Healthy digestive system means an overall good health! Your stomach is your closest friend who warns you through various signs and symptoms about the imbalance much before the disorder actually turns serious. So keeping a check on your tummy’s well-being is important!
“Stomach cramps” is a condition that is often misunderstood. Since it is hard for a layman to pin point the location as well as cause of the pain, they tend to count incidences of stomach ache and abdominal pain as stomach cramps. But, the actual cramp in the stomach muscles can be the cause behind recurrent abdominal pain. And this is one reason why these terms are interchanged in general communication.
Causes of Stomach Cramps
From indigestion to viral infection and Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stomach cramps associated with abdominal pains can stem from a good number of causes.
Something might just be wrong with the food you have had last night or your digestive system that is inviting constipation, indigestion, food poisoning or gas leading to sharp abdominal pain or muscle cramps. Or recurrent stomach aches may be indicative of some viral infections, development of ulcers, urinary tract infections, Crohn’s disease, kidney and gall bladder stones and GERD . Interestingly, if cramps and pain often follows intake of lactose rich diet such as milk and dairy products, lactose intolerance might be the cause.
Females, who have a hard time with periods, may also complain about the cramps that have their roots in the problems linked to menstrual cycle. Again, this may range from occasional menstrual cramps to something as serious as endometriosis.
Home Remedies for Stomach Cramps
If the stomach cramps is due to any of those ‘not so serious’ causes, calm down for the reason that nature has sufficient expertise to relieve you from the discomforting signs and symptoms. Here’s how!
The relieving properties of ginger is attributed to goodness of the chemicals namely, gingerols and shogaols that reside in it naturally. These natural compounds have amazing potential to relax the smooth muscles that line your intestine. And this is how the remedy works to make your stomach free from muscle cramps.
- Take a bowl of distilled water and boil it.
- Next, add ginger. Of course, chop it down first to extract the most out of it. Take more ginger than the amount of water in the bowl.
- Add a teaspoon of honey for taste.
- Stir well and strain it in a glass. Your ginger tea is ready!
- Sip it slowly to let the calming effect work well on your muscles.
Warm or cold compress
Warm and cold compress trick works like magic and imparts instant relief to the restless stomach struggling with cramps and pain. As far as choice of temperature is concerned, it is advisable to go for hot compress if you have already figured out that the cause is gas or diarrhea while cold compress is known to have immediate effect on treating stomach aches.
- Prepare your own equipment for compress by filling hot water in a heat stable bottle. You may also go for readymade hot pack. (Alternatively, use ice packs)
- Test for the temperature. If it’s well within your range of comfort, lie down with this hot compress on your stomach.
- Let the compress do its job for at least 15 minutes. Do not forget to heat the water in the bottle again if it loses heat.
- Repeat this process whenever needed for instant relief.
If improper digestion is what troubling your tummy, lemon water is the savior! The acidic property of the lemon makes the digestive system, release more hydrochloric acid so as to aid food breakdown and smoothen the overall working of the system.
All you need to do is prepare a glass of lemon juice for you!
Lemon water to treat your abdominal cramp
- Take a glass of water and boil it.
- Squeeze some lemon in it. Stir it and the juice is ready.
- Remember to let it get down to ‘warm state’ from boiling one before you drink it slowly to ease the muscles of your stomach.
You thought only the cooked rice is of use? Wait! Before you throw the left over water, look what it has for you. Rice water is known to relieve internal inflammation by forming a protective membrane over the stomach lining. This way, it acts as a demulcent and eliminates one of the causes of stomach aches, abdominal pains and stomach cramps.
How to make rice water
- Cook your rice just as you normally do but this time, with twice the amount of water.
- Allow it to get cooked over medium heat and when it’s done, soak the rice with lid on for some 2-3 minutes.
- Next, strain the water left behind and sip it warm slowly to reduce the pain.
- You may also add a teaspoon of honey for taste.
- Also, your meal is ready! Have rice! They are good friends of stomach.
So if muscle cramps are due to hard to pass stools, Epsom salt solution can be an effective remedy.
- Take a glass of water and add about 2 teaspoons of Epsom salt to it.
