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Published on April 19, 2018

13 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache (Simple and Effective)

13 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache (Simple and Effective)

It’s back. That I-feel-like-I-was-punched-in-the-stomach sensation that leaves you hunched over, nauseated, and without an appetite. We’ve all been there, whether because we ate something bad or because there is another digestive health issue at play. Either way, you need relief – fast.

Before you rush off to the pharmacy to pick up a big bottle of Tums or chug Pepto Bismol, I’d like you to consider these home remedies for stomach ache that can not only take the edge off quickly, but help to address the reason why you have the stomachache in the first place.

Below are 13 home remedies for a stomachache:

1. Take a “shot” of apple cider vinegar

Apple cider vinegar packs a big and beneficial punch when it comes to our digestion. It helps to balance the acidity of the stomach, which we need a certain level of in order to even break down food fully.

Oftentimes we actually lack enough acid in our stomach, despite popular belief that we have too much, and this can make digestion quite difficult. Stomachaches are one of the telltale signs of too little acid in the stomach.

Add 1 tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to a cup of water and drink it as soon as you can to help boost acid production and begin relieving your stomachache. It can also help to do this in advance of eating to stimulate digestive function early on.

2. Give yourself an abdominal massage

If your stomachache is due to constipation, giving yourself a gentle abdominal massage can help move things along and relieve the blockage that may be causing the stomachache.

Massaging this area lightly with your forefinger and middle finger in a clockwise motion stimulates muscle contractions and helps break up food that may be stuck in the intestines, either due to overeating, not chewing thoroughly, dehydration, or a lack of enzymes or acid to break down the food in the first place.

Of course, all of these potential inhibitors to digestion should be addressed (and the tips in this post will help you to do so) but massaging can be a quick way to get things moving along and relieve the stomachache in the moment.

3. Do 5 minutes of breath work to focus the body on digestion

Especially if you were stressed when eating, or if you experience chronic stress, that can take a toll on digestion.

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The body has two states: “fight or flight” or “rest and digest”. If you’re experiencing a stressor, such as from work, the body is in “fight or flight mode” to address the stress, not rest and digest to focus on digesting food. This makes digestion particularly difficult, which can often result in a stomachache.

To reset the body for digestion, taking a few deep breaths can help to recenter it and shift its focus to digesting your food. At the onset of a stomachache (and ideally before sitting down for a meal), take 3-5 really deep breaths in and out to help reduce the stomachache.

Watch this video to learn some deep breathing exercises (if you want to go straight to the techniques, go to 3:10):

4. Drink extra water

As mentioned earlier, oftentimes stomach pain is due to constipation and cramping of the intestines. A big contributor to that is dehydration.

Water not only helps hydrate the colon and speed up elimination, it’s also a key nutrient for the mucosal lining, which supports the small intestine bacteria for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Lack of water can cause constipation and acid reflux, among other things, so be sure to take in about 70oz of water per day to stay fully hydrated.

To remind yourself to drink enough water, try one of these free water drinking apps. They make drinking more interesting and keep you healthy.

5. Take a digestive enzyme

Our bodies need 3 categories of enzymes in order to break down food: lipase for fat digestion, amylase for carbohydrate digestion, and protease for protein digestion. Many of us lack proper levels of each of these enzymes due to over-medication, poor digestive function, and a nutrient-poor diet lacking in foods containing these enzymes.

Supplementing with digestive enzymes in the short-term can be a good option if digestion is impaired. Taking one after a meal if a stomachache comes on can help curb the pain and support digestion, and ideally, you should get in the habit of having one before the meal, as that’s the optimal time to take one.

6. Chew on a fresh piece of ginger

Like apple cider vinegar, ginger is another fantastic natural stimulant to digestion.

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If you have a piece of fresh ginger in your house, or you can quickly go out to the grocery store to get some, break off about 1 centimeter of it and chew on it for a few minutes. This stimulates digestive fire (meaning your acid secretions and muscular contractions) to keep things moving along and relieve your stomach pain.

7. Drink aloe juice

The aloe plant is beneficial for more than just soothing a sunburn. It also plays an important role in digestion. Just as it’s soothing to your skin, it can soothe the cells in your digestive tract.

