Tummy bugs

…And if you do pick up something, either on holiday or just staying at home, the treatment is pretty much the same for most things. Fasting really helps. It gives your poor abused digestive system time to recover, and even if you’re not actually vomiting, it’s better not to push more food into an unwilling stomach. But do keep drinking, even if you can only manage sips of water, with a little sugar and salt added in severe cases.
Try not to take pills to prevent vomiting. Your system needs to expel the toxins, and being sick is the first means of defence. If you suppress it, you may prolong the illness. Some organisms are more likely to cause long-term inflammation and scarring in your small intestine than others, but as you generally won’t know in the early stages what you’ve got, it’s better not to take chances.
The bitter herbs I mentioned in the last blog, like milk thistle and wormwood, can help to limit the illness. Drink them as teas, or sips of tincture diluted in water. Mucilaginous herbs like slippery elm can soothe inflammation and buffer your system a little. And immune boosting herbs such as Echinacea or marigold will stimulate your body’s defences.
That said, it’s worth remembering that some bugs, and particularly parasites, can be very persistent. Giardia is one of the most common, and there is a strong case for taking antibiotics along with the herbs, to kill off the amoebae and avert any lasting damage. I once had a patient who was determined to treat it the traditional way, and lived on nothing but ripe bananas for two weeks. The symptoms vanished while he was doing this, only to reappear as soon as he broadened his diet.
And lastly, always get help if the illness goes on for more than a day or two, or the symptoms are severe. I’ve treated people with serious scarring (usually after travelling in India), and it does affect your nutritional status. Some things can be managed, but not entirely healed.

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