12 Natural Remedies for Stomach Pain

By Ashley Watson on 10 October 2011 26 comments
Photo: Evan Cooper

When I worked in the Wellness Department at the local co-op, one of the most common requests from customers was how to naturally ease stomach pain. From mothers with colicky babies to cancer patients, I've helped dozens of people choose the most effective and safest remedy for stomach problems.

As with any natural "cure," there are no guaranteed magic bullets, and I recommend seeing your doctor if you have chronic stomach pain. But if you've just eaten some funky take-out or if you're trying to relieve menstrual cramps, there are lots of natural alternatives to at least calm your belly.

Here's a list of twelve herbal and home remedies to help soothe many types of stomach discomfort.

1. Ginger

In addition to its anti-inflammatory properties and other health benefits, ginger aids in digestion and can ease stomach pains. Fresh ginger is the most potent form, and I recommend making a simple tea with it. While there are many recipes for fresh ginger tea, I suggest peeling and grating the ginger for the best results. If fresh ginger isn't available, there are many varieties of ginger tea on the market. (See also: 10 Reasons to Drink Tea)

Keep in mind that ginger can be spicy, so if you are sensitive to spicy foods, you may want to consider buying ginger supplements. Most health food stores carry the supplements, which can be found as pills or infused in a tincture. I wouldn't recommend drinking conventional ginger ale, since it is loaded with sugar, and if you look at the ingredients, most ginger sodas use artificial flavors and do not contain actual ginger. Reed's Ginger Brew is one of the more common natural ginger sodas, and it is sweetened with fruit juice and packed with real ginger. Some ginger candies contain real ginger, but most contain conventional sugar, which can upset the stomach.

2. Peppermint

Like ginger, fresh mint works the best to settle the stomach, and all you need is a cup of warm water and a few sprigs of mint to make a tea. Simply chewing on a mint leaf also works, and because mint is technically a weed, it grows well in most environments. You can also buy the tea or peppermint supplements. Peppermint candy tends to have sugar, so make sure you check the ingredients if you are buying regular mints. Mint also helps with digestion, stimulates the appetite, and it is one of the better remedies for menstrual cramps, particularly if you make tea with fresh mint.

3. Licorice or Fennel

Although licorice and fennel are two different plants, I have grouped them together because they are very similar in taste. If you do not like the taste of licorice, fennel, or anise, I would recommend using another remedy for an upset stomach. Licorice and fennel are found in many herbal teas, which is perhaps the easiest and most common form; however, they can also be found as supplements. If you like raw fennel, you can chew on a fresh slice of the bulb to ease indigestion or bloating after a meal. Licorice can be known to increase blood pressure and irritate ulcers, but only in large amounts, according to Medline. Many of the natural "stomach ease" teas contain licorice and fennel, so check the ingredients for the amount if you are concerned.

4. Chamomile

Not only does chamomile tea soothe an aching stomach, it can also calm the nerves. If you are having trouble sleeping in addition to a stomach ache, homemade chamomile tea may be exactly what you need. Dried chamomile flowers are usually sold in health food stores or herbal shops, but you can easily find chamomile tea on the shelf at any grocery store, since it one of the most common herbal teas. Add lemon for an extra tummy soother and flavor (see lemon water below).

5. Lemon Water

Lemon is one of the most versatile fruits you can buy. If you don't have mint, ginger, or other herbs at home, just squeeze half a lemon into a mug of warm water. You can also use lemon juice if you don't have fresh lemon, but you'll only need a few teaspoons.

6. Warm Saltwater

I have only used warm saltwater to help with a sore throat, but I have heard that this formula works wonders for an upset stomach. One cup of warm water with a teaspoon of salt is all you need. For best results, drink it as quickly as possible; however, I wouldn't recommend this if you have other health issues, such as high blood pressure.

7. Baking Soda

You don't need to buy Alka-Seltzer to ease heartburn or indigestion. Any of the antacids on the market are basically just sodium bicarbonate (baking soda). Mix one teaspoon (or two, depending on how strong you need it) into a cup of warm water, and you get the same results with a common household item.

