Something’s Not Right Down There
Stomach ailments are so common, everyone experiences them at one point or another. There are dozens of reasons why you might get a tummy ache. Most causes are benign and the symptoms pass quickly, so there's generally no need to look much further than your kitchen for an easy solution to this problem.
A bar is probably the last place you'd look for relief from nausea, but many people swear by five or six drops of cocktail bitters mixed into a cold glass of tonic, club soda, or ginger ale.
Most common bitters brands, such as Peychaud's and Angostura, contain a blend of herbs like cinnamon, fennel, mint, ginger, and others. This may be why bitters help ease nausea in some people.
Since ancient times, people have turned to ginger as a cure-all for pain to nausea and everything in between. It's not just an old wives' tale, either — studies have shown that ginger can be a very effective treatment for some kinds of stomach upset.
A natural anti-inflammatory, ginger is available in dozens of forms, all of which can help. Ginger chews and supplements are easy to take, while other people prefer their ginger in beverage form. Try an all-natural ginger ale or chop up some fresh ginger root and make a tea.
Every parent of a toddler knows about the bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT) diet to help calm an upset stomach, whether the patient is suffering from nausea or diarrhea.
BRAT contains low-fiber, high-binding foods. None of these foods contain salt or spices, which can further aggravate symptoms. This bland diet is a go-to for when you're feeling sick but still have to eat something. Try overcooking the toast for a little extra help — the charred bread is thought to reduce nausea.
Peppermint is often cited as a helpful fix for nausea and upset stomach because the menthol in its leaves is a natural analgesic.
Try brewing a cup of peppermint or spearmint tea, sniffing peppermint extract, sucking on a minty candy, or even chewing on the leaves themselves. This will keep stomach pangs at bay and alleviate feelings of nausea.
If you can stomach it, try taking this acidic pantry staple by the tablespoon to neutralize an upset stomach. Too strong? Mix some in with water and a teaspoon of honey and sip it slowly.
The acids in apple cider vinegar may help decrease starch digestion, allowing the starch to get to the intestines and keep the bacteria in the gut healthy. Some people opt to take a spoonful each day as a preventive measure.
Nothing is more soothing than a heating pad or hot water bottle when you're feeling sick, so cuddle up to your electric blanket and take it easy until your symptoms pass.
The warmth on your stomach will distract you from any cramping or pain, and the heat can help to relax your muscles and reduce your nausea. Don't leave it on too long, however, as you can damage your skin from overuse.
When to See a Doctor
Stomach problems sometimes do point to a more serious problem, so go see a doctor immediately if you are having trouble keeping water down, or if your symptoms persist for prolonged periods.
If you notice that you are consistently having stomach troubles after eating certain foods or engaging in specific activities, talk to your physician about your symptoms on your next visit. It may be nothing, but a quick trip to your family doctor can rule out Crohn's disease, a food allergy, or any other important concerns.