Everyone experiences an upset stomach and indigestion, or dyspepsia, from time to time after eating or drinking. The condition is usually no cause for concern, and it is often possible to treat the symptoms using home remedies.
Common symptoms of an upset stomach and indigestion include:
heartburn, or acid reflux
belching, sometimes bringing up bitter or foul-tasting fluid or food
bad-smelling or sour breath
hiccupping or coughing
This article looks at 21 of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion. We also explain when to see a doctor.
Twenty-one home remedies
Some of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion include:
1. Drinking water
Glass of water being poured which is a home remedy for upset stomach
Dehydration can increase the likelihood of an upset stomach.
The body needs water to digest and absorb nutrients from foods and beverages efficiently. Being dehydrated makes digestion more difficult and less effective, which increases the likelihood of an upset stomach.
In general, the Health and Medicine Division (HMD) recommend that:
women should have around 2.7 liters (l), or 91 ounces (oz), of water a day
men should have about 3.7 l, or 125 oz, of water a day
Around 20 percent of this will come from food, with the rest coming from beverages. For most people, a good figure to aim for is approximately 8 or more cups of water a day. Younger children require slightly less water than adults.
For those with digestive issues, it is imperative to stay hydrated. Vomiting and diarrhea can lead to dehydration very quickly so people with these symptoms should keep drinking water.
2. Avoiding lying down
When the body is horizontal, the acid in the stomach is more likely to travel backward and move upward, which can cause heartburn.
People with an upset stomach should avoid lying down or going to bed for at least a few hours until it passes. Someone who needs to lie down should prop up their head, neck, and upper chest with pillows, ideally at a 30-degree angle.
Ginger is a common natural remedy for an upset stomach and indigestion.
Ginger contains chemicals called gingerols and shogaols that can help speed up stomach contractions. This may move foods that are causing indigestion through the stomach more quickly.
The chemicals in ginger may also help to reduce nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea.
People with an upset stomach could try adding ginger to their food or drinking it as a tea. Some all-natural ginger ales may also contain enough ginger to settle an upset stomach.
Ginger tea is widely available to buy in supermarkets and online.
In addition to sweetening the breath, the menthol in mint may help with the following:
preventing vomiting and diarrhea
reducing muscle spasms in the intestines
Researchers have found that mint is a traditional treatment for indigestion, gas, and diarrhea in Iran, Pakistan, and India.
Raw and cooked mint leaves are both suitable for consumption. Traditionally, people often boil mint leaves with cardamom to make a tea. It is also possible to powder or juice mint leaves and mix them with other teas, beverages, or foods. Mint leaves are widely available in health stores and online.
Sucking on mint candies might be another way to help reduce the pain and discomfort of heartburn.
5. Taking a warm bath or using a heating bag
Heat may relax tense muscles and ease indigestion, so taking a warm bath may help to ease the symptoms of an upset stomach. It could also be beneficial to apply a heated bag or pad to the stomach for 20 minutes or until it goes cool.
Heating bags are available to purcahse online.
6. BRAT diet
Doctors may recommend the BRAT diet to people with diarrhea.
BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These foods are all starchy, so they can help bind foods together to make stools firmer. This may decrease the number of stools a person passes and help ease their diarrhea.
As these foods are bland, they do not contain substances that irritate the stomach, throat, or intestines. Therefore, this diet can soothe the tissue irritation resulting from the acids in vomit.
Many of the foods in the BRAT diet are also high in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium and can replace those lost through diarrhea and vomiting.
7. Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol
Smoking can irritate the throat, increasing the likelihood of an upset stomach. If the person has vomited, smoking can further irritate the tender tissue already sore from stomach acids.
As a toxin, alcohol is difficult to digest and can cause damage to the liver and stomach lining.
People with an upset stomach should avoid smoking and drinking alcohol until they are feeling better.
8. Avoiding difficult-to-digest foods
Some foods are harder to digest than others, which increases the risk of an upset stomach. Anyone with an upset stomach should avoid foods that are:
fried or fatty
rich or creamy
salty or heavily preserved
9. Lime or lemon juice, baking soda, and water
Some studies suggest that mixing lime or lemon juice in water with a pinch of baking soda can help to relieve a variety of digestive complaints.
This mixture produces carbonic acid, which may help to reduce gas and indigestion. It may also improve liver secretion and intestinal mobility. The acidity and other nutrients in lime or lemon juice can help to digest and absorb fats and alcohol while neutralizing bile acids and reducing acidity in the stomach.
Most traditional recipes recommend mixing the following quantities:
1 tablespoon (tbsp) of fresh lemon or lime juice
1 teaspoon (tsp) of baking soda
8 oz of clean water
cinnamon sticks and power are a home remedy for upset stomach
Substances in cinnamon may help to reduce gas and bloating.
Cinnamon contains several antioxidants that may help ease digestion and reduce the risk of irritation and damage in the digestive tract. Some of the antioxidants in cinnamon include:
Other substances in cinnamon may help to reduce gas, bloating, cramping, and belching. They may also help to neutralize stomach acidity to reduce heartburn and indigestion.
People with an upset stomach could try adding 1 tsp of good-quality cinnamon powder, or an inch of cinnamon stick, to their meals. Alternatively, they could try mixing the cinnamon with boiling water to make a tea. Doing this two or three times daily may help to relieve indigestion.
Cloves contain substances that may help to reduce gas in the stomach and increase gastric secretions. This can speed up slow digestion, which may reduce pressure and cramping. Cloves may also help to reduce nausea and vomiting.
A person with an upset stomach could try mixing 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cloves with 1 tsp of honey once a day before bedtime. For nausea and heartburn, they could combine the cloves with 8 oz of boiling water instead to make a clove tea, which they should drink slowly once or twice daily.
Cumin seeds contain active ingredients that may help by:
reducing indigestion and excess stomach acids
reducing intestinal inflammation
acting as an antimicrobial
A person with an upset stomach could try mixing 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cumin into their meals. Alternatively, they could add a few teaspoons of cumin seeds or powder to boiling water to make a tea.
Some traditional medical systems suggest chewing a pinch or two of raw cumin seeds or powder to ease heartburn.
Cumin seeds are available to purchase online.
Figs contain substances that can act as laxatives to ease constipation and encourage healthy bowel movements. Figs also contain compounds that may help to ease indigestion.
A person with an upset stomach could try eating whole fig fruits a few times a day until their symptoms improve. Alternatively, they could try brewing 1 or 2 tsps of fig leaves to make a tea instead.
However, if people are also experiencing diarrhea, they should avoid consuming figs.
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