Barbara Roberts, Homeopath

Food Poisoning

Summer is here and with it the good old Kiwi Barbecue. One risk with barbecues and camping is food poisoning – something no one wants to deal with.

The best treatment is prevention, so here is a reminder of the basic food safety rules:

  • Wash your hands, especially after handling raw meat. Wash any utensils or chopping boards in hot soapy water and dry well.
  • Cook food all the way through – especially chicken, mince and sausages. Reheat food to hot, not just warm.
  • Keep cold food cold, and refrigerate any leftovers within a couple of hours. Leftovers are best eaten within 2 days.

As adults we probably know these things already, but I will definitely be going over things with my children (particularly the older two who will pay more attention) just reminding them that food needs to go back in the fridge when they have finished eating!

Before discussing homeopathic remedies there are two supplements that I want to mention:

Activated Charcoal can be taken at first signs of any symptoms. It adsorbs the bacteria and contaminated food onto the surface of the charcoal particles, which can then pass safely through the gastrointestinal tract.

Saccharomyces Boulardii is a probiotic yeast, specific for food poisoning or travellers diarrhoea. Unlike other probiotics that stay in the gut S Boulardii is more like Activated Charcoal and helps attach and pass any bacteria or viruses that can cause disease.

Homeopathic treatment. These remedies can apply to any vomiting or diarrhoea, like with any homeopathic treatment you are matching the symptoms of the sick person with the characteristic symptoms of the remedy. If these remedies do not sound like you, then there will be another remedy that is a better fit. If it’s not helping or you need further support contact a Homeopath for an acute consult.

With a 30c remedy, you can repeat the dose every 15 minutes for up to 6 doses, then reduce frequently. But after 3-4 doses if it is not helping then it is not the right remedy and time to move onto something else.

Particularly with vomiting and diarrhoea, after the first few doses I like to repeat the remedy after a vomit or a loose stool, and as these get less frequent then you don’t give the remedy as often.

Arsenicum Album is our number one remedy for food poisoning. There can be burning pains in the stomach, they feel sick and are physically weak and exhausted- but still restless, lying down but moving around. They have nausea and vomiting and will retch when there is nothing left to throw up. Diarrhoea also exhausts them and they may strain to expel stools after the rectum is empty.

Phosphorus will feel sick, and look pale with no energy. They will be thirsty and drink a glass of water, only to vomit it up minutes later when it warms in the stomach. Even small amounts of fluid may come up this way.

Veratrum Album has severe vomiting and diarrhoea- often at the same time. This leaves them feeling weak, they may collapse when standing, and will have a cold sweat all over.

Colocynthis is a remedy for the abdominal pain and cramping that comes along with food poisoning. It can be severe and they need to double over to relieve the pain.

Aloe Soc is a remedy for diarrhoea which is lumpy watery stools and can have mucus (that may look like lumps of jelly in the stool). There can be a lot of bloating and gas, and they may not be sure if it is a fart or stool!

Podophyllum has watery, profuse diarrhoea that can be green or smell bad. They will be thirsty for large amounts of water, and have a bloated abdomen with a sensation of weakness or sinking.

With food poisoning it is important to stay hydrated – dehydration can be very serious. You can get electrolyte sachets from a Pharmacy which have the right proportion of electrolytes to be absorbed, without those it is a good idea to add a pinch of salt and sugar/maple syrup/honey to water which increases the absorption of fluid. Drinking small amounts regularly is the best practice- for children you can also get electrolyte ice blocks which are a great way of making sure they are having small amounts regularly instead of gulping all the water and vomiting it back up.

If you are concerned at any point about vomiting, diarrhoea or the resulting dehydration seek medical help, and you can phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 to speak to a registered nurse if you are not sure whether you need to see a Doctor.

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