Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning

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Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning
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If you’ve ever had food poisoning, you know how miserable it is. I always keep natural remedies for food poisoning in my natural medicine cabinet ever since I experienced food poisoning myself (many of these remedies I already had for other uses!).

After a lovely date with my husband on a Wednesday night, I started to have a weird feeling in my stomach. I drank some apple cider vinegar, which is my normal remedy for any kind of tummy troubles and the feeling went away… until 3 a.m.

At 3 a.m., I was awoken by that feeling of needing to vomit but not being able to. I spent the next few hours with horribly cramping stomach aches and awful nausea. Then the vomiting hit… and did it ever!

I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but basically, I couldn’t keep anything down, including water, for the next 8 hours and I had really bad stomach cramps, dizziness, chills, etc. In fact, I had every food poisoning symptom.

Causes of Food Poisoning

Food poisoning can be caused by bacteria, viruses, or parasites present in contaminated food. Some foods are more likely to carry these pathogens (like raw meat and other animal products) but any food handled improperly can become contaminated. I take food safety very seriously at my home, but we have less control when we’re out. However, we try to only eat at restaurants that have zero food safety violations to avoid food poisoning.

Some of the most common pathogens responsible for cases of food poisoning include:

  • Listeria
  • Salmonella
  • Campylobacter
  • Clostridium perfringens
  • Staphylococcus aureus
  • Escherichia coli (E. coli)
  • Shigella

The above common causes of food poisoning are not the only pathogens responsible for foodborne illness though. Despite there being many causes of foodborne illness, natural remedies for food poisoning should work for all of them.

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Food Poisoning?

Food poisoning is fairly easy to recognize. Symptoms include:

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Watery or bloody diarrhea
  • Abdominal pain and cramps
  • Fever or chills

The above symptoms may also be present if you catch a stomach bug, so it can be difficult to tell the two apart sometimes.

Food poisoning comes on quickly and strongly and is usually within a few hours (up to 6) after eating a meal. Bloody diarrhea is typically a symptom of food poisoning but not a stomach bug.

Food poisoning (also known as foodborne illness) is often more severe than a stomach bug as well. Stomach bugs (often caused by norovirus) may come on slower, last longer, and generally be less intense.

Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning

When I got food poisoning I was very happy to have a few natural remedies already at home ready to use. Here are the most common food poisoning natural remedies:

Apple Cider Vinegar

At some point when I had food poisoning, I was debating going to the hospital to get an IV so I would have some fluids to be able to nurse the baby. Then I remembered the apple cider vinegar (ACV) and how it had helped for a few hours. So I tried it again and it worked!

A 2018 study confirms apple cider vinegar’s ability to kill pathogens. Researchers discovered that ACV has antimicrobial properties against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus, and Candida albicans.

This is important because when it comes to food poisoning, we don’t want to just get rid of symptoms since they are doing their job of riding the body of the invader. But ACV actually helps kill the pathogen that causes food poisoning while offering some relief from symptoms.

ACV is safe for most people, including children and women who are pregnant or nursing. According to an article on Harvard Health Publishing, long term use may cause potassium level issues, insulin level issues, or tooth enamel loss, so it’s best to use it judiciously (like for food poisoning). Doses of 1-2 teaspoons of ACV mixed in water or juice is good for adults. For children, cut this dose in half.

At first signs of symptoms, I took equal parts water (or juice) and apple cider vinegar (organic, with the mother!) and that did the trick.

Activated Charcoal

I also remembered something I learned in a class long ago about activated charcoal being a fast remedy for food poisoning. Activated charcoal can be helpful in dealing with severe to life-threatening intoxications including food poisoning. It does this by binding to the pathogen and removing it from the body. Activated charcoal is safe for most people including pregnant or nursing women and children.

The review stipulates that activated charcoal should be taken as soon as possible after the ingestion for the best effect. Dosage is 0.5 to 1 g/kg body weight in children or 50 g in adults. It’s generally a good idea to taper off the dosage if you take it more than once. Dosages may be different for different people and cases, so it’s always good to check with your doctor.

I took way less than the recommended dose (1/2 tsp) activated charcoal mixed into applesauce after taking the ACV. Within a few minutes, I started to feel a lot better. I repeated the regimen until I didn’t have symptoms.

Herbal Tea

Another helpful remedy for food poisoning is herbal tea. As mentioned earlier, we don’t want to simply mask the symptoms of food poisoning because they are doing their job. So a remedy that eases upset isn’t necessarily what you want (though you would feel better in the short term). However, along with the above remedies that deal with the underlying cause, a cup of herbal tea can be very soothing to a sore stomach. Here are my favorite stomach soothing herbal teas:

These herbs are generally safe for children and pregnant or nursing women in small amounts, but to be safe, always check with your healthcare provider. In addition to easing stomach upset, taking small sips of these teas can help the body stay hydrated once vomiting has eased up a bit.

