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How To Treat Viral Gastroenteritis aka Stomach Flu Naturally

in Gut Health, Infectious Disease

The norovirus made its way through my family this week. Now that I’m feeling better, I felt it was a good time to write about how I treated it naturally so that my family and I recovered as quickly as possible. You may have seen my post on Instagram – I posted some Norovirus tips (and the photos in this post) there too!

What Is The Stomach Flu?Norovirus Tips - Dr. Green Mom

Viral gastroenteritis, commonly known as stomach flu, is most often caused by the extremely contagious gastrointestinal virus: norovirus. In infants it can also be caused by rotavirus. Symptoms include diarrhea, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, muscle aches, headache, fatigue, fever, chills, and loss of appetite. Usually symptoms resolve in 1-2 days, but can last up to 10 days. 

Stomach Flu Treatment Basics

The most important treatment for stomach flu is to rest and stay hydrated. In my family we sipped homemade electrolyte drink between bouts of stomach symptoms. If you choose to purchase electrolyte drinks, be sure to avoid brands with added caffeine.  

Conventional treatment sometimes involves medication to stop diarrhea, however diarrhea is the body’s way of clearing the virus, so in my practice, I don’t recommend anti-diarrheal medication, especially for children. Sometimes fever reducing medication is recommended to manage the fever, headache, and body aches that can accompany stomach flu. 

Natural treatment includes ginger which helps soothe but not suppress nausea and vomiting. Ginger also has anti-viral properties, anti fever properties, and can ease stomach and muscle pain. Ginger Ease can be taken undiluted, diluted in warm or cold water, or added to conventional ginger ale to make it more medicinal. 

Probiotics help to rebalance the gut microbiome and may help speed recovery from norovirus. Vitamin A has antiviral activity against norovirus and may help promote a healthy microbiome

Natural TreatmentsStomach flu treatment - Dr. Green Mom

  1. Electrolytes 
  2. Ginger Ease 
  3. Probiotics 
  4. Vitamin A 

Post Viral Recovery

The transition back to a normal diet often takes a couple days. Simple, bland foods like rice, bone broth, juice, toast, and crackers are easy to digest choices. Congee is a great choice if you feel up to some simple cooking, here is the congee recipe we use in my house. Probiotics are important to help rebalance the microbiome and a well rounded multivitamin can help replenish lost nutrients and recover vitality. 

Post Viral Recovery Essentials

  1. Simple Foods
  2. Probiotics 
  3. Multivitamin 

Summary

Stomach flu is a self-limiting viral illness that most people recover from in 1-2 days. Rest and hydration are the most important treatments. Ginger, probiotics, and vitamin A may help manage symptoms and speed recovery. 

Post viral recovery involves simple foods, probiotics to rebalance the gut’s microbiome, and a multivitamin to replace nutrients lost when sick. 

References:

Sarowska, J., Wojnicz, D., Jama-Kmiecik, A., Frej-Mądrzak, M., & Choroszy-Król, I. (2021). Antiviral Potential of Plants against Noroviruses. Molecules (Basel, Switzerland), 26(15), 4669. https://doi.org/10.3390/molecules26154669

Bányai, K., Estes, M. K., Martella, V., & Parashar, U. D. (2018). Viral gastroenteritis. Lancet (London, England), 392(10142), 175–186. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(18)31128-0

Ghosh, S., Malik, Y. S., & Kobayashi, N. (2018). Therapeutics and Immunoprophylaxis Against Noroviruses and Rotaviruses: The Past, Present, and Future. Current drug metabolism, 19(3), 170–191. https://doi.org/10.2174/1389200218666170912161449

Lee, H., & Ko, G. (2017). New perspectives regarding the antiviral effect of vitamin A on norovirus using modulation of gut microbiota. Gut microbes, 8(6), 616–620. https://doi.org/10.1080/19490976.2017.1353842

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