‘Tis the season for overeating. And we are eating foods that are greasy, rich, and hard on our systems. And stressed. And drinking. And there are a million other factors that can make you feel not-so-great during this time of year, especially when it comes to digestion. Whether holiday jitters are giving you an upset tummy, or you’re just feeling a little queasy after overdoing it at the neighbors’ Christmas party, here are 12 ways to start feeling better almost immediately.
12 Upset Tummy Remedies
Peppermint is acclaimed for settling an upset tummy, and can also be beneficial for indigestion or nausea. It has antispasmodic properties that can calm you and your digestive system down. It also works to help your stomach empty its contents into the intestine more easily, so you don’t feel so full when you’ve overeaten [source]. A cup of mint tea is great for this, but you can also try taking a whiff of peppermint essential oil or—if you’re in a pinch—chew on some mint gum or suck on a piece of mint candy.
If your tummy ache is due to overdoing it on rich foods, not getting enough fiber, or drinking too much, a spoonful of plain, unsweetened yogurt or a sip of kefir should help get your gut bacteria back in balance. You should try to do it a couple of times a day for at least a week to get the best effects. I swear by ginger kombucha when I’m nauseous or queasy. If you’re up to eating, a couple bites of kimchi or fermented veggies can also help to restore that healthy gut bacteria. You can also take probiotics in capsule form.
3. White Rice or Rice Tea
Normally we’d be telling you to stick to brown rice, but if your stomach is topsy-turvy and you’re hitting the bathroom more than you’d like, then the blandness of white rice helps calm down your digestive system without shocking it by adding too much fiber when it’s irritated.
If you don’t feel like eating, you can drink rice tea, which is the water left over from cooking rice. Start with twice the water you normally would so you have water left. Or you can eat the rice made with the extra liquid, which is consumed as a breakfast porridge called “congee” in Asia.
4. Aloe Vera
If you have that persistent sort of acidy feeling during the holiday season from rich foods and overeating, aloe vera has been shown to help out. In a study that included patients with GERD symptoms, aloe vera syrup used for two weeks showed a reduction of symptoms leading the authors to recommend it as a safe and effective treatment [source].
It’s also helpful for that constipation that arrives in the season with the stress, travel, and not consuming much in the way of dietary fiber [source]. Aloe vera juice is easy to keep in your fridge and be added to orange juice or any drink to help control that stomach upset.
5. Apple Cider Vinegar
In addition to its use for evening out skin and combating fruit flies (and so many other uses), apple cider vinegar can alleviate stomach cramping and heartburn. Taking ACV alone on an empty stomach can make you feel temporarily worse, so you may want to dilute it with water or put it in juice if you haven’t been eating much.
Fennel is often used in Chinese medicine to cure stomach aches. In India, the seeds are chewed after meals to improve digestion. And in Persian traditional therapies, fennel has been used, along with other dietary modifications, to help with gas and bloating [source]. Crush up a teaspoon of seeds, opt for a cup of fennel tea, or take a fennel capsule to get those natural tummy-taming effects. Bonus: It also freshens breath!
7. Fizzy Water
This is my go-to when I’m a little nauseous, feeling stuffed and queasy because I overate, or if I just don’t quite feel quite right in the tummy area. Carbonation can have the opposite effect for some people, though (especially if you’re also bloated or gassy), so this method may require a little trial and error.
Caution: It will make you burp—a lot! Quick hint: add a teaspoon of baking soda to the water for its extra soothing benefits.
The stems and roots of licorice have long been known for their anti-inflammatory and antioxidant capabilities. This pleasant-tasting plant has been shown to help with healing ulcers and injury to the stomach lining from taking anti-inflammatory medicines like aspirin or ibuprofen [source].
Licorice supplements have been used successfully for the symptoms of dyspepsia, such as bloating, gassiness, nausea, belching, and more [source]. Here’s one licorice root supplement that is easy to take when needed, and it’s already combined with aloe vera for that extra soothing relief.
Nausea doesn’t stand a chance against ginger’s healing properties [source]. Remember when your mom would give you ginger ale to settle your stomach? A cup of ginger tea, or chewing on a piece of candied or fresh ginger, works even better. (In one study, it worked as well as Dramamine [source].)
The use of chamomile in infant colic by many cultures makes it not so surprising to see it in this category. If you’re experiencing stomach cramps or indigestion, its anti-inflammatory properties in a cup of chamomile tea will soothe your stomach lining and calm the muscles near your digestive system, helping to move things along, and get rid of gas and bloating [source]. It’ll also help you sleep if your stomach ache is keeping you up at night.
11. Fenugreek Seeds
Heartburn and constipation have both been treated with fenugreek seeds, which are full of antioxidants and fiber to keep your digestion happy and healthy. And it has even been shown to improve the diversity of bacteria and modulate the effects of a high-fat diet on the gut microbiome [source]. Sip a cup of fenugreek tea, sprinkle a teaspoon of the seeds on your food, or take it in capsule or liquid form.
If you’re constipated or having cramps, a heating pad set on medium or a hot water bottle will help move things along and relax the muscles in your abdominal area. Try some healing castor oil packs when you’re feeling better (and not menstruating or pregnant) and see if things improve overall—you might find you experience less indigestion and digestive upset due to their gut-calming abilities.
This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Gina Jansheski, a licensed, board-certified pediatrician who has been practicing for more than 20 years. Learn more about Hello Glow’s medical review board here. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor.228