It’s back. That I-feel-like-I-was-punched-in-the-stomach sensation that leaves you hunched over, nauseated, and without an appetite. We’ve all been there, whether because we ate something bad or because there is another digestive health issue at play. Either way, you need relief – fast.
Before you rush off to the pharmacy to pick up a big bottle of Tums or chug Pepto Bismol, I’d like you to consider these home remedies for stomach ache that can not only take the edge off quickly, but help to address the reason why you have the stomach ache in the first place.
Below are 13 home remedies for a stomach ache:
1. Take a “shot” of apple cider vinegar
Apple cider vinegar packs a big and beneficial punch when it comes to our digestion. It helps to balance the acidity of the stomach, which we need a certain level of in order to even break down food fully.
Oftentimes we actually lack enough acid in our stomach, despite popular belief that we have too much, and this can make digestion quite difficult. Stomachaches are one of the telltale signs of too little acid in the stomach.
Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and drink it as soon as you can to help boost acid production and begin relieving your stomach ache. It can also help to do this in advance of eating to stimulate digestive function early on.
2. Give yourself an abdominal massage
If your stomachache is due to constipation, giving yourself a gentle abdominal massage can help move things along and relieve the blockage that may be causing the stomach ache.
Massaging this area lightly with your forefinger and middle finger in a clockwise motion stimulates muscle contractions and helps break up food that may be stuck in the intestines, either due to overeating, not chewing thoroughly, dehydration, or a lack of enzymes or acid to break down the food in the first place.
Of course, all of these potential inhibitors to digestion should be addressed (and the tips in this post will help you to do so) but massaging can be a quick way to get things moving along and relieve the stomach ache in the moment.
3. Do 5 minutes of breath work to focus the body on digestion
Especially if you were stressed when eating, or if you experience chronic stress, that can take a toll on digestion.
The body has two states: “fight or flight” or “rest and digest”. If you’re experiencing a stressor, such as from work, the body is in “fight or flight mode” to address the stress, not rest and digest to focus on digesting food. This makes digestion particularly difficult, which can often result in a stomach ache.
To reset the body for digestion, taking a few deep breaths can help to recenter it and shift its focus to digesting your food. At the onset of a stomach ache (and ideally before sitting down for a meal), take 3-5 really deep breaths in and out to help reduce the stomach ache.
Watch this video to learn some deep breathing exercises (if you want to go straight to the techniques, go to 3:10):
4. Drink extra water
As mentioned earlier, oftentimes stomach pain is due to constipation and cramping of the intestines. A big contributor to that is dehydration.
Water not only helps hydrate the colon and speed up elimination, it’s also a key nutrient for the mucosal lining, which supports the small intestine bacteria for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.
Lack of water can cause constipation and acid reflux, among other things, so be sure to take in about 70oz of water per day to stay fully hydrated.
5. Take a digestive enzyme
Our bodies need 3 categories of enzymes in order to break down food: lipase for fat digestion, amylase for carbohydrate digestion, and protease for protein digestion. Many of us lack proper levels of each of these enzymes due to over-medication, poor digestive function, and a nutrient-poor diet lacking in foods containing these enzymes.
Supplementing with digestive enzymes in the short-term can be a good option if digestion is impaired. Taking one after a meal if a stomach ache comes on can help curb the pain and support digestion, and ideally, you should get in the habit of having one before the meal, as that’s the optimal time to take one.
6. Chew on a fresh piece of ginger
Like apple cider vinegar, ginger is another fantastic natural stimulant to digestion.
If you have a piece of fresh ginger in your house, or you can quickly go out to the grocery store to get some, break off about 1 centimeter of it and chew on it for a few minutes. This stimulates digestive fire (meaning your acid secretions and muscular contractions) to keep things moving along and relieve your stomach pain.
7. Drink aloe juice
The aloe plant is beneficial for more than just soothing a sunburn. It also plays an important role in digestion. Just as it’s soothing to your skin, it can soothe the cells in your digestive tract.
