Have you ever eaten something and realized very quickly that it wasn't going to agree with you? Or maybe your stomach becomes upset when you’re nervous or when you fly? Instead of suffering through the pain, here are some easy, natural remedies to calm the beast! Please keep in mind these suggestions are for mild discomfort. If you are experiencing abdominal pain on a regular basis, or sudden onset of severe pain, please talk with your health care provider.
1. Mint (peppermint, spearmint, wintermint)--this plant has a long history of medicinal uses. Studies conducted in 2007 and in 2010 found that people who used peppermint oil capsules had a major reduction in irritable bowel symptoms. I advise patients to drink mint tea, or put a few drops of peppermint essential oil into a full glass of water and sip throughout the day. Or chew on mint leaves after a meal to help digestion.
2. Ginger--known as a popular carminative (fights gas), this popular root can be eaten raw, stirred into foods, drank as a tea, chewed as a candy, or swallowed in a capsule. It is very helpful for nausea (including morning sickness, plane/car/sea sickness), dyspepsia, constipation, colic, and GI inflammation. As an aside, ginger is often used in natural cold, flu, and arthritis remedies.
3. Fennel--another carminative like ginger, this herb is used often in cooking, drank in teas or chewed on post-meals to help with indigestion, colic, gas, and reduce bloating.
4. Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (or DGL)--unlike regular licorice, the glycyrrhizin is removed so as to not raise blood pressure. DGL is really helpful in heartburn, GERD, and ulcers. It is mucilaginous, meaning it soothes and coats the lining of the stomach and intestines. Do not confuse licorice with DGL. If you have an ulcer, please talk with your health care provider because they can be really serious.
5. Activated charcoal--purchased at any grocery or drug store, this is my favorite "binder" of all things evil! When I am experiencing gas and bloating or accidentally ate something I shouldn’t have (which for me is gluten and dairy) then I pop a few charcoal capsules to "sponge" it all up. Be aware that you will have dark/black bowel movements because charcoal is a grayish-black color. It’s also helpful for diarrhea (especially the traveler’s kind).
1. Cappello, G. Peppermint oil (Mintoil) in the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome: A prospective double blind placebo-controlled randomized trial. Digestive and Liver Disease 39 (6): 530–536.