If your stomach isn’t agreeing with the food you ate, low-grade inflammation may be at play, and aloe can help to soothe that and help ease the system.

Drink 1/3 cup of pure aloe juice (be sure there is no sugar added as these kinds have minimal nutritional value) upon getting a stomachache to comfort your digestive tract.

8. Have a warming cup of bone broth

Similar to aloe juice, bone broth offers numerous benefits to our digestion. Not only is it potentially anti-inflammatory, it’s also extremely healing.

Bone broth is rich in both collagen and gelatin, which help to repair damage to cells. If you eat a nutrient-poor diet, have a known digestive health condition, or have taken medications that may have compromised the integrity of the digestive tract, cellular damage may have occurred and bone broth is a great way to begin repairing.

At the onset of a stomachache, drink 1 cup of warm bone broth (ideally organic) and take a few deep breaths. (As you can see, many of these tips pair well together!)

Here’s how to make organic bone broth:

9. Apply peppermint essential oil to the abdomen

Like the benefits that ginger and apple cider vinegar offer, peppermint essential oil acts in a similar way. If you don’t have ginger or ACV on hand when a stomachache hits but peppermint oil in your cabinets, this can be a great way to help relive the pain.

Peppermint offers a number of digestive health benefits, most notably it can help to reduce muscle spasms in the gastric lining and colon.

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Mix a few drops of peppermint essential oil with a carrier oil like fractionated coconut oil and rub across your abdomen wherever discomfort is occurring.

If you don’t have peppermint oil but you have peppermint tea, this can be equally beneficial and soothing to drink.

10. Make lemon tea or water

Lemon is another go-to for digestive health remedies. Lemon also helps to entice proper digestive secretions to ensure your food is properly broken down and moving along in your system.

If your stomach isn’t feeling so great after a meal, make a hot lemon tea, or simply add 1 tbsp of lemon juice to a cup of water and sip on it to help relieve the stomach pain.

Here’s more you can’t miss about the benefits of lemon water: 11 Benefits of Drinking Lemon Water (And How to Drink It for Good Health)

If you really want to kick it up a notch, you could also add 1 teaspoon of apple cider vinegar to your lemon water. This is also a great combination to have before a meal.

11. Rest, rest, rest!

Trying to push through the pain of a stomachache often only makes it worse. Especially if bloating is accompanying your stomachache, you’re feeling quite uncomfortable.

It would benefit your body to sit down and relax for a little while. This gives your body time to focus its energy inwards and resolve the issue that caused the stomach pain.

While resting, try to incorporate a few of the tips covered so far, such as deep breathing, doing an abdominal massage, or drinking a soothing tea. Even just a few minutes of this can be quite beneficial.

12. Eat a high-fiber snack

Fiber plays a critical role in digestion, from regulating beneficial bacteria growth, to moving things along in the digestive tract, to detoxification of the colon. If your diet lacks fiber, digestion may suffer, which can result in issues like frequent stomachaches.

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An easy way to address it is to simply add in more fiber. Foods like leafy greens, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, chia and flax seeds are all high in fiber.

Eat a handful of nuts or seeds, make a small green salad or add chia or flax seeds to a juice or small smoothie csn help address a potential lack of fiber and begin relieving the stomachache.

13. Evaluate what you ate

It’s important to know if what you ate was the direct cause of the stomachache. While this may not help you in the moment, it can give you good information going forward.

If, for example, you ate a lot of dairy or sugar and you find you most often get stomachaches when these foods are in your meals, that’s a signal from your body that you may either lack the ability to properly break them down (this is what lactose intolerance is) or that these foods simply don’t agree with your body.

It may be helpful to start a food journal where you write down everything you eat so that you can better correlate it with digestive upset, like stomachaches.

Treating your stomach well: Your action plan

While any number of factors can bring on a stomachache, the good news is you have many easy at-home remedies that you can now use to address it.

Taking the last point into consideration, it’s important to identify if any foods in particular trigger an upset stomach so you can begin to reduce or remove them from your diet (temporarily or long-term). Knowing how to address a stomachache if and when it comes on is far more beneficial than trying to just push through the pain and discomfort.

What’s more, most of these foods and tips provide digestive health benefits beyond just relieving the stomachache in the moment; they can also can promote better digestion in the future.

