Stomach ache can have several different causes – acidity, indigestion, flatulence, constipation, hunger, wrong food combinations, excessive snacking etc. Firstly, serious causes like appendicitis, gastritis etc. need to be ruled out. Consult a physician if necessary if the condition is chronic and occurs frequently or if severity is too high.
The state of your digestive fire (agni) determines how well your food is digested. Agni should be optimum, not too high, not too low, for food to be digested and utilized well. There are many practices that mess up the digestive strength like – very heavy food, very spicy food, excessive amounts of raw foods, cold foods, incorrect combination of foods (bananas and milk, sour fruit and milk, milk and yogurt etc.), emotional/stress eating
During a stomach ache:
- Eat light. Avoid heavy foods like cheese, wheat, beans, oily/fried foods. Eat easy to digest foods like khichdi, rice, moong dhal (split green gram dhal), buttermilk etc.
- Avoid exercise, including yoga and take rest. You can do Pavanamuktasana (Wind pose) if you think that flatulence may be the root cause of your stomach ache.
Ways to strengthen digestive fire:
- Grate fresh ginger, extract the juice, add a few drops of lemon juice, add black salt and a little water and drink this BEFORE a meal. Alternatively, you can omit the juice extraction from the ginger and just chew the ginger with some lemon juice and black salt.
- Add 1 crushed bay leaf to 2 cups of hot water and let it steep for 10 minutes or so. Add a pinch of cardamom and drink AFTER a meal.
- Fasting is a good way to strengthen the digestive fire. Pittas or people with very strong appetites should observe a partial fast and drink juices or eat fruits instead of completely avoiding all foods and drink.
Home Remedies when you have a stomach ache:
- Mix 1/3 tsp of cumin (jeera) powder, a pinch of asafetida (hing) and a pinch of rock salt and eat the mixture. Wash down with a few sips of warm water.
- Rubbing the tummy with asafetida (hing) paste in concentric circles, starting from the navel and moving outwards will help in relieving a stomach ache that is associated with flatulence.
- Chew on 1/2 tsp of carom seeds (ajwain) and immediately wash it down with warm water. Note that you can’t really chew the seeds for too long, since the taste is very pungent. Just chew for a few seconds and then wash it down with water.
- Extract fresh onion juice (2 tbsp), add 1/2 tsp each of honey and black pepper and drink.
- A tea made with cumin, coriander, fennel (equal parts) in hot water, sipped throughout the day can help balance the doshas. Soak 1/3 tsp of each of the seeds in 3 cups of hot water for 10 minutes, strain and drink through the day in small portions.
- A tea made with cardamom, fennel, dry ginger (equal parts) in hot water, with a pinch of asafetida helps with gas related stomach aches. Soak 1/3 tsp of each of the seeds in 3 cups of hot water for 10 minutes, strain, add asafetida and drink through the day in small portions.