We include products we think are useful for our readers. If you buy through links on this page, we may earn a small commission. Here’s our process.

Everyone experiences an upset stomach and indigestion, or dyspepsia, from time to time after eating or drinking. The condition is usually no cause for concern, and it is often possible to treat the symptoms using home remedies.

a person holding their upset stomach who could benefit from some home remediesShare on Pinterest
Michela Ravasio/Stocksy

Common symptoms of an upset stomach and indigestion include:

  • heartburn, or acid reflux
  • nausea
  • bloating
  • gas
  • belching, sometimes bringing up bitter or foul-tasting fluid or food
  • farting
  • bad-smelling or sour breath
  • hiccupping or coughing

This article looks at 12 of the most popular home remedies for an upset stomach and indigestion. We also explain when to see a doctor.

Stomach pain is a pain or an ache that a person experiences anywhere between the chest and groin.

This pain can vary in intensity and affect different areas of the abdomen, such as the:

  • appendix
  • liver
  • gallbladder
  • stomach
  • pancreas
  • bowel

Stomach pain can vary in intensity and has a variety of causes.

Abdominal pain may be due to more common causes such as gas, indigestion, constipation, and diarrhea. Infectious illnesses such as the flu may also cause abdominal pain.

More uncommon causes include:

Learn more about the causes of abdominal pain here.

There are several popular home remedies for indigestion. Some remedies may also benefit stomach upset from other sources, such as irritable bowel syndrome.

1. Drinking water

The body needs water to efficiently digest and absorb nutrients from foods and beverages. Being dehydrated makes digestion more difficult and less effective, which increases the likelihood of an upset stomach.

Additionally, drinking water may help reduce heartburn.

The National Health Service in the United Kingdom recommends that males and females drink 6-8 cups of water a day. However, other organizations’ recommendations may vary, such as drinking 4-6 cups of water per day.

Around 20 percent of this will come from food, with the rest coming from beverages. For most people, a good figure to aim for is approximately 8 or more cups of water a day. Younger children require slightly less water than adults:

  • Children 1-3 years old: 4 cups of water a day.
  • Children 4-8 years old: 5 cups of water a day.
  • Children 8 years of age and older: 7-8 cups of water a day.

For those with digestive issues, it is imperative to stay hydrated. Vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration, so people with these symptoms should keep drinking water.

Pros and cons

Drinking water can help with digestion and prevent dehydration.

However, some people may forget to drink water throughout the day. Additionally, some people may prefer the taste of other beverages.

2. Avoiding lying down

Avoiding lying down may prevent indigestion from becoming heartburn.

When the body is horizontal, the acid in the stomach is more likely to travel backward and move upward, which can cause heartburn.

People with an upset stomach should avoid lying down or going to bed for at least a few hours until it passes.

Pros and cons

Avoiding lying down may be a convenient remedy if a person performs daily activities.

However, this remedy may not be suitable if a person experiences stomach pain during the time they rest or sleep.

3. Ginger

Ginger may help to reduce nausea and vomiting in people who are pregnant or those who undergo chemotherapy.

People with an upset stomach could try adding ginger to their food or drinking it as a tea. Some all-natural ginger ales may also contain enough ginger to settle an upset stomach.

Ginger tea is widely available to buy in supermarkets and online.

Pros and cons

Research suggests that ginger may help reduce nausea in those who are pregnant.

However, larger doses of ginger may cause side effects, such as gas, heartburn, indigestion, and abdominal discomfort.

4. BRAT diet

Doctors may recommend the BRAT diet to people with diarrhea.

BRAT stands for Bananas, Rice, Applesauce, and Toast. These foods may decrease the number of stools a person passes and help ease their diarrhea.

As these foods are bland, they do not contain substances that irritate the stomach, throat, or intestines. Therefore, this diet can soothe the tissue irritation resulting from the acids in vomit.

Many of the foods in the BRAT diet are also high in nutrients such as potassium and magnesium and can replace those lost through diarrhea and vomiting.

Pros and cons

The BRAT diet may help harden stools and reduce diarrhea and dehydration. This may help reduce stomach cramps as a result of loose stools.

However, this diet may not be suitable for the long-term, as people may not consume all the necessary nutrients through the food in this diet.

5. Avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol

Smoking and alcohol may trigger indigestion and other gastrointestinal conditions, such as gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD).

Pros and cons

Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol intake improves people’s quality of life and reduces the risk of certain health conditions, such as cancer.

However, avoiding smoking and drinking alcohol can be difficult, and people may require extra support.

6. Avoiding difficult-to-digest foods

Research suggests that the following foods may increase the risk of indigestion:

  • fatty or acidic foods
  • wheat products
  • fruit and fruit juices such as watermelon
  • spicy foods
  • greasy foods

Pros and cons

Avoiding difficult-to-digest foods may help ease the stomach and reduce discomfort and pain. Additionally, more easily digestible foods such as fruit and vegetables may help promote a healthy, balanced diet.