Recovering From Food Poisoning: Home Remedies

When the vomiting, diarrhea, and nausea start to subside, you’ll still want to be cautious about what you put in your stomach. Here are some ways to recover from food poisoning according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Disease :

  • Ease into food and drink – You may be especially thirsty after food poisoning, but you’ll want to ease into ingesting anything. Start with a few sips of water or tea and then drink a bit more if you’re still feeling okay.
  • Electrolyte water – For rehydration, drinking water or an electrolyte drink such as coconut water or an electrolyte drink can help.
  • Avoid some foods – It’s best to start with bland foods. Carbohydrates like sweet potatoes are a good choice when reintroducing food after food poisoning. Fruit may also be easy enough on the stomach. Bone broth is my favorite food for getting some nutrition without causing upset in the stomach. Stay away from dairy products, grains, legumes, greasy or fried foods, or anything else that could cause digestive upset.
  • Take it easy when getting back to your regular daily schedule – Give yourself a chance to recuperate and nap if needed. Food poisoning is draining on the body so you may need extra rest.

Bottom line: Give the body some time to get better before jumping back into a regular diet and daily schedule.

When to Call the Doctor

Pregnant women, children, and older adults are at higher risk of complications from food poisoning, so it’s best to call the doctor to get medical advice right away. If you’re nursing, you need to be extra attentive to your hydration levels and may need an IV for fluids. You may also want to call if you have:

  • bloody stool or vomit  I might add that certain kinds of bloody diarrhea can lead to more serious health complications – but you’ve got it covered by saying call the doctor if there is bloody diarrhea
  • severe stomach cramping
  • Inability to keep liquids down for 12-24 hours or signs of dehydration (excessive thirst, dry mouth, dizziness, little or no urination, severe weakness, or lightheadedness)
  • Diarrhea for more than three days
  • An oral temperature higher than 104 degrees F

Also, follow your intuition. If you feel that you need extra support, follow that feeling. Give your doctor a call and get medical care if needed.

This article was medically reviewed by Dr. Lauren Jefferis, board-certified in Internal Medicine and Pediatrics. As always, this is not personal medical advice and we recommend that you talk with your doctor or work with a doctor at SteadyMD.

Ever had food poisoning? How did you recover?

These natural remedies helped me overcome food poisoning in less than 24 hours. I used activated charcoal and apple cider vinegar.
Katie Wells Avatar

About Katie Wells

Katie Wells, CTNC, MCHC, Founder of Wellness Mama and Co-founder of Wellnesse, has a background in research, journalism, and nutrition. As a mom of six, she turned to research and took health into her own hands to find answers to her health problems. is the culmination of her thousands of hours of research and all posts are medically reviewed and verified by the Wellness Mama research team. Katie is also the author of the bestselling books The Wellness Mama Cookbook and The Wellness Mama 5-Step Lifestyle Detox.


92 responses to “Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning”

  1. Karen Avatar

    Giving this a try! I ate some raw asparagus this afternoon from the public market and forgot to wash it! I feel like such a dummy, but I know that is what is causing my symptoms. I hope it works! Just did my glass of water/Braggs apple cider vinegar with 2 activated charcoal capsules. Glad I already had both on hand!
    For tummy aches I usually just do a small glass of water with a tsp of baking soda and a squeeze of lemon juice. My kids love It And it seems to do the trick. Thanks!

  2. Joanna Avatar

    I just tried this remedy tonight after eating chicken earlier today. I woke up with strong symptoms and remembered this post. I’m already feeling better– thank you!!

    Quick question: any thoughts on brushing my teeth with the activated charcoal powder to restore the ph balance in my mouth right after a bout of food poisoning?

    1. Mellisa Kay Avatar
      Mellisa Kay

      I don’t know about the PH, but your teeth will be nice and white! (I use it bi-weekly)

  3. Anita Avatar

    Activated charcoal is not absorbed by the body so should be perfectly safe for pregnancy or nursing. All it does is adsorb (that’s right not absorb but adsorb) the poison and carry it out of the body. In a pinch regular charcoal will work too, it just has less surface area so is not as efficient. But be sure to use food grade charcoal (with nothing added).

  4. Tori Avatar

    Good to know! I had some shrimp pasta that sat out to long and I can feel it coming! Sending hubby to the store to get some charcoal powder and apple cider vinagar!!

  5. Carolyn Avatar

    Chamomile tea is an old remedy for vomiting and upset stomach/intestines, and very soothing, too. Will also help you to a restful sleep after a bout of vomiting. Don’t take if allergic to flowers.

