If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know how miserable it is. I always keep natural remedies for food poisoning in my natural medicine cabinet ever since I suffered food poisoning myself (many of these remedies I already had for other uses!).
After a lovely date with my husband on a Wednesday night, I started to have a strange feeling in my stomach. I drank it apple cider vinegar, which is my natural remedy for all kind of tummy problems and the feeling is gone… until 3 in the morning
At 3 am I was awakened by this feeling of needing to vomit but not being able to do so. I spent the next few hours with horrible stomach cramps and terrible nausea. Then the vomiting hit… and never did!
I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but basically I couldn’t keep anything including water for the next 8 hours and had really bad stomach cramps, dizziness, chills etc. symptom of food poisoning.
Causes of food poisoning
Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria, viruses or parasites in contaminated food. Some foods are more likely to carry these pathogens (such as raw meat and other animal products), but any improperly handled food can be contaminated. I take food safety very seriously in my home, but we have less control outside. However, we try to only eat in restaurants that have no food safety violations to avoid food poisoning.
Some of the more common pathogens responsible for food poisoning cases include:
- Clostridium perfringens
- Staphylococcus aureus
- Escherichia coli (E. coli)
The common causes of food poisoning above are not the only pathogens responsible for foodborne illness. While there are many causes of foodborne illness, natural remedies for food poisoning should work for all of them.
What are the signs and symptoms of food poisoning?
Food poisoning is quite easy to recognize. Symptoms include:
- Watery or bloody diarrhea
- Abdominal pain and cramps
- Fever or chills
The above symptoms can also be present if you catch a stomach bug, so it can sometimes be difficult to tell the two apart.
Food poisoning occurs quickly and severely and usually occurs within a few hours (up to 6) after eating a meal. Bloody diarrhea is usually a symptom of food poisoning, but not a stomach bug.
Food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness) is also often more serious than a stomach bug. Stomach bugs (often caused by norovirus) can appear slower, last longer, and generally be less intense.
Natural remedies for food poisoning
When I had food poisoning, I was very happy to have some natural home remedies already ready to use. Here are the most common natural remedies for food poisoning:
Apple cider vinegar
At one point when I had food poisoning, I was discussing going to the hospital for an intravenous drip so that I would have fluids so that I could breastfeed the baby. Then I remembered the apple cider vinegar (ACV) and how it had helped for a few hours. So I tried it again and it worked!
A 2018 study confirms the ability of apple cider vinegar to kill pathogens. Researchers found that ACV had antimicrobial properties against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans.
This is important because when it comes to food poisoning, we don’t just want to get rid of the symptoms because they do their job by straddling the invader’s body. But apple cider vinegar actually helps kill the pathogen that causes food poisoning while providing some symptom relief.
Apple cider vinegar is safe for most people, including children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding. According to an article in Harvard Health Publishing, long-term use can lead to problems with potassium levels, problems with insulin levels, or loss of tooth enamel, so it is best to use it wisely (such as for food poisoning). Doses of 1 to 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar mixed with water or juice are good for adults. For children, halve this dose.
At the first signs of symptoms, I took in equal parts water (or juice) and apple cider vinegar (organic, with the mother!) And it did the trick.
I also remembered something I had learned in class a long time ago about activated carbon being a quick remedy for food poisoning. Activated charcoal can be useful in treating serious to life-threatening poisonings, including food poisoning. It does this by binding to the pathogen and removing it from the body. Activated charcoal is safe for most people, including pregnant or breastfeeding women and children.
The review states that activated charcoal should be taken as soon as possible after ingestion for the best effect. The dosage is 0.5 to 1 g / kg of body weight in children or 50 g in adults. It is usually a good idea to reduce the dose if you take it more than once. Dosages may be different in different people and cases, so it is always a good idea to consult your doctor.
I took much less than the recommended dose (1/2 teaspoon) of activated charcoal mixed with applesauce after taking the apple cider vinegar. Within minutes, I started to feel much better. I repeated the diet until I had no more symptoms.
Another useful remedy for food poisoning is herbal tea. As mentioned earlier, we don’t want to just mask the symptoms of food poisoning because they are doing their job. So a remedy that relieves anger isn’t necessarily what you want (although you will feel better in the short term). However, in addition to the above remedies which treat the underlying cause, a cup of herbal tea can be very soothing for an upset stomach. Here are my favorite soothing stomach teas:
These herbs are generally safe for children and women who are pregnant or breastfeeding in small amounts, but to be sure always consult your health care provider. Besides relieving an upset stomach, taking small sips of these teas can help the body stay hydrated after the vomiting subsides a bit.
Recovering from food poisoning: home remedies
When the vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea start to go away, you’ll still want to be careful about what you put in your stomach. Here are some ways to recover from food poisoning according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases:
- Ease of eating and drinking – You may be especially thirsty after food poisoning, but you’ll want to make it easier on yourself by ingesting anything. Start with a few sips of water or tea, then drink a little more if you still feel well.
- Electrolytic water – For rehydration, drinking water or an electrolyte drink such as coconut water or a electrolyte drink can help.
- Avoid certain foods – It is best to start with bland foods. Carbohydrates like sweet potatoes are a good choice for reintroducing foods after food poisoning. Fruits can also be quite easy on the stomach. Bone broth is my favorite food to eat without causing an upset stomach. Stay away from dairy products, cereals, legumes, fatty or fried foods, or any other element that can cause digestive problems.
- Take it easy when you get back to your regular daily schedule – Give yourself a chance to recover and take a nap if needed. Food poisoning is draining the body, so you might need more rest.
Bottom line: Give the body a little time to get better before returning to a regular diet and daily schedule.
When to call the doctor
Pregnant women, children and the elderly are at higher risk of complications from food poisoning, so it is best to call the doctor for immediate medical advice. If you are breastfeeding you need to be very careful with your hydration level and you may need an intravenous infusion for fluids. You can also call if you have:
- bloody stools or vomiting I might add that certain types of bloody diarrhea can lead to more serious health complications – but you covered it by saying call the doctor if you have bloody diarrhea
- severe stomach cramps
- Inability to keep fluids for 12 to 24 hours or signs of dehydration (excessive thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, weak or no urination, severe weakness or lightheadedness)
- Diarrhea for more than three days
- An oral temperature above 104 degrees F
Also follow your intuition. If you feel like you need the extra support, follow that sentiment. Call your doctor and get medical attention if needed.
This article has been medically reviewed by Dr Lauren Jefferis, certified in internal medicine and pediatrics. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk to your doctor or work with a local doctor. SteadyMD.
Have you ever had food poisoning? How did you recover?
- Yagnik, D., Serafin, V. and Shah, AJ (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulation of the expression of cytokines and microbial proteins. Scientific Reports, 8 (1). doi: 10.1038 / s41598-017-18618-x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/
- Zellner, T., Prasa, D., Färber, E., Hoffmann-Walbeck, P., Genser, D., and Eyer, F. (2019). The use of activated charcoal to treat poisoning. Deutsches Aerzteblatt online. doi: 10.3238 / arztebl.2019.0311 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6620762/
- Shmerling, RH (2020, April 22). Apple Cider Vinegar Diet: Does It Really Work? Recovered from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/apple-cider-vinegar-diet-does-it-really-work-2018042513703
- Treatment of food poisoning. (2019, June 1). Recovered from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/food-poisoning/treatment