Home remedies for stomach pain

Home remedies for stomach pain

Stomachaches are so common that everyone experiences them at one point or another. There are dozens of reasons why you might get a tummy ache. Most causes aren’t serious and the symptoms pass quickly.

Stomach aches are the worst. One minute you are totally fine, the next you are curled up on the couch, unable to move. Common symptoms like bloating, gas, and nausea may have you googling how to get rid of a stomach ache ASAP. While the idea of standard cures that work in all cases of belly pain is so appealing, what you need to make it go away depends on what is causing it in the first place.

FYI, stomach aches can occur whenever there is irritation of the stomach lining, says Henry Herrera, MD, a gastroenterologist at DHR Health Gastroenterology in Texas. Whether you indulged on too much spicy food, drank one too many cocktails at happy hour, or overdid it on desserts (hello, Girl Scout cookies), a number of reasons could contribute to discomfort in your abdomen.

Before reaching for the nearest remedy you could find, you should know some of the fixes you came across online may not help and even make you feel worse. For example, the bubbles and sugar in ginger ale can feed the bad bacteria making you sick, so swap it for ginger tea instead. You’ll also want to ditch that lemon water. “Keep in mind that acidic foods also tend to be associated with increases in reflux symptoms,” explains Dr. Herrera.

How long does a stomach ache last?

Stomach aches usually don’t last that long, maybe one to two hours. And they typically subside on their own. But how long it lasts is not really an indicator of whether it’s benign or something more serious, says Leila Kia, MD, a gastroenterologist at Northwestern Medicine.

“There are other factors that must be considered, such as the character of the pain, intensity, and location along with associated symptoms,” she notes. “Association with meals or certain foods, a patient’s medication history, the timing of the pain, and other medical problems are all important factors in assessing the cause of a stomach ache.”

If the pain does not improve with ​over-the-counter meds, is waking you up in bed, accompanied by weight loss, blood in your stool, vomiting, or fevers, you should definitely check in with your doctor.

Home Remedies

Heating pad

You might find a heating pad or hot water bottle soothing when you’re feeling sick, so cuddle up to your electric blanket and take it easy until your symptoms pass.

The warmth on your stomach will distract you from any cramping or pain, and the heat can help to relax your muscles and reduce your nausea. Don’t leave it on too long, however, as you can damage your skin from overuse.

Apple cider vinegar

If you can stomach it, try taking this acidic pantry staple by the tablespoon to neutralize an upset stomach. Too strong? Mix a tablespoon with a cup of water and a teaspoon of honey, and sip it slowly.

The acids in apple cider vinegar may help decrease starch digestion, allowing the starch to get to the intestines and keep the bacteria in the gut healthy. Some people take a spoonful each day as a preventive measure.


Peppermint is often cited as a helpful fix for nausea and upset stomach because the menthol in its leaves is a natural analgesic, or pain reliever.


  • brewing a cup of peppermint or spearmint tea
  • sniffing peppermint extract
  • sucking on a minty candy
  • chewing on the leaves themselves

This should keep stomach pangs at bay and alleviate feelings of nausea.

BRAT diet

Every parent of a toddler knows about the bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT) diet to calm an upset stomach. It can help nausea or diarrhea.

BRAT contains low-fiber, high-binding foods. None of these foods contain salt or spices, which can further aggravate symptoms. This bland diet is a go-to for when you’re feeling sick but still have to eat something. Try overcooking the toast — the charred bread is thought to reduce nausea.

Chamomile tea

A nice cup of chamomile tea can help ease the pain of an upset stomach by acting as an anti-inflammatory. These anti-inflammatory properties help your stomach muscles relax, which can reduce the pain of cramping and spasms.


Since ancient times, people have turned to ginger as a cure-all for everything from pain to nausea. It’s not just an old wives’ tale, either. Studies have shown that ginger can be a very effective treatment for some kinds of stomach upset.

A natural anti-inflammatory, ginger is available in many forms, all of which can help. Ginger chews and supplements are easy to take, while other people prefer their ginger in beverage form. Try an all-natural ginger ale or chop up some fresh ginger root and make a tea.

Bitters and soda

A bar is probably the last place you’d think to look for relief from nausea, but many people swear by five or six drops of cocktail bitters mixed into a cold glass of tonic, club soda, or ginger ale.

Most common bitters brands contain a blend of herbs such as cinnamon, fennel, mint, and ginger. These ingredients may be why bitters help ease nausea in some people.

Try over-the-counter medicine

ICYMI, gas is caused by two things: consuming gas-forming foods such as green vegetables, fruits with peels on them, carbonated beverages, cabbage, and beans; or by swallowing air, explains Michael Wolfe, MD, the chair of the Case Western Reserve University department of medicine at MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland, Ohio.