    Here’s a link to the safety of herbs during pregnancy


  6. David Kersting Avatar
    David Kersting

    I wish I knew this on the 4th of July weekend. was down for 5 days

  7. Xahra Alexander Avatar
    Xahra Alexander

    My mom is sooo sick thanks for the info! i hope this works

  8. Randa Khouri Avatar
    Randa Khouri

    Is activated charcoal safe to use while pregnant? (not as a regular supplement, but just for acute needs)

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I’d ask a doc before taking anything while pregnant, but I do know of cases where it was used in hospitals for acute problems and I personally would take it if needed…

  9. Christina Mendoza Avatar
    Christina Mendoza

    When a family member had chronic diarrhea — which may or may not have been due to food poisoning — I searched for quite a while for a natural remedy to recommend that would work. The coconut cookies many people recommended did not help, but I finally found one obscure post that recommended turmeric tea. You make it with a teaspoon or so of turmeric powder mixed into a glass of warm water, and drink it. That really did the trick; the symptoms improved and then completely went away after a few doses!

  10. Mepin Avatar

    Is it safe to have the activated charcoal when you are breastfeeding?  that is my concern right now.  Stomach cramping for 4 whole days now and I remembered the charcoal thing, but wasnt’ sure it would go to my breastmilk.

  11. Kaybi Avatar

    I’ve used charcoal for years now, anytime my kids have any sort of stomach/ digestive anything. (I did learn to not be tablets, only capsules.) Never tried the vinegar, but I will keep it in mind. I used acidophilus at first, now I use my kefir milk &/or water … if nothing is staying down, just a tablespoon or so every 15 minutes. Charcoal to absorb bad stuff. Probiotic good guys to fight the bad guys.

  12. Jeri Avatar

    The symptoms for food poisoning are very similar to gallstones..Have you ever been checked for gallstones? I had the very same symptoms you were describing in this post, and like you I thought that I had food poisoning. This “food poisoning” usually happened after eating out- usually something fatty or greasy. But it didn’t come on right away, usually it would rouse me from my sleep. I always felt nauseous, as though if I made myself throw up I would feel better. I had god awful stomach pain. And usually after a bout of puking, the next day I was sore, but fine. This would happen to me every so often, and I never went to the ER/DR. to get myself checked out. Well, one day it got so bad I had to be rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. To make matters worse, I was also pregnant at the time, and baby and I spent 3 weeks in the hospital with gallstone pancreatitis. The baby is now a year old, she and I no worse for wear after that. But it is pretty serious stuff, and I wish I had known then what I know now. So that’s why I’m sharing this with you. Anyway, Hi! I found you on Pinterest and I am really digging your site. I’ve embraced my hippy mom side and have recently become a raw food vegan. Best wishes! Jeri.

  13. Kendall Avatar

    I am finally startIng to feel better after a horrible bout of food poisoning (I suspect a fast food chicken sandwich). The most important thing is to allow all of your symptoms to fully commence so you can get all the bacteria out of your system. Otherwise, you’re just going to prolong the illness. Then, you can start taking meds to control the nausea. I really like Nauzene tablets, which work in minutes. I am also sticking to the BRAT diet until I am 100%.

    1. Will R. Avatar
      Will R.

      I like the PRAT diet, PASTA, Rice, Applesauce and Toast. I was travelling with my family and had a HORRIBLE case of the stomach bug, my mom and sister caught it. The first thing I ate was fresh pasta and it was filling and didnt upset my stomach.

  14. Dana Avatar

    Is this just for food poisoning or throwing up for any reason?  Using the charcoal that is?

      1. Barry Scheiner Avatar
        Barry Scheiner

        Don’t forget 1 tablespoon of lemon juice known to kill parasites and bacteria. My wife and I always ask for lemons when we go to a restaurant. Squeeze it on food or in your drink. keep lemons in your fridge for emergencies. Plus the charcoal and Apple cider vinegar.

    1. Rebecca Avatar

      Charcoal is only for food poisoning. I wish that I had some tonight. So, I’m going with what I have…

      For upset stomachs, mix Apple Cider Vinegar, half with water, then add a tablespoon of Baking Soda, and drink instantly. If you can get a swallow or two into the stomach, it will usually settle within a few minutes. You can add sugar or honey if you need to. Add honey to warm water to help it dissolve.

  15. Britte Avatar

    Very interesting!  I didn’t even know you could buy activated charcoal for home use.  I will keep this post in mind, especially for my kids, who are prone to upset tummies.  I’ve never tried the apple cider vinegar in those instances, but I will!

  16. Kat Avatar

    Hi would other types of vinegar work?  I have fructose malabsorption and am meant to avoid apple cider vinegar. Thanks.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      I’d just skip the vinegar and just use the activated charcoal in that case.

