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This hits all of us a couple times of year, whether we want it to or not: the stomach flu. Having an upset stomach is no fun! If you’ve got kids in the house then you definitely will have to deal with this in the future. Isn’t it fun when the kids share?

So what do you do when the bug hits? It never seems to announce itself in advance, giving you time to stock up on the right items. It tends to just appear suddenly, usually in the middle of the night. Most doctors now say to avoid over-the-counter remedies like the pink stuff–they can actually make it worse instead of better. Here’s a list of tried-and-true methods used around the KnowitAll house to help put the stomach queasies at bay.

For nausea:

  • A cold washcloth on the forehead. This is an old remedy in my family that goes back more than fifty years. It works too! When someone starts complaining of nausea, lay them down and put a cold washcloth on their forehead. (Run the washcloth under cold water, then wring out until just damp.) There’s something about the temperature in that spot that helps to settle the stomach. In my experience growing up and with my own kids, this is effective about 70% of the time.
  • A cup of black tea.  Tea has tannins and other natural ingredients that help settle the stomach. Black tea is best. (This is your standard, traditional tea.) If you don’t like hot tea, that is fine, iced black tea works as well. The stronger the tea, the better–if you can handle strong tea, use two bags per cup of tea. I started using this the past year and have had 100% success with it on both myself and the kids. There’s something in the tannins that stops the stomach muscles from contracting, to help stop the vomiting. For myself, I start sipping the tea the moment I feel queasy. For the kids I mix the black tea with water to create an iced tea, and let them sip it. (Sipping is best: big drinks is likely to make their stomach heave at once.) If you’ve got fresh ginger, grate a little into the hot tea–ginger is well-known for settling the stomach as well.
  • Use pressure points in your wrist. There is a pressure point on your left wrist that when pressed helps quiet the nerves that signal nausea in the brain. Here’s how to find it: On your left wrist, lay three fingers at the spot where your hand meets your arm. The spot right below the bottom finger (where your thumb would normally rest) should be your pressure point. Press gently for 30 seconds, then remove and do deep breathing. Repeat for a few minutes. This website has a good visual of the process, along with a description on how this works. This is especially good for things like motion sickness and morning sickness.
  • Sniff some Peppermint essential oil. In the two years since I first wrote this post, peppermint oil has become our first line of defense. I have gone from being in pain and *thisclose* to vomiting to completely fine in under sixty seconds, after a good whiff of peppermint oil. I rub a couple of drops on my stomach, and then inhale the vapors from the oils off my hands. I can’t believe it, but it works. Every. Time.

For diarrhea:

  • Eat yogurt with live cultures in it. This tip comes straight from my doctor’s office! Yogurt does a great job of battling diarrhea causing bacteria. If you’re taking an antibiotic that is known to cause diarrhea as a side effect, start eating the yogurt as soon as you take the medicine. It will help keep your system in check while taking the medicine.
  • Eat some blueberries. This one was new to me, but it did work! Blueberries are high in antioxidants and tannins, both of which fight diarrhea.
  • Sniff some Peppermint Essential Oil. I don’t know what it is about this stuff, but it works! I put a drop on my hands and sniff. It is STRONG, but my gut goes from painful gurgles to quiet and pain-free in just a minute or two. It is crazy, but whatever brings relief, I will do!
  • Snack on some shredded wheat. Now, this one has absolutely no science behind it. It is a trick that I use and works for my family. When I start to have problems, I will snack on shredded wheat. Within an hour or two, I start to feel better and the diarrhea is gone by the end of the day. I’m not sure why it works–might be that it is solid fiber, or that it is high in starches (which are known to help diarrhea.) But it does seem to help us.

Of course, when your stomach is upset you should always follow the BRAT diet: Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. In other words, bland, easy to digest foods. Avoid sugars and dairy, and make sure to get plenty of liquids to avoid dehydration. I tend to avoid sodas, but ginger ale is excellent at settling stomachs as well.

I hope this helps you this year!

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