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.
Sources
  1. Yagnik, D., Serafin, V., & Shah, A. J. (2018). Antimicrobial activity of apple cider vinegar against Escherichia coli, Staphylococcus aureus and Candida albicans; downregulating cytokine and microbial protein expression. Scientific Reports, 8(1). doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-18618-x https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5788933/
  2. Zellner, T., Prasa, D., Färber, E., Hoffmann-Walbeck, P., Genser, D., & Eyer, F. (2019). The use of activated charcoal to treat intoxications. Deutsches Aerzteblatt Online. doi: 10.3238/arztebl.2019.0311 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6620762/
  3. Shmerling, R. H. (2020, April 22). Apple cider vinegar diet: Does it really work? Retrieved from https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/apple-cider-vinegar-diet-does-it-really-work-2018042513703
  4. Treatment for Food Poisoning. (2019, June 1). Retrieved from https://www.niddk.nih.gov/health-information/digestive-diseases/food-poisoning/treatment
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. WellnessMama.com 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.

Comments

92 responses to “Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning”

  1. M. Ann Avatar
    M. Ann

    One ounce of silver kills anything that is growing in your stomach from food poisoning. I have used it twice for myself and once for a child who has food poisoning. Plus it tastes good and doesn’t block the absorbsion of nutrients from the food. If you’re really nauseous then sup small amounts.

  2. Amy Avatar

    I haven’t tried the ACV-but I will certainly add that to my food poisoning Arsenal. I just got food poisoning late last night (the second time in three months!!), at first it started out as a constant stabbing pain, and then….well….you know the rest. I took activated charcoal tablets right away, and was able to muster through my day of driving an hour and a half into the city to record a radio commercial, and drive an hour and a half back. I’m not saying the charcoal made me magnificent, but it did the trick to try to be my normal self as much as possible for a few hours. This case of food poisoning seems to be worse than the previous, but last time I licked it in less than 24 hours by using the charcoal!

  3. Anne Christina Avatar
    Anne Christina

    I’m currently on day 2 of food poisoning. I drank activated charcoal in water last night when the symptoms began – at 3am! I couldn’t keep the water down so I waited until today to repeat. I didn’t try with the apple cider vinegar, but I’ll give it a shot after reading your post. So far, it’s been a slow recovery. I’ll probably go to the doctor if it doesn’t go away by tomorrow morning.

  4. Lorraine Shore Avatar
    Lorraine Shore

    This was a lifesaver last night. Thank you so much. I’ve never felt so sick and it was rapidly getting worse- this stopped it in it’s tracks. Many thanks!

  5. Heather Avatar

    What if you think it’s food poisoning but it’s not. Are there any adverse side effects if it is something else? Can children consume activated charcoal?

    1. Katie - Wellness Mama Avatar

      If you take too much without water it can constipate you, so always take with water. I’ve given to my children when they come down with a stomach bug without issue, but always check with your doctor with any concerns.

  6. Lizzy Avatar

    Hi, I live overseas and often times we get stomach stuff. We cannot buy ACV there but we can get White Vinegar. Would that work as well?

    I would love to know if I can stop it before the bush dogs get an awful late night dinner and I have to watch them!

  7. Rosie Avatar

    Thank you, thank you. Although my food poisoning was mild compared to what it could have been, I was still in so much discomfort after the rough part was over and doubted I would be able to fall back asleep. I came across this post, and the activated charcoal I had randomly bought was put to use, along with ACV. Soon after I was able to get back to sleep with much less discomfort.

  8. Jason Avatar

    Well, I’m almost 48 hours into suffering with food poisoning or a virus. It’s Friday 7:30. Tuesday night I bought a side of fried chicken at Whole Foods in a plastic container and when I brought it home, it was kinda soggy. Foolishly I ate it any way. The next af about 4:00, I felt an urgent call to use the bathroom, it was diarrhea, but brown, no big deal. Then I went to yoga, felt great all night, cam home and finished the bulk of that soggy chicken. Couple hours later at midnight it began. The cramps, the diarrhea, the sleeplessness. Next day, yesterday was the absolute worst. Fever up to 101.5 ( today it’s 99 ) Sweate, chills to the point of rigors and shaking. I do feel better today but not much. I am taking AC, ACV, ginger tea, staying hydrated. On the B.R.A.T diet today. I’m so exhausted. The thing that concerns me is that my diarrhea is black, blackish green…it’s just liquid mainly at this point. At what point do I go to the doctor ? Technically day 2 of this is not over, so maybe it’s too soon, perhaps I should wait til tomorrow ? In any event, this completely sucks. Thks everyone for your comments

