Upset Tummies


About Upset Tummies…..

What might be causing this upset tummy?

Is this upset tummy safe for me to try to treat at home?


> Is it a simple upset stomach or is it something more serious?

* An upset stomach can be caused by various things.

* Some are safe to treat at home, some require diagnosis and treatment by a medical professional.

Upset stomachs are usually safe to treat or manage at home when caused by:

  • Over-eating (for example too many sweets, dizzy drinks etc. at a party; or too many healthy foods too e.g. lots of fruit, lots of cold water etc.).
  • A short-term vomiting bug (gastroenteritis) that doesn’t get out of hand.
  • Trapped wind.
  • Nervousness, anxiety or worry.

Upset stomachs require professional medical help (i.e. go to your GP/doctor) when caused by or when any of the following occur:

  • Vomitting bug: ANY OF THE FOLLOWING: lasting over 24 hours, not reducing in severity of symptoms or severity of symptoms increases.
  • Diarrhoea: ANY OF THE FOLLOWING: lasting over 24 hours, not reducing in severity of symptoms or severity of symptoms increases.
  • Stools: blood, dark/black colour or mucous visable in them.
  • Signs of Dehydration e.g.:Weakness, limpness, Loss of consciousness
  • Strong, serious or severe pain, especially if one-sided.

> Pain:

Is there pain? Is it genuine? Is it serious? What is causing it?

Here are a few tips to help you gauge the pain.

  • When in genuine pain children will often be frightened, irritated and inconsolable.
  • If the child can be distracted by a favourite television show, film. a song or even the mention of eating chocolate then they are most likely NOT in the severe pain that would indicate something serious!
  • Is the child clutching at his/her tummy, rolling around in discomfort, screaming, frightened? This is likely to be serious pain. Contact your GP or go to the hospital.

> When your child has Vomitting and/or Diarrhoea

This is usually caused by a bug but if you suspect that it might be due to food poisoning then contact your GP or hospital.

    • Do not try to stop this. Let it run its course to clear out any germs.
    • Keep the child hydrated by sipping water, herbal tea or juice,.
    • To prevent dehydration, people need to replace electrolytes. The simplest way to do this is to drink a glass of water with a tsp of sugar and a tsp of salt. However, this is not very palatable so I recommend for children, taking them separately to help them taste better. To replace the lost sugar try drinking fruit juice diluted in water or herbal tea. To replace the lost salt, try having a few spoons of a thin, light, watery soup e.g. onion.
    • In particular, monitor children very closely indeed because they can become dehydrated very quickly and need to go to hospital to receive fluids through a drip.
    • When the symptoms have eased, try eating gentle foods such as jelly or grated apple.
    • Then move on to porridge, then heavier foods.
    • Sipping a little herbal digestive tea (e.g. chamomile, mint, fennel, lemon balm, marshmallow, cinnamon etc.) can be really nice to recover from this.
    • If either symptom goes on for a prolonged time or you are worried then see you GP/go to A&E.

> When your child is Constipated

This is rarer in children with a healthy, wholefood diet and breast-fed babies but it can still happen, some children simply have a tendency to it. They will often grow out of it.

  • Look at the diet to see what could be improved there to prevent this happening.
  • Linseeds/psyllium husks: these are available from health shops. Mix 1/2-1 tsp (5 g) with a glass water. Allow it to swell up. It will develop a paste-like texture. Get your child to take a few tsp of this, and drink plenty of water, herbal tea or juice to wash it down. Not suitable for babies. This is a gentle bulk laxative, it will swell up in the digestive system, lubricate it and help to gently move the food through the system to go out the other end.
  • Topical tummy rub using an herbal infused oil or with mandarin essential oil can help (see Gentle Herbal Oil Tummy Rub, lesson available from Topical Treatments week: 9th Dec 2021).
  • NOT RECOMMENDED: avoid senna (although herbal and widely-available) because this stimulates the bowel to create a bowel movement. Using senna regularly means that the bowel works less well by itself and becomes dependent on the dose of senna to kick start this action.

Herbs for Helping with Upset Tummies and Where to Source Them

> Child-Friendly Herbs Traditionally used to ease UPSET TUMMIES

Gentle Nervines (especially suitable if anxiety, fear or worry are part of it)

♠ Lemon Balm (Melissa officinalis) 

♠ Camomile (Chamomilla recutica)

Soothing Demulcents (to try to soothe the red, raw, sore feeling of inflamed digestive tissue)

♠ Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis rad)


Carminatives (trapped wind can cause pain and griping, carminatives can help to break up trapped wind)

♠ Fennel (Foeniculum vulgare)

♠ Peppermint (Mentha pip)

♠ Cinnamon

Chamomile and lemon balm [see Nervines] can also be useful too. Try mixing a carminative with one of these.


Soothing antacid (can be useful if having indulged in harsh foods and drinks e.g. cola, fizzy drinks etc.)

♠ Meadowsweet (Filipendula ulmaria)

♠ Slippery Elm (powder or capsules if the child is old enough to swallow these.

♠ Marshmallow root (Althea officinalis rad).


Ways to use these herbs and where to get them

* These herbs can be easily taken as teas or in tincture form.

* Teas of mild herbs tend to be especially suitable for younger children. Herbal teabags of mint, fennel, camomile and/or lemon balm available from health food shops may often suffice.

* We will look at these methods of making herbal remedies over the next few weeks with specific info about age ranges & dosage, recommended blends, tips for making them palatable and getting your children to drink them.

* Dried herbs and tinctures can be purchased from a range of places including:


Dried herbs:



Dried herbs:



> Gentle Herbal Oil Tummy Rub