Be sure to also consider using some of the pre-meal recommendations provided in this post, such as drinking ACV or water before a meal to help overall digestion.

Let us know which of these tips was most useful to you, or which you are excited to try next!

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Kristin Thomas

Functional Nutrition Practitioner and Health Coach

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Published on November 14, 2018

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

Why You Suffer from Constant Fatigue and How to Deal with It

With our busy, always on lives, it seems that more and more of us are facing constant tiredness and fatigue on a regular basis.

For many people, they just take this in their stride as part of modern life, but for others the impact can be crippling and can have a serious effect on their sense of wellbeing, health and productivity.

In this article, I’ll share some of the most common causes of constant tiredness and fatigue and give you some guidance and action steps you can take to overcome some of the symptoms of fatigue.

Why Am I Feeling Fatigued?

Fatigue is extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.  It is a reduction in the efficiency of a muscle or organ after prolonged activity.[1]

It can affect anyone, and most adults will experience fatigue at some point in their life. 

For many people, fatigue is caused by a combination of lifestyle, social, psychological and general wellbeing issues rather than an underlying medical condition.

Although fatigue is sometimes described as tiredness, it is different to just feeling tired or sleepy. Everyone feels tired at some point, but this is usually resolved with a nap or a few nights of good sleep. Someone who is sleepy may also feel temporarily refreshed after exercising. If you are getting enough sleep, good nutrition and exercising regularly but still find it hard to perform, concentrate or be motivated at your normal levels, you may be experiencing a level of fatigue that needs further investigation. 

Symptoms of Fatigue

Fatigue can cause a vast range of physical, mental and emotional symptoms including:

  • chronic tiredness, exhaustion or sleepiness
  • mental blocks
  • lack of motivation
  • headache
  • dizziness
  • muscle weakness
  • slowed reflexes and responses
  • impaired decision-making and judgement
  • moodiness, such as irritability
  • impaired hand-to-eye coordination
  • reduced immune system function
  • blurry vision
  • short-term memory problems
  • poor concentration
  • reduced ability to pay attention to the situation at hand

Causes of Fatigue

The wide range of causes that can trigger fatigue include:

  • Medical causes: Constant exhaustion, tiredness and fatigue may be a sign of an underlying illness, such as a thyroid disorder, heart disease, anemia or diabetes.
  • Lifestyle-related causes: Being overweight and a lack of regular exercise can lead to feelings of fatigue.  Lack of sleep and overcommitting can also create feelings of excessive tiredness and fatigue.
  • Workplace-related causes: Workplace and financial stress in a variety of forms can lead to feelings of fatigue.
  • Emotional concerns and stress: Fatigue is a common symptom of mental health problems, such as depression and grief, and may be accompanied by other signs and symptoms, including irritability and lack of motivation.

Fatigue can also be caused by a number of factors working in combination.

Medical Causes of Fatigue

If you have made lifestyle changes to increase your energy and still feel exhausted and fatigued, it may be time to seek guidance from your doctor.

Here are a few examples of illnesses that can cause ongoing fatigue. Seek medical advice if you suspect you have a health problem:

Anemia

Anemia is a condition in which you don’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry adequate oxygen to the body’s tissues. It is a common cause of fatigue in women.

Having anemia may make you feel tired and weak.

There are many forms of anemia, each with its own cause. Anemia can be temporary or long term, and it can range from mild to severe.[2]

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS)

Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is a condition that can cause persistent, unexplained fatigue that interferes with daily activities for more than six months.

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This is a chronic condition with no one-size-fits-all treatment, but lifestyle changes can often help ease some symptoms of fatigue.[3]

Diabetes

Diabetes can cause fatigue with either high or low blood sugars. When your sugars are high, they remain in the bloodstream instead of being used for energy, which makes you feel fatigued. Low blood sugar (glucose) means you may not have enough fuel for energy, also causing fatigue.[4]

Sleep Apnea

Sleep apnea is a serious sleep disorder where sufferers briefly stop breathing for short periods during sleep. Most people are not aware this is happening, but it can cause loud snoring, and daytime fatigue.

