6 Natural Remedies for an Upset Stomach
We all suffer from an upset stomach from time to time, but what to do when it’s a regular occurrence, or it happens at work or at an important function? Here are six natural remedies that can help with the problem, either by preventing indigestion over time, or putting a stop to the upset right away.
As with all natural remedies, if you are taking prescribed medication, check with your doctor before taking any of these in high quantities.
The University of Maryland Medical Centre recommends peppermint for several health problems including an upset stomach, Irritable Bowel Syndrome and bloating. A common symptom of an upset stomach is the feeling of food being ‘stuck’ in the stomach, and mint can help to ease this feeling. Peppermint works by relaxing the muscles of the stomach, which helps food to enter and leave that area of your body more quickly. It can have an instant effect at stopping indigestion so keep a box of peppermint tea with you at work, or dry the leaves and keep them in your bag in an air-tight container. You never know when an upset stomach might strike, but you can always know that the remedy to stop is within easy reach.
I recommend starting small, with 2-3 cups of peppermint tea a day, drunk a few minutes after a meal if possible. Peppermint tea is easy to get hold of as most supermarkets stock it, but if you can make it fresh at home, even better. Mint is a very hardy herb and can withstand most weather conditions or be grown in a pot indoors even through winter. Crush a few leaves and steep them in a mug of hot water for a few minutes, then drink. It has a refreshing taste but you may like to add a natural sweetener to it to suit your taste buds. Up your intake over a few weeks, but don’t overdo it, as consuming very high amounts of peppermint can cause problems too. If you prefer, you can add fresh mint to meals or just chew it fresh from the plant. Don’t assume that it will help every stomach problem though – taking a lot peppermint when you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) can actually make it worse.
Some research into the effect of thyme on the body has found that the herb may help to relieve spasms around the intestines. These spasms are often associated with indigestion. Why not start a herb garden, in pots in a windowsill if you don’t have access to an outdoor space? Thyme grows wild in the Mediterranean, so it needs plenty of sun and light, but not too much watering. Pick and use the youngest leaves for the freshest fragrance, as this will also help the plant to grow more.
Try increasing how much thyme you consume by adding it to your meals. You don’t have to cook fancy food – just try adding it to pasta, or buy an olive oil that is flavoured with the herb. Celebrated British chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall suggests adding it to lemon thyme shortbread. If that doesn’t help your stomach, at least it will give you some tasty to eat.
We all know the saying – an apple a day keeps the doctor away. Thanks to the pectin they contain, apples have been found to increase enzyme activity in rats, which may help them to digest food better and calm upset stomachs. Apples have to be consumed long-term to see the effects, so just eating one now and again won’t help. If you drink juice regularly, try substituting it for pressed apple juice, as well as adding fresh apples to your diet. If you’re not keen on either, try an apple chutney, or other ways of adding the fruit to your diet more discreetly.
You’ve probably heard of getting an upset stomach from eating unripe bananas, but it may be that the opposite is true as well. A study looked closely at bananas and how they are digested and found that ripe bananas are used by the body much easier than other carbohydrates and starches. So buy only ripe bananas from now on and try eating them regularly to see if they help with your stomach. If you want to mix it up a bit you can also eat them in smoothies or bake them in bread. A food diary will help you to tell whether eating ripe bananas with your meals makes a difference to your stomach.
Although there is some evidence that fenugreek impacts the enzymes in a rat’s body, it is difficult to say what the meaning of this effect is. As fenugreek has been shown to slow down the absorption of sugars in the stomach, this is good news for people with diabetes, but the jury’s out on whether it will calm an upset stomach. People have been consuming the spice for many years, and it has a wonderful distinct taste, so it’s worth adding it to your cooking anyway and seeing how it sits with your stomach.
According to The University of Maryland Medical Centre, marshmallow has been used as a food and a medicine for over 2,000 years by many cultures around the world including the Romans, Arabs, Egyptians, Chinese, and Syrians. The root and leaves of the marshmallow plant contain a gummy substance that can be mixed with water to make a stomach tonic. Marshmallow is available in tea form, as a tincture or a capsule. Drinking 1-2 cups or marshmallow tea a day might give you an idea of whether or not a regular capsule will help you. If you don’t like the taste and also dislike swallowing capsules, use a tincture as it can be put straight on your tongue or added to a drink. I recommend trying it in apple juice. Good luck!