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This is a post I hadn’t intended to write. But, we had the unfortunate experience to have stomach flu late last week, so I thought at least I can help others who might get sick! We were able to treat this flu entirely with natural remedies, even though I know that some would have been attempted to try some drugs or head to urgent care at certain points. So I’d really like to share what worked for us.
Be prepared: I’m going to be rather detailed about our symptoms and experiences, so if you’d rather not read that, skip ahead or don’t read this post!
Wednesday night we went to bed, all of us feeling fine and expecting a completely normal Thursday. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Ben woke up at 4 am, sick. He spent the next three hours in the bathroom, both throwing up and having diarrhea every 5 or 10 minutes. He came out to talk to me around 7 am, saying that I needed to help him because he was so nauseous he could not settle down at all. He was also shaking with fever and chills at that point and was tired and weak. I know many would have called a doctor, visited urgent care, or have tried some type of anti-nausea drug at this point just to settle the stomach. We didn’t, although Ben wanted to briefly (take the one anti-nausea drug we actually still have).
I got up and did a little research and here is what I ended up doing:
- 2 cups of warm, strong black tea (3 tea bags in 6 or 8 oz. of water) with 1 tbsp. raw honey
- 2 activated charcoal pills
- Cups of hot stock with sea salt
- Ice water
- Probiotic pills (triple coated)
Strong tea was the first strategy to quell the nausea. It immediately stopped the vomiting and diarrhea, although Ben felt more nauseous and strange at first. Then he felt better. When he stopped drinking the tea (he had one cup while I was out buying the activated charcoal and other things), he started to feel more nauseous again. When I got back, I offered him a second cup along with the activated charcoal. This helped a lot. He was only sick once more, after he tried a lemon rehydration drink (homemade) and it irritated him. But, this definitely worked to stop the extreme nausea.
The only side effect was that since Ben does not ever consume caffeine, the amount present in these cups prevented him from sleeping most of the day. I’d still do it again because it enabled him to feel better and rest, though.
Later in the day I offered Ben a couple cups of hot, homemade chicken stock with sea salt. This made him feel worse, but not actually sick. This is because it causes a detox effect and was pulling the junk out of his system. After a couple hours it made him feel better and he was not sick anymore.
At that point I offered ice water and probiotic supplements to begin building up his system again.
The biggest takeaway for us, though, was that he got so sick because his body is not where it needs to be. He needs to get on the GAPS diet again in order to overhaul his system. It is not only the brief stomach illness; he also has known, ongoing yeast issues, allergies to dairy and grains, weakness, etc. We’ve been essentially putting “band aids” on it by eating WAP and using natural products. It helps but it hasn’t fixed anything. This was kind of the “final straw” for us. I’ll be writing more about this in the upcoming weeks.
In the meantime, I tried to prevent the rest of us from getting sick. Here is what I did:
- Probiotic pills every hour or so (I don’t usually like supplements but I didn’t have any real source of probiotic foods I could get quickly so pills it was)
- Drinking kombucha throughout the day, for additional probiotics (Bekah does not like it, though)
- Extremely nourishing foods, no junk food, and no sugar
- Soup made from fresh stock, vegetables, and chicken; no grains
Did it work? Well…yes and no. Bekah and I both got sick anyway, just 18 hours after Ben. Daniel did not. I suspect it’s largely because Daniel was born the healthiest of all of us and has never struggled with allergies and gut issues the way the rest of us have. So, he was primed to fight it off, and with extra nutrition and probiotics, he did just that. Bekah and I, however, were not as sick as Ben had been.
For us it started around 10 PM. Bekah woke up crying, having thrown up in her bed. We cleaned her up (and I got sick as I was trying to deal with her because I’d already started feeling nauseous) and put her back to bed. But she quickly threw up again, so Ben took her downstairs and gave her a bucket. She kept throwing up every 5 or 10 minutes for awhile, then a few more times through the night. She slept in bed next to Ben, while I slept downstairs. Unfortunately Daniel knew something was up and wouldn’t sleep either, so Ben got only three hours of sleep between them.
I gave Bekah strong tea with honey and activated charcoal when she started throwing up stomach acid. It slowed, but did not stop the vomiting. However, by early the next morning, barely 12 hours later, she was fine. She spent the rest of the day playing and running and eating with no problems. For her it was just allowing it to run its course, mostly.
I was sick the least of any of us. I mostly felt very sleepy and did not want to move; I felt much more nauseous if I had to get up (was sick three times, several hours apart). I slept fitfully at night, sipping water on occasion. I slept awhile longer in the morning once everyone was up, and finally got a couple good hours of sleep mid-afternoon. That was when I felt better. I was never nauseous enough to need the stuff Ben did; I just needed to sleep.
So, there are several ways to handle stomach flu naturally! Here is a summary of what your goals should be (what mine were):
- Stop frequent vomiting/diarrhea (if constant or every 5 – 10 min.) to allow rest (see solutions below)
- If possible, get rest/sleep
- Try a warm bath with lavender oil and epsom salts to help relax and detox
- Give sips of homemade stock with sea salt after stomach has been settled and hopefully sleep
- Give probiotic supplements or foods (non-dairy like water kefir, kombucha, fermented veggies) in small amounts
- Continue to allow rest/sleep as much as possible
- Give soup made without grains (stock, veggies, meat) slowly
- As long as there is no more vomiting/diarrhea, begin to give applesauce, bananas, or other bits of food. Stay away from grains, though, because these are hard on the stomach.
- Continue to give plenty of probiotic foods and stock in the days following the illness, slowly easing back into a normal diet
Ways to stop extreme nausea:
- Activated charcoal pills
- Very strong black tea with raw honey, slightly warm
- Small sips of ginger or fennel tea; follow up with ginger pills
- Small sips of aloe vera juice
- A few drops of peach bit brandy
- Peppermint essential oil on a cold compress
How do you handle stomach flu in your home? What works to stop extreme nausea, naturally, for you?
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