“People [take in extra air] when they drink with straws, talk with their mouths full, eat too fast, or when they’re nervous,” he adds.

If you have a gas problem that you think is causing your stomach pain, take an OTC drug like Mylanta Gas. Beano, Dr. Wolfe says, is another good option, especially if veggies aren’t friendly to your system—it breaks down raffinose, a sugar byproduct in plants that can be tough to digest.

Dr. Bhan recommends knocking back some Pepto-Bismol if diarrhea strikes at a bad time or if it’s so frequent that it keeps you up at night. The pink liquid will attack the diarrhea-causing bacteria in your system, so you can rest and function during the day. You can also take Imodium, which works by slowing down the speed at which fluids flow through your intestines.

Take ibuprofen if you have cramps

Sure, you expect cramps around the time of your period, but nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea? It’s actually pretty normal for your whole abdominal region to go haywire when you’re menstruating, per Nancy Cossler, MD, an ob-gyn and the chief of system quality for obstetrics at University Hospital in Ohio.

“Hormones cause contractions of the uterine muscle, which causes cramping,” she says. “It’s completely normal if your stomach cramps, causing an upset stomach or diarrhea [around your period].”

To ease cramps, take an ibuprofen 12 to 24 hours before you’re expecting your period, Dr. Cossler says. Then take the prescribed amount every three to six hours for three days.

Eat yogurt

If you deal with constant stomach issues like bloating, yogurt can help keep your digestive system in tip-top shape.

Though annoying, bloating is generally not a huge cause for concern. “Don’t be too worried,” says David C. Metz, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Anything from menstruation to constipation can cause it.”

As long as you’ve ruled out lactose intolerance, try eating yogurt with “live and active cultures” (look for this phrase on the label), which can help regulate your digestive system.

Eat yogurt

If you deal with constant stomach issues like bloating, yogurt can help keep your digestive system in tip-top shape.

Though annoying, bloating is generally not a huge cause for concern. “Don’t be too worried,” says David C. Metz, MD, a professor of medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. “Anything from menstruation to constipation can cause it.”

As long as you’ve ruled out lactose intolerance, try eating yogurt with “live and active cultures” (look for this phrase on the label), which can help regulate your digestive system.

Drink milk

Sometimes stomach aches can lead to other pains, like heartburn, an irritation of the esophagus that feels like burning or tightness from stomach contents that are forced back up into the esophagus.

At-home remedy you already have: milk. “When I have heartburn, I drink a glass of milk,” says Jeffry A. Katz, MD, a gastroenterologist at University Hospitals Cleveland Medical Center. “Milk neutralizes the acid produced by the stomach.”

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Avoid spicy foods

Eating spicy foods before bed is a common culprit of acid reflux, as is eating too much or too fast, smoking, and imbibing heavily. But nearly anything can make you feel the burn and result in a stomach ache.

“This condition often hits at night, when you’re in the lying-down position,” says Minh Nguyen, MD, a gastroenterologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia. Acid travels from the stomach to the esophagus and throat, causing heartburn or a sore throat and bouts of coughing.

Dr. Nguyen recommends a prescription medicine or an over-the-counter antacid like Prilosec. But if you don’t want to rely on drugs, cut back on the known triggers.

Get more exercise

Inactivity can sometimes cause constipation too. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise per day and keep yourself hydrated. If all that doesn’t keep things moving, try a gentle over-the-counter fiber supplement like Metamucil.

Drink water

When you go for a run (or really, do any type of workout), you might feel that little pinch of pain in your side. That’s typically musculoskeletal pain caused by dehydration or eating too much before you started your sweat session, says Dr. Knotts.

So drink up. And next time, before you begin exercising, Dr. Knotts suggests making sure you had some time to digest. Give yourself at least an hour (better yet, a couple) after a meal.

Drink aloe vera juice

Just can’t seem to go? Aloe can serve as a laxative, which is helpful for people who have stomach pain due to constipation, says Dr. Herrera.

Aloe juice may provide relief to those dealing with acid reflux by reducing the frequency of symptoms associated with the condition, found a 2015 study published in the Journal of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

When to see a doctor

Stomach problems sometimes do indicate a more serious problem. Prolonged vomiting puts you at risk for dehydration. Drinking small sips of water can help prevent dehydration. Go see a doctor if you are having trouble keeping water down for longer than six hours. You should also call your doctor if you experience nausea or stomach pain and discomfort for more than 48 hours.

If you notice that you are consistently having stomach troubles after eating certain foods or engaging in specific activities, talk to your doctor about your symptoms at your next visit. It may be nothing, but a quick trip to your family doctor can rule out Crohn’s disease, a food allergy, or any other concerns.

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