Whether stabbing, throbbing, pulsing, or burning, you have likely experienced stomach pain at least once (probably more than once) in your life. Stomach pain can range from mildly distracting to outright disabling, and finding relief is going to be a big priority for anyone suffering from it.
Since stomach pain is a symptom, treatment options depend on what the underlying cause is. A number of different natural and home remedies exist for managing and relieving stomach pain, but the right treatment depends on what caused that pain in the first place.
What Causes Stomach Pain?
Just as stomach pain has multiple names (abdominal pain, tummy ache, etc.) it can have a wide variety of causes. The following is a list of some of the more common causes for stomach pain:
- Irritable bowel syndrome
- Food poisoning or allergies
- Lactose intolerance
- Kidney stones
- Stomach virus
- Menstrual cramps
- Gastric reflux
As you can see, there are a number of culprits of stomach pain. Generally speaking though, the fewer the symptoms, the less serious the cause. There are distinct exceptions to this, of course, so make sure to schedule a doctor’s appointment if your pain comes with any of the following:
- Unable to keep food down for two or more days
- Painful/frequent urination
- Constipation combined with vomiting
- The abdomen is tender to the touch (it is warm and sore)
- You have suffered an abdominal injury
- The pain lasts longer than several hours
Natural Treatments for Stomach Pain
Assuming your pain is not being caused by a serious condition, there is no harm in taking care of the matter yourself. Many over-the-counter medicines are available for relieving stomach pain, but numerous non-medical methods can be employed as well to cure or ease your stomach pain at home.
1. Chamomile tea
This tea is known to work as an anti-inflammatory along the digestive tract. If your stomach pain is caused by gastritis or indigestion, a cup of chamomile can offer relief. It does this by relaxing muscles along the stomach and the esophagus, easing the contractions that push food along, and lessens any cramps or spasms you are experiencing. Incidentally, this same behaviour is exhibited by ginger—hence its presence in many home remedies and natural treatments—so a ginger root tea or glass of ginger ale is also effective in these cases.
2. Hot water bottles
Hot compresses can help soothe stomach pain. The word “hot” is used loosely here, since the desired level of heat will depend on both the level of pain and personal preference. Fill the bottle or similar object with warm or hot water, place a cloth between it and your skin, and find a comfortable place to lie down.
3. Prune juice
Stomach pain from constipation tends to radiate from the lower part of your abdomen and sometimes features a periodic “shifting” or “gurgling” feeling accompanied by a temporary spike in pain. When constipation is your cause, consider a glass of prune juice or another type of laxative. If effective, you can expect to experience sudden relief.
4. Alcoholic bitters
You may raise an eyebrow, but did you know that alcoholic bitters can naturally relieve stomach pain? Many common brands of bitters contain a mix of mint, ginger, cinnamon, and fennel, all of which are known to help ease stomach pain in one form or another. Five to six drops in a glass of club soda or ginger ale might surprise you.
5. Bland foods
Even when your stomach hurts, you still have to eat. To avoid aggravating an already upset stomach, look for bland foods without salt or spices. Bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast are good options that can provide a bit of nutrition without over-stimulating your digestion.
The phrase “volatile oil” is not normally associated with relieving stomach pain, but that’s just what anethole, found in fennel seeds, can do. Anethole will stimulate the production of digestive juices, which, if you have indigestion, can be just the thing to provide natural pain relief for inflammation of the stomach. Simply chew on a teaspoon of fennel after a meal.
7. Warm lemon water
Since pregnant women should avoid fennel, they can try warm lemon water instead. The high acidity of the lemon will trigger extra production of your stomach’s hydrochloric acid to further break down food and keep things moving smoothly.
8. Apple cider vinegar
Another paradoxical-sounding treatment is using acidic drinks to relieve pain from gastric reflux. Since gastric reflux can result in stomach acid leaking out into places it’s not wanted, your stomach’s acidity can end up lower than is optimal for digesting food. Drinking apple cider vinegar can help improve the levels and ease an upset stomach. This assumes that you’re able to, well, stomach the drink in the first place. While apple cider vinegar does its work best if taken raw, you may find mixing it with water, a teaspoon of honey, and sipping slowly to be the more tolerable option.
9. Peppermint tea
For more generalized pain relief, try peppermint tea, or even sucking on a candy cane if you’re feeling festive. Peppermint leaves contain menthol, a natural analgesic known to help nausea and upset stomachs. Whether you get it from a candy, tea, chewing on the leaves, or sniffing some extract, peppermint can alleviate stomach pain and any accompanying nausea.
10. Rice water
Last but not least, look to rice; more specifically, look to the leftover water after you cook rice. Rice water is capable of forming a coating over certain membranes like, for instance, the lining of your stomach. This barrier can be a soothing lining to help ease inflammation and offer relief from stomach pain.
To get a good amount of rice water, cook rice normally, but with twice the amount of water. Let the rice soak for three minutes after it finishes cooking and turn off the heat. A bit of honey can make the water taste better, and the rice itself can be used as a meal.
By keeping some of these natural stomach pain remedies on hand, you can be prepared for almost any occasion of aches. However, if your stomach pain is accompanied by vomiting blood, bloody or tar-like stool, trouble breathing, or you are pregnant, seek emergency medical care immediately.
“8 Home Remedies for Stomach Aches & Cramps,” Everyday Roots web site, November 14, 2013; http://everydayroots.com/stomach-ache-remedies.
“Abdominal Pain Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments,” WebMD web site, http://www.webmd.com/pain-management/guide/abdominal-pain-causes-treatments, last accessed July 23, 2015.