  9. Erica K. Avatar
    Erica K.

    I’ve only used the charcoal for my boyfriend since he has had food poisoning twice since we’ve started dating. It works great! Just a few things for people to know, since a lot of people ask the same questions. As a chemical engineering student and also a person who believes in holistic medicine, I have come to learn about activated charcoal a bit.

    1) Some applications of activated charcoal include drinking water filters, gas masks, air scrubbing processes, medical use for pill overdoses in hospitals, etc. Do some research on other uses – you might be amazed!

    2) it only adsorbs things in the body (as someone already stated before me); it isn’t a nutritional supplement, nor is it toxic in any way. It is safe for anyone to ingest; eating is fine just before or after use. Just don’t take it if you’ve taken medication or supplements within the past hour or so, since it’ll very likely “suck thenm up”. Otherwise, it doesn’t matter if you take it with water or vinegar, because there’s nothing to the charcoal but elemental carbon.. just be sure to wet the powder.

    3) it’s completely safe for pregnant or breastfeeding moms; activated charcoal is pure carbon. And it’s much safer than most “mainstream medicines that doctors claim or believe are safe for us, even infants or young children.

    4) Activated carbon or activated charcoal can be found in the fish section of a pet store; it is not only the same thing, but it will be far cheaper than the tablets in the supplements section of the same store. Just grind it up with a coffee bean grinder or a pestle and mortar, since it’s usually in pellet form, or looks like mini flagstones (not very easy to ingest this way, and less surface area). If it applies to you, you can even buy some on Amazon!

    5) Lol, anything can be considered “toxic” or bad when used improperly. Inhaling charcoal powder isn’t a good idea, as it isn’t a good idea to inhale just about anything in powder form. Would you inhale cinnamon? It can be very bad or even toxic for your lungs, and can permanently damage them. Does that make cinnamon bannable or life threatening? Not when used properly..! The same things can be said about anything – why do people spread paranoia so needlessly and irresponsibly? Just wet the powder. All problems solved!

    6) the source of plain activated carbon isn’t going to matter (i.e. whether it is “organic” or not) in terms of functionality, safety, or being edible.. because by definition, organic in terms of chemistry simply refers to compounds made of carbon, nitrogen, and hydrogen molecules (with carbon being the backbone). The main thing that would be a “concern” is that the surface area will vary based on the substance and process used for it (will consist of burning stuff at very high temps until only Carbon remains). **”Organic charcoal” is a marketing scam..!** Just be sure to get plain activated charcoal, and not a product that is “enriched” or specifically made to eliminate other things (some charcoals are enhanced with other things to improve the effectiveness of adsorbing particular molecules and such).

    7) activated charcoal has plenty of other uses around the house. Brush your teeth with it for a toothpaste that is across the board better than all toothpastes for everyone, definitely including those with sensitive teeth or halitosis (maybe even your dog if you’re adventurous)! Make a charcoal face mask that would be more effective that store bought products containing charcoal! Add charcoal to homemade bar soap recipes! You can even use it in a first aid kit for poisonous bites or drug overdoses (of certain things)! No household should be without activated charcoal!

    1. Tam Avatar

      Activated charcoal is great, but I do think like all things, you need to research. Since capsules are most convenient to take, it can rise up towards the throat a while later and can be inhaled that way. I’ve had a small amount come up through my nose, and also coughed some out and I could tell it had gotten into my lungs. Although I ended up being ok, ( I took 2 capsules), it can be dangerous if enough has gotten into the lungs.
      I remember that i laid down for a nap soon after taking it and probably didn’t give it a chance to get into my stomach so some rose back up.

      Another problem can be severe constipation if enough has been taken. I oddly get diarrhea at first, then constipated later. Some people have had bowel obstruction from it and surgery as a result. If you’re taking meds that already constipated you be careful.
      Drink lots of water or as mentioned before, put powder straight into yogurt etc (something that has weight to it, not just water), then still drink a lot of water.

