Soothing Stomach Aches
Whether a stomach ache is caused by food irritants, a virus, bacteria, or anxiety, there are many herbs and lifestyle interventions which can help ease discomfort and soothe your child, helping them come back to feeling like their playful self again.
Various herbs can help to relieve symptoms and smoothie a sick child. Herbal teas are more effective at relieving stomach aches when consumed on an empty stomach. Drink 1-2 cups of the herbal tea on an empty stomach then lie on the back for 5 minutes, then on the right side 5 minutes, then on the stomach for 5 minutes, and lastly on the left side for 5 minutes to soak all surfaces of the stomach.
Ginger – is a carminative (gas-relieving) herb with anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties.
Try: making tea with 1 tbsp of chopped fresh ginger root, lemon, and honey, and letting it steep for at least 20 minutes.
Peppermint – another herb that is wonderful for stomach aches. It is soothing and cooling, and helps to reduce gas and stomach cramps.
Try: a warm cup of peppermint tea or adding peppermint into homemade popsicles.
Licorice root – with its demulcent properties and slightly sweet taste, licorice root is excellent for stomach aches and also contains anti-inflammatory properties. Licorice root can be slightly laxative, so this should be avoided if your child has diarrhea – it’s best in cases of cramping or constipation.
Try: a cup of strongly brewed licorice root tea or gently chewing on a piece of licorice root.
Chamomile – is a soothing herb which helps to calm digestive distress and promote sleep.
Try: a warm cup of chamomile tea before bed or nap time.
Fennel – is an excellent digestive support herb that helps to rid the body of uncomfortable gas and bloating.
Try: making a cup of fennel tea with fresh or dry fennel seeds. Steep for 20 mins.
Oat straw – is a soothing herb that is helpful for calming the nervous system. If the stomach ache is associated with stress or anxiety for the child, oat straw may be the perfect option.
Try: making a cup of oat straw tea. You may choose to add other calming herbs into the mix such as chamomile or peppermint, which is also lovely for breaking up gases.
Rest – taking a moment to lay down or relax on the couch may be just what your child needs to help relieve their stomach ache.
Try: laying down in a comfortable position and having a nap. Use a hot water bottle to relax stomach tension. Laying on the left side is helpful and supportive of digestion.
Gentle massage – if stomach aches are caused by gas or bloating, a gentle massage of the belly moving in circular motions can be very soothing and can also help to expel any trapped gas.
Try: moving hands in a clockwise circular motion (right side to left side) around the belly with gentle pressure. You can also massage the stomach with castor oil, which will help support digestion.
Acupressure – for stomach aches, there are pressure points on the body which can alleviate symptoms of nausea, stomach ache, and cramps.
Try: placing pressure on the inner arm, about three finger widths up from the wrist, for one to two minutes or pinching strongly between the thumb and index finger.
Water – drinking water helps to hydrate the system and move gas or tension through the system.
Try: sipping on water or warm tea throughout the day when feeling sick.
When your child has a stomach ache, the best thing to do is to stick with simple, somewhat bland foods which will not further irritate the stomach and intestinal lining. Foods that are both nutritious and comforting are ideal.
Try: foods such as banana, applesauce, pears, or some lightly frozen mangoes, which can be nice to chew on. You can also try making a tummy-soothing popsicle with mango, peppermint leaves, and coconut water. You may also wish to swap the peppermint for ginger as an option. Coconut water is full of electrolytes to help replenish the body if there has been any loss of fluids, mango is easy to digest, and peppermint is a carminative that is soothing for tummy aches. Steamed vegetables or blended vegetable soup will be the gentlest on the stomach, however, plain rice, dry toast, or oatmeal are also gentle options.
Avoid: spicy foods, dairy, gluten, and soy, as well as difficult-to-digest starches such as beans and legumes (until symptoms subside).
If the stomach ache persists or in special cases, supplementation is advisable.
Deglycyrrhizinated licorice (DGL) – licorice root in chewable tablets helps to coat the stomach with a soothing, demulcent layer, reducing stomach pains and indigestion.
Try: chewing on a DGL tablet before eating or in cases of indigestion.
Probiotics – the healthy bacteria of the gut sometimes need a boost.
Try: a children’s probiotic daily for 2-4 weeks, or more probiotic-rich foods to support digestion.
Apple cider vinegar (ACV) – can be calming to the digestive system, particularly if there is indigestion.
Try: mixing 1 tbsp of ACV into warm water. Adding lemon or honey can help with the taste for kids.
L-glutamine – in cases where there has been vomiting, diarrhea, or stabbing pains in the stomach, L-glutamine can help to repair the irritated lining of the digestive tract.
Try: taking ¼-½ tsp of L-glutamine in a splash of water.