If you are experiencing the following acute (severe or sharp) symptoms, chances are you’re feeling the effects of a food poisoning or food borne illness:
- Frequent vomiting lasting longer than 1 day (Adult only)
- Severe diarrhea – loose stool every 1 to 2 hours lasting longer than 2 days. (Adult only. Children would be less than a day)
- Severe Dehydration – dry mouth, very dizzy or lightheaded, fast heartbeat and breathing, very little or no urine, no tears, sunken eyes, very lightheaded or dizzy.
- Very severe, sudden abdominal pain.
- Possible botulism symptoms – headache, double vision, vertigo or dizziness, loss of reflex to light. weakness, droopy eyelids, constipation, dry mouth, muscle and respiratory paralysis.
Now, you are asking, or desperately looking for something to minimize, or even cure these horrific pains?
Believe it or not, there are a number of pretty good, or at least partially good, natural remedies and treatments for alleviating food poisoning symptoms, pains etc.
The following list is based on my own research, experiences and is of course not a guarantee of anything, but are at least harmless for most normally healthy adults (allergies not included).
I grouped the remedies by general types and noted them in order based on what I believe are their effectiveness and ease of use. Also, I would not recommend mixing or trying more than one of these remedies at a time. Wait at least 1-2 or more hours before trying something else, with the exception of the re-hydrating options, which should be consumed as often as your system will allow.
Since liquids are the quickest and easiest thing to take and generally have the quickest affective response to the symptoms, they should be tried first.
Re-Hydrating Options – not necessarily going to alleviate symptoms but are a necessary treatment for replacing loss fluids and electrolytes:
- Water, water with electrolytes i.e. commercially prepared products such as Gatorade, fortified bottled water, light fruit juices such as apple juice or young coconut water;
- Broth or bouillon
- Popsicle and frozen juice bars may also help.
Teas – both to re-hydrate and to help settle a nauseated stomach:
- Ginger tea and ginger extract taken with lemon juice are considered highly effective for controlling nausea;
- To sooth the digestive tract which has been recently ravaged, good mint tea is recommended, and tannin in tea will help neutralize the poison and all mint calms the stomach;
- Mint, raspberry, chamomile and blackberry herbal teas.
High Acidic Liquids – believed to help kill off harmful microorganisms and alleviate symptoms. Potentially these are most effective if taken straight or with very little dilution. In either case, drink or sip slowly and also it’s recommended to rinse your mouth and teeth with water, or a baking soda water mix right afterwards. The high acid can over time destroy the enamel on your teeth.
Apple cider vinegar – 1 to 2 table spoons diluted with about 8 oz of water, or add more water for drinkability. If possible or tolerable, may be more effective to take the tablespoons straight. The most effective apple cider vinegar is supposedly unpasteurized, undistilled and unfiltered, if you can find it, otherwise try any commercial version you can find.
Soft Drinks, especially coke – provided you drink them flat, otherwise the carbonation can potentially cause further irritation of the stomach. To promptly remove carbonation, quickly pour the soda back and forth between two glasses a number of times. Then drink or sip gradually.
Grapefruit Seed Extract – 2 to 5 drops in a glass of water.
Lemon juice – I’ve seen different options but primarily take the juice of 2-4 lemons and either drink the juice straight or mix with warm water and sip.
Some form of charcoal or activated charcoal or carbon. Charcoal is natural and provides very good absorption or binding properties. It is used by emergency medical personnel for initial treatment for a variety of poisonings. It can be purchased as a capsule or powder over the counter. Follow the directions on the label. Another simple and quick option is to toast bread until it is brownish if not burnt.
Bread or Crackers. Bread or crackers can soak up poisons thereby possibly minimizing their effects.
Herbs and Natural Antibiotics
These remedies are known for there antibiotic, antiseptic and antioxidant properties:
Garlic – The quickest way to get it into your system is to cut up a small clove, (a half moon shaped piece of the garlic bulb), remove the skin or husk and swallow with water as if swallowing a pill. Other cooked forms should be just as effective. One quick way is to microwave it, (1-2 minutes depending on how much) remove the husk, and mash it to form a paste. Mix the paste with some honey or sugar, salt and spread on toast or bread.
