Natural Remedies

Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning

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I firmly believe every household should have these natural remedies for food poisoning. I should know…

I remember it like it was yesterday, it was the peanut butter salmonella outbreak of 2013. I had recently indulged in a peanut butter sandwich and much to my horror I was now bent over in writhing pain…and did I mention I’m a single mom and was 125 miles away from my family.

Worst. Week. Ever!

I’ve been focused on natural living for a long time but only in the last three years did I start treating illnesses with natural remedies.

Unfortunately my salmonella poisoning preceded my now huge natural remedy database. Because if I had food poisoning now I could probably be over it within a half day. Oh yeah my natural remedy game is THAT good.

Natural Remedies for Food Poisoning | via

I also know more about food poisoning, or more precisely food borne illness, than the average bear. You see many moons ago I owned a successful restaurant and part of that process meant I had to get Food Handler Certified (food safety class).

My class on food safety was mostly lectures on various ways one could die from eating. No joke, I didn’t eat out for like two months! Everyone was seriously traumatized!

Ever since then I’ve been super cautious about how my food is prepared and where I eat (I’m already careful about where I eat because of my whole foods based lifestyle) but food poisoning can affect anyone, anywhere, and no one is immune.

So basically food poisoning is no joke. It is deadly serious. Even if it doesn’t kill you or maim you, yes people have lost limbs, it can definitely ruin your week.

So in an attempt to prevent all you amazing folks from suffering needlessly I’m about to unload all my food poisoning knowledge so you can avoid the cramps, vomiting, and a gnarly case of mud butt (yeah I said mud butt, what, can you think of a better description).

Here are my most effective (and tested) natural remedies for food poisoning.

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Remedy #1: Activated Charcoal

Before you do anything else take some activated charcoal. This isn’t the same as the stuff you barbecue on…don’t eat that!

Activated charcoal is food grade and you can buy it super cheap online. I suggest you keep it on hand for emergencies. It’s also great for excess gas and to treat hangovers.

For this list you should know activated charcoal is VERY effective for food borne illness because it traps and binds toxins. Bad bacteria produce a lot of toxins so you want to reach for this first.

In fact activated charcoal is so effective that if you end up in the hospital for an overdose of medication chances are you’ll get a big ol’ dose of activated charcoal to bind the toxins. Impressive huh!

While taking activated charcoal it’s important to drink plenty of water (activated charcoal is dehydrating), both to keep you hydrated and to help flush toxins.

Also make sure to buy a high quality supplement with no fillers, binders, or additives. I like to use a coconut based activated charcoal.

You can also substitute bentonite clay if you can’t get a hold of activated charcoal (but in this scenario I do prefer charcoal). However, I keep both on hand in case of emergencies.

So as soon as you feel that angry tum take one or two capsules to bind those nasty toxins.

Kids can take activated charcoal too but give them a smaller dose ( and hydrate, hydrate, hydrate). Again it’s likely what they’d get in the hospital if they ate something dangerous.

You can open the capsule and give kids a quarter to a full capsule depending on their size mixed with a bit of juice (check with  integrative or holistic pediatrician for exact dosing). An oral syringe might also be helpful for reluctant kids. The stuff is gritty and none too tasty (and don’t forget to keep them hydrated). Oh and don’t panic when they pass black poops, that’s to be expected.


Remedy #2: Apple Cider Vinegar

The next thing you can do is take some diluted organic raw unfiltered apple cider vinegar. This remedy is best for mild cases, and I include it here because most natural foodies keep a bottle of ACV in their cabinets these days.

Some people recommend apple cider vinegar straight away but I’d always reach for the charcoal first.

If I do chose vinegar, I usually take it about an hour to hour-and-a-half after the charcoal. I like to space these remedies apart.

I add 1-2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar to about 16 ounces of water with some fresh lemon juice. You can also make a shooter with  2 tbs of water and follow up with a full glass of regular water (this works better if you can’t stand the taste).

