Natural Remedies For Upset Stomach & Digestive Disorders

Natural Remedies For Upset Stomach & Digestive Disorders

By Panasha Desai, Pharmacist

We all have to deal with digestive issues from time to time. Often they aren't serious but are seriously uncomfortable and so rather than take a trip to your GP or even pharmacist, you might first seek out home remedies. 

There are lots of natural remedies that you can make at home, with various common, and sometimes less common but accessible, ingredients that will help you ease your pain or discomfort. Below, we look at the common issues that home remedies can relieve, why certain ingredients work and how they should be taken for them to be effective.

Please note that these are not medical solutions, and if you have a persistent or serious issue then it is recommended you seek medical expertise from your GP. This is particularly important if you are taking medication to ensure that any natural remedies don't have a negative impact.

Natural Remedies For Indigestion, Upset Stomach & Other Digestive Disorders

We've created this table to be used as a quick, at-a-glance reference for home and natural remedies for digestive disorders of all kinds. We go into more detail for each home remedy and ingredient below.

Ingredient

Used To Treat

How To Take It

Aloe juice

Constipation, excess stomach acid, heartburn, gas, nausea, vomiting

One bottle, drunk slowly

Bananas

Cramps, diarrhea, muscle spasms, stomach pain

A banana eaten whole (minus skin), mashed on toast or in smoothie

Basil

Cramps, excess stomach acid, gas, increase appetite,

1 or 2 tsps of dried basil leaves, or a couple of fresh basil leaves, added to meals OR with boiling water for tea

Cinnamon

Bloating, burping, constipation, cramps, gas, heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach

1 tsp of good-quality cinnamon powder, or an inch of cinnamon stick, added to food OR used to make tea

Cloves

Gas, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting

For upset stomach: 1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cloves with 1 tsp of honey once a day before sleeping

For nausea or heartburn: cloves in hot water for tea

Coconut water

Cramps, muscle pain/spasms, stomach pain, upset stomach

2 glasses of coconut water every 4–6 hours

Cumin

Gas, indigestion, intestinal inflammation, upset stomach

1 or 2 tsps of ground or powdered cumin added to food OR a few teaspoons of cumin seeds in boiling water for tea

Figs

Constipation, indigestion, upset stomach

Eat whole fig fruits OR 1 or 2 tsps of fig leaves with boiling water for tea

Ginger

Diarrhea, indigestion, nausea, upset stomach, vomiting

Fresh ginger tea, (high ginger content) ginger ales or by adding fresh ginger to food

Lemon/Lime juice + baking soda + water

Indigestion

1 tsp baking soda to 2 tsp lemon juice, add water after finished reacting.

Licorice

Reduce gastritis, upset stomach

1 or 2 tsps of licorice root powder with boiling water for tea

Mint

Diarrhea, gas, indigestion, vomiting

Mint tea, mint candies

Rice

Diarrhea, upset stomach, vomiting

Half a cup of plain, well-cooked rice, eaten slowly.

Water

Indigestion, upset stomach

Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day

Yarrow

Heartburn, indigestion, upset stomach

Eat young yarrow leaves raw in a salad or cooked in a meal OR 1 or 2 tsps of dried or ground yarrow leaves or flowers with boiling water for tea

Home Remedies For Digestive Problems: Explained

Here we break down each of the ingredients and home remedies mentioned above, to help you understand how they work and therefore which might be the right solution for you.

Aloe Juice

Aloe Vera is commonly used in skincare but you may not have come across it as a natural remedy for stomach issues. Aloe juice comes from the aloe vera plant and, because of the same anti-inflammatory benefits which has made it popular for skin creams, it can help with some digestive issues. A study found that aloe juice offered relief from the symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disease, which included heartburn, flatulence, acid regurgitation and vomiting.

Drinking aloe juice can also help with constipation and nausea. However, because it has laxative properties, it is not recommended for those with IBS or diarrhea. When drinking aloe juice, make sure to drink it slowly to allow it to work into your digestive system over time.