Being overweight, smoking, and drinking alcohol can all worsen the symptoms of sleep apnea.[5]

Thyroid disease

An underactive thyroid gland means you have too little thyroid hormone (thyroxine) in your body. This makes you feel tired and you could also put on weight and have aching muscles and dry skin.[6]

Common lifestyle factors that can cause fatigue include:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Too much sleep 
  • Alcohol and drugs 
  • Sleep disturbances 
  • Lack of regular exercise and sedentary behaviour 
  • Poor diet 

Common workplace issues that can cause fatigue include:

  • Shift work: Our body is designed to sleep during the night. A shift worker may confuse their circadian clock by working when their body is programmed to be asleep.
  • Poor workplace practices: This may include long work hours, hard physical labour, irregular working hours (such as rotating shifts), a stressful work environment, boredom or working alone. 
  • Workplace stress – This can be caused by a wide range of factors including job dissatisfaction, heavy workload, conflicts with bosses or colleagues, bullying, or threats to job security.
  • Burnout: This could be striving too hard on one area of your life while neglecting others, which leads to a life that feels out of balance.

Psychological Causes of Fatigue

Psychological factors are present in many cases of extreme tiredness and fatigue.  These may include:

  • Depression: Depression is characterised by severe and prolonged feelings of sadness, dejection and hopelessness. People who are depressed commonly experience chronic fatigue.
  • Anxiety and stress: Someone who is constantly anxious or stressed keeps their body in overdrive. The constant flooding of adrenaline exhausts the body, and fatigue sets in.
  • Grief: Losing a loved one causes a wide range of emotions including shock, guilt, depression, despair and loneliness.

How to Tackle Constant Fatigue

Here are 12 ways you can start tackling the causes of fatigue and start feeling more energetic.

1. Tell The Truth

Some people can numb themselves to the fact that they are overtired or fatigued all the time. In the long run, this won’t help you.

To give you the best chance to overcome or eliminate fatigue, you must diagnose and tell the truth about the things that are draining your energy, making you tired or causing constant fatigue.

Once you’re honest with yourself about the activities you’re doing in your life that you find irritating, energy-draining, and make you tired on a regular basis you can make a commitment to stop doing them.

The help that you need to overcome fatigue is available to you, but not until you tell the truth about it. The first person you have to sell on getting rid of the causes of fatigue is yourself.

One starting point is to diagnose the symptoms. When you start feeling stressed, overtired or just not operating at your normal energy levels make a note of:

  • How you feel
  • What time of day it is
  • What may have contributed to your fatigue
  • How your mind and body reacts

This analysis may help you identify, understand and then eliminate very specific causes.

2. Reduce Your Commitments

When we have too many things on our plate personally and professionally, we can feel overstretched, causing physical and mental fatigue.

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If you have committed to things you really don’t want to do, this causes irritability and low emotional engagement. Stack these up throughout your day and week, then your stress levels will rise.

When these commitments have deadlines associated with them, you may be trying to cram in far too much in a short period of time.  This creates more stress and can affect your decision making ability.

Start being realistic about how much you can get done. Either reduce the commitments you have or give yourself more time to complete them in.

3. Get Clear On Your Priorities

If working on your list of to-do’s or goals becomes too overwhelming, start reducing and prioritizing the things that matter most.

Start with prioritizing just 3 things every day. When you complete those 3 things, you’ll get a rush of energy and your confidence will grow.

If you’re trying to juggle too many things and are multi-tasking, your energy levels will drop and you’ll struggle to maintain focus.

Unfinished projects can make you self-critical and feel guilty which drops energy levels further, creating inaction.

Make a list of your 3 MIT (Most Important Tasks) for the next day before you go to bed. This will stop you overcommitting and get you excited about what the next day can bring.

4. Express More Gratitude

Gratitude and confidence are heavily linked. Just being thankful for what you have and what you’ve achieved increases confidence and makes you feel more optimistic.

It can help you improve your sense of wellbeing, which can bring on feelings of joy and enthusiasm.

Try starting a gratitude journal or just note down 3 things you’re grateful for every day.

5. Focus On Yourself

Exhaustion and fatigue can arrive by focusing solely on other people’s needs all the time, rather than worrying about and focusing on what you need (and want).