  17. Kellyc Avatar

    I take high doses of probiotics (Garden of Life Primal Defense is my favorite.)for any gastrointestinal problems.  I will take 4-6 capsules, three times a day until symptoms stop.  Usually, I only have to take them once or twice.  I have stopped several very severe illnesses this way.  I empty the tablets into a small cup of water.  I use half of the dosage for the kids.  I also take a Mutaflor with each dose but it’s very hard to buy in the U.S..  I order it from Canada.

    1. Wellness Mama Avatar
      Wellness Mama

      Probiotics are great. I took them too, but still kept throwing up so much I don’t think the capsules had time to dissolve. Took a bunch after it all stopped though!

  18. Amanda Kaake Avatar
    Amanda Kaake

    Oh yes this is what we use too and it’s amazing!  Usually works within 15 minutes to 1/2 hour.  So glad you found this because while the expulsion of fluids doesn’t last over a couple days, the pain and weakness lasts for several days after that.

  19. Dazane Avatar

    Last Saturday night, while staying in a hotel, I became violently ill.  Started with diarrhea, then vomiting and diarrhea.  Began at midnight and continued until about 4 AM.  I have known for years the benefit of charcoal, so always travel with it, and took it at the first sign of discomfort.  I’m always a little late with it as I don’t want to lose the benefit of the meal and supplements I take with my meals.  But now that you’re advising folks what to do about this misery, let me share the recipe for “Black Magic,” which is a better way to go, especially with young children.  When my children were young the clerk in a Seventh Day Adventist bakery (this was during my bread eating days) shared this recipe when I told her how ill my little boy had been.  He had had diarrhea so badly that a neighbor talked me into giving him kaopectate.  Well, the directions were a tablespoon every time he went to the bathroom, so that’s what I did.  Soon he was green, the diarrhea continued only in much smaller volume, and he complained contantly of wanting to have a bowel movement.  Soon I figured out that I had created a blockage with the kaopectate.  That was when I learned of Black Magic.  1 tablespoon of charcoal powder (or tablets or capsules), 1 tablespoon slippery elm, and 1 tablespoon of carob powder, all blended together in the blender with enough honey to make it palatable.  The kids loved the stuff because it was black and they could pretend crazy adventures about drinking weird black stuff.  The charcoal soaks up everything, the slippery elm helps move it out, and, I’m told, the carob powder helps heal the gut.  After only one glass of Black Magic my little guy was dancing around the living room and singing, “I’m well!  I’m well!”  Even if the potion gets vomited up, it soaks up enough that there is still benefit.  Once I’m better after a digestive upset of this kind, I pull out a jar of blackberry applesauce and  eat small dishes of that until I feel like eating a normal diet.  Of my three sons, one of them never leaves home without charcoal, another has it in the house, though his wife thinks it’s goofy, and the third, alas, is a product of the AMA and would rather subject his gut and liver (and those of his little family) to the ravages of prescription medication.  🙁

    1. Dazane Avatar

      Hey, I forgot the all important 8 ounces of tepid water with this concoction.  Sorry.  I hope no one tried it without the water.  -dazane

      1. Mike Avatar

        I’ve used about 200mls of colloidal silver and lay down for at least half an hour, I wonder if there could be some super combo if the charcol didn’t absorb the silver could chase the black honey goo down with a small cup of colloidal silver ….homework time just don’t want to get food poisoning again.

        Its correct the long term effects can linger as bad bacteria live in the gut untreated. Certainly not worth ignoring

        1. Patti truckey Avatar
          Patti truckey

          You use just the colloidal silver? No water? No charcoal. I’m confused. Sorry

    2. Lana` Avatar

      How much of the “black magic” do you put in water? How much do you take at a time? How often do you take it? Is it one teaspoon of the mixture to 1 cup of water? Room temperature water?

    3. Maylene Avatar

      I’m like 5 years too late.. but can you break the recipe? please.. my kids ranges 12 weeks ( though I wouldn’t give it to him), 3, 5, 7 & 8 years old I’m trying to find something when the tummy bug comes around..

    4. Heather Avatar

      This is so much better than what the Adventists advised me. I think they said carob plus a nut butter – ouch on sensitive insides! Just made some for myself and already it feels better. Thanks!

  20. Amy Avatar

    I’ve had food poisoning twice in my adult life, both from fast food — big surprise there, huh?

    First time from some bad oysters (lesson #1: don’t eat fast food fried oysters at 1:00am).  I didn’t know what to do so I suffered through two days of vomiting and other fun things, and another day trying to recover.  My body decided that I should never eat shellfish again, and I had an allergic reaction the next time I ate some, complete with hives and a swelling tongue.  Haven’t touched shellfish in years because of this.

    Second time, I was traveling in Germany and ate something bad at a well-known, worldwide burger chain because I needed to grab a meal while on the Army base (lesson #2…).  Being in Germany, I was able to easily find activated charcoal at a local shop.  That solved the problem pretty quickly the first day.

    I wish I had known about the apple cider vinegar then.  That stuff is amazing!!

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