See also Part I – Cuts, Scrapes, Bruises and Burns and Part II — Sore Throat, Cough, Stuffy Nose. Part I has the long version of my disclaimers: I am not a doctor, this is not medical advice, please see a professional. Natural does not automatically mean safe. I am not opposed to Western medicine. I’ve chosen to make these Home Remedy posts with a thought to 1) what most people might have in a home kitchen or kitchen garden, and 2) by affliction instead of by plant or remedy, since usually if you’re looking up Home Remedies, you know what you want to treat and need a way to treat it, and aren’t thinking, “Huh, I have rosemary, I wonder what I can do with it.”
Nausea, Upset Stomach, Heartburn, Reflux
Okay, so the title of this one makes it kind of sound like a commercial for Pepto Bismol, but it’s not. If you have a “delicate stomach”, or if you are perhaps suffering from motion sickness or morning sickness, you know the misery that can be nausea. Some of us are also lucky enough to suffer from acid reflux and heartburn on a regular basis, and isn’t that a joy. I’ve compiled here some fairly low-risk home remedies for you to try, a couple of which are, in my opinion, every bit as good or better than most over the counter remedies. Additional disclaimer for this section: if you are in fact pregnant or think you might be pregnant, please see your doctor or nurse midwife before attempting to treat morning sickness on your own. If you have frequent heartburn or pain upon eating, or even stomach pain between meals, seek medical advice, as you might have a more serious condition than mere heartburn. Remember: reading something on the Internet doesn’t mean it’s gospel truth. Always exercise your own good judgment. I try to be accurate, but I am not a doctor or medical practitioner of any kind.
Ginger. This is the go-to remedy for me when I’m nauseated, or have heartburn. It really is amazing stuff. I’m a lifelong motion-sickness sufferer, and as an adult I have always relied on things like Dramamine to get me through trips up on the twisty roads in the Cascades without being complete miserable. Then I discovered ginger. Two or three slices of candied ginger, or two or three hot ginger chews, and 20 minutes later I’m good to go. You can get it crystallized (candied), pickled, or as hot jellied ginger chews, or you can take powdered ginger in a capsule, or drink ginger tea with honey and lemon, or if you’re lucky you can get some spicy ginger lemonade or real ginger ale. Trader Joe’s also sells some really strong Triple Ginger Snaps with chunks of real ginger in them, that have the added bonus of putting a little something solid in your stomach. Whatever you pick, just be sure to read the labels and make sure that it contains a high percentage of real ginger, and not just ginger flavoring or molasses. It’s not to everyone’s taste, but it is great at controlling nausea and heartburn, and for me it also works better on acid reflux than over the counter remedies. I can get up in the middle of the night, eat a slice or a chew, and go back to bed and be good for the rest of the night. The great thing is,unless you’re pregnant, it’s pretty much impossible to eat too much of it, so you can try different forms and see what works best for you. Note: There are some sources (none particularly scientific that I could find) that link large quantities of ginger to the risk of miscarriage, so discuss with your medical practitioner how much is “too much” if you’re pregnant.
Chamomile Tea. Not my favorite thing, but it’s easy to come by. It’s mildly sedating, and it’s soothing to the stomach. Drink on the cool side, with a little honey if you prefer it sweet.
Peppermint Tea. Be sure it’s made with real peppermint leaves. Best bet is an herbal tisane instead of a tea (although it’s usually called “herbal tea” in the US.) Drink somewhat cool, and sweeten with honey if desired. Calms the stomach and reduces heartburn and nausea. While the tea is fine, do not use peppermint oil internally.
Citrus Soda. Many people report lessening of nausea if they sip 7-Up, Sprite, or some similar clear citrus-based soda. For me, it actually induces stomach cramps, so YMMV.
Licorice. This means the actual root of the licorice plant, Glycyrrhiza glabra, not some artificial black candy called “licorice”, and certainly not the red candy by the same name. Licorice root and extract have been shown to increase mucus production and decrease stomach acid, as well as inhibit Helicobacter pylori (the microbe responsible for ulcers.) In moderation, tea made from licorice root, or real licorice candies can be used to soothe an upset stomach. It is possible to overindulge on real licorice, with some damaging effects potentially including liver damage, so consult your medical practitioner and exercise prudence. Also, a study has linked excessive licorice consumption with potential negative effects on fetal development, so again, consult your medical practitioner and exercise prudence.
Don’t Eat Before Bed. Not exactly a “remedy”, but if the problem is nighttime reflux or heartburn, making sure you don’t go to bed on a full stomach is helpful. Elevating your pillow or the head of your bed (a brick or two between the mattress and box springs, for example) can also help prevent reflux, just because reflux against gravity is more difficult than reflux if you’re laying flat.
Avoid Alcoholic Beverages. If you’re having trouble with reflux especially, and you drink, lay off the alcohol for a while. Alcohol relaxes the muscles in the esophagus, and allows the contents of the stomach to back up into the esophagus and even farther.