Stomach bugs

Norovirus is on the loose, causing outbreaks of diarrhoea and vomiting. For most people, it’s short-lived but unpleasant while it lasts. For a minority, however, there will be digestive upsets that can take weeks or months to resolve; and if you are prone to irritable bowel, it is likely to be activated by the virus.
What can you do? In the first place, if you feel ‘at risk’, you can take immune-boosting herbs. Calendula is particularly useful here, together with any of the Artemisias; they are all intensely bitter, and will discourage most bugs. However, if you feel it coming on, you can take steps to limit the illness. Carry on with the immune support, but you can also use herbs like Slippery Elm and Tormentil to protect the gut lining and minimise the risk of damage.
During an attack, the best thing is to fast, drink plenty of fluids, and lie low until it passes. As soon as you can keep anything down, start taking the herbs again. The protective ones mentioned above will help your system to heal, and carminatives like Thyme, Fennel, Mint and Caraway will help to bring your digestion back to normal. All should be well again within a week or two. If it is not, go and see your herbalist. We tend to see digestive disturbances as a minor nuisance, and deal with them on a first-aid basis, but months and years of chronic irritation can lead to long-term problems with nutrient assimilation, and may contribute to auto-immune problems like arthritis and other inflammatory conditions, which are far harder to treat. So do take it seriously. A little attention now may avert bigger problems later on.