If your stomach isn’t agreeing with the food you ate, low-grade inflammation may be at play, and aloe can help to soothe that and help ease the system.
Drink 1/3 cup of pure aloe juice (be sure there is no sugar added as these kinds have minimal nutritional value) upon getting a stomach ache to comfort your digestive tract.
8. Have a warming cup of bone broth
Similar to aloe juice, bone broth offers numerous benefits to our digestion. Not only is it potentially anti-inflammatory, it’s also extremely healing.
Bone broth is rich in both collagen and gelatin, which help to repair damage to cells. If you eat a nutrient-poor diet, have a known digestive health condition, or have taken medications that may have compromised the integrity of the digestive tract, cellular damage may have occurred and bone broth is a great way to begin repairing.
At the onset of a stomach ache, drink 1 cup of warm bone broth (ideally organic) and take a few deep breaths. (As you can see, many of these tips pair well together!)
Here’s how to make organic bone broth:
9. Apply peppermint essential oil to the abdomen
Like the benefits that ginger and apple cider vinegar offer, peppermint essential oil acts in a similar way. If you don’t have ginger or ACV on hand when a stomach ache hits but peppermint oil in your cabinets, this can be a great way to help relive the pain.
Peppermint offers a number of digestive health benefits, most notably it can help to reduce muscle spasms in the gastric lining and colon.
Mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil and rub across your abdomen wherever discomfort is occurring.
If you don’t have peppermint oil but you have peppermint tea, this can be equally beneficial and soothing to drink.
10. Make lemon tea or water
Lemon is another go-to for digestive health remedies. Lemon also helps to entice proper digestive secretions to ensure your food is properly broken down and moving along in your system.
If you really want to kick it up a notch, you could also add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your lemon water. This is also a great combination to have before a meal.
11. Rest, rest, rest!
Trying to push through the pain of a stomachache often only makes it worse. Especially if bloating is accompanying your stomach ache, you’re feeling quite uncomfortable.
It would benefit your body to sit down and relax for a little while. This gives your body time to focus its energy inwards and resolve the issue that caused the stomach pain.
While resting, try to incorporate a few of the tips covered so far, such as deep breathing, doing an abdominal massage, or drinking a soothing tea. Even just a few minutes of this can be quite beneficial.
12. Eat a high-fiber snack
Fiber plays a critical role in digestion, from regulating beneficial bacteria growth, to moving things along in the digestive tract, to detoxification of the colon. If your diet lacks fiber, digestion may suffer, which can result in issues like frequent stomachaches.
Eat a handful of nuts or seeds, make a small green salad or add chia or flax seeds to a juice or small smoothie csn help address a potential lack of fiber and begin relieving the stomach ache.
13. Evaluate what you ate
It’s important to know if what you ate was the direct cause of the stomach ache. While this may not help you in the moment, it can give you good information going forward.
If, for example, you ate a lot of dairy or sugar and you find you most often get stomach aches when these foods are in your meals, that’s a signal from your body that you may either lack the ability to properly break them down (this is what lactose intolerance is) or that these foods simply don’t agree with your body.
It may be helpful to start a food journal where you write down everything you eat so that you can better correlate it with digestive upset, like stomachaches.
Treating your stomach well: Your action plan
While any number of factors can bring on a stomachache, the good news is you have many easy at-home remedies that you can now use to address it.
Taking the last point into consideration, it’s important to identify if any foods in particular trigger an upset stomach so you can begin to reduce or remove them from your diet (temporarily or long-term). Knowing how to address a stomach ache if and when it comes on is far more beneficial than trying to just push through the pain and discomfort.
What’s more, most of these foods and tips provide digestive health benefits beyond just relieving the stomachache in the moment; they can also can promote better digestion in the future.
Be sure to also consider using some of the pre-meal recommendations provided in this post, such as drinking ACV or water before a meal to help overall digestion.