Bananas

Bananas are full of great nutrients, namely potassium, folate and vitamin B6. These can help to ease stomach pains, muscle spasms and cramps. Bananas are a good source of fibre, which is beneficial to those suffering with diarrhea as it enables firmer stools and doesn't aggravate the gut. 

However, bananas can cause issues for those with IBS, causing flare ups rather than helping with the symptoms. This is because some people with IBS can be triggered by ingesting certain foods and drinks, such as bananas or carbonated drinks.

Eating a few bits of banana may not help with your stomach issues, you'll want to consume at least one whole banana to gain the benefits. This can be on its own (without the skin), blended into a smoothie or mashed on toast. 

Basil

Basil helps to fortify both the nervous and digestive systems. Its leaves contain eugenol and linoleic acid which have anti-inflammatory effects on the digestive tract. Because of this, it can ease the symptoms of an upset stomach, cramps and gas – it can also increase appetite in those who are struggling to eat due to not feeling hungry, such as those undergoing chemotherapy.

Basil is a common herb in many recipes, particularly in Italian cooking. Using one to two teaspoons or dried or fresh leaves in food will help to lessen symptoms of stomach issues over time. For a more immediate effect, brewing the same amount of basil leaves into a tea can offer relief more quickly than eating.

Cinnamon

Cinnamon has antioxidants which are anti-inflammatory and so can help ease digestion while reducing irritation in the digestive tract. Because of this, it can help with gas, cramps, heartburn and indigestion. To use cinnamon as a home remedy, you have a few options. 

Adding good-quality cinnamon when cooking meals or making smoothies is one popular way. You should aim to use at least one teaspoon of cinnamon powder or an inch in length of a cinnamon stick. You can also add cinnamon, in the same quantities, to boiling water to make a tea – perhaps combining with other home remedy ingredients. Drinking this tea two to three times a day can be particularly effective at relieving indigestion.

Cloves

Cloves might be small but they are a powerful ingredient when it comes to home remedies for digestive disorders and stomach issues. Cloves are carminative, meaning they relieve and prevent gas in the gastrointestinal tract. Additionally, cloves improve saliva production and retain good bacteria in the mouth, helping to break down food for digestion as it's being chewed and making it less work for your stomach. Cloves also reduce muscle contractions in the stomach, which can relieve stomach cramps and pain.

For your home remedies, you may want to choose a form of cloves that suits the stomach issue you are dealing with. For example, mixing one to two teaspoons of ground cloves with honey can help with an upset stomach. For nausea and heartburn, adding whole cloves to boiling water to make tea, and drinking slowly, a couple of times a day will offer relief. 

Coconut Water

If you are experiencing stomach pain or cramps, or are concerned about dehydration from diarrhea, then you should consider coconut water. It contains high levels of magnesium and potassium which help to ease stomach tension and, thanks to being a low sugar and low acidity liquid, it can help to rehydrate you quickly – much more so than sports drinks, though plain water is also an excellent way to rehydrate.

Coconut water should be sipped slowly, never glugged. Doing this for four to six hours should ease stomach issues. 

Cumin

Cumin seeds have antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties which can help with a host of digestive disorders and stomach issues. Cumin has active ingredients that reduce indigestion, gas, and intestinal inflammation. A study even found that cumin helps alleviate IBS symptoms.

Cumin is popular in many curry recipes, which makes ingestion of cumin in food common. One to two teaspoons of ground cumin is recommended in order to receive the benefits. Alternatively, you can brew cumin seeds into a tea.

Figs

Figs are a less common but readily available fruit. They contain fibre, which is key for digestion, but they also include high levels of oxalates, ingredients that act as laxatives. If you are experiencing constipation or an upset stomach, figs can help. However, if you have IBS or diarrhea, figs should be avoided. 