For older kiddos you can add 1-2 tsps to a small glass of water (6-8oz) and use raw honey (if they are over 1–no honey under 1 year) to sweeten (again check with your integrative pediatrician).

Drink your apple cider mixture about every 4-6 hours until your symptoms subside. If you don’t feel relief by the second glass move on to another remedy.

It’s not the best tasting remedy but it is effective as a general antibacterial and good for mild to moderate cases of food borne illness. Plus it’s readily available in any market if you don’t have time to order something more exotic.

You can kick this remedy up a notch by adding fresh ginger, raw honey, and steeped cinnamon. This is the same recipe I use for my antiviral tea which you can find here. The ginger tea is also a good option if you are dealing with a virus rather than a bacteria.

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Remedy #3: Oregano Oil

If I don’t have apple cider vinegar on hand or I need a stronger solution (ACV only seems to work about 60-70% of the time), I then take an oregano oil capsule. The capsule is a diluted amount of oregano essential oil.

Oregano oil is a very impressive antibacterial. It is effective against a variety of bacteria, fungus, and even some viruses. It is my go-to for ANY bacterial infection but I treat it like a would any antibiotic, only when necessary. I highly recommend keeping a bottle on hand.

There are even reports of people using oregano oil for MRSA infections, and this was one of the treatments I recommended for a client who had a c-diff infection. I also used oregano oil in the topical mixture to cure an antibiotic resistant staph infection, you can read about that recipe here.

Oregano oil VERY potent, you’ll only take one capsule at a time, once per day. In acute conditions I’ve used 1 capsule twice daily, 12 hours apart. And it’s recommended you not exceed two weeks when taking oregano oil unless you’re being monitored by a practitioner.

Also, NEVER take undiluted oregano orally (or topically for that matter). I saw a famous TV personality do this and cringed! I can burn the mucous membranes or the skin, you’ve been warned.

You can search PubMed for oregano oil and it’s main component carvacrol for more on oregano oil.

*Kids under 5 should NOT take oral oregano oil and I tend to avoid it for kids in general (I prefer the more gentle herbal tinctures and teas for kiddos). But in a true emergency or when dealing with antibiotic resistant bacteria discuss with your integrative pediatrician.


Remedy #4: Chamomile Tea

Chamomile tea is best used as a supplement to the other remedies. It is also excellent for kiddos and what I used when I was pregnant.

You can use this remedy alone for mild stomach upset (though I always start with charcoal just to be on the safe side).

Chamomile is traditionally used to ease stomach discomfort and to relax the muscles. Great if you are vomiting or crampy.

It is also good before bed to ease you into sleep, something you’ll be grateful for if you are sick.

As a kid anytime I had an upset tummy I got a big cup of hot chamomile tea and it usually worked!

chamomile tea for food poisoning | via

Remedy #5: Cryptolepis + Berberine

If you are dealing with something serious but unsure about the exact strain my all-purpose herbal antibacterial combination is Cryptolepis tincture with a berberine tincture.

Crypto-whaaaa? Berber-whooo?

Yes I know, these are some of the less commonly known remedies. Stay with me.

I’ll be writing about the berberine family of plants in another post but for now know that you can use Oregon Grape tincture or American Goldenseal tincture, both of which are berberines. I prefer Oregon Grape.

Oregon Grape and the other berberines are plants that have antibacterial components and are excellent for treating localized (non-systemic) infections of a variety of bacteria including staph, strep, and E.coli (1).

According to the book Herbal Antibiotics, the recommendation for ACUTE conditions is 1 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon (yes I know that’s a wide gap) morning and evening (2).

I (as a petite 5 foot tall woman) take 2 teaspoons on an empty stomach for serious conditions.

Just so you know the regular (non-acute) dose of oregon grape is about 20-50 drops up to three times a day.

You can get Oregon Grape in any good natural foods store.

