10 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache
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Stomach aches cause no end of distressing symptoms and result in missed work and time with loved ones. Who enjoys feeling sick or, worse, worshiping the “porcelain throne?” To find the most effective relief, it helps if you can narrow down the underlying cause — although some remedies work regardless of the origins of your distress. Here are ten home remedies for stomach ache to try the next time your digestive tract threatens to rebel.
Ginger is the ideal home remedy for stomach aches because it works through dual mechanisms. Like its cousin turmeric, this underground plant stem has anti-inflammatory properties and enjoys wide use in Ayurvedic medicine. Scientists link inflammation with just about every type of physical discomfort known to humankind, including the abdominal variety.
What makes this herb extra potent are two substances — gingerols and shogaols. These natural plant chemicals calm the nervous system and relax your digestive tract, calming your upset stomach.
Relief isn’t as easy as reaching for a bottle of pop — many commercial varieties contain little if any ginger. However, you can brew a tea from a piece of ginger or find elixirs with the genuine article at health food stores.
Anything from basil to peppermint can work as a home remedy for stomach aches, but you might need to experiment with several varieties before finding what works best. Like ginger, plants in this family relax the muscles in your digestive tract, allowing gas to pass more comfortably.
The underlying cause of your distress plays a role. One study published by Mt. Sinai reveals that 75% of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) patients achieved considerable symptom relief.
However, if you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), you might want to stick to milder mints like basil — if you use this remedy at all. The same mechanisms that relieve intestinal gas also relax the sphincter between your stomach and esophagus, potentially making symptoms worse.
If peptic ulcers cause recurrent stomach pain, you may wish to investigate licorice. The flavonoids in this substance may inhibit H. Pylori growth, the bacteria associated with ulcers.
Please proceed with caution if you have a heart condition, though. The glycyrrhizin in licorice can cause potassium levels to plummet, resulting in arrhythmias, as one New York man unfortunately discovered.
4. Lemon Juice and Baking Soda
If acid is your problem, you might want to try a natural antacid. Mixing lemon juice and baking soda together produce the same effects as an OTC tablet, but you can adjust the blend to suit your needs.
Use caution when you do so. Too much baking soda can cause diarrhea and gas, and too much lemon juice results in increased acid reflux. There’s nothing wrong with sticking with a traditional OTC — know your options.
If you have an inflammatory bowel condition, drinking plain water could make you feel nauseous. However, you still need to stay hydrated. What to do?
Try carbonating your water. You can find devices like the SodaStream at popular online and in-store resources — there’s no need to switch to sugary pops. You can multiply the health benefits and elevate the flavor by soaking fruit in your water before adding bubbles. You’ll get vitamins and phytonutrients without added calories.
6. Non-Dairy Milk
If you have mild lactose intolerance, you might not experience any symptoms with typical meals, leaving you baffled when the occasional stomach ache strikes. If the disorder runs in your family, try switching to non-dairy milk and see if you get relief.
You have dozens of alternatives, from almond to hemp to coconut. Try a variety to see which flavor and texture suit you best. You might find you like it better than the original.
7. Elimination Diet
If stomach aches frequently plague you, you could have an undiagnosed food allergy. Fortunately, you have an ally in the elimination diet. Although it may not be much fun going through the process, you’ll reap dividends in less gastrointestinal pain once you identify the culprit.
To perform an elimination diet, please take the following steps:
- Keep a diary: Ask yourself what foods you eat and crave most often, what you turn to for comfort and would struggle to give up. Unfortunately, the ones you desire most are those that create an adverse reaction in your body. Make a list of these problematic foods — they are the ones you will eliminate to discover the culprit.
- Avoid potentially troublesome foods: Here comes the challenge. For the next two to four weeks — longer is better, if you can handle it — don’t eat anything on your list. Read labels carefully. For example, if you suspect dairy, you’ll want to pass on anything containing whey, lactose or casein, which are all milk proteins. On the plus side, you should see symptom improvement within a few days if an allergy is the culprit.
- Add one food at a time back: Once you are symptom-free for at least five days, add one of the foods on your list back every three days. Keep careful notes in your diary and stop eating anything that causes a recurrence.
- Adopt a new long-term eating plan: Once you have identified the culprit, you need to stay free of it to eliminate symptoms. If it’s something that played a significant role in your previous diet, like wheat or dairy, you’ll have to go through some trial and error before you find delicious substitutes that let you continue to enjoy foods like pizza without the resulting health woes.
Constipation is a monster that can leave you writhing in agony on the bathroom floor. Your best defense is a fiber-rich diet. You can achieve this by adding more plant-based foods and whole grains into your diet.
What about fiber supplements? These work effectively for many, but you’re still better off improving your diet. Fruits, vegetables and various grains contain phytonutrients and antioxidants that also play a critical role in preserving human health.
If your stomach ache stems from constipation, and you sometimes feel blue, you might have an underlying magnesium deficiency. According to a review published by The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association, half of all Americans fail to get enough of this vital mineral.
You can take supplements, or you can get a bit nutty. Nuts and seeds contain high levels of magnesium and other minerals, like selenium and zinc, that also improve mood. If you choose the supplement route, gradually increase your dosage to prevent diarrhea from too much, too soon.
10. Yoga and Meditation
Exercise might be the last thing on your mind when your stomach twists in agony, but certain poses could ease your pain, depending on the cause. If it’s gas that has you down, try asanas like wind-relieving pose, where you lie on your back, curling your legs into your belly while raising your nose to your knees. Happy baby or matsyendrasana twists can likewise expel trapped gas.
Stress can do a doozy on your digestive system. Try escaping for a few minutes to practice mindfulness meditation by sitting quietly, drawing awareness to your breath and observing your thoughts free from judgment. If you struggle to clear your mind, you can find free guided meditations on YouTube that help coax your gastrointestinal tract to relax.
Which of These 10 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache Is Right for You?
The best home remedies for stomach ache depends on your unique physiology and the underlying cause of your distress. The next time your tummy ties in knots, try one of these ten approaches.