Last week we were just minding our own business, trucking along with our usual busy pace of life with three small kids and a couple of entrepreneurial ventures to build.
Then BAM – the stomach flu hit like a Mack truck. One child woke up vomiting at the precise moment that I had closed my laptop and was about to head to bed.
Instead of crawling in to my warm and cozy bed and drifting off the dreamland, the hubs and I started our tag team routine of dealing with a pukey kid. He deals with the bedding, I deal with the kid. While pukey kid is resting beside the toilet in clean jammies and his face has been soothed with a warm washcloth, I find fresh sheets and towels and blankets. We decide to have him sleep on the floor in our room so that he doesn’t wake up his siblings, with whom he shares a bedroom. Good thing, too, because an hour later comes round two.
Oh, the stomach flu. One of the most dreaded parts of parenting. And all with the apprehension of wondering who in the family will be next.
Before I started taking charge of my own health and learning more about natural remedies that work, I figured there’s nothing really to do but wait it out. You can’t really relieve the stomach flu with drugs or antibiotics. When I was a kid with the stomach flu, I drank stirred ginger ale and ate a lot of toast, which was (and still is) perceived to be gentle on the stomach.
Side note: it’s actually quite difficult for your gut to digest grains. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t ever have them; in fact, I purposefully don’t follow the Paleo Diet. However, your gut does have to work harder to digest certain things over others, and the stomach flu is not the time for that. In fact – in the GAPS book, Dr. Campbell-McBride comments that the first stage of the GAPS diet is also the ideal diet for anyone suffering from gastrointestinal upset, ie. vomiting and diarrhea. This diet is basically lots of softly-cooked (boiled) meat and vegetables, and loads of bone broth.
Anyway, now that I’m nearly seven years in to my crunchy/natural journey, I’ve nailed down a pretty solid plan of action for the stomach flu that works amazingly well to not only bring comfort and relief, but also to shorten the length and kick the germs to the curb faster than just letting them run their course.
So what happened that night last week? Well, the first kid vomited once, then I gave him some activated charcoal in a bit of water. He threw up again about an hour later. I gave a bit more charcoal. He went to sleep. The second kid started vomiting around 5am, and then again at 6am. We gave her charcoal and water, and she rested.
When we all woke for the day, we gave the non-barfing kid some charcoal as a precautionary measure, parked the kids on the couch with buckets and a netflix marathon, and told them to rest. They obliged, happily. There was one more incidence of vomiting (with the kid that had taken less charcoal), and each kid had a bit of diarrhea.
The kids rested and regained their energy that day, and were back to normal less than 24 hours later.
All day long they rested and watched a lot of netflix, and we focused on using the rest of our go-to remedies. Hubs and I didn’t get sick despite caring for our kids, and our littlest didn’t throw up at all. I was super impressed with these strategies!
Here are the things we did that day to kick the stomach bug to the curb.
Top 7 Must-Have Natural Remedies for Stomach Flu
1. Activated Charcoal
According to this article, activated charcoal has been used since 1550 BC for a variety of stomach ailments. It is now widely used in emergency rooms for poisoning treatment, and is also frequently used as an over-the-counter treatment for gastrointestinal upsets.
Activated charcoal works by adsorbtion (that’s not a typo: absorbtion is different than adsorbtion), meaning that it binds to the toxins and carries them out of the body. In our personal experience, it is extremely effective at stopping a stomach bug quickly.
I have this brand on hand at the moment. It’s in capsules, so for the kids I just open the capsules and stir the charcoal in to a 1/4 cup-ish of a water and let them drink it. It doesn’t taste bad – the kids drank it willingly. I recommend drinking with a straw because drinking too fast with a stomach bug will often cause vomiting.
2. Essential Oils
One of our go-to’s for sickness is a germ-killing blend of oils. I diffuse that in the living room air all day (on and off), and rubbed some on their necks, diluted in coconut oil. (I got my basic diffuser at Costco last fall. It’s similar to this one from amazon.)
I also rubbed some a blend of ginger, peppermint, tarragon, fennel, caraway, coriander and anise, each with properties specifically aimed at stomach/digestive upset.
3. Homemade Pedialyte or Coconut Water
I did some googling and found a bunch of recipes for homemade pedialyte. In the end, I decided to just get some coconut water instead. It’s a great source of natural electrolytes (which is basically the point of pedialyte, except that the pedialyte at the store has nasty added colors and tons of sugar), it’s easy on the queasy tummy, and it enjoys a whole host of other health benefits too.
My littlest loves the stuff, but my older two kids as well as myself all think it tastes like dirt. You can add a little unsweetened juice if you find it unpalatable.
UPDATE: Check out this DIY Electrolyte Replacement drink that we have now here at Red & Honey. Perfect for recovering from sickness!
4. Chicken Broth
Homemade bone broth is a staple at our house, sick or not. I’ve written a tutorial for how to make bone broth, which includes the totally brilliant (if I do say so myself) way I store it.
5. Boost immune system
As soon as tummies could handle it, we started to focus on strengthening our immune systems, including upping our vitamin D intake, and including extra probiotics in our diet (take probiotic pills if food sources are not available, ie. fermented foods). We also took elderberry extract and echinacea extract.
6. Ginger Tea
Ginger is widely known for its anti-nausea effects. This ginger tea is my go-to for any kind of stomach ache or digestive upset. Sip on some ginger tea in between the bone broth and coconut water.
7. Redmond bath salts
I have been a Redmond fan for years, and their bath salts are a fabulous addition to a warm bath when you’re feeling crummy to help you absorb some much-needed minerals back into your body. From their website: “Through osmosis, toxins are released from the body into the bath water, while trace minerals from the sea salt are absorbed through the skin.”
I also added a drop or two of lavender essential oil for its soothing and relaxing properties.
So that’s my go-to list of remedies that I keep on hand for stomach bugs. There are lots of remedies out there to try – these are what works for my family. We beat the stomach flu like a boss when we used these remedies. Cuz ain’t nobody got time for the stomach flu, amiright?
Sending you healthy, germ-free vibes today!
PS. here’s a bonus tip for you: when a child throws up in bed and you’ve got the clean sheets down, lay a bath towel on top of the pillow and the upper half of the bed so that you can just take the towels off and throw them in the wash next time, instead of changing the whole bed. It works for us!
Disclaimer: As always, I’m not a medical professional, and this is my official disclaimer that you should talk to a trusted health practitioner before treating yourself or anyone else, including natural remedies. Use your common sense and be sure to research contraindications and side effects.
I'm Beth. I created Red & Honey because I'm obsessed with the wild art of wellness.