Stomach flu, or what physicians call viral gastroenteritis, can sometimes be as common as a cold. Its symptoms — vomiting and diarrhea — are much more intense. When you are dealing with stomach flu, who wants to ingest chemicals to try to relieve symptoms?

Home remedies for stomach flu likely will not cure you, but these natural treatments can help ease the discomfort until the vomiting and diarrhea passes. Here are some suggested therapies:

  • Clear fluids. One dangerous side effect of stomach flu is dehydration. At the peak of illness, however, you may not be able to keep anything in your stomach, even tiny sips of water. Still, to prevent dehydration, try sucking on some ice chips, or taking sips of water, broth or clear soda after each vomiting episode. If clear liquid still causes vomiting, wait 30 to 60 minutes and try again.
  • “BRAT” diet. Many of us grew up with this acronym, which stands for the foods easiest on the stomach as you recover from stomach flu. Once the symptoms have passed and you are able to keep clear fluids and sports drinks down, try small amounts of any of these foods (which give the BRAT diet its name): bananas, white rice, applesauce and dry toast. Getting something in your stomach as you recover will give you strength, and help keep stomach acids regulated.
  • Rest. This might sound obvious, but the most natural remedy for stomach flu – or any illness – is to rest your body, and sleep as much as possible.
If you are beginning to feel those obvious stomach flu symptoms – nausea, stomach cramps, gas – but haven’t yet succumbed, try some of these natural remedies:
  • Ginger. With its natural anti-inflammatory properties, this ancient herb has long been used as a digestive aid and natural nausea remedy. Take ginger capsules (follow instructions on the container), drink ginger tea or ginger ale made with real ginger root, or chew a piece of ginger root.
  • Mint. Peppermint is another herb widely used to fight upset stomach. Studies have found that mint can help ease symptoms of indigestion and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Even chewing peppermint gum can calm the stomach, but the most effective use of mint for upset stomach is as tea.
  • Probiotics. The nausea, vomiting and diarrhea of stomach flu come from a build-up of “bad bacteria” in the colon and digestive tract. Often, taking antibiotics brings on these symptoms, because antibiotics wipe out both the good and bad bacteria in your body. Probiotics, organisms used to replenish the good bacteria in your gut, can bring your digestive system back into balance. Discuss probiotic supplements with your doctor, as there are three specific types that work best for stomach flu. Foods such as yogurt and kefir also have probiotics, but studies suggest they are not at a high enough dose to kill the bacteria that causes stomach flu.
  • Tea (Rooibos, Chamomile). Rooibos tea, also known as red tea, is said to calm the digestive tract and ease stomach cramps. Chamomile, too, has soothing properties.
As unpleasant as the stomach flu is, the harshest symptoms should pass within 48 hours. If you are still vomiting, have diarrhea and cold sweats, and cannot keep even clear liquid down after that time, see your doctor to rule out a more serious condition.

Know of other home remedies for stomach flu? Leave us a note in the comments below.

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