What we refer to affectionately in our house as ‘The Voms’, gastric bugs have an incredible ability to arrive unannounced, out of the blue with no prior warning! Whatever the name (24-hour vomiting bug, Norovirus, gastro-bug, stomach virus), these viruses can leave everyone in the family squirming with abdominal pain, endless vomiting, retching and bowel upset. It’s no fun for anyone, and can leave us feeling exhausted and dehydrated.
If you or your child is suffering from a gastric virus (and your GP has eliminated any other causes), here are a few natural remedies that can offer quick relief from those miserable symptoms:
Gastric bugs are short-lived and rarely dangerous. It is essential, however, to stay hydrated, as so much fluid is lost through vomiting, diarrhoea and as a result of any fever present. This is especially essential for small children who can quickly dehydrate.
Signs of dehydration are reduced and dark urination, headache, and a sunken fontanelle in young babies (seek medical advice for young babies). Water should be continually sipped throughout a gastric infection, and breastfed babies given regular, small feeds.
For older children and adults, rehydration salts are available from chemists, or make your own natural version by adding fresh fruit juice and a pinch of pink Himalayan salts to drinking water – this ensures you replenish vital electrolytes and help the fluid become more ‘isotonic’ or absorbable.
Add a 30c pilule of homeopathic remedies NuxVom and Arsenicum into a bottle of water, shake, and sip regularly throughout the day. Symptoms should generally start to ease within an hour or so. This tip is helpful for all ages.
Colloidal Silver is a powerful anti-microbial that is safe and non-toxic. The bonus is that it tastes like water, so is easy to take when the stomach is rejecting everything else. Take one teaspoon for children (double dose for adults) twice a day, or added to a bottle of water sipped throughout the day. Do not take more than the stated dose.
Mint is a wonderful herb for digestive upset, and can be helpful if most of the symptoms are in the bowels. Add a sprig of fresh mint to warm water to help with digestive cramps, spasms and bloating.
Bananas and apples
It is usual to have no appetite during a gastric infection – the body is eliminating the infection by emptying the entire digestive system (hence the vomiting and diarrhoea). Simple foods to start back on when the appetite returns would be bananas and apples. Bananas are known to help settle diarrhoea, and provide potassium to help balance electrolytes, as well as simple sugars to boost energy. Apples are great for absorbing toxins and promoting digestive health, as well as lots of healthy nutrients to replenish the body.
Recovery - probiotics, aloe vera and slippery elm
After an intense gastric upset, it is important to support and rebalance your sensitive digestive system. Re-populate your gut bacteria with a good probiotic supplement. Reduce inflammation with aloe vera juice (avoid if pregnant), and add the herb Slippery Elm to soothe the gut (capsules for adults or powder form in probiotic yogurt or applesauce for children).
Fiona O'Farrell is a Licensed Acupuncturist and Naturopath. She runs The Gate Clinic in Greystones, Co. Wicklow, Ireland. See www.thegateclinic.ie
for more information.