My Favorite Remedies for Upset Tummies (and the Stomach Virus!)
With 4 children, upset tummies are inevitable - more so during the winter season. Add in that we have 2 children that we know have disrupted gut flora (due to choices made prior to learning better), they can be quite sensitive at times.
Thankfully, the plants have the answers for us.
Herbs for Upset Tummies
1) Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
This beautiful antispasmodic herb will help relieve cramping in the tummy as well as to help relax upset children. It has a pleasant flavor and is also a favorite during times of illness as it is also antiviral. Its effective against spasmodic coughs as well - an herb that deserves a spot in the medicine cabinet.
2) Chamomile (Matricaria chamomilla)
A well loved herb for tummies and relaxation. We don't use this as much as lemon balm, mainly because I have a really weird reaction to it (it gives me almost psychodelic dreams if I drink it too close to bed) but it is another fantastic option.
3) Peppermint (Mentha x piperita)
Those peppermints you get after meals at restaurants - meant to help quell any upset tummies or indigestion after meal. While they are now full of artificial colors and sweeteners, the use of peppermint for upset tummies is timeless. If you can find natural peppermints, they are a great option to toss in your bag for while you are out but a cup of peppermint tea.
4) Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)
Used in ayurvedic tradition as an after dinner dessert (much like peppermints) that help to quell gas and help with digestion. Gripe water, a common remedy for gassy babies, is basically an infusion of fennel seed. It is incredibly sweet and the fresh seeds are delicious - when we grew fennel is Wisconsin, I almost never got any seed to dry because the children would eat them all!
After Eats Delight Tea
This tea is a favorite in our family. Anytime someone feels like their stomach is hurting, we whip up a cup of this tea. It was designed to taste delicious without honey but you can add honey as desired. This will be available in reusable tins starting in October in my shop.
- 1 tablespoon dried Lemon balm leaves
- 1 tablespoon dried Peppermint leaves
- 1 teaspoon dried Fennel seed
Mix together and store in airtight container.
To use: steep 1 teaspoon of blend in 1 cup of boiling water for 15 minutes. Strain and enjoy.
*This recipe can be doubled and tripled as desired. These are super gentle herbs and are safe for children.
Herbs for Stomach Virus
I hate throwing up. I will literally get to the point where I will let my entire body be shaking rather than throw up, even though I know that it is less miserable to do so. I used to dread when the stomach virus hits because in a family of 6 - its a drawn out process. Thankfully, I now have an herb duo that I can rely on with great success.
1) Blackberry ROOT (Rubus fructicosus)
Roots are all well known for their astringency and when harvested at the right time (fall or early spring before the shoots are coming), they are potent medicine. Blackberry root, is incredibly astringent - tightening up tissues to stop the virus from penetrating cells to keep it going. Blackberry leaf can be used but it is not as strong.
2) Oregon grape root (Mahonia aquifolium)
I love Oregon grape root. Love it. Its affinity for the digestive system really puts my mind at ease. Its strongly antiviral yet safe for children. Its astringent as well, really help to not only stop the virus from replicating but also killing it
Last October, the stomach virus wiped us out until I was able to make this decoction. Within a day, I was back on my feet and feeling almost unbelievably better. Thankfully, we had just harvest blackberry root from the wild blackberry patch on our land...literally just 2-3 week previously.
The best way to use these herbs for the stomach virus is a decoction. A decoction is the preparation we use for roots, barks, and seeds...which might need a little work to soften and release their medicine.
Start with about 12 oz of fluid and 1 oz of the combined herbs in cool water. Bring to a boil (yes, with the plant matter in the water) and then let simmer for 20-30 minutes. Strain.
Can I use the tinctures? They won't be as effective because the tannins are better extracted in decoctions and tannins are what makes the roots so astringent - which is what makes it effective.
Teas and decoctions will last a couple days in the fridge so you don't have to make it every single time.