8. Cola Syrup

This is another one I have not tried but was personally recommended. After a little research, I found that it has been used for years to treat an upset stomach, particularly because it tastes good and safe for children. The only issue is that it is a little trickier to find, but you can purchase cola syrup online. While I am partial to The Vermont Country Store, you can also find it at Amazon. I don't know what the secret ingredient is, but it seems to work for a lot of people.

9. Warm Rice Compress

Heat is one of the best ways to soothe stomach pain, especially cramps. If you don't own a heating pad, all you need is an old sock and some rice. Try to use a thick sock free of holes, and fill it with uncooked rice. Don't pack it too tightly, so that the grains have room to move around, giving it more flexibility. Tie the end and stick it in a microwave for about a minute. Make sure it isn't too hot before you place it on your stomach. You can also use flax seeds, which take longer to heat than rice, but they stay warmer longer. This works for sore muscles too, or you can put it in the freezer if you need a cold compress. Add dried lavender or chamomile flowers for a relaxing aroma.

10. Burned Toast

Charcoal is commonly used in hospitals for food or alcohol poisoning to help neutralize the toxins in the system. I suggest you go to the hospital if you suspect any kind of poisoning, but if you've just had one too many cocktails, the charcoal in the burned toast may help absorb some of the alcohol and neutralize the toxin. Black tea or anything with tannins (except wine in this situation) also helps neutralize toxins and process the alcohol in your system, which may be the reason coffee is prescribed to sober someone up. Toast is also part of the well-known acronym B.R.A.T. (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, Toast), which was commonly used to treat children with stomach aches or diarrhea. I would not recommend burned toast in this case. Lastly, if you are concerned about carcinogens in burned food, ask a doctor or visit the website for The American Cancer Society.

11. Aloe Vera Juice

During my year in the Wellness Department, Aloe Vera Juice remained one of our most popular supplements. While there are many claims about the benefits to Aloe Vera Juice, many of my customers had excellent results with drinking it for a number of different intestinal problems. But the number one reason people used it was to treat constipation. It can also help with gas, bloating, diarrhea, and cramps.

12. Apple Cider Vinegar

I use apple cider vinegar mainly as a natural cleaner or as an antiseptic, but it can also be used to assist with digestion, help absorb nutrients, and to treat stomach aches. Just put a few teaspoons in a glass of cold or warm water. To help absorb nutrients, drink it before the meal. Make sure you are using apple cider vinegar and not other types of vinegar.

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26 discussions

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Meg Favreau's picture

Stretching helps for me sometimes too, such as doing a backbend over an exercise ball.

Ashley Watson's picture

Definitely, Meg. I forgot to add that breathing deeply helps too, or simply lying down.

Guest's picture

I have Gastritis and Esophagitis. I was taking Prilosec, but it stopped working and I began to take Aloe Vera Juice. Works like a charm. It's been the best thing for me.

Guest's picture

#11- when you mention aloe vera juice, is this a certain form of aloe vera? i've gotten the aloe vera juice at the market and don't notice that it helps with digestion.

Guest's picture

Hi Amy, aloe vera is not good for people with type O blood. The ginger and charcoal is excellent.

Guest's picture

You have forgotten perhaps the most effective (for me) is, anis in the form of essential oil. I mix a litre of mineral water with 10 drops of this potent essential oil, apart from tasting nice it settles my digestive system when Im bloated up from eating badly. I keep a glass bottle with the anis water mix at work and at home, and just drink it like regular water. Beware : do not mix this essential oil in a plastic water bottle as it will disolve the plastic and never take any essential oil straight - always diluted.

Guest's picture

I think the effectiveness of the treatment depends on causes of your stomach ache. If it is because of indigestion and stomach gas, ginger tea works very well.

Guest's picture

Thanks David, because ailments like Diverticulosis, you cant take everything. Like Fennel or Apple cider vinegar it burns. Everything is not for everybody. Everybody's body is different. Thanks for your comment.

Guest's picture

Don't ingest number 7 then number 12.