Cryptolepis is a VERY hard to find tincture sourced from a plant native to Africa. I include it here because it is an EXCELLENT broad spectrum herbal antibacterial.

As I mentioned cryptolepis is a very effective systemic antibacterial. That means it can be carried to various parts of the body (the whole system) as opposed to being contained in the digestive system. This is one of the remedies I used to successfully treat a staph infection.

I was introduced to this amazing plant in the book Herbal Antibiotics, which I highly recommend to everyone.

Since discovering this herb I’ve used cryptolepis tincture to successfully treat a variety of conditions in myself and those close to me.

I get my cryptolepis from Elk Mountain Herbs or from Montana Farmacy.

Cryptolepis is not something you’ll be able to get from your local Whole Foods or health store, so buy it and keep it on hand.

You also can’t get get it overnighted because of Federal restrictions (apparently all alcohol based tinctures are classified as hazardous substances). So again buy and keep on hand…not just for this but it’s useful for most infections where an oral antibiotic would be considered.

The recommended dose (3) for ACUTE conditions is ½ teaspoon to 1 teaspoon three times daily of an alcohol based tincture (60%). The normal dose is 20-40 drops, up to four times daily.

I measure each tincture and take them combined on an empty stomach along with a tiny bit of the ginger tea mentioned above.

If I were dealing with something very serious this is what I would take along with the oregano oil capsules and use the activated charcoal half way through the antibiotic/oregano herbal doses.

This is what the protocol looks like: If I took the herbal antibiotic tincture (cryptolepis + berberine) at 12PM, 6PM(+oregano oil), 12AM, 6AM (+oregano oil) then I’d take the charcoal at 3PM, 9PM, 3AM (if awake), and 9AM.

This spacing is because charcoal binds up what it encounters and you don’t want it binding up your antibiotic. But you do want it binding up the toxins from the bacteria. Does that make sense?

Kids over one can use Oregon Grape (it’s included in the brand Herbs for Kids as safe for kids over one and recommended by doctor Aviva Romm).

I have not found much information on cryptolepis for kids BUT after speaking with my holistic pediatrician and considering the safety profile (cryptolepis has a good safety profile however not substantially researched) we felt comfortable considering it for an infection in lieu of oregano oil. I always recommend seeking out a qualified herbalist first when giving herbs to little kids.

That said, oregon grape alone would probably be sufficient for a little one.

For a child you’ll need to dose according to their weight, this post, How to Dose Herbs for Kids explains how to do that as well as how to safely use herbs for kids.

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There you have it!

Now you have five powerful natural remedies for food poisoning.

Charcoal will bind the toxins and apple cider vinegar can kill many types of bacteria and is easily available in any market.

Oregano oil is VERY effective as a broad spectrum natural antibiotic. I’ve used oregano oil for a lot of things and it has always been very fast and very effective. You can find this at any good natural foods store.

Chamomile tea is a great supplement for recovery from food poisoning or for use in mild cases of stomach upset.

Cryptolepis and berberine are excellent herbal antibiotics and together can combat a variety of quite serious bacteria (so can oregano oil). But these tinctures are harder to find so you’ll have to plan ahead.

Each remedy is very good on its own but knowing about all five can set you up to successfully battle almost any variety of intestinal bacterial infections.

Have you used any of these for food poisoning? Questions? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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Until next time all you amazing families!

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Food poisoning can be really dangerous or at least really uncomfortable! I love these tips to treat food poisoning naturally. The best part, they REALLY work! -- How to Naturally Treat Food Poisoning --How to Naturally Treat Food Poisoning | via


(1) Buhner, Stephen Harrod , Herbal Antibiotics, North Adams: Storey, 2012.  164 Print

(2) Buhner, Stephen Harrod , Herbal Antibiotics, North Adams: Storey, 2012.  162 Print

(3) Buhner, Stephen Harrod , Herbal Antibiotics, North Adams: Storey, 2012.  91 Print


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