Stomach problems can be one of the most debilitating illnesses. When your stomach hurts, it can be hard to move, it can cause back spasms, it can make your whole body uncomfortable. And you certainly don’t want to eat, which is going to cause challenges for your energy and well-being. And because it’s internal, it’s hard to even relieve the hurt with rubbing or topical solutions. Stomach pain can affect people of any age, at any level of fitness, and they can be absolutely excruciating.
Medical note: Some kinds of stomach problems can be serious enough to indicate a need for medical care – such as prolonged vomiting (an inability to keep water down for 6 or more hours). And in general, stomach pain lasting more than two days should be looked at by a doctor.
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The five essential home remedies for stomach pain
Fortunately, there’s hope! Stomach trouble has been with us for a long time, and human history has developed a number of very effective ways of dealing with those ailments easily and conveniently, right at home. So don’t despair! Get ready to stock up on important items and be ready. Here are five of the most critical ways to fight off a tummy ache:
Apple cider vinegar
Yes, vinegar -really! We know the taste of apple cider vinegar isn’t for everyone. (Unless, of course, you’re British and you already put vinegar on your French Fries, in which case, this is the remedy for you!) For people from other cultures, apple cider vinegar can be hard to choke down, as it’s both bitter and acidic. But a single teaspoon can have tremendous effects.
For one thing, the very acid which makes it hard to swallow can decrease starch digestion, which allows starch to actually get where it needs to go within your intestines and help you have a healthier gut. Some people take a spoonful every day as a preventative.
As an added bonus, apple cider vinegar can help prevent spikes in blood sugar through reduction of the rate at which food leaves the stomach, and enters the digestive tract; this slows that blood sugar right on down. That helps your metabolism in a number of critical ways and can be beneficial not just to your stomach, but to your holistic and overall wellness.
Pro tip: Finding it a little bit too strong? Mix one tablespoon with a cup of water and enough honey to offset the flavor, and sip slowly.
This applies particularly applied and directed heat (so just being outside on a summer day doesn’t count!) There are many ways of focusing heat safely on your body. For example, you could use a heating pad, a hot water bottle, or an electric blanket. Even better, you could take a really hot bath.
The increase in circulation, relaxation of muscles, and general stress reduction in the bathing and submersion process can assist tremendously with abdominal relief. Sometimes, firing up the outside of your body helps your cartilage and general muscular structure, and that can ease up your midsection. Several kinds of stomach pain either induce or are a product of, simply being much too tight. Like back pain, stomach pain can come from constriction, and heat can reduce that and give you back your freedom of movement.
Also, having something warm on your stomach, whether it’s in the form of a hot water bottle or just actual hot water, can distract you away from pain, and lower your incidence of nausea, as well. One of the challenges of stomach problems is that they’re literally central in our body – they can be very hard to ignore. Sometimes, the pleasant effects of something warming on the affected area can really take your mind off the hurt, and that goes a long way as well. Plus, it’s easy – taking a bath doesn’t require any special ingredients. (Though you might consider magnesium sulfate, otherwise known as Epsom Salt, which reduces muscle and nerve inflammation, and helps detoxify your body. The more detoxified your body in general, the less you’ll be prone to stomach pain!)
Carrot juice with peppermint
Not everyone has carrot juice lying around, but you can get it in a good supermarket, or you can get it fresh from your local juicer. (Health tip: Consider picking up your own juicer so that you can always have a supply of vitamin-packed nutritious beverage on hand.) You can get fresh peppermint at the same market. Mix the carrot juice with the peppermint; if you’re having trouble digesting, try it hot. A pinch of ginger can also work wonders for your stomach. The carrot juice will give you nutrients and important vitamins in a liquid that goes down easily; the compounds in the peppermint itself activate an anti-pain channel down in your colon.
(You can also, if you prefer, boil carrots in water with peppermint added. Be sure to boil the carrots until they’re very, very soft and easy to digest.)
You don’t have to be a yoga master or a Zen teacher to meditate. Most meditation involves breath control, and relaxing your breathing, like the hot bath above, can have a seriously beneficial effect on your stomach muscles; it also takes on the problem from a different direction, seeking to have a positive effect on your neurochemical balance and stress levels. Not sure how to do a bit of meditating? Don’t worry – you don’t need to get your body into any weird positions or anything, and you don’t have to start from scratch; there’s help available! You can find plenty of meditation instructions online. If you want to go one step further and be guided through the process, a quick Youtube search will bring up all manner of soothing meditation, from the very brief to the very extended. Listen carefully, try to follow along, and don’t think too much about it – just let the meditation do its magic. Your whole body can benefit, and your stomach can become calmer, less tense, and feel much, much better.