Guest's picture

What about Green Tea? Is that good for stomach aches? I've heard that it is.

Guest's picture

Since childhood i used to do this, it really works...
1.take a glass full of warm water
2.take 10 grms of Raw ginger ( the outer layer should be peeled of )
3.crush it and mix both and stir for a while
and the drink is ready and you can also try baking the ginger while it is raw and have it. thank u for reading and have a speedy recovery bye.

Guest's picture

If its a food realted stomach pain then the best way to relieve is to goto the toilet and let it out. Simple as that.

Guest's picture

I swear by Life Savers Peppermints. They always calm my stomach down. I bug the big bags of individually wrapped mints and keep handfuls in my car and my desk at work. I'll have to check out some of the other ones listed.

Guest's picture

I just tried the chamomile tea for my tummy ache and it helped a lot. Thanks!

Guest's picture
Robert Morales

Ginger tea works great for me. It does really cure stomach pain, it can also help in treating cough. Though we need to know the situation first, if is it only a common stomach pain, it might work, but if not, some sort of hyper acidity or worst case, ulcer, we might need to consider another way.

Guest's picture

i have tried many home remedies and many otc remedies for heartburn/upset stomach and i have learned from experience that baking soda and Alka-Seltzer are NOT the same thing. for one thing, the ingredients are different. Alka-Seltzer includes potassium and citric acid. baking soda is simply sodium bicarbonate. for me, baking soda and water just doesn't cut it. i'm pretty sure i'm not alone in that. if you need some real relief from heartburn/upset stomach, i suggest finding a true remedy that helps. not just some old wives' tale recipe.

Guest's picture

I actually find it helpful. :)

Guest's picture

Good article but you should change number 7. Most OTC antacids aren't sodium bicarbonate. Calcium carbonate is a more common active ingredient. In my experience, sodium bicarbonate doesn't really work that well, and most people already ingest way too much sodium as it is. Potassium bicarbonate is a much better choice.

Guest's picture

Thank you very much for such informative remedies it really helps..

Guest's picture

Its pretty good that you list ginger first here. Its probably the absolute BEST for such a wide variety of stomach pains.

As far as the aloe vera goes, its best to buy some that is specifically made for use internally. Most companies make an aloe vera blend for topical use and another that is specific for internal issues. Quality matters here.

Guest's picture

When I just have the common stomache ache, I usually just have a plain cracker, like the SAO ones that have no salt. Another good tea for stomache problems is sage tea.

Guest's picture

Thank you for this I dance for a few hours every night, and nearly every night I get stomach aches, which puts me in agony. I don't want any pills for it, as putting that stuff in you every day can build up and be harmful. Thank you for putting this info up I am going to now performing in the nutcracker tomorrow (and for the next weekend . then the next after that) and dress rehearsal tonight, I am going to pack some ginger in my bag in case. Thank you!

Guest's picture

God bless you for this article. we nearly rushed to the clinic with my husbands stomach ache until I read your article and tried the charcoal. it worked like magic and he is deeply sleeping and not in pain again.

Guest's picture

I usually take lot of water when there is severe stomach pain. I also chew cinnamon seeds and drink some ginger tea to ease the pain. Gelusil and antacids also ease a lot. Better avoid eating outside. Home foods are the best.

Guest's picture

Well, baking soda and apple cider vinegar - if you have gastritis or a small ulcer they will cause you a lot of pain. It is important to know the source of the pain.

Aloe vera scrapped from the inside of the plant, not from the bottle, and raw (label has to say "raw") honey - are best, taken on an empty stomach. Honey works within 1-2 min, even a quarter of a teaspoon.

Guest's picture

Warm black coffee or tea mixed with lemon juice works like a charm for me since my childhood. And chewing a hand full of fennel seeds with very little sugar helps with stomach cramps and diarrhea. Where as eating lots of white bread helps with food poisoning.

Guest's picture
Michael Akuffo Addo

Warm salt work like magic .....for treatment of stomach ache .......
Grand Charcoal into water and take it immediately.