What Are Food Poisoning Treatments?

Food poisoning usually occurs when you have consumed contaminated food or water. Some common contaminants that can cause this condition are parasites, bacteria and viruses like salmonella. Symptoms of food poisoning usually appear about two to six hours after eating the contaminated food, including abdominal cramps, diarrhea, nausea and vomiting. These symptoms usually resolve within a few days and it is not necessary to see a doctor. However, if you suspect you are sick from mushrooms or shellfish, you should see your doctor immediately.

How to Treat Food Poisoning

Food poisoning treatment is often palliative because the condition is self-limiting. Once the body is rid of the contaminant, the symptoms disappear. Here are some things you can do to ease the symptoms.

1. Keep Hydrated

The vomiting and diarrhea cause dehydration due to the loss of fluids. It is therefore important to replace the lost fluid by drinking plenty of water. If the vomiting prevents you from drinking, take small sips or suck on ice chips. Once the vomiting has abated, drink clear fluids like broth, flavored water and an electrolyte drink to replenish all the lost electrolytes.

2. Pay Attention to Your Diet

Avoid dairy or fizzy drinks because these will irritate your stomach. Avoid any fried, spicy or greasy food because this will irritate your stomach as well. Once you are able to handle solid food, eat light and bland foods like dry toast, plain rice and bananas. These are easily digestible and will start to replace all the lost calories. Taking a probiotic will also help because it contains good bacteria for your gut and will speed up the recovery process.

3. Avoid Anti-Diarrhea Medication

Anti-diarrhea medication is not a good idea for food poisoning treatment. Vomiting and diarrhea is the body’s way of ridding itself of the contaminant. Therefore, do not take anti-diarrhea medication because this will stop the diarrhea and keep the contaminant in the body for a longer time, making your symptoms worse and prolonging recovery. Also take rest as much as possible to help your body recover.

Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning

If the symptoms are not too severe, it may be worthwhile to try some natural remedies for food poisoning treatment. The following items are usually stocked in your kitchen cupboards and may help you relieve the symptoms of food poisoning.

1. Ginger

Ginger is known to alleviate nausea. You can drink some ginger tea or even eat slices of raw ginger, if you can stand its flavor. Ginger tea can be made by steeping one teaspoon of grated ginger in hot water. This can be strained and sweetened with honey. A few drops of ginger juice can also be added to a teaspoon of honey and be taken a few times per day.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar helps by killing the bacteria and soothing the stomach lining. Mix two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar in a cup of hot water and take before meals. Another way is to take two to three teaspoons of undiluted apple cider vinegar.

3. Garlic

Garlic has strong antiviral, antibacterial, antifungal properties and also helps with abdominal pains and diarrhea. Drink garlic juice or eat a fresh clove with some water if you can handle the smell and taste. Alternatively, you can rub a mixture of soybean oil and garlic oil onto your stomach after meals.

4. Lemon

Lemon has antibacterial, antiviral and anti-inflammatory properties. You can drink one teaspoon of lemon juice two to three times per day. Alternatively, you can sip on lemon juice mixed with warm water.

5. Basil

Basil benefits the body by alleviating the abdominal discomfort with antibacterial properties. Drinking basil juice with honey a few times a day will help. Also, a few drops of basil oil in your drinking water sipped throughout the day may relieve your symptoms. You can also try a few basil leaves with a pinch of sea salt and pepper, mixed with three tablespoons of plain yoghurt. Eat this up to four times a day until symptoms of food poising disappear.

6. Fenugreek Seeds and Yoghurt

The mixture can sooth abdominal discomfort. The yoghurt in particular, has antibacterial and antimicrobial properties which will promote recovery. One teaspoon fenugreek seeds swallowed whole with one tablespoon of yoghurt should do the trick.

7. Bananas

Being easily digestible and rich in potassium, bananas help to restore energy levels. Eat a ripe banana or incorporate it into a healthy shake to restore your depleted potassium levels.

8. Cumin Seeds

Cumin seeds ease stomach inflammation and abdominal discomfort caused by food poisoning. You can boil one teaspoon of cumin seeds in one cup of water, add one teaspoon of coriander and a pinch of salt. Drink this mixture twice daily for a few days.

9. Other Herbal Teas

Peppermint tea will relieve stomach cramps. Chamomile tea will soothe nausea and reduce stomach inflammation.

When to See a Doctor

See your doctor as soon as possible if the natural remedies don't work as food poisoning treatment or when you have the following symptoms:

  • If you develop a high temperature
  • If there is blood in your vomit or stool
  • If you are severely dehydrated (things to watch out for: dry mouth, dizziness, fatigue, decreased urination, increased heart rate or breathing rate)
  • If you are pregnant women, young children, the elderly or people with an impaired immune system

How to Prevent Food Poisoning

Food can be contaminated by infected food handlers who don’t wear the protective gear when handling the food or from contaminated utensils and cooking surfaces. Another way in which food is contaminated is the cooking process. The food is not cooked at a hot enough temperature or has not been refrigerated at a cold enough environment. Here are some tips to prevent food poisoning:

  • Buy food from reliable sources only, especially dairy, eggs and shellfish.
  • Ensure that foods are not expired, jars have an intact seal and cans are not bulging.
  • Store foods appropriately, following the recommendations.
  • Food preparations should be safe. All utensils should be sanitized regularly.
  • Avoid eating raw food and ensure that food is cooked thoroughly.
  • Discard food if you have any doubts with its smell or taste. 
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