this) has always worked for me when I felt I was going to vomit – soaking a cotton ball with alcohol and smelling the scent. Vomiting and nausea can be a symptom of many other diseases such as appendicitis, gallstones, heart attack or peptic ulcer (see the Mayo Clinic’s website for a more comprehensive list) so if it persists your should consult your physician.
Diarrhea – The Mayo Clinic advises that most cases of diarrhea will pass within a day or two; however, if you become dehydrated, pass blood or the diarrhea does not stop; you should see your physician. Diarrhea can be the side effect of certain medications, caused by a virus, bacteria or parasite or an over-indulgence of artificial sweeteners. No matter what the cause, having a bad case of diarrhea will make you feel weak and miserable. According to the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, evidence shows that probiotics are effective in treating diarrhea. You can find probiotics as supplements or in some food products.
Constipation – Diarrhea may have you running to the bathroom; however, constipation will make you equally miserable with bloating and pain. Causes of constipation are varied and include certain diseases, travel, hormonal disturbances and dehydration. While adding more fiber to your diet and drinking more water are the best-known home remedies for constipation, there most be something else that can be done that works faster. Harsh laxatives can cause even more pain and more bouts of constipation. Some home remedies for constipation include drinking ½ teaspoon of honey with ½ cup of warm water or drinking a mixture of ½-cup olive oil and ½-cup orange juice. However, the key to curing constipation is to maintain a healthy intestinal tract. Some studies show that probiotics help maintain a healthy digestive tract keeping your system in balance. A lack of magnesium in your diet (green leafy vegetables, nuts, whole grains and seeds) is associated with constipation because magnesium is needed for muscle function, including the muscles in your intestines. Eating more foods high in magnesium or adding supplements can relieve constipation.
National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (www.nccam.nih.gov)
National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov)