We are currently smack dab in the middle of rotavirus season according to the CDC, so it’s prime time for some tips on how to avoid and treat the stomach bug! Many of these remedies are helpful year-round for folks with chronic tummy troubles, too. As someone who has struggled big time with stomach problems in the past, I can personally vouch that these natural remedies and prevention methods have worked for me!
Please note that I am not a doctor, and these tips and tricks are not meant to be a replacement for medical care if you need it. Be sure to seek treatment or guidance from a licensed medical professional if warranted.
There are lots of effective drugs for stomach problems on the market, and sometimes they are necessary (shout out to Phenergan for saving me multiple times in the past!). However, I tend to be wary of putting unnatural chemicals in my body, especially for long-term use.
There is information, research, and science out there to show that gastrointestinal treatments aren’t always that good for you. Antacids can cause calcium-related issues, and while they may help your indigestion feel better in the short-term, the neutralization of your stomach acid can actually cause your stomach to produce even MORE acid in a process known as acid rebound.
Some of the side effects of gastrointestinal medications are also problematic. For example, constipation is a common side effect of Zofran, a popular anti-nausea medication. The result of this constipation? Things back up in your digestive system, which can lead to even more nausea! You end up worse off than where you started.
All of this to say, artificially created medications can be great in a pinch, but they are also fraught with issues. I prefer to turn to natural remedies whenever possible.
Natural Treatments and Prevention Methods
Activated Charcoal: I have had good success avoiding stomach bugs and food poisoning by taking capsules of activated charcoal. Anytime I have been around someone who has come down with a gastrointestinal illness or have eaten food that was questionably undercooked, I have taken charcoal tablets (typically up to 3 times per day) and have avoided illness myself. Charcoal is commonly used as a medical treatment when someone has accidentally ingested a toxic substance. It attracts and binds to poisons, rendering them inactive. That said, there isn’t yet any scientific evidence out there to support the use of charcoal as a stomach bug treatment method specifically. But if you Google it, you will find LOTS of anecdotal evidence and testimonies from others.
Apple Cider Vinegar: After reading about it on another blog (I forget which one it was), I first tried this trick on my husband several years ago when he came down with a nasty stomach bug. If you are vomiting, try mixing a tablespoon of raw apple cider vinegar (the raw part is very important! I highly recommend Bragg’s!) with a tablespoon of water, then drink it. The water helps to cut the acid so that it doesn’t burn your throat. The taste is about enough to make you puke again, but if you can get it down and keep it down, it is a miracle worker. Every time someone in my household has taken a shot of apple cider vinegar, the vomiting has ceased. The theory is that this is due to apple cider vinegar’s anti-microbial properties. There really isn’t much hard science behind it, but I can vouch that it works!
I have also found it helpful to take apple cider vinegar on a daily basis. There are multiple health benefits. I mix it with a full glass of grape juice (see below for why I use grape juice!) each morning, which masks the rather disgusting taste.
Ginger: This is my number one natural remedy for an upset stomach. I truly cannot recommend it enough. For me, it completely cures severe nausea, stomach aches, and indigestion. Probably the best and purest way to consume ginger is to drop a piece of raw ginger into hot water and drink it as tea. However, if you’re lazy or on the go as I often am, these Gin Gins ginger chews are very convenient (albeit full of sugar). They are easy to keep in your purse or pocket when you are out and about, which is especially helpful if you’re prone to motion sickness when boating or riding on an airplane. I buy them in bulk on Amazon! I also recommend this Traditional Medicinals Ginger Aid tea, which is so, so good for digestion.
Grape Juice: There actually isn’t any scientific evidence that grape juice can help in the treatment of a stomach bug specifically, despite claims on the Internet that say it does. But, there is some evidence that grapes have the ability to inhibit the infectability of viruses. Back when I worked in the ER and was exposed to viruses all day every day, that little bit of evidence was good enough for me! I started drinking it then, and it has since become a part of my daily routine. I have definitely experienced fewer illnesses since then. Is it due to the grape juice? I can’t say with any sort of certainty. I’m just glad I’m less sick! Read more about the whole grape juice controversy over on Snopes.com.
Probiotics: Probiotics are “good” bacteria that help restore balance in your gut. If you are experiencing diarrhea, constipation, bloating, or some other general gastrointestinal ailment, probiotics may help you find relief (sources 1, 2). I now take them daily and have found them to be incredibly helpful in preventing further problems. If you have plenty of good bacteria in your gut ready to go to war when bad bacteria finds its way it, you can stop invaders quickly. Daily probiotic use has also greatly improved my digestion.
Eyes, Ears, Nose, Mouth: This is a pretty basic idea that we all know but rarely follow. Don’t touch any orifice of your body, especially near your mouth, without washing your hands, especially if you’ve been around someone who has a stomach bug. If you don’t give viruses or bacteria an entry point, they can’t hurt you. Granted, this is easier said than done. Even if you do wash your hands before eating or blowing your nose, there are no guarantees that you’ve washed well enough to eliminate all germs. Still, you greatly reduce your exposure by following this rule!
Boost your immune system: Finally, any good immune booster or general health promoter is going to help you prevent a stomach bug. Get enough sleep, exercise, and take your Vitamin C, Elderberry, and Zinc. I have had good success in not getting sick when I pop these elderberry/zinc lozenges–I always suck on one when I’m flying and breathing in that stale plane air full of who-knows-what germs. I also take Spirulina tablets daily to boost my immune system.
I hope these tips help you the next time you’re experiencing gastrointestinal distress! Stay healthy out there, friends.
P.S. – I was not compensated for this post in any way. All opinions are my own! This post does contain referral links, which means that if you click on a link and purchase a product, I may receive compensation.
I love your recommendations! Scientific studies are nice, but I will also take good old-fashioned anecdotal evidence from people I know and trust any day – I might have to start incorporating the grape juice and apple cider vinegar into my routine too! Thanks for sharing! 🙂
Great list. I am a fan and believer in natural remedies. I always tell people if you ever see me on meds in the form of pills, I must be really ill. Thanks for sharing! ~ Leslie, SobeSavvy@gmail.com
I have just started looking into probitics. Thanks for these suggestions.
These are great recommendations! I started taking probiotics about a year ago and they have been such an awesome addition to my life. They keep me feeling healthy and I can totally tell the difference when I forget to take them.
Good tips! Natural remedies can be great for relief especially since stomach bugs are frequently viruses and it’s not like you can take many (or any) medications for that. If I feel a little bit off I usually reach for the kombucha first to get some good probiotics in my system, and if I’m really struggling I’ll reach for some ginger beverage. That’s interesting to know about grape juice though – grape juice and apple juice are my preferred drinks (cut 50/50 with water to dilute the sugars) so maybe I’m just self-medicating? ha!
These are great tips. I always try lemon juice first, and my husband prefers cranberry juice.
Grape juice has always worked so well for me! I love these tips girl 🙂
-xo, Azanique | http://www.lotsofsass.com