Are painful stomach cramps and vomiting making you regret your decision to snack at that slightly dodgy joint? Food poisoning is a common problem that one out of six Americans faces.1 And it can leave you feeling quite sick, commonly causing diarrhea, vomiting, cramps, headaches, muscle aches, and fever. The symptoms generally start 4–36 hours after you have contaminated food. And while bacteria are the most common culprits, viruses, molds, toxins from mushrooms or fish can all be responsible for your tummy troubles.2 Here are some remedies and tips that can help you battle this condition.
1. Have Lots Of Fluids
It’s important to have plenty of fluids if you have food poisoning. This helps you avoid dehydration by replacing fluids lost through diarrhea and vomiting. Try sipping small amounts of water if you are having trouble keeping it down. Coconut water may also be mild enough for your tummy but don’t have more than 2–3 cups. The elderly and children should also have an oral rehydration solution (ORS) as they are at a higher risk of getting dehydrated. These are available in the market and replace salt, minerals, and glucose that are also lost.3
At a pinch, you can make an ORS at home. It’s a simple recipe – stir in six level teaspoons of sugar and a half level teaspoon of salt into a liter of clean drinking water, preferably water that has been boiled and allowed to cool down. But if you choose to do this, make sure that you accurately measure the quantities of salt and sugar needed. Too much sugar can worsen diarrhea while too much salt can raise sodium in the blood to unhealthy or harmful levels.4
2. Drink Rice Water Or Barley Water
Rice and barley water are prepared by boiling the respective grains in water. Sipping rice or barley water doesn’t just help you prevent dehydration. These beneficial drinks may also be able to soothe an inflamed intestine and stomach.5
To make rice or barley water, boil a liter of water, add a cup of rice or barley, and cook for around 10 minutes (longer for barley) till the water is thick and starchy. Pour the liquid into a container and sip on it. You could also add some ginger or cumin, which also soothe an upset tummy, to the water.
3. Rest Your Stomach
If you’ve been struck by a bout of food poisoning, give your stomach a chance to rest. Have food only when you feel comfortable eating. And stick to light, small meals that are low in fat. Bland foods like bananas, rice, crackers, and toast are good choices. Steer clear of caffeine, alcohol, and fizzy drinks as they may make things worse.6
4. Sip Cinnamon Tea
The sweet spice cinnamon may also help you fight food poisoning from within. One study found that cinnamon oil exhibited antibacterial activity against five important pathogens which can cause food poisoning – Escherichia coli, Campylobacter jejuni, Staphylococcus aureus, Salmonella enteritidis, and Listeria monocytogenes.7
5. Have Garlic
Garlic is known for its antimicrobial properties. Studies have found that it works against foodborne pathogens like Campylobacter, Escherichia coli O157, and Listeria monocytogenes. A compound known as diallyl sulfide present in this kitchen staple is considered to be responsible for its antimicrobial effects. 9
Simmer 3 cloves of garlic with an equal amount of ginger in a cup of water. Divide this solution into 2 doses and have in the morning and evening.10
id="6-sip-coriander-tea">6. Sip Coriander Tea
Coriander has traditionally been used as a home remedy to treat problems like gas and diarrhea. And studies show that the oil obtained from coriander seeds show antibacterial activity against bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Salmonella typhimurium which can cause food poisoning.11
To prepare healing coriander tea, steep ½ a teaspoon of coriander powder or 1 teaspoon of slightly crushed coriander seeds in a cup of boiling water and strain.12
7. Take A Cumin Seed Decoction
Cumin is another spice that’s commonly used to tackle tummy troubles like diarrhea and flatulence. Research shows that this widely used spice acts against bacteria such as Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus which are known to cause food poisoning.13 Chewing on cumin seeds or drinking a cumin seed decoction may bolster your body’s fight against pathogens responsible for food poisoning.
