An upset stomach is no fun. You’ve just indulged in a delicious meal, perhaps you may have eaten a little too much or the food wasn’t the healthiest, but you’ve enjoyed your meal nonetheless, now you’re saddled with heartburn, gas, bloating, or perhaps even a stomach ache or nausea. Formally, an upset stomach is known as dyspepsia or indigestion and is quite common.
An upset stomach can be caused by eating food that you are sensitive to, for example, dairy, wheat, alcohol, or spicy food. These foods cause your gut to become inflamed which can cause pain and cramps, or generate lots of gas, etc. Eating too much or eating hard to digest foods can also cause indigestion, and even anxiety and stress can cause it.
If you’re like most people, you’ll reach for antacid or antispasmodic, but these medications can have side effects and most often they contain aluminum which can build up in your system which isn’t good at all. In fact, taking painkillers for your stomach ache can make things worse as these medications often cause inflammation in the digestive system too. Rather use honey for an upset stomach.
Is Honey Good for an Upset Stomach?
Honey has been used for centuries to treat illness. In terms of using honey as a digestive aid, most of the evidence that is out there is anecdotal. But there are some properties that honey has that may explain why many find relief after taking it:
- Honey has an anti-inflammatory effect.
- Honey has oligosaccharides (a type of sugar) which work as a prebiotic. This means it feeds the good bacteria in your gut which help to ensure good digestion and overall health.
- Honey has antimicrobial properties which help to get rid of bacteria which can cause an upset stomach and diarrhea. You can use manuka honey for stomach pain, especially if it’s caused by stomach flu specifically because of its powerful antimicrobial properties.
- Honey can help with constipation
How to Use Honey for an Upset Stomach
Honey is very versatile so you can use it on its own or with other helpful remedies that may help for some of the symptoms that honey doesn’t cover. When choosing honey, be sure to go for raw honey. Many experts recommend manuka honey for the stomach. This is because you can tell by the UMF rating (the grading system) which should be 16 and above whether your honey actually has medicinal properties (2).
Processed honey is often stripped of all the beneficial enzymes because of the heat that is applied to it. Some brands of processed honey are also made up more of high fructose corn syrup than of actual honey. Be sure that when you buy honey that you are getting the real thing.
1. Plain Honey
Eat a tablespoon of honey. This can help with the inflammation and give your gut a boost. If you have diarrhea due to bad bacteria, eat 2-3 tablespoons of honey per day.
2. Honey and Tea
Honey and tea go together so well and certain herbs and spices are very beneficial for an upset stomach. If you try to use honey for a stomach ache by itself, you may not get the relief you need as quickly. But you can add some honey to warm (not hot) tea to help with inflammation, pain, cramps, diarrhea, constipation and gas. The best teas to drink are:
- Peppermint tea (avoid it if you find that it makes your heartburn worse)
- Chamomile tea
- Rooibos tea
- Ginger tea
- Turmeric tea
- Black tea
- Green tea
- Fennel tea
- Anise tea
You’ll be able to find some of these teas in most stores either in tea bag or loose-leaf form. If you are using the herbs or spices to brew the tea at home you will likely need to brew them for 10-15 minutes if they are fresh or you can sprinkle the dried form in the cup, up to a teaspoon will do it, and brew it for 5 minutes.
3. Honey and Lemon Water
Lemon is also said to help for digestion both due to the fiber content and vitamin C which boosts your body’s defenses. It also helps to stimulate the production of bile and digestive enzymes which is very necessary for digestion. You can drink this before a meal or after.
- Add a tablespoon of honey to warm water
- Squeeze in the juice of half a lemon (try to include some of the pulp in the water too)
- Mix it together and drink it
Note: Rinse your mouth with water to prevent the acid from the lemon from eroding your teeth after drinking this remedy. You can also add the lemon juice to tea.
4. Honey and Baking Soda
If you don’t mind the strong taste, you can also mix together:
- A tablespoon of honey
- A ¼ teaspoon of baking soda
- If you prefer, you can dilute it in a glass of water
- You can also add a tablespoon of lemon juice, you can consume this mixture it while it fizzes
Note: Never consume more than 5 teaspoons of baking soda a day as this can cause your body to become too alkaline which is dangerous. If you used lemon as well, rinse your mouth out with water after taking it.
5. Honey as a Glaze, Marinade, or Sweetener
Honey works well as a glaze for cooking meat, especially pork, it can be used in sweet and sour sauces, and marinades too. If you struggle with excess gas and pain due to constipation, eating oatmeal can help. Use honey to sweeten the oatmeal.
You can also sweeten plain yogurt which will help your gut out as yogurt contains good bacteria, but make sure that the brand of yogurt you buy contains live cultures. The yogurt can also soothe heartburn.
Tips and Precautions
- Honey should not be given to kids who under a year old. Honey is safe during pregnancy, however.
- Don’t eat honey if you are allergic to pollen or propolis.
- If you are a diabetic, eat honey in moderation as it is mostly made up of sugar. It is slightly healthier than sugar but it will still spike your blood sugar levels which should be avoided as much as possible if you suffer from diabetes.
- If you experience severe pain or your symptoms don’t resolve with the use of natural remedies, you should schedule an appointment with the doctor. You may need to have tests done to rule out any food sensitivities or other health conditions. With this clarity, you can proceed with the correct treatment.
- Eat smaller meals and reduce your intake of spicy or fatty foods and see if this helps.
- If you find that a specific food triggers your indigestion, rather avoid it. Common culprits are fatty foods, spicy foods and condiments, acidic foods like tomato and lemon, chocolate, coffee, sodas, and alcohol.
- Don’t wear tight clothing. Tight clothes, especially pants will create pressure in your abdomen which can cause acid reflux (heartburn), gas, and a sore stomach.
- Try to avoid eating dinner any later than 3 hours before bedtime. You can also try sleeping slightly upright if heartburn bothers you at night. You can use extra pillows to prop yourself up.
- Exercise is good for your overall health and your gut, but don’t exercise directly after eating. Wait at least a half an hour.
- If your upset stomach is due to stress or anxiety, you may find herbs helpful. You can also try meditating and breathing exercises. Make time to do things that you enjoy and delegate the work that others can help you with.
- If you have severe diarrhea or vomiting for more than 2 days, you should see a doctor, this could be due to food poisoning or a more serious health condition.
Honey for an upset stomach is a great remedy, but we are all different. If it hasn’t worked for you or if you are unable to eat honey, you can try one of these other remedies for upset stomach. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them in the comment section below.