Even in developed countries with safe food supplies, millions of people end up with food poisoning. According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 1 in 6 Americans suffer from food poisoning every year, usually due to improper food preparation or unsafe cooking practices. Careless handling of food can spread dangerous bacteria, parasites, and viruses—especially when dealing with raw meat.
Different pathogens cause different symptoms. However, because they usually enter through the digestive tract, most instances of food poisoning include nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea, often accompanied by headaches, fatigue, and dehydration. In extreme cases of food poisoning, you may develop a high fever, hard or swollen extremities, and dehydration. In these instances, you will need to seek medical attention. In more mild cases, however, your symptoms will not be dangerous, even though they are extremely unpleasant. Do your best to stay hydrated, drink liquids, avoid solid food, and rest as much as possible.
In addition, try one of these natural treatments to help resolve your symptoms more quickly.
1. Apple cider vinegar
The acid in apple cider vinegar works as an antibacterial agent, helping to kill off the food-borne pathogens causing your food poisoning. It may also help balance the acid in your stomach, decreasing nausea and reducing the duration of your symptoms. Mix equal parts apple cider vinegar and water, and sip slowly; drinking too quickly can trigger more vomiting.
2. Ginger tea
Although it won’t treat the cause of your food poisoning, ginger can help moderate your symptoms. It has anti-inflammatory compounds that decrease nausea, calm gastric upset, and reduce the severity of diarrhea. In tea form, it can also minimize your risk of dehydration and help you avoid a trip to the hospital. Bagged tea will help, but the best results are associated with brewing tea from fresh ginger root and allowing it to steep for at least five minutes.
3. Activated charcoal
Activated charcoal can reduce both the symptoms and duration of food poisoning. It absorbs toxins in your stomach and intestines, speeding up the rate at which they’re flushed out of your body. Activated charcoal is available in tablet form, and should be taken every 2-4 hours. You can also mix powdered activated charcoal with a mild food (such as applesauce) if you find that easier than swallowing pills.
4. Milk thistle
Milk thistle is a long-used herbal remedy for food poisoning. It helps your liver process toxins, decreasing the duration of your food poisoning. It is also typically gentle on the stomach, making it an excellent treatment choice when you are already suffering from nausea or diarrhea. It is available in tablet form, but be sure to only take one tablet at a time and wait several hours to make sure it does not make your stomach more unsettled.
Whether taken in supplement or food form, probiotics increase the colonies of healthy bacteria in your gut. When you are suffering from food poisoning, they assist your body in fighting off the invading bacteria, improving symptoms of diarrhea and nausea and helping you recover more quickly. Even after your symptoms fade, taking a probiotic can restore the balance in your digestive system so you feel back to normal more quickly. If you are up to consuming slightly solid food, both probiotic yogurt and kefir will help. Otherwise, take 1-2 probiotic supplements per day.