When I was little, I would suffer from terrible stomachaches in school. They were so bad that I would have to go to the nurse’s office at times and even be sent home. It turns out I was lactose intolerant—that coupled with having high anxiety did not mix very well. Thankfully, there are several natural, holistic remedies for stomachaches that work even better than traditional over-the-counter options. Here are five I recommend.
1. Drink peppermint tea or chamomile tea.
One of my favorite ways to soothe a troubled stomach is to drink some tea. But not just any tea: Peppermint or chamomile tea works best. That‘s because peppermint is recognized as a great fix for nausea and an upset stomach thanks to the menthol in its leaves which is a natural pain reliever. You can also get in peppermint by sucking on a minty candy or chewing on the leaves themselves, but I prefer drinking the tea.
Chamomile is another option for easing stomach pain by acting as an anti-inflammatory agent that helps your muscles relax. You can drink a cup of chamomile tea any time you’re feeling stomach discomfort, but it’s also really good for relaxing you in general, making it an ideal tea right before bed. So, if your stomach happens to bother you before going to sleep, this is the tea to reach for.
I personally love purchasing peppermint and chamomile loose leaf whenever possible, as I find the tea to be more potent and effective this way opposed to tea bags. If you do get these teas from tea bags, make sure the tea bag isn’t made out of plastic (which can leach toxins into your drink and also isn’t compostable).
2. Avoid dairy.
One of the biggest triggers for my stomachaches in middle school (and even high school) was definitely consuming dairy products. In the morning, I’d have cereal before I left and wonder why my stomach started to gurgle and then start hurting the moment I arrived at school. Combine that with a naturally nervous personality and it’s a recipe for disaster. My stomachaches were so bad that they often prevented me from participating in lots of after school activities, for fear I wouldn’t be able to stick around. It wasn’t until college that I really learned consuming dairy products, especially in the morning, just wasn’t for me. I was quick to adjust though, and afterwards I noticed a significant improvement in my gut health. Switching over to eating eggs and oatmeal really helped change my relationship with my stomach. I didn’t have nearly as many stomachaches, if at all. This newfound freedom lead me to join a slew of clubs in college and I never felt restricted by my gut anymore.
I recommend trying the same to anyone who suffers from stomach pain and consumes dairy. Switch over to non-dairy milk, like almond or cashew milk, and see how your body reacts. You might be surprised to know that our bodies really aren’t built to consume dairy into adulthood, which is why it bothers our stomachs. Milk is designed for babies: We just adapted to drink it past childhood for the evolutionary benefits. In the past when winters were too cold to grow anything and food wasn’t being imported from warmer climates, drinking cow’s milk and using it to make food items kept humans alive. Now, we don’t need to rely on that nearly as much anymore. I recommend giving nut milks a try, or just opting out of dairy in all of your meals (this means less cakes and goodies made with dairy as well, by the way). You’ll be amazed at how your stomach improves! Sometimes, cutting your dairy consumption can even help reduce your acne, which is an added bonus.
3. Utilize ginger.
Ginger is another powerful tool in your corner for easing stomachaches. I’m not a huge ginger fan in terms of taste, but I will admit it’s very helpful as a cure-all from pain to nausea. Ginger is a natural anti-inflammatory and available in many different forms from supplements to beverages. Even studies have shown ginger can be a very effective treatment for certain kinds of stomach problems, specifically in cases of nausea and vomiting. You can benefit from ginger’s healing properties by trying an all-natural ginger ale, or chopping up fresh ginger root and making a tea. The conventional ginger ale sold in stores will do in a pinch but it’s filled with loads of sugar, making it an unhealthy choice. You could also try making your own healthy ginger ale and saving it for whenever you start feeling sick and need to quell your stomach.
4. Drink hot water with bay leaf.
Whenever I would get gas pains when I was younger, my mom would always fix me a drink of hot water with a bay leaf floating in it. She said it helped with relieving gas and abdominal pain and boy was she right. It worked better than any pill I ever took, that’s for sure. It’s so simple to make it yourself too: Just heat up some water on the stove, place a dried bay leaf in a mug, and pour the water over it. Let it steep for a few minutes and cool off just a little before drinking it. It won’t have a very strong taste at all, but it will certainly ease your gas pains. Afterwards you can just compost the bay leaf so no waste is created.
5. Eat a balanced diet.
One of the best things you can do for your gut is to eat a balanced diet. It’s really that simple. If you want to prevent stomach problems, the best way to do this is by treating your gut right and feeding it foods that will keep it in optimal health. This means eating lots of fruit and vegetables loaded with fiber. It also means getting in grains like oatmeal that will help you make healthy bowel movements. As gross as it sounds, you should be pooping at least once a day, if not more, and it shouldn’t be runny or too broken up. It also shouldn‘t be strenuous and hard to get out. You want that perfect balance right in the middle. Eating a diet rich in fiber can help with this. When I was younger, I often suffered from a lot of constipation problems, which resulted in a lot of stomachaches as well. That‘s because I was eating crappy breakfast cereals with dairy milk and lots of sandwiches with no nutritional value for lunch. But when I finally introduced myself to eggs loaded with veggies and salads made with kale, lettuce, and apples, my stomach truly thanked me. I recommend trying to sneak some greens into your eggs whenever possible, be it kale, spinach, or peas. Having oatmeal topped with chia seeds, almonds, and apple slices helps too. Getting in probiotics is a great idea too, in the form of fermented foods. Eating plenty of pickled vegetables, miso, kimchi and kefir will help replenish good gut bacteria and help you avoid getting stomachaches.