Several home remedies can help resolve stomach and abdominal pain, such as drinking water and avoiding spicy foods. If these do not help, over-the-counter and prescription medications are available.

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 speak with a doctor.

Stomach pain is a pain or an ache that someone 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 various causes.

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

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.

There are several popular home remedies for indigestion. Some may also help ease 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, increasing the likelihood of an upset stomach.

Additionally, drinking water may help reduce heartburn.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that although the general rule of thumb is drinking eight 8-ounce glasses of water daily, a person’s fluid needs can vary. Activity levels, elevation, extreme temperatures, general health, and size can all make a difference in fluid needs.

Around 20% of a person’s fluid intake will come from food, with the rest coming from beverages. For most people, a suitable figure to aim for is approximately 8 or more cups of water daily. Younger children require slightly less water than adults:

  • Infants weighing 7.7 to 22 pounds (lb): Infants of this weight require 3.3 fluid ounces (fl oz) per 2.2 lbs. For example, an infant weighing 22 lb will require 33 fl oz of fluid per day.
  • Children weighing 24 to 44 lb: Children of this weight require 3.3 fl oz per 2.2 lb for the first 22 lb, and then 1.6 fl oz for every 2.2 lb above this weight. For example, a child weighing 33 lb will require 42 fl oz of fluid per day.
  • Children weighing more than 44 lb: Children of this weight require 50 fl oz for the first 44 lb, and then 0.6 fl oz for every 2.2 lb above this weight. For example, a child weighing 66 lb will require 57 fl oz of fluid per day. People should not give children more than 81 fl oz of fluids at once.

For those with digestive issues, it is important 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 may prefer the taste of other beverages.

Products, such as water bottles and flavor enhancers, can make drinking water throughout the day more convenient and enjoyable.

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.

Therefore, 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 be unsuitable if someone experiences stomach pain during the time they rest or sleep.

3. Ginger

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

Individuals with an upset stomach could try adding ginger to their food or drinking it as 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.

Many different products containing ginger are available commercially and may help manage nausea. These include ginger tea, ginger chews, ginger lollipops, and ginger supplements.

4. BRAT diet

Doctors may recommend the bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast (BRAT) diet to people with diarrhea.

BRAT 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 someone loses through diarrhea and vomiting.

Pros and cons

The BRAT diet may help harden stool and reduce diarrhea and dehydration. This may help reduce stomach cramps due to loose stool.

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 gastroesophageal 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 individuals 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 nutritious, 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. Food deserts are regions where individuals have limited access to nutritious and affordable food

7. Baking soda

Some healthcare professionals suggest that 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
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting
  • irritability

8. Figs

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

Pros and cons

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

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

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

Healthcare professionals state that drinking aloe vera juice can yield multiple benefits, including providing relief from the following symptoms of GERD:

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

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

Aloe vera juice is widely available commercially.

10. Basil

Basil contains substances that may reduce gas. Its leaves also contain levels of high linoleic acid, which has 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 daily 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 teaspoons 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, where possible
  • taking part 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 qualified healthcare professional for testing and treatment.

Food allergies and intolerances can cause stomach pain and bloating. Some common allergies or intolerances include those to:

  • 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 qualified healthcare professional to discuss an elimination diet or testing.

Learn more about at-home food sensitivity tests.

If someone experiences stomach pain that does not go away or believes it may be a symptom of another condition, they should contact a qualified healthcare professional.

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

When should I worry about stomach pain?

According to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS), a person should be concerned if their stomach ache is very severe or has a sudden onset.

If this is the case, they should contact a healthcare professional immediately – especially if they notice other symptoms, such as vomiting blood, having difficulty passing urine or feces, chest pain, difficulty breathing, and jaundice.

What are the three types of abdominal pain?

There are different ways of classifying abdominal pain. Some medical authorities say the three main types of abdominal pain are:

  • Visceral: This is an aching or cramping pain that starts when nerves in an organ’s walls are stretched.
  • Parietal or somatic: This refers to sharp, localized pain due to irritation of the parietal peritoneal wall.
  • Referred: This involves pain that the brain mistakenly identifies as coming from one place, when it really originates someplace else.

Doctors can also help identify abdominal pain by what part of the abdomen it affects or the speed at which it develops — these include sudden, rapid, or gradual.

What is the main reason for stomach pain?

The most common causes of stomach pain are not very serious and do not last long. They frequently involve:

  • digestion issues, such as indigestion, gas, food intolerances, and digestion or constipation
  • infections, such as stomach flu, urinary tract infection, or GERD
  • the menstrual cycle, as with menstrual cramps or pain from ovulation

What can I do to relieve stomach pain?

A person can help relieve stomach pain by:

  • giving the stomach a break by not eating much and sticking to gentle foods, such as bananas
  • maintaining hydration
  • using a hot water bottle or soaking in a warm bath

When should I go to the ER for stomach pain?

A person with stomach pain may need to consider going to the ER in the following scenarios:

  • if they are pregnant and have severe abdominal pain
  • the stomach ache came on very suddenly or is severe
  • it hurts when they touch their stomach
  • they’re vomiting blood or their vomit looks like ground coffee
  • their poo is bloody or black and sticky and extremely smelly
  • they cannot pee
  • they cannot poo or fart
  • they cannot breathe
  • they have chest pain
  • they have diabetes and they’re vomiting

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.