Many Western doctors are recognizing the importance of meditation in everyday life and healthcare; it’s been a standard in Eastern medicine for millennia. So this is also a useful skill to learn just for your overall health. You might benefit from meditating daily; this ancient technique can help with many of your daily challenges. But in particular, it really helps when you want to get those abdominal muscles loose!
Now, while there are some fantastic artisanal chamomiles on the market, you don’t need to be fancy; regular off-the-shelf chamomile teabags are just fine. Chamomile has long been known for its restful qualities. But it also has anti-inflammatory and sedative attributes, which means that it can really get to work on your stomach ache! In addition to soothing you and your abdomen, chamomile’s chemistry interacts directly with the muscle of the upper digestive tract. That’s where food moves through the stomach and enters the small intestines; if that muscle gets tight, taut, or cramped, the whole stomach can feel cramped. You don’t want that! Chamomile can be invaluable for reduction of that tension. This, in turn, can make your whole stomach feel better.
Be careful, though – it really does make you pleasantly drowsy. Not enough to stop you from operating a motor vehicle, but definitely enough that you might find yourself wanting to curl up and take a little nap! (Sometimes, this is a plus; part of getting through a stomach ache is just waiting it out.)
Three of the leading possible causes of stomach pain
Your stomach is the seat of your digestion, and the main location for transforming food into energy. This also means that there are many things which can potentially affect it.
Therefore, it’s really important to know some of the causes of stomach pain. Some of it can easily be treated at home; some needs at least the consideration of a phone call to your general practitioner or even a gastroenterologist. Stomach pain can occur quite suddenly and is usually extremely unpleasant. Make sure you’re ready! It can disrupt your day, affect your job performance, even harm your quality of life. Here are three leading causes of stomach pain.
Viral gastroenteritis (commonly known as “Stomach Flu”)
Stomach flu is extremely common, and comes from a wide variety of sources; “viral gastroenteritis” actually refers to a wide number of different viruses which can cause abdominal discomfort. In general, it can be traced back to some kind of poor hygiene – whether it’s spread through insufficient handwashing after use of a bathroom, or lack of proper food handling in a restaurant (although “food poisoning” is sometimes placed within this category, it’s important and distinct enough to rate its own discussion, below.) Viral gastroenteritis can also spread from surface to surface, which is why it’s essential to both prepare food and eat food off of clean surfaces. To avoid it, maintain good hygiene; use hand sanitizer, and always check the health rating of any restaurant you frequent. Be sure that meats are cooked properly, and that dining surfaces are spotless.
This is a painful, uncomfortable illness. It is not usually deeply serious and will go away in time. Still, extended stomach flu is a reason to check in with a doctor.
As mentioned above, this is sometimes lumped in with stomach flu, but stomach flu tends to be the bug that you pick up from others, whereas food poisoning is a condition which comes specifically from how your food is handled and what you ingest. The most frequent causes of food poisoning is spoiled. All edible tissue, even vegetable matter, begins to fall into decay a certain time after the original organism is harvested. That decay is “poisonous” – that is, it takes good, healthy food, and turns it into a health hazard
We see it all the time in our daily lives. Milk that has turned, those leftovers in the fridge a bit too long, the picnic meal that’s stood in the sun and summer heat, and perhaps the most famous example—sushi can go bad in a matter of hours. (Like all raw animal matter, sushi is particularly susceptible to becoming a cause of stomach discomfort. While you can’t always prevent food poisoning, sometimes a “sniff test” will do – your body is geared to detect food that’s not good to eat. Don’t rely on just your nose, though! You can’t always tell if something’s turned by its scent, especially if it’s got strong spices or dressings. Go with the old adage – “When in doubt, throw it out.” That’s a lot safer than just hoping something is “still good”.
This is a big one, especially in modern times. Stress has long been known to “tie your stomach in knots” – you can sometimes actually feel the muscles contract. It can also lead to more serious conditions, like ulcers. Social scientists are beginning to recognize that modern stress levels may be among the highest in human history. Watch your stress levels! (But don’t stress out about it.)
Be sure to try to take time out for self-care even on the busiest days. Sometimes, paradoxically, you can do more if you try to do just a little bit less. You’ve heard this advice elsewhere, but it’s true – if you find yourself spending too much time in front of screens, try taking a little “screen time off”. Be sure to try to fit some relaxation into even busy days. Your stomach will thank you for it!
Your stomach plays a critical role in digestion, and in your body’s overall health. Stomach troubles can be discomforting at best, disabling at worst. When your stomach acts up, be sure to have these excellent home remedies on hand, and maintain awareness of some of the more common and important causes of stomach aches. Take good care of yourself!