I found that even though I eat the best I can with the food choices I have, I still think my digestion could be better.
So why do I have this problem?
I used to think there was something wrong with me because I got so many stomachaches. I came to understand that my stomach is an important sign of what is going on in my body. I have come to the conclusion that I have a troublesome stomach because I am a sensitive by nature and respond actively to stress in my environment and in my relationships.
There are many easy natural remedies for stomachaches, and when you are hurting you don’t want to think too much; you just want to get rid of the stomachache.
Everybody knows crackers (saltines or rice crackers if you are gluten-free) will soothe a sore tummy. We are familiar with peppermint, ginger, and chamomile with a little honey will help. Yet there are many kinds of stomachaches, and sometimes you need to know what is going on inside to find the right remedy. First determine what kind of stomachache you have (too much to drink last night? Do I have a stomach flu? Did I just poison myself with iffy leftovers?) then you probably want to try one of these remedies.
Cinnamon and Lemon with Honey
This is a well-known remedy from Europe. And it works for colds too.
Tomatoes and Chili Powder
Although it’s not well known here in North America, this is a home remedy from South of the Border. And it works. First determine what kind of stomachache you have (hangover?) You probably want to have tomato juice cocktail with Worchestertire sauce and Tabasco. Now does it look familiar?
Often used to treat digestive upsets such as gas, bloating, diarrhea and heartburn, papaya’s natural digestive enzyme, papain, breaks down foods that may be irritating to the stomach. A half of thinly sliced fruit will do the trick.
A baked apple or some applesauce with clove and nutmeg are good for fighting a queasy stomach because they are rich in enzymes and the soluble fiber, pectin, that help to break down stomach irritants from other foods and as a bonus, also lower cholesterol. Apples are best baked if you have a particularly sensitive stomach.
This spice can treat a number of tummy problems from morning sickness to diarrhea gas. It stimulates the digestive system, which moves foods along the digestive tract smoothly. Sprinkle cinnamon on other stomach-settling foods like apples, bananas or in herbal teas such as chamomile or ginger. You can also make a plain cinnamon tea by adding 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon powder to 1 cup hot water; let stand for 5 minutes before drinking. It has also been shown to help prevent diabetes. I like having it in my coffee in the morning.
Anyone who’s ever had an upset stomach may have heard that ginger ale was the remedy to settle an upset stomach and for good reason. Ginger is believed to reduce nausea and inflammation. If you don’t like “the fizzies”that come with the carbonation of ginger ale, try ginger tea or fresh ginger soaked in hot water for a few minutes.
Mint and thyme
Both herbs stimulate digestion and move food smoothly through the digestive tract. Each can be used to make a simple tea to ease stomach cramps and to relieve pressure caused by gas and bloating. You may also chew on mint leaves for relief.
Fennel or caraway seeds
These seeds can work wonders to improve digestion and to ease gas and bloating. Add 1 teaspoon caraway or fennel seeds to 1 cup boiling water cover and steep for 10 minutes. Strain, and drink 3 cups a day on an empty stomach for best results until you’re feeling better. You may also chew on the seeds after a meal to prevent stomach upsets.
White Rice and Yogurt
I learned this recipe from my veterinarian who prescribed it for my beloved Labrador, Casey. Casey was in the habit of eating anything that wasn’t tied down, and even I kept him on a tight leash, if I let down my guard for one minute, say to talk to a mutual doggie friend, he would lunge and grab whatever he could find on the ground. He would devour chicken bones, (and those could puncture his digestive system), food garbage like wrappers, and bunny pellets. Ewww.
When I have stress and it goes to my stomach I know that I can relax my mind and tummy with something to drink, because the act of sitting with something in my hand immediately relaxes me. I can have herbal tea, (chamomile and kava kava stress are my favorite), sip mineral water if it is a hot day, drink kefir with mint and take 30 minutes for myself after I come home.
My life is good, but still I am sometimes confused about my belly. I know there is not one panacea to fix all my stomachaches. I have learned to be more sensitive to my body so I could hear its signals. To do that I lie down and do bed yoga so I can rub my tummy and get in touch with it.
Sometimes a stomachache is just a stomachache. It can also be constipation, pancreatis, an ulcer, IBS, or appendicitis. When I am rubbing my stomach, I can feel where the tension is and make a better decision on how to treat it.
I have had all kinds of tests on my gastric system, and the only thing the doctors could tell me is your stomach is irritated, but no ulcers or anything else to worry about. Maybe I should give up worrying.
Modern life is stressful–we cannot control that. The only thing we can control is ourselves. Being peaceful is a path, not a destination. And a happy belly is a good thing.