Goldenseal Extract – a root that is related to the buttercup family of plants. Usually mixed with water. Follow directions on label.
Barberry – a shrub where the root, bark and berries have medicinal properties. Can be purchased as capsules, and fluid extracts. Again, follow directions on the label.
Papaya fruit – eaten raw or after boiled in water. Works to smooth digestion and control nausea.
There are a number of other herbs, plant seeds, roots, leaves etc. such as basil, ginseng, astragalus, ginger root, licorice, peony root, cumin, and fenugreek that have also been noted as having some minimal affects on food poisoning symptoms. As with anything new, consult and do your own research as to dosages, or follow directions on labels or advise from doctors or others in the know before trying more exotic remedies.
Other Measures to Take
Room temperature – avoid excessive heat or cold which may exacerbate symptoms such as nausea. Adjust your thermostat for maximum comfort.
Stress – you are already undergoing abnormal stress. You need to minimize all other work, or personal related stresses. Turn on smoothing music or have visitors that will help with pleasant, agreeable conversation.
Sleep – sleep allows your body to divert energy to the problem and to recover from the stress and energy needed to fight against the illness. Even after taking any of the above remedies that may help to alleviate the pain and symptoms, you won’t feel close to fully recovered until after a good long sleep.
Anti-diarrhea products – Do not use over the counter medicines such as Imodium or Lomtil. Diarrhea is actually your body’s mechanism of flushing out toxic microorganisms. These medicines may hamper the body’s ability to fight the infection. Only after consulting with and getting your doctor’s approval or possible prescription should you take something like this.
Antacid products – Stay away from these products as well. As you see above, one common remedy to treat the symptoms of food poisoning is to provide more acid to your system to assist in killing off the pathogens. Antacid products will actually reduce your systems acid response and could provide a more favorable environment for bacteria to multiply, thereby prolonging and possibly worsening your symptoms.
Don’t encourage or induce vomiting. At least for food poisoning related symptoms, this is not likely to help your symptoms. Your body already will recognize it has an infection or intoxication and will respond accordingly. See below to determine at what point you think you should see or call a doctor.
Avoid certain foods during initial recovery. During the first few hours to a day or so after the symptoms (i.e. diarrhea and vomiting) have stopped you digestive system will still be sensitive and weak. Stay away from heavy, high-fiber, acidic, spicy, greasy, sugary or dairy foods. Instead try simple light foods such as cereal, crackers, broth, or other light soups.
At What Point Should You See a Doctor or Go to the Emergency Room?
There are certain groups of people that should contact a doctor or go to emergency at the first signs of food poisoning. These include infants or small children, elderly, anyone suffering from a chronic illness or weakened immune system (for example, HIV/AIDS, cancer and undergoing chemotherapy, or has kidney disease). These groups of people have the greatest risk of experiencing the more serious effects of food poisoning including death.
If you don not fall into this category, but you are experiencing the following more severe symptoms, then you need to call or go see your doctor or get yourself to the emergency room immediately:
- Difficulty swallowing, speaking, or breathing
- Slurred speech, double vision or dizziness
- Muscle weakness or paralysis especially if occurring after eating mushrooms, canned food or shellfish
- Fever higher than 101degrees F along with abdominal symptoms
- Vomiting blood or having bloody bowel movements
- Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea that lasts more than two days even if able to drink fluids
- Cannot take normal prescribed medications because of vomiting
- Obvious stomach or abdomen swelling
- Dark colored urine or complete stop in urination
- Extreme thirst, a dry mouth, and when you pinch the back of your hand, the skin stays pinched
- Skin and/or eyes turn yellow
- Persistent, localized abdominal pain
- Other family members or friends who ate the same thing are also sick
- Symptoms begin after recent foreign travel
- One or more joints swell or a rash breaks out on your skin
If you are unsure, do not take any chances and at least call your doctor. Food Borne illness severely sickens in the hundreds of thousands and kills thousands of people in the U.S. alone every year.