So your stomach is doing the thing where it's trying to destroy the rest of your body, clawing its way from the inside out and embarking on its path to world domination.
How do you soothe the savage beast of stomach pain, be it from food poisoning, PMS, or impregnation by malicious alien?
Well, first and foremost it's important to remember that you should seek medical help if the pain lasts for more than a few days. A few antibiotics might work wonders that all the hot compresses in the world can't. Also, if you have an ongoing stomach issue like colitis or IBS, you and your doctors are certainly the experts on your own care, so feel free to ignore this humble DIY advice.
But after living for five days holed up in isolation with a stomachache that I wasn't sure was COVID-19 or a sign of my impending doom, I picked up a few tactics. Ultimately only antibiotics could soothe the savage fire in my belly, but these techniques did genuinely help, if only to make me feel somewhat creative and witchy in my Brooklyn kitchen, stewing up herbal medleys at 3AM and no doubt freaking out my new roommate.
Here are five DIY ways to treat stomach pain:
1. The Hot Compress
The Hot Compress may be the reigning queen of stomach pain comfort. You can create her a few different ways. I tried boiling water and dipping a rolled-up rag in, then fanning it out to get rid of the most intense heat. You might also dampen a rag, put it in a plastic bag, and microwave it for a minute or two, then place the whole contraption on your throbbing abdomen and let the warmth ease all your pain. Warm baths are like giant compresses for your whole body, so if you somehow have a bathtub you're comfortable using, then go for that.
2. The Magic Tea
I tried making about eight different versions of this tea while telling myself my stomach pain was going to go away on its own. Chamomile is supposed to be great for stomach pain, and it's also just generally relaxing, so chamomile tea would probably top my recommendations. Cinnamon is also supposed to be a good stomach-tamer.
You could also try the lemon-juice baking soda combo: Just heat up some water, and mix a few drops of lemon juice and a pinch of baking soda; the combination is supposed to neutralize the little man banging on the inside of your stomach and pulling at your organs like the assh*t that he is. Or you could do what I did in a fit of desperation, combining chamomile, peppermint, lemon, baking soda, and peppermint in one massive stomach-pain-killer tea.
Also, it's generally important that you drink tons of water. Hot, cold, embedded with herbs, or straight from the sky in the form of falling rain, water is always the way to go.
Tea Taste of Home
3. The Diet Adjustment
Ice cream might be a helpful solvent for emotional pain, but it doesn't necessarily help when your stomach is freaking out about the bad lettuce you ate out of a staunch determination to "not waste food" that was grilled into you during childhood. If your stomach is really hurting and if it's having consequences on your, uh, digestive system, it may be helpful to cut out dairy, spicy foods, and anything other than bland stuff and whole grains.
It also might help to chew your food well—if you're a fast eater like me, trained by 18 years of school lunches to wolf down every bite in less than 18 minutes, maybe now is the time to enjoy the art of the slow chew. Soups, whole grains, and some yogurts tend to be safe options for stomach pain.
4. The Peppermint Cure
Peppermint essential oils: They burn, they sting, and they have a way of distracting you from pain. I'm not even sure if this is a valid method of curing stomach pain, but at one point I did wind up putting drops of peppermint on my tongue, nose, and stomach, and the burning did distract me from my stomach cramps for a time. Be cautious if you've never put peppermint essential oil on your tongue, though; it's an intense experience.
For the first three days of my stomach pain, I lied in bed hoping it would go away and watching Avatar: The Last Airbender. Shockingly, this didn't make the pain go away. But what did (annoyingly and only for the brief duration I was actually moving) was exercise.
I tried one of those free guided workout videos on YouTube, and it actually helped. You could also try learning a dance, such as the 5 Movements from the OA. In the show, the movements are methods of interdimensional transport, so if you're really desperate you could try those—maybe you'll be lucky and literally teleport into another body that's not trying to save you by making you feel like you're dying.
The OA Tutorial: Updated! Learn The 5 Movements (Perfected, Most Accurate) www.youtube.com
It turns out that lying horizontal or doubled over can also make your stomachaches worse, so maybe try standing up straight or walking around.
Google "yoga for digestion" and immediately you'll get a lot of suggestions that can actually help briefly neutralize stomach pain. Yoga With Adriene, everyone's favorite peaceful-yoga-guru, offers dozens of videos about treating different varieties of stomach pain.
Yoga For Gut Health | 18 Min. Yoga Practice | Yoga With Adriene www.youtube.com
In general, there's one pose that seems particularly effective for stomachaches. It's the one where you lie on your back, knees folded in, hands folded over your knees, and head tilted up towards your stomach: a little pretzel of pain. Check out theses tutorials here (you can do it while in bed).
Quick Gentle Yoga for IBS, Colitis, Digestion, & Bloating www.youtube.com
4 Yoga poses to cure gastric problems www.youtube.com
7. See a doctor
Yep, this is probably the best call if your stomach pain goes on for an extended amount of time. Stomach pain and diarrhea can be signs of COVID-19 (like every other ailment ever), so make sure you get tested for that. IBS, appendicitis and other issues could also be causing your pain.
Oh yeah, and there's always Tylenol and Advil—which, if you're in Brooklyn, I now know you can apparently order via Seamless at any hour of the night.