It happens to everyone now and then. First, the queasy, rolling pain then a mad dash for the bathroom. A stomach virus can be sneaky. Some cases will hit you like a sledgehammer. With others, things just won't be quite right for a couple of days. Early symptoms may include nausea, sour stomach, occasional pains and gas with mild constipation or diarrhea prior to full onset.
Sounds like a Pink Goo moment? Not necessarily! Since it, and other OTC remedies like it, treat only the symptoms and leave the cause intact, this might make you less miserable at the moment while prolonging actual recovery... sometimes for several days! Old-time folk remedies shine when it comes to stomach flu and even mild cases of food poisoning! They not only sooth the symptoms, but work to treat the cause right from the beginning.
Not a flu at all, the same virus that causes the common cold can cause this condition! Instead of infecting the nose and lungs, it travels from your hands, drink or food right into your digestive tract. Steps to preventing this type of viral infection include washing hands and face before eating, keeping shared telephones, doorknobs and other common surfaces clean, as well as boosting your immune system with a balanced diet and exercise. Taking the time to treat yourself properly when you do catch one can remarkably lessen its impact and prevent spreading the virus to others.
Medicines used for treating the common stomach virus are often already in your refrigerator, pantry or spice rack. Incorporating some of these fruits, herbs and spices into the diet on a regular basis act as a preventative or lessen the impact of this type of infection as well.
Most of us already know the basics...quit eating heavy foods, drink plenty of fluids and get rest. Dehydration is a dangerous possibility with any purging illness. If it lingers more than a few days or there is unusual pain or symptoms, do not put off seeing your doctor. As with any medicine, use wisely. Alternate herbal teas with diluted fruit juices and plain water. Fore-go meals in favor of small snacks over the course of the day. The idea is to replace essential nutrients and minerals being flushed from the body while reducing the demands placed on the digestive system. Once vomiting and diarrhea stop, follow a lighter diet of reduced fat and meat for 3 or 4 days to give your stomach and digestive tract a chance to recover.
* Chamomile is one of the medicines I grow and keep around as much for the pleasure of it, as the power. This tasty, wonderfully aromatic little herb makes a delightful hot or cold tea all by itself! German Chamomile (the kind usually found in the grocery store or health food shop) has proved to be an effective anti-inflammatory, a nervine or smooth muscle relaxer, antimicrobial, mildly sedative and carminative (helps with gas and bloating). Some folks could have allergic reactions to chamomile. If you are allergic to ragweed, use caution.
* Mint: There are many types of mint and although most have medicinal value with stomach ailments, I usually have and use catnip because it is native to the Americas and quite easy to grow. As far as I know, all of the more common mints (peppermint, wintergreen, catnip, spearmint and lemon balm) may be used with good results. Mint has shown antimicrobial activity against fungi and gram-positive bacteria as well as being a smooth muscle relaxer. It is considered antispasmodic, mildly sedative, carminative and generally beneficial to digestion when taken in small doses such as a mild tea.
* Lemon: Acidic fruits are not normally recommended, but used sparingly, lemon juice can help kill off the pathogens causing diarrhea. Up to a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice (or a squeezed slice) in a large glass of water or added to your herbal tea is beneficial. It is at its very best as a preventative though. One to two tablespoons before meals when a stomach virus is making the rounds can keep you out of the loop. This could be due to the vitamin C in lemons as well as the antimicrobial properties of the volatile oils.
* Banana: Studies have shown that green bananas help stop diarrhea. Ripe or green, they are easy to digest and provide both potassium and magnesium. These minerals are two of the electrolytes critical to bodily function. Without them the heart will go into arrhythmia and can fail entirely.
* Salt: Sodium is another electrolyte that is rapidly depleted with vomiting and diarrhea. Broths and soups are an excellent and nutritious way to replenish the loss, along with their added benefit of replacing lost fluids. If you can't handle broth because of nausea, add a tiny pinch of salt to your juice or tea. You won't notice the added flavor as you sip it, but your body will thank you!
* Rice: One of the best all time aids for lingering diarrhea is rice water. Cook a handful of rice in a pan of water until nearly soft. Strain out the rice, allow water to cool and drink a small cup of this liquid every hour or so. Make a tasty drink by adding a bit of honey and cinnamon, which are also good for this condition. Leave off the cinnamon and add a little powdered ginger or mint to sooth nausea and sour stomach. Cooked rice is always recommended in the 'recovery diet' for a few days and usually well tolerated during the illness.
* Applesauce: Fresh apples can cause diarrhea in some folks while applesauce seems to have the opposite effect on most people. Apples contain pectin, a water soluble fiber that helps retain water and add bulk to the stool, slowing diarrhea.
* Toast and Crackers: Dry toast or saltine crackers have often been the one thing that could initially get past the nausea to help settle a cranky stomach, paving the way for healing teas and foods.
* Turmeric: Though not a spice you would want to use in large amounts for a stomach virus, 1/4 teaspoon added to rice or soup provides a good antibacterial boost.
* Garlic: This is something I usually use as a preventative more than a treatment during a stomach virus attack. Although it does wonders as an antibacterial and antimicrobial, I find it too strong on the stomach when vomiting has been an issue. If you can tolerate it, whether taken fresh chopped in honey or in tablet form, it can speed recovery almost miraculously. It is said that it will sooth the lining of stomach and bowel, calming the rawness and cramping.
* Yogurt: Diarrhea flushes most of the good bacteria and other natural flora that are essential to proper digestion out of your gut. Yogurt helps replace these and balance the inner ecosystem. Combining bananas, yogurt, blueberries, applesauce and honey in a blender as a smoothie is a wonderful tonic for recovery!
* Blueberries: Dried blueberries have been used for centuries as a cure for diarrhea in young children. They are high in fiber and antioxidants as well as being a bacterial inhibitor. They contain anthocyanosides, a substance thought to be lethal to E. Coli (a bacteria often linked to these infections.) Blueberries are also high in fiber, which aids in water retention and adds bulk to the stool.
Save the Pink Goo for times when obvious overindulgence or that awful morning after the big office party has you in its grip. Your body will thank you!