8. Have Diluted Apple Cider Vinegar
Although there is no scientific evidence to validate this, apple cider vinegar has been traditionally used to tackle food poisoning. Its beneficial effect is attributed to its antimicrobial properties. Dilute 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of warm water and drink up.15
9. Take Probiotics
Probiotics are helpful bacteria that have a range of health benefits. Studies have found that it can help treat infection by the rotavirus. This virus spreads through contaminated food and is a common cause of food poisoning among young children. Luckily, probiotics may be able to help deal with it.16
One study that looked at children suffering from diarrhea found that the duration of the illness was shortened from 2.4–1.4 days in those who had the probiotic Lactobacillus GG. About 82% of the participants in the study who had diarrhea were found to be infected with rotavirus, which was countered by the probiotics.17
But some research does suggest that while probiotic therapy might benefit children, it might not be as effective for adults.18 In any case, helping the good bacteria thrive in your stomach is worth a shot. Foods like yogurt naturally contain beneficial bacteria. But do keep in mind that not all strains of bacteria are equal. Check the label and make sure you have the right strain before you buy probiotics to ease food poisoning.
id="10-use-milk-thistle-for-mushroom-poisoning">10. Use Milk Thistle For Mushroom Poisoning
Toxins from poisonous wild mushrooms can cause food poisoning but milk thistle may be able to help here. In fact, it is commonly used in Europe to tackle Amanita mushroom poisoning. A component present in milk thistle, known as silibinin, is thought to be responsible for this beneficial effect.19
Dried ground milk thistle fruits can be steeped in hot water to make a tea which may ease food poisoning due to toxic mushrooms. However, do keep in mind that mushroom poisoning can have serious effects such as heart problems, liver problems, kidney failure, and even death. Therefore, if you experience severe symptoms, do see a doctor. Your doctor may pump out your stomach or use activated charcoal to get rid of the toxin.20
Seek Medical Help If
- You experience severe symptoms – for instance, you are unable to keep any liquids down because of profuse vomiting.
- You have signs of severe dehydration such as a rapid heartbeat, passing very little urine, sunken eyes, or confusion.
- You are over 60 years old.
- You are pregnant.
- You have heart valve disease, inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), kidney disease, diabetes, or a weakened immune system.
Young children or babies also need medical attention if you suspect food poisoning. 21
|↑1||Food poisoning. U.S. Department of Health & Human Services.|
|↑2, ↑15||Food poisoning. Penn State Hershey Medical Center.|
|↑4||Oral Rehydration Solutions: Made at Home. Rehydration Project.|
|↑6||Treatment. National Health Service.|
|↑7||Smith-Palmer, A., J. Stewart, and Lorna Fyfe. “Antimicrobial properties of plant essential oils and essences against five important food-borne pathogens.” Letters in applied microbiology 26, no. 2 (1998): 118-122.|
|↑8||Green, Joey. Joey Green’s Magic Health Remedies: 1,363 Quick-and-easy Cures Using Brand-name Products. Rodale, 2013.|
|↑9||Garlic ingredient fights food poisoning. The Sunday Morning Herald.|
|↑10||Chowdhury, Biswaroop. Heal without Pill. Diamond Pocket Books.|
|↑11||Silva, Filomena, Susana Ferreira, João A. Queiroz, and Fernanda C. Domingues. “Coriander (Coriandrum sativum L.) essential oil: its antibacterial activity and mode of action evaluated by flow cytometry.” Journal of Medical Microbiology 60, no. 10 (2011): 1479-1486.|
|↑12||Balch, Phyllis A. Prescription for Dietary Wellness. Penguin, 2003.|
|↑13||Shetty, R. S., R. S. Singhal, and P. R. Kulkarni. “Antimicrobial properties of cumin.” World Journal of Microbiology and Biotechnology 10, no. 2 (1994): 232-233.|
|↑14||Peter, K.V. Handbook of Herbs and Spices. Elsevier, 2012.|
|↑17||Isolauri, Erika, Tarja Rautanen, Marketta Juntunen, Pekka Sillanaukee, and Timo Koivula. “A human Lactobacillus strain (Lactobacillus casei sp strain GG) promotes recovery from acute diarrhea in children.” Pediatrics 88, no. 1 (1991): 90-97.|
|↑18||Health benefits of taking probiotics. Harvard Health Publications.|
|↑19||Food poisoning. Penn State Hershey Medical Center.|
|↑20||Milk Thistle. The University of Michigan.|
|↑21||Food Poisoning. National Health Service.|