Since they are a fruit, you can eat figs whole. Eating a fig, two to three times over a day, can help to improve stomach issues. If you are able to get fig leaves, you can also brew one to two teaspoons with boiling water to make tea.

Ginger

Ginger contains chemicals that help to speed up stomach contractions and stimulates saliva and bile production to promote regular digestion. This can help to relieve those stomach issues caused by irritation in the gut. 

Ginger has been linked to healthy digestion from long before modern medicine. It has been used to alleviate an upset stomach, reduce indigestion and help with nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. For those undergoing chemotherapy or experiencing nausea due to pregnancy, consuming ginger can be beneficial. Try adding pieces of fresh ginger to food or brewing as a tea, which can be sipped to relieve stomach issues. High ginger content ginger ales can also be effective.

Lemon Juice, Baking Soda & Water

A 2017 study examined the antacid potential of various foods – antacids being ingredients, often medicines, that 'counteract (neutralise) the acid in your stomach to relieve indigestion and heartburn'. The study found that although lemon juice alone didn't help, combining it with baking soda created a weak acid, called a buffer, which helped to stabilize stomach pH levels. 

With this natural remedy, you need to be sure to get the balance of ingredients right so that it doesn't make your stomach issues worse. Mix one teaspoon of baking soda with two teaspoons of lemon juice. Leave to react and once it stops releasing gas, add water to dilute. You should try to drink this combination on an empty stomach.

Licorice

An acquired taste for some, licorice can offer relief from an upset stomach, heartburn and gastritis – the name of a common condition where your stomach becomes inflamed leading to gut pain, queasiness and indigestion.

Licorice root tea can be purchased or made at home, with one to two teaspoons of dried licorice root. By sipping this tea, you can gain the digestive benefits. It's worth noting that consuming black licorice products won't have the same effect as most black licorice sweets are flavoured with anise rather than containing actual licorice root.

Mint

Mint is a natural remedy for stomach issues both in its raw and cooked forms. Mint, specifically peppermint, can help with a range of stomach issues, from mild indigestion and gas to IBS and diarrhea. It contains rosmarinic acid, which gives mint anti-inflammatory properties that calm the gut, and menthol which encourages bile-flow for healthy digestion.

Most commonly, mint helps with stomach issues when brewed as a tea, but it can also be added raw to smoothies or other blends if preferred. If you are experiencing heartburn or stomach pain then sucking on mint sweets is another way of getting the benefits of mint slowly, without having to drink.

Rice

Plain rice can be a helpful home remedy for those dealing with vomiting and diarrhea. It helps because it is a starchy, low fibre food that adds bulk to stools and aids healthy digestion. It also absorbs fluids in the stomach that might contain toxins and eases stomach cramps or pain thanks to its high levels of potassium and magnesium.

To use rice to help with stomach issues, a half cup of well-cooked, plain rice should be eaten slowly. Aim to eat the rice a couple of hours after the last incident of vomiting. For diarrhea, consume rice every few hours for a day or two until symptoms reduce – also making sure to stay hydrated by drinking water alongside or inbetween. 

Water

H2O is too often ignored by the average person when it comes to ensuring a healthy digestive system. The NHS recommends drinking 6-8 glasses of water per day (equivalent to 1.2L). The body needs water to digest food, among other things, and being dehydrated will make it more difficult leading to an upset stomach and related issues. 

A first step when experiencing stomach pain or digestive issues should be to ask yourself if you've drunk enough water that day. Ideally, you should drink plain, warm or room temperature water – cold water requires more effort to break down for hydration

Yarrow

Yarrow is a flowering plant and is most commonly available as a dried herb – which can be used for tea. Yarrow contains a number of ingredients that reduce the amount of stomach acid being produced, which can offer relief from heartburn and indigestion. 

For your home remedies, yarrow can be consumed one of two ways. If you are able to get a hold of young yarrow leaves, you can incorporate them into a salad. For most people, dried yarrow herb will be more readily available. Using one to two teaspoons, you can brew it into a tea.