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Natural Remedies for Stomach Flu

The stomach flu—you know, that queasy, rolling in the gut that sneaks up on you and makes you run for that little room. We have all suffered from it before and probably will again. So do you run for the Pepto? Well, maybe not.

Over-the-counter remedies will not address the root problem, as they only treat the symptoms. Yes, this makes you feel better for the moment, but it lengthens your recovery time, often by days!

When it comes to treating stomach flu and mild cases of food poisoning, old-fashioned, folk remedies are great. They will start soothing symptoms, but they also work to heal the cause.

Flu symptoms may not be the flu at all. The virus that causes colds can travel to your stomach via your hands, food, or drinks and make you feel like you have the stomach flu, when in fact you have a cold that has settled in your stomach and intestines instead of your nasal passages, bronchial tubes, and lungs.

To prevent this virus from taking a vacation in your gut, and to prevent disease in general, wash your hands and face before eating; keep shared items (phones, doorknobs and common surfaces) clean; and boost immune response with a well-balanced diet, exercise, daily multi-vitamins and vitamin C.  When you do catch a bug, taking time to treat yourself properly will markedly lessen its impact and prevent it from spreading to others.

Remember the basics: drink plenty of water, eat lightly of plain foods (no heavy spices and sauces), and get lots of rest. Dehydration looms its ugly head with any illness that causes purging (diarrhea and vomiting). To re-hydrate, try alternating herbal teas (chamomile and mint are good) with 50/50 mixtures of juice and plain water. If the symptoms last longer than a day or two or there is unusual pain or other symptoms, see your healthcare provider as soon as possible. Try eating many small snacks or meals through the day instead of eating normal meals – soup and crackers are good. You need to replace essential nutrients and minerals that are being eradicated from the body in your purging. Once you have stopped vomiting and diarrhea, eat a light diet low in fat and with minimal meats. Cottage cheese, yogurt, and soft-boiled eggs are good protein sources for this phase of recovery. Keep this up for three or four days to allow your digestive tract to recover.

Home Remedies:

  • Mint – All types are good for stomach ailments, as they have natural anti-microbial properties. Some have even had very good results with catnip. It is slightly anti-spasmodic, mildly sedative, and relieves gas and bloating. It is beneficial to digestion when taken in small doses, like a mild tea.
  • Lemon – Used sparingly, lemon juice can kill pathogens that cause diarrhea. One teaspoon of juice or a slice of lemon in twelve to sixteen ounces of water or added to herbal teas is very beneficial. One to two tablespoons before meals can prevent stomach flu when it is running loose in your town.
  • Bananas – Studies show that eating green bananas can help stop diarrhea. However, ripe or green, bananas are easy to digest and will replenish potassium and magnesium, critical electrolytes for bodily functions. Without these minerals, the heart can go into arrhythmia or fail entirely.
  • Salt – Sodium is another electrolyte that depletes rapidly with vomiting and/or diarrhea. Broths and soups are nutritious and an easy way to rebuild sodium and other mineral losses. If you can’t handle broth or soup, add a pinch of salt to your juice or tea. You will not notice any change in flavor, but your body will be pleased.
  • Rice – Rice water is one of the best folk remedies for lingering diarrhea. Cook a handful of rice in a medium pan full of water until nearly soft enough to eat. Strain out the rice and allow the water to cool. Drink a small cup of rice water every hour or so. Add a bit of honey and cinnamon for a tasty, healing drink for the stomach flu and diarrhea. Add ginger or mint in place of cinnamon to sooth sour stomach and nausea. Cooked rice is also widely recommended for those recovering from stomach problems.
  • Applesauce – While fresh apples can cause diarrhea in some, applesauce has quite the opposite effect. Apples have pectin – a natural, soluble fiber. This fiber can help retain water and add bulk to stools, which slows diarrhea.
  • Dry Toast or Crackers – These have long been recommended for nausea, especially in pregnant woman. They absorb the acid and other stomach liquids to calm it and prepare it for herbal teas and healing foods.
  • Turmeric – Do not use in large amounts for stomach distress, but ¼ teaspoon added to soup or rice can provide an antibacterial boost.
  • Garlic – Used as a preventative, it can stave off the flu, but it is also a wonderful antibacterial and antimicrobial. If vomiting is involved, however, it may be too strong. If you can tolerate it, garlic can hasten recovery immensely. Use it freshly chopped and mixed in honey or in capsules. Some have said that it will sooth the stomach lining and bowel, calming cramping and harshness.
  • Yogurt – Yogurt replenishes good bacteria in the gut. This will assist in digestive recovery. Mixing yogurt with bananas, blueberries, applesauce, and honey in your blender makes a wonderful recovery smoothie.
  • Blueberries – In the dried form, blueberries have been effectively used to treat diarrhea in children. They are high in fiber and antioxidants and are a natural bacteria inhibitor. They will help retain water that bulks up stools. Blueberries also contain a substance thought to kill E coli.

So, skip the Pepto and ask grandma what she recommends for your stomach symptoms. And as always, consult your healthcare practitioner before starting any treatment.

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