I come from a long line of women with gastrointestinal problems. It’s hereditary; isn’t that great? Well, you all know the drill, I’m sure: eating right and staying fit is always the best advice. What happens when that isn’t enough? An achy stomach caused by an overabundance of stomach acid. Normally, I just reach for the antacid, but there are other things you can do if there’s none about. Here are the pros and cons of a few home remedies that I have personally tried.
By now, everyone has heard of using ginger tea or ginger ale to sooth an upset stomach. According to the University of Maryland Medical Center, ginger has been used for centuries to treat all kinds of nausea, as well as motion sickness and inflammation. They recommend no more than 2000mg to be taken with food. Don’t take more than that, and don’t take it by itself, or you’re apt to make the problem worse. Keep in mind that this is a standard dose for a normal adult, too. If you’re on prescription medication or giving it to a child, you might want to ask your doctor first what he or she thinks.
Did you ever wonder why some restaurants give you a mint after dinner? Mint is another good remedy for upset stomachs. Suck on a candy cane for a few minutes, or put a couple drops of peppermint oil into your tea. If you take medicine for diabetes or have a condition called gastroesophageal reflux disease, you’ll want to avoid this remedy. Peppermint works by relaxing the stomach muscles, including the muscle that separates the stomach from the esophagus. While normally, peppermint causes stomach acids to flow better, this can allow more acid to enter the esophagus. And if you’re using oil, keep in mind that too much can make you seriously ill or even kill you.
Something my mother used to make to do, which I quickly put a stop to because it tasted disgusting, was to mix a spoonful of baking soda with water and make me drink it. I was a little too busy gagging to remember if it worked or not, but UMMC has assured me that sodium bicarbonate, also known as baking soda, really is an antacid. You’ll want to avoid this one if you have high blood pressure or can’t have sodium for any reason. Because it’s a sodium, too much can also dehydrate you. Dehydration is a common cause of upset stomach, so don’t add more than a teaspoon without checking with your doctor.
Here’s one that I can’t find any solid medical information on. However, some friends of mine swear by it, and I’ve seen it often enough online to feel it needs inclusion here. Supposedly, lying on your back with a heating pad or hot water bottle over your stomach will help improve circulation and, therefore, digestion. If you’re anything like me, laying down just causes the backup to get worse, but it might be worth trying if nothing else is working.
That concludes my personal experience into the subject. In the end, I have found liquid Maalox to be the best remedy, while my mother prefers a doctor-prescribed cocktail of belladonna, lidocaine, and over-the-counter antacid. Yes, one of those is a poison; that’s why she talks to her doctor. And so should you, especially if stomach trouble happens a lot. Home remedies are okay once in a while, but nothing beats the doctor’s advice.