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?
While you’re preparing yourself with stomach flu remedies, you may also want to think ahead for cold remedies too. Here’s my post on How to Stop a Cold Virus in 24 Hours and 7 Simple Habits to Keep Germs Away
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.
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Would you please let me know what blend of essential oils you use? I click on the link and it takes me to the generic link of Plant Therapy. I would appreciate it.
I always have extra sheets on the bed. I do waterproof sheet,sheet,waterproof sheet,sheet. Gives at least one extra layer to quickly get kids back to sleep in a clean bed.
Is it ok to give my 4 and 6 year old one capsule of activated charcoal in water per day to help prevent the stomach flu?
I have the 260 mg capsules. How much of the capsule should I put in water for a 2 year old I wonder?
What oil blend do you diffuse?
Great info and very timely. Thank you so much! I have a few questions.
Are the essential oil used in the diffuser the same oils rubbed on the body?
Is there a drink you recommend over coconut water if nut allergies are a problem?
If activated charcoal is in a capsule, why open it and pour it water? Thin vegetable and gelatin capsule usually dissolved within a few minutes. It seems it would be easier to get a capsule ingested with a swallow of liquid.
Thanks so much! 🙂
1) Yes, I use the same oils for both purposes, but always dilute for use on skin.
2) I didn’t know that a nut allergy included coconut. But if that’s an issue, then I’d go with this DIY Hydrating Electrolyte drink: https://redandhoney.com/diy-hydrating-electrolyte-drink/
3) I open the activated charcoal capsules for my kids who can’t swallow pills yet. I take them as capsules for myself. 🙂
Awesome! This all sounds great! !! I am off to get some activated charcoal and other stuff…..it’s 1am and i am sitting here with the bucket ready for my little girl when she needs me again. … 🙁
Thank you so much ?
Oh no! I’m sorry to hear your daughter is sick. I hope this will help her quickly. I haven’t tried taking activated charcoal internally myself, but I have read good things about it. Have you used it before?
Hi just curious if I can use the activated charcoal on my one year old??? She came down with the stomach bug today and can’t keep anything down. It’s so sad to watch her suffer like this 🙁
I’m not a doctor (disclaimer, etc. etc.) but… I’d definitely feel okay giving it to my one-year-old, personally. I’d just put a 1/4 teaspoon in a little cup of water (if she uses a cup, or maybe a sippy cup). You could even mix it in juice if necessary. I also have a recipe for a homemade gatorade/pedialyte-ish drink here, which may be helpful: https://redandhoney.com/diy-hydrating-electrolyte-drink/ Sending healing vibes and prayers your way! xo
Just woke up to one loosing his dinner all over the bed. We don’t have charcoal but will be getting some in the near future. We do the towel trick over a kid size twin air mattress in the middle of the dining/entry way on the easy clean fake wood floor. Just set up every diffuser and hit them both with eo. Love your other tips too!
i just found out that I am vitamin d deficient. I have been so sickly the past couple of months. Currently suffering some crazy stomach bug and a nasty cold all at once. Guess this explains it. I will have to read up on how vitamin d strengthens the immune system.
I haven’t tried activated charcoal, but I rea want to. My go-to with stomach bugs is pounding probiotic capsules and anything else fermented that I have in the house… My kids are still little, so I just give them probiotics if they’ll take them and make them wait it out 🙂
Also, with my kids it’s always hard to tell if it is a big or poisoning… My 16 month old is always eating weird stuff in the back yard 🙂
Such a timely post since the stomach bug has also visited our home this week. Hope your kiddos stay on the mend, and I’m going to finally pick up some activated charcoal to have on hand for next time!
Sorry to hear the stomach bug found you!