- Drink it immediately in one go.
Intolerable taste? Next time, add some lemon juice too.
If it doesn’t work, do not keep on taking more doses of Epsom salt. It may worsen the condition.
Hydrochloric acid is always present in your stomach. But sometimes, it’s over secretion leads to acidity and therefore, you need a neutralizer to balance the pH. Baking soda is an amazing antacid that serves this purpose effectively and relieves from abdominal pains.
how to use baking soda for stomach cramps
- Take a cup of warm water.
- Add about 1-2 teaspoons of baking soda to it and stir it well.
- Drink the solution so obtained slowly to treat stomach cramps and pain that result from indigestion.
It has been long since acupressure has established its effectiveness in treating many of the ailments, including those associated with digestive system. The strategy is to stimulate certain specific points on the body so as to restore the overall balance.
Acupressure heals the inflamed linings of the digestive system, thereby relieving the symptoms of inflammation such as stomach cramps, abdominal pains and so on. Not just this, the therapy has also been successful in treating gas, bloating and diarrhea.
All you need to do is, sit back, relax and know what points are to be stimulated. Here’s the list.
- Union valley : This point is right at the junction of index finger and thumb.
- Crooked pond : This one is located towards the edge of your elbow point, on the top of that crease.
- Three Point Mile : This is where the name defines; at a distance of three fingers width right below the knee on the outer edge of your leg.
- Great Rushing : Hold where the webbing of your big and second toe begins. This is the point you need to stimulate.
- Grandfather-Grandson : Roughly measure about four fingers width distance from your big toe on the inner side of your foot. This is the point.
Essential oils for stomach cramps
As soon as you apply them on your body externally, they get absorbed through skin, penetrate further and travel throughout the body to address a number of health issues by virtue of their anti bacterial, anti inflammatory and pain relieving properties.
This time they are here to treat inflammation, indigestion and ease muscle cramps.
One of the members of the class of oils widely recognized for their effect on easing stomach cramps is Peppermint oil. The active ingredients in the oil soothes the gastrointestinal lining and suppresses painful cramps. Additionally, its analgesic property treats aches in lower back, abdomen and tummy.
All you need to do is
- Take equal amount of peppermint oil and a carrier oil (such as coconut oil) and mix them.
- Gently apply the mixture on the painful areas of your stomach or abdomen.
Juice for Stomach cramp
When digestion goes wrong, you may look to the juices as an alternative to your regular diet to ease the misery. But it is worth mentioning that every fruit and vegetable juices may not be your tummy’s good friend.
One option that you can rely on while your stomach is having a bad time is carrot and mint juice. The key ingredients carrot and peppermint nourishes the digestive system and soothes the upset stomach respectively.
This is how you can make your own carrot and mint juice
- Take a bowl of water (about 4 cups of water) and add 4 chopped carrots and about one teaspoon of peppermint(dry) to it.
- Let the mixture boil until the carrots are soft. It may take 15-20 minutes.
- Finally, blend the mixture and the juice is ready!
- You may also add a pinch or ginger and some lemon juice to increase the goodness and taste of your juice.
Best foods for stomach cramps
We eat whatever we like and our stomach keeps working on it day and night to extract out the most of it! But when it is ill, it becomes uncooperative and this is when we need to know what should be eaten so as to reduce its sufferings.
Have a look at the list of foods that your tummy would happily accept while you have stomach cramps and abdominal pain.
This terrific meal is complete enough to kick the cramps and pain off your tummy and help you restore the disordered digestive system. The list of health benefits that rice offers is a big one.
Potassium and magnesium contents of rice work on relieving the stomach muscles from cramps while anti-inflammatory properties eliminate the risk of gluten intolerance which is again a leading cause of stomach cramps and abdominal pains.
Similar to rice, potatoes are also rich source of magnesium and potassium. Additionally, vitamin B6 present in good amount reduces the tension that can potentially worsen the stomach cramps. You may go for sweet as well as white potatoes as both of them are full of resistant starch that smoothens the bowel movement and takes care of upset tummy.
