Food poisoning is a bad experience!
Abdominal cramping & pain, diarrhea, fever & chills, headaches, nausea & vomiting, and weakness are all symptoms of food poisoning.
Food poisoning occurs when you eat or drink something that is contaminated with infectious agents like viruses, bacteria, parasites or toxic contamination such as pesticides or other poisons.
The symptoms of vomiting and diarrhea, as unpleasant as they are, are your body’s attempt to get the bad stuff out, and should NOT be stopped even if it is unpleasant to go through.
The biggest danger from food poisoning is dehydration (loss of water by vomiting and diarrhea) which can cause problems, and in extreme cases be life threatening.
So the most important rule in food poisoning is, keep drinking!
And drink aggressively until all diarrhea and vomiting have stopped. The goal is to replace all the fluid you lose. Most adults and larger kids are going to drink 3 quarts (96oz) of fluid daily.
If you are nauseous and can’t keep much down, even 1 teaspoon every couple of minutes works.
- Water with a pinch of salt
- Meat broth
- Vegetable juices
- Coconut water
- You can use electrolyte solutions like Gatorade or Pedialyte. But I recommend you make your own oral rehydration solution (ORS). It costs pennies, works just as well, and doesn’t have all the junk in it.
Recipe for do it yourself oral rehydration solution (ORS)
- 32 oz of clean water
- 6 teaspoons sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
And yes, you need to include the sugar as it helps the water be absorbed more effectively.
Treatment for Food Poisoning
- Do NOT stop vomiting or diarrhea unless directed by your healthcare provider
- Keep drinking
- No food while vomiting, then small amounts of bland food as tolerated moving back to your normal diet over a couple of days
- Probiotics – the beneficial bacteria help neutralize toxicity and fight off bad bacteria, and viruses. More is better, so I recommend taking a dose after every vomiting episode and/or episode of diarrhea. So in the beginning you will take a lot of probiotics, tapering down as things improve. I have seen this alone make a dramatic change in how severe and how long they suffer with food poisoning. HERE is a post on good probiotics.
- Berberine herbs – not mandatory but for those who want to take it to the next level – these herbs help kill off bacteria and have a mild astringent effect to moderate (but NOT stop) the diarrhea. Dosing is going to depend on the form and dosage you get, but generally somewhere around 2 capsules 3 times a day is probably a good dose to start with.
- Homeopathics – (Bottom line: I’m neutral on homeopathics. I’ve seen amazing things happen, and it could all just be placebo, but I’m okay with that) The number one homeopathic for food poisoning is called Arsenicum album and is available at most health food stores. General dosing is going to be 3 pellets allowed to dissolve in the mouth after every episode of vomiting and diarrhea. If after 6 doses there is no improvement, then Arsenicum is not the correct remedy. Other remedies that might be used include: China officinalis, Ipecac, and Veratrum album. For more about home use of homeopathics I recommend the book “The People’s Repertory by Luc De Schepper, MD”
Using any or all of the above steps should allow you to ride out the vast majority of cases of food poisoning with no lasting effects. By using the natural remedies in addition to conventional treatment most people feel better the following day.
Here are the signs that things are not going well and you need to get help:
- Blood or pus in your stools, especially if bleeding is excessive or your stools are maroon or black
- Stomach pain that does not go away after a bowel movement
- Symptoms of dehydration (thirst, dizziness, light-headedness)
- Diarrhea with a fever above 101 F (100.4 F in children)
- The diarrhea gets worse or does not get better in 2 days for an infant or child, or 5 days for adults
- A child over 3 months old has been vomiting for more than 12 hours; in younger babies, call as soon as vomiting or diarrhea begins
- Your heart is racing, pounding, or skipping
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