I have written about digestive issues before, more in the context of chronic bowel problems than for acute sickness.
Vomiting and diarrhea (V&D) is a fairly common thing in little kids these days and we often hear of it going around childcares and then coming home to be shared with the rest of the family.
N0r0v*rus (sorry for the shortcode!) is the medical term for a particular type of severe gastro, although it’s not often referred to by that name, possibly because we just call it a “gastro bug”, unless the stool is tested! This is quite a nasty form of vomiting and diarrhea and can be very infectious. No doubt these things are popping up a bit more after all the lockdowns of the past couple of years and the need to rebuild our immune systems keeps things circulating through the community.
If you’d like to read the detail on the N0r0v*rus, here is the NSW health page on the subject with all the relevant medical information.
The articles we share on our page and the remedy information is for the management of mild self-limiting illness.
If your home prescribing is not helping pretty quickly you should consider seeking medical advice.
Obviously if you have a baby with this type of presentation, which can quickly lead to dehydration and other serious issues, or if someone is very ill for a prolonged period of time, do check in with your GP, ED or call HealthDirect for advice.
Otherwise, gastro is generally something you can manage fairly well in the home.
Cause for concern
As above, V&D in babies and small children or gastro of long and severe duration.
If you experience any of the following symptoms over the longer term consult with your GP before undertaking home prescribing. Alternation of diarrhea and constipation or other change in bowel habits. Blood or mucous in or with the stool. Severe abdominal pain with or without vomiting.
How to avoid getting it!
Good hygiene is paramount of course and a good immune system helps.
Get Prepped/Travel Prepped – which are fairly similar – also include remedies for immune support and first stages of an acute – not just respiratory but also covers the gut.
Someone asked me today what else they could take in this context and I immediately thought of travellers diarrhea, where some people can be quite sensitive to picking up things, worry about it and can then be quite unwell.
Arsenicum Album (Ars Alb) has always been my go to for this, what we’d probably still call Bali Belly, and a 30c taken twice a week would be sufficient during this type of outbreak.
If you’ve been a close contact of someone who then comes down with gastro, you could take Ars Alb once a day for 3 days and increase (as long as it fits your symptom picture) if symptoms appear.
Remedies for Gastro
Short term and acute cases may respond well to some home prescribing. Below is a list of the most common remedies for V&D.
These are all common remedies which you will quite likely have in your home kit.
Our Gastro combination gets more positive feedback than almost any of our other remedies and a couple of doses can often help turn things around. This is my “don’t leave home without it” remedy for travel and for your home kit. Our best selling combination for a wide variety of tummy upsets.
As always if your remedies don’t appear to be of benefit, do contact your homeopath or healthcare provider for advice.
Arsenicum Album This is a good remedy for many digestive complaints, but particularly diarrhoea and vomiting which can be burning and cramping and quite severe. Think of traveller’s diarrhoea and similar. Burning pains are common – in the throat and stomach, so with reflux, extending all the way to the rectum. Weakness is usually out of proportion to the illness and they will be quite chilly and restless. They cannot stand the sight or smell of food and have a strong thirst but can take only sips at a time. These people are often quite anxious when they are sick!
Bryonia is helpful for nausea that is aggravated by motion (just getting up or bending over can bring on vomiting) and they are worse for motion generally. Their tummy may be very sensitive to touch but they are often a bit better for lying on it, so firm pressure. They are worse in a warm room and from heat and may feel better in cool or open air and from resting. Often very thirsty especially for cold drinks. Digestive symptoms may be accompanied by frontal headache, which can be worse for moving the eyes! This is a big constipation remedy with dry, burnt-looking, hard stool, which is painful to pass, and also for painful hemorrhoids which bleed and are worse for movement. No stool may be passed for days!
Carbo Veg – This is vegetable charcoal and is well known for its beneficial effect as a dietary supplement. Slow digestion with excessive accumulation of wind mainly in the upper part of the abdomen. Great distension of abdomen with offensive flatulence and/or constant belching, which can seem worse from most foods. They can feel better from the release of gas but it soon builds up again. They may desire fizzy drinks as they feel it helps in releasing it, but only temporarily. Diarrhea from fatty food or shellfish. May want a window open, fan on or to be fanned.
Chamomilla – Colicky pain which is severe and unbearable with very drum-like, distended abdomen. May have green diarrhea which looks like chopped spinach, especially during teething, but could apply to other situations. Complaints come on after anger (anger in breastfeeding mother) or child is irritable and angry with the pain. Irritable and constantly crying, can’t be pleased and babies want to be carried. Worse around 9am and 9pm and at night time generally. Better for being carried.
China – Abdominal distention with rumbling and wind and sometimes constant belching, which does not relieve. Post-operative distention and wind. Bitter taste in mouth. Extreme weakness after loss of fluids during vomiting and diarrhea. Lethargic and apathetic.
Colocynthis – Violent, colicky, twisting pains just below navel. Better passing wind, for bending double, pulling knees up or lying on stomach. Stool copious, frothy and yellow. May writhe around with the pain. Worse after fruit. A great remedy for acute IBS symptoms.
Ipecac – Persistent nausea with griping pains in the abdomen, headache and perspiration. Vomit may contain greenish mucous. Not better for vomiting. Symptoms worse in a car or looking at moving objects.