Slightly ripe bananas have all of the top three nutrients- magnesium, potassium and vitamin B6 that are essential to bring down the muscle cramps. So you have the green signal from your stomach to enjoy the ripened bananas!
Reference: foods good for stomach cramps.
Foods to avoid for stomach cramps
Stomach cramps are usually temporary and goes away as soon as you bring your digestion back to its healthier form. But till then, if you force your tummy to cooperate with everything you eat, things might get worse.
It is therefore better to eat what your tummy happily accepts until the conditions get back to normal.
Here’s the ‘don’t eat’ list!
- Dairy products : Recall that lactose intolerance is amongst the roots that stem stomach related problems. Even if you aren’t lactose intolerant, taking in milk and cheese products can further upset the stomach and prolong the misery.
- Chocolate and caffeine : Say a big ‘NO’ to caffeine and chocolate if stomach cramps with diarrhea is your story. Caffeine can further loosen the stools and chocolate allows acid reflux by relaxing the lower sphincter.
- Fats : Fatty foods have a tendency to stimulate certain receptors in the stomach that are responsible for giving you a sense of bloating and constipation. So till your tummy gets better, avoid cheese, oil, cream and meat.
- Alcohol: Who isn’t aware of the dangers associated with alcohol! But to speak in relation with stomach issues, alcohol has certain hard-to-metabolize chemicals that irritate the intestinal linings. So it’s time to take a break from hard drink parties!
- Processed food: You may not want to get up from bed and cook something while your stomach hurts badly. But before you think about taking processed food, read the ingredients on the pack. It may contain some of the ‘not so good’ chemicals that could further upset the tummy.
Stomach cramps after eating
Amongst the others, stomach cramps or abdominal pains that follow meals are the most common ones. Although there is a lot one can do to get relieved, people overlook the cause and keep struggling with the pain. If you are one amongst these, take a pause and read further to pin point the cause behind this undesired pain as delay in diagnosis can be a welcoming note to more serious concerns.
- Overeating : We know resisting that cheesy pizza or controlling the tongue when the party is on is quite difficult especially, when you are crazy for food!
- Food allergies and intolerance : It might be the case that your body says ‘NO’ to certain foods and stomachache following those foods can be indicative of serious food intolerance or allergies.
- Disorders associated with digestive system such as celiac disease, peptic ulcers, appendicitis, Crohn’s disease, and intestinal obstruction and so on.
Refer enkivillage for more on stomach cramps after eating.
Stomach cramps during pregnancy
While the mum-to-be is going through pregnancy, the body prepares itself to support the growth and development of the baby. And stomach cramps are the result of physical changes that are an essential part of this preparation.
So if you experience mild tummy aches and cramps, relax! That’s normal. But do not forget to mention it to your general physician while you for regular check-up to eliminate the risk of complications.
Stomach cramps and diarrhea
Crampy-stomach has enough potential to make you see stars in daylight! (Sigh!) And the scenario goes worse when frequent watery stools accompany the unbearable abdominal ache. This may again be traced to gastrointestinal problems, food poisoning or microbial infection.
Stomach cramps and constipation
Both are interlinked in a tricky way! Stomach cramps can be due to constipation and constipation is again in the list of common causes of stomach cramps and abdominal pains.
Exercise or yoga for stomach cramps
Over-the-counter drugs and home remedies may be good for instant relief. But if stomach cramps and associated pains are your everyday’s cry, you need something that has long term benefits.
What could be more helpful than the old and gold yoga postures and aerobics that work on the insides to put a stop to recurring stomach cramps, tummy upsets and abdominal pain.
To name a few, Apanasana, Bridge pose and Balasana/Child’s Pose hit the list of top yoga poses for long term relief from bloating, constipation, indigestion and stomach upset.
If you are new to this physical activity trick, you may want an instructor to guide you so that right posture and right exercise practiced for right timing relieves you from existing problems and prevent further worsening for the condition.
Note : Before you go for any home remedy or other alternatives, it is important to have an idea about the probable cause. Also, not everything suits everyone! So, diagnose the cause well before taking an action.
Learn More about causes and symptoms of stomach pain at webmd.