Just like there are natural alternatives to popular pain medications like Tylenol and Advil, there are effective herbal and food-based remedies for stomach problems.
If you have a stomach ache, heartburn, or nausea, you might reach for Tums or Rolaids. Sometimes these remedies aren’t strong enough to work, in which case you may try Prevacid, Prilosec, or Nexium, which stop the stomach from producing gastric acid, and therefore prevents heartburn and helps heal bacterial ulcers.
These medicines – also called proton-pump inhibitors – aren’t for everyone, however. They’ve been associated with a higher risk of contracting pneumonia. People who are already at risk of catching this respiratory disease – such as the very young, the very old, and those with chronic conditions – should consult their doctors before taking drugs like Prilosec: They may be advised not to do so.
Long-term use of proton pump inhibitors has been linked to an increased risk of breaking bones. One study found that people over 50 who used these medications for a year or more were more than twice as likely to break their hips as those who didn’t use the drugs.
If you aren’t comfortable using proton pump inhibitors to relieve stomach symptoms, you'll be happy to know that the following six herbal remedies can give you relief from digestive ailments.
Aloe vera can help alleviate heartburn. Look for aloe juice with at least 95% aloe. Buy it from a store – don’t try to make it yourself unless you really know what you’re doing, because the plant has a very unpleasant taste. You can also take aloe capsules, but make sure they contain 5-10% aloe at minimum.
Fennel is a good remedy for nausea. Drink fennel tea or take fennel capsules. You can also make fennel water by mixing eight drops of fennel oil with one pint of water: take up to eight teaspoons of it a day. Mint is also good for unsettled stomachs, especially mint tea.
Another member of the mint family, bee balm, can be made into a tea and used to treat nausea, gas and bloating. Bee balm may have an effect on the thyroid, so if you have thyroid issues, skip this remedy and stick to mint or fennel instead.
Dandelion tea can be effective when your digestive system seems sluggish, when you’re constipated, or when you’re suffering from indigestion. Try drinking a cup a day.
Ginger is great for nausea and vomiting of all kinds: motion sickness, morning sickness, and even nausea from chemotherapy. You can chew on a slice of raw ginger, like the ones you’d find in a sushi bar, to relieve symptoms. You can also take ginger capsules or drink ginger tea.
Keep in mind that you may need to take some of these herbal remedies for days or weeks in order to achieve their maximum effect: think of them as preventive medicine, rather than an immediate cure.
Originally published at GrannyMed