There are work commitments, family commitments, social commitments. You may start with the best intentions, to put in your best performance at work, to be an amazing parent and friend, to simply help others.

But sometimes, we extend ourselves too much and go beyond our personal limits to help others. That’s when constant exhaustion can creep up on us.  Which can make us more fatigued.

We all want to help and do our best for others, but there needs to be some balance. We also need to take some time out just for ourselves to recharge and rejuvenate.

6. Set Aside Rest and Recovery Time

Whether it’s a couple of hours, a day off, a mini-break or a proper holiday, time off is essential to help us recover, recharge and refocus.

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Recovery time helps fend off mental fatigue and allows us to simply kick back and relax.

The key here, though, is to remove ourselves from the daily challenges that bring on tiredness and fatigue. Here’s how.

Can you free yourself up completely from work and personal obligations to just rest and recover?

7. Take a Power Nap

When you’re feeling tired or fatigued and you have the ability to take a quick 20-minute nap, it could make a big difference to your performance for the rest of the day.

Napping can improve learning, memory and boost your energy levels quickly.

This article on the benefit of napping is a useful place to start if you want to learn more: How a 20-Minute Nap at Work Makes You Awake and Productive the Whole Day

8. Take More Exercise

The simple act of introducing some form of physical activity into your day can make a huge difference. It can boost energy levels, make you feel much better about yourself and can help you avoid fatigue.

Find something that fits into your life, be that walking, going to the gym, running or swimming. 

The key is to ensure the exercise is regular and that you are emotionally engaged and committed to stick with it.

You could also walk more which will help clear your head and shift your focus away from stressful thoughts.

9. Get More Quality Sleep

To avoid tiredness, exhaustion and fatigue, getting enough quality sleep matters. 

Your body needs sleep to recharge.  Getting the right amount of sleep every night can improve your health, reduce stress levels and help us improve our memory and learning skills.

My previous article on The Benefits of Sleep You Need to Know will give you some action steps to start improving your sleep. 

10. Improve Your Diet

Heavy or fatty meals can make you feel sluggish and tired, whilst some foods or eating strategies do just the opposite.

Our always on lives have us reaching for sweets or other sugary snacks to give us a burst of energy to keep going. Unfortunately, that boost fades quickly which can leave you feeling depleted and wanting more.

On the other hand, whole grains and healthy unsaturated fats supply the reserves you can draw on throughout the day.

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To keep energy up and steady, it’s a good idea to limit refined sugar and starches.

Eating small meals and healthy snacks every few hours throughout the day provides a steady supply of nutrients to body and brain. It’s also important not to skip breakfast.

Eating a balanced diet helps keep your blood sugar in a normal range and prevents that sluggish feeling when your blood sugar drops.

11. Manage Your Stress Levels

Stress is one of the leading causes of exhaustion and fatigue, and can seriously affect your health.

When you have increased levels of stress at work and at home, it’s easy to feel exhausted all the time. 

Identifying the causes of stress and then tackling the problems should be a priority. 

My article on How to Help Anxiety When Life is Stressing You Out shares 16 strategies you can use to overcome stress.

12. Get Hydrated

Sometimes we can be so busy that we forget to keep ourselves fully hydrated.

Water makes up about 60 percent of your body weight and is essential in maintaining our body’s basic functions.

If we don’t have enough water, it can adversely affect our mental and physical performance, which leads to tiredness and fatigue.

The recommended daily amount is around two litres a day, so to stay well hydrated keep a water bottle with you as much as possible.

The Bottom Line

These 12 tips can help you reduce your tiredness and feeling of fatigue.  Some will work better than others as we are all different, whilst others can be incorporated together in your daily life.

If you’ve tried to make positive changes to reduce fatigue and you still feel tired and exhausted, it may be time to consider making an appointment with your doctor to discuss your condition.

Featured photo credit: Annie Spratt via unsplash.com

Reference

[1]Oxford English Dictionary: Definition of fatigue
[2]NHS Choices: 10 Reasons for feeling tired
[3]Verywellhealth: What is chronic fatigue syndrome
[4]Everyday Health: Why does type 2 diabetes make you feel tired
[5]Mayo Clinic: Sleep apnea
[6]Harvard Health: The lowdown on thyroid slowdown

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