      Just got food poisoning from bad rice this morning and can tell it’s working, plus it’s helped me with flu and toxins/inflammation built up in the body.

  10. Deyna Avatar

    I’ve used Kombucha before, along with gingerale…real ginger, not the fake stuff. I imagine the probiotics in both Kombucha and ACV is key. I also take probiotics. Nux vomica, too. I would try anything to avoid upchucking, but that, too makes one feel better!

  11. Isabel Avatar

    Thanks for the information :). I’ve had success with charcoal as well but don’t tolerate apple cider vinegar. So instead I’ve used grapefruit seed extract in water. Coconut water helps rehydrate too once you can tolerate liquids. However, drinking plain water in the first 24 hours or so may cause more vomiting (as has been my experience).

  12. Kency Avatar

    Hi,
    I have a couple of questions:
    Do you mix the apple sider vinegar and the activated charcoal together? Where can I get activated charcoal? Also, is it necessary to open the charcoal capsules or, you can just swallow them?

  13. MJ Avatar

    Is it safe to mix it all and get all the remedy in in one go? I thought acv, ac, honey, water mixed in one glass would be a good way to thwart this impending consequence…now I know I shouldn’t have eaten the leftover rotisserie chicken, but I was hungry and had lost track of how long ago I bought the chicken since I had my hands full with 3 cases of head lice on top of the usual single working mom gig

    Is there a health/safety reason or is it up to one’s personal preference how to take the acv and activated charcoal? In all my searching, I don’t see any mention of people mixing the activated charcoal powder into a glass together with acv.

    I started to concoct this remedy for what is only a sour stomach for now, THEN had second thoughts about mixing the powder and acv since every mention descibes essentially ingesting the two separately.

    And thank you for the post about head lice treatment. The pediatrician suggested Rid (yikes!), but I wanted to find an EFFECTIVE & natural treatment. Head lice treatment is still a pain in the butt, but I can sleep better knowing I had a healthier option for my family.

  14. Jane Baspire Avatar
    Jane Baspire

    For the first hour I thought I was dying there after I wished I would…
    I’ve now had food poisoning of unknown origin and cause for a month. I swear it was caused by the soy sauce I was sprinkling over everything but as yet my specimens haven’t cultured anything other than the lab staff, my doctor and 2 specialists all agreeing I have some bug.. they are all just unsure which one.

    I’ve had 3 different antibiotics, taken probiotics and just now my gastro specialist has called saying nothing is growing and they only other option to try is Activated charcoal hence I googled it and ended up here.

    I’ve lost 15 kgs in a month, not that I mind, I needed to lose weight but OMG this is so not the way to go.

    So, Activated charcoal here we go, its going to be an interesting journey!

  15. alisa Avatar

    Saftey of activated charcoal.
    Hi I went to my pharmacy to buy charcoal and was told by my pharmacist the canadian goverment has now banned due to the folling health risks. I thought you should know. FROM ASPERATING THE CHARCOAL. Obliterative bronchiolitis, a life-threatening condition.

    1. Ali Avatar

      That is why it should be added to water, yogurt, applesauce or some other medium before swallowing. They didn’t need to ban it – just put some proper instructions on it.

      Any powder inhaled could potentially cause problems, even dust. Will they ban that too…..??.

    2. Vittoria Avatar

      Just wanted to confirm – I also live in Canada and have bought activated charcoal (sine 2015 onwards up until 2020 now) in both Ontario and B.C. at regular pharmacies (in addition to health food stores). I had never heard of it being banned, so I’m not sure if the pharmacist was mistaken in this regard.

  16. Nicki Avatar

    Thank you so much for the great information. I had some bad fish Wednesday night and have been suffering since. I just added one tablespoon of the charcoal to plain yogurt with some honey, took some acv (it wasn’t eaay) and the colloidal silver and my head and stomach are already feeling clearer. I wish I had thought to search for a natural remedy 2 days ago! Thank you again!!!

  17. Kelly Avatar

    I found this a bit too late for me but found it in time for my husband. Not sure – this may have been norovirus we had (started after a visit to a restaurant). While it did not make the misery go away completely my husband avoided the projectile vomiting the rest of us had – making recovery and the entire process easier for him. I will keep the cider vinegar and charcoal stocked in the medicine cabinet – thanks so much!

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