Mag Phos – For colic where the knees are drawn up with sharp crampy pains and for hiccoughs (!!). Symptoms are generally better for warmth, massage, bending double and pressure.
Merc Sol – Very offensive, often slimy and green diarrhea. Often worse at night with great straining but never feels finished.
Nux Vomica – This is a great remedy for many symptoms brought on by too much food, alcohol or work! These people are often “A type” personalities who overindulge in life and neglect their health, suffering indigestion after alcohol, rich, fatty food or coffee. They may experience difficulty sleeping, are prone to waking around 4am and can’t get back to sleep. They often experience the worst symptoms in the morning upon waking and can be very irritable. With constipation there may be an urge but no action and it’s a great hangover remedy! Vomiting 2–3 hours after eating with painful retching, especially after overindulging is common. Feels queasy with headache at back of head or over one eye. Food, tobacco or coffee make symptoms worse. Babies with colic may arch backwards and be worse from over feeding. Generally better from warmth, warm applications (hot pack), and warm drinks.
Phosphorus – Burning sensation in chest, craving for ice cold water which may be vomited up as soon as it warms in the stomach. Nausea and vomiting. Craving for cold water and may cause vomiting. Vomits as soon as food and drink warm up in stomach. Diarrhea after breakfast, from coffee. Many symptoms come on after fright or from over excitement
Podophyllum is useful for painless, profuse, offensive diarrhea which is expelled with gushing force. May be yellow-green/water with colicky pains or is painless. Can be accompanied by nausea and vomiting. There is often a lot of gurgling in the tummy and just before stool a lot of gas is passed. Useful in teething babies. Often worse in the early morning.
Pulsatilla – Indigestion after rich food with a feeling of pressure under breastbone, pounding heart, bad taste in mouth, nausea with or without vomiting and often a bit weepy. Tummy ache, nausea, vomiting from too much rich or fatty food or ice cream, which sits like a stone in the stomach. Diarrhea from pork and other fatty foods. They often feel worse in a warm room.
Sepia – Sudden empty feeling in stomach especially in the evening which feels better for eating. Sour taste in the mouth, white coated tongue and lots of wind, may be nauseated by smell or thought of food. Often craving for pickles and sour food. May feel better lying on the right side. Great for morning sickness if the symptoms fit.
Sulphur – Has frequent desire for stool, especially waking early with a need to go. The stool may be hard, dry, burning and difficult to pass or very loose, burning and offensive.
Veratrum Album – Severe diarrhea and/or vomiting with cold sweat, exhaustion and dehydration. Worse from the slightest movement. Think of this for very bad morning sickness!
I’ve left this section in under gastro, because these may also be useful remedies.
Aconite – Person is fearful of death and disasters. Symptoms come on suddenly and intensely, often from fear and anxiety.
Borax – Fear of sudden downward motion (such as in turbulence or on a boat).
Cocculus – Nausea and vomiting from just looking at a boat in motion. Sight of food causes nausea and sudden increase in saliva. Person is dizzy and worn out and wants to lie down. Empty feeling with sick headache.
Ipecac – Persistent nausea which is not better from vomiting.
Nux Vomica – Nausea and a sense of queasiness is often accompanied by a headache over one eye or at the back of head. Food, tobacco and coffee aggravate. Feels chilly, constipation, is usually irritable and there may be painful retching and gagging.
Petroleum – Feels hungry but feels full after a small amount. Sudden increase in saliva with dizziness worse for loud noise or by sitting up. Pain in back of head and neck.
Tabacum – Nauseous, giddy, faint, pale, cold and sweaty with sensation of tight band around the head. Much worse for cigarette smoke.
What to eat
If you have gastro you probably aren’t going to want to eat much anyway. Just make sure you keep up the fluids and you can introduce electrolytes to rehydrate if the individual has been quite unwell.
Also make sure you keep a very close eye on babies and small children and seek help if necessary.
The BRAT diet (banana, rice, applesauce, toast) has long been advice about what to eat during vomiting and diarrhea, however, I see that the medical professionals feel this is a little lacking in nutrition! Bland foods are the best way to go, so there is the medical advice on what other foods to include below.
From what I see with remedies for V&D, they work reasonably quickly (particularly the Gastro combination) and you are likely to find these bland, simple foods easy to introduce during recovery.
Bland foods include
- BRATS (banana, rice, applesauce, toast)
- Saltine crackers
- Clear broths
- Potatoes without added butter, cream, or cheese
- Sweet potatoes
- Steamed, baked, or grilled skinless chicken without fat
As diarrhea can lead to dehydration, it is important that people drink enough fluids. A person with diarrhea can drink a range of liquids, including:
- Clear broths
- Apple juice
- Herbal teas, especially ginger and peppermint
- Coconut water – this can be really good for rehydration
Cut out processed foods and sugar. This includes white bread, cakes, packet foods, white rice, white pasta, etc. Also avoid dairy as this may prolong the event.
Offer probiotic foods or a supplement once the patient is feeling like eating. You might have to save the yogurt, miso, fermented vegetables like sauerkraut and kim chi until they are really on the mend. Yogurt can be ok in some dairy intolerant people because it is fermented or you can buy coconut yoghurt or make your own.
Aloe Vera juice and coconut water are soothing for a sore tummy or take slippery elm ½ hour before meals, particularly if you are on other medications as it can inhibit absorption of drugs.
Little and often is better than just one meal in a day and will help with energy too.