However, avoiding richer or heavily preserved foods may be more difficult for people who do not have the time to source fresher food or those who live in a food desert.

7. Lime or lemon juice, baking soda, and water

Some studies suggest that mixing lime or lemon juice in water with a pinch of baking soda can help relieve heartburn and indigestion by reducing stomach acidity.

Pros and cons

While this home remedy may help with an upset stomach, it may not taste pleasant. Additionally, consuming too much baking soda may lead to:

  • shallow or slow breathing
  • muscle twitching
  • muscle spasms

Pros and cons

Cinnamon is readily available in various forms, such as supplements and spices.

However, long-term or excessive use of cinnamon can lead to gastrointestinal symptoms and allergic reactions.

8. Figs

Figs contain substances acting as laxatives to ease constipation and encourage healthy bowel movements. Figs also contain compounds that may help to ease indigestion.

Pros and cons

Figs are available in several forms, such as fig leaves, food, and paste.

However, if people are also experiencing diarrhea, they should avoid consuming figs due to this food’s laxative effects.

9. Aloe juice

Aloe vera may help reduce symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome and colitis, although the evidence for these benefits is slight and needs further research.

Pros and cons

In one study, researchers found that people who drank 10 milliliters (ml) of aloe vera syrup daily for 4 weeks found relief from the following symptoms of gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD):

  • heartburn
  • flatulence and belching
  • nausea and vomiting
  • acid and food regurgitation

However, ingesting aloe vera may cause abdominal pain and cramps.

10. Basil

Basil contains substances that may reduce gas.

Basil leaves also contain high linoleic acid levels, which have anti-inflammatory properties.

Pros and cons

Basil is usually available to purchase in grocery stores, gardening stores, and online.

However, those in food deserts may have to rely on online stores if they find it difficult to source fresh basil.

11. Licorice

Products that contain licorice root may help relieve digestive symptoms. However, experts are uncertain about the role of licorice in these products.

Someone with an upset stomach could try drinking licorice root tea several times a day until their symptoms improve.

Pros and cons

Licorice root teas are widely available online, but it is possible to make them at home by mixing 1 or 2 tsp of licorice root powder with boiling water.

However, licorice can cause side effects, such as an increase in blood pressure and a decrease in potassium levels. This may be especially dangerous for those with high blood pressure or kidney or heart disease.

12. Rice

Plain rice may be beneficial for those with stomach pain due to irritable bowel syndrome, along with other low FODMAP food.

Rice is also part of the BRAT diet that doctors may recommend.

Pros and cons

Rice is available in bulk at many grocery stores and is often one of the more affordable foods available.

However, there is some evidence that white rice consumption may increase the risk of metabolic syndrome. However, the risk may increase with regular or frequent consumption and may not affect those who consume white rice to help with stomach pain.

The following tips may help prevent stomach pain:

  • eating slower
  • eating less fatty or processed foods
  • identifying food intolerances and allergies
  • drinking more water
  • reducing stress
  • partaking in regular exercise

However, if a person has stomach pain that does not resolve itself or pain that interferes with their quality of life, they should contact a doctor for testing and treatment.

Food allergies and intolerances can cause stomach pain and bloat. Some common allergies or intolerances include:

  • milk
  • peanuts
  • tree nuts
  • soy
  • wheat
  • shellfish
  • fish
  • eggs
  • gluten

If a person believes they may have an allergy or intolerance to certain foods or beverages, they should contact a doctor to discuss an elimination diet or testing.

Learn more about at-home food sensitivity tests here.

If a person experiences stomach pain that does not go away or believes it may be a symptom of another condition, they should contact a doctor. A healthcare professional can investigate the cause of the stomach pain and prescribe treatment if necessary.

People should seek immediate medical attention if they experience stomach pain alongside:

  • severe or sudden pain
  • sweating
  • a tender or painful stomach
  • vomiting blood or if vomit looks like ground coffee
  • sticky, bloody, or black feces
  • difficulty passing urine, feces, or gas
  • difficulty breathing
  • chest pain
  • weight loss or loss of appetite
  • jaundice

Below we answer some frequently asked questions about upset stomachs.

Does COVID-19 give you stomach cramps?

Research states that people with COVID-19 may have abdominal pain.

Some people may experience gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea, loss of appetite, and vomiting instead of fever at the start of COVID-19.

How do I know if my stomach pain is serious?

According to the National Health Service, a person should seek immediate medical attention if their stomach ache is very severe or has a sudden onset.

People should contact a healthcare professional immediately if they notice other symptoms, such as vomiting blood, having difficulty passing urine or feces, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and jaundice.

Stomach pain can result from various conditions, such as gas and indigestion, and may be a sign of more serious conditions such as bowel obstruction or appendicitis. Home remedies may help ease stomach pain.

However, other conditions share similar symptoms with indigestion. A person should contact a healthcare professional to ensure the stomach pain results from indigestion before trying home remedies.

Read this article in Spanish.