Published September 11, 2012
According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), approximately 76 million Americans get food poisoning every year. Even though we have one of the safest food supplies in the world, food poisoning is caused primarily by improper and unhygienic handling of food – which can breed and spread harmful bacteria. Many thousands of cases of supposed flu are actually food poisoning cases demonstrating similar symptoms.
Only microscopic amounts of bacteria are required to cause sickness. Virtually everyone is susceptible to bacterial food poisoning, the symptoms of which can range from modest digestive discomfort to death. Bacteria that cause food poisoning include salmonella, campylobacter, E. coli and several other pathogens.
Disease-causing bacteria are most commonly found in meats, seafoods and dairy products, though we have also seen outbreaks of contamination in lettuce, melons, and other fruits and vegetables, as well as a limited number of packaged and prepared foods. Experts believe that disease-causing bacteria can never be fully eradicated from the food chain, and there is widespread agreement that bacterial food contamination is on the rise – representing a major threat to public health.
Refrigerating food and cooking it properly are well understood methods of reducing the likelihood of bacterial food poisoning. Washing hands and utensils with soap and warm water will also reduce risk. In addition, segregating the preparation of animal products and non-animal products can reduce the chance of cross-contamination – the spread of bacteria from one food to another. To reduce the potential for food contamination, read up on simple safety tips, which can be found all over the Internet.
But what if, despite your best efforts, you still wind up with food poisoning? There are some natural remedies that can help.
If you feel a bit queasy, a strong cup or two of fresh ginger root tea may be sufficient to ward off further discomfort. Ginger is loaded with potent anti-inflammatory compounds that help to quell nausea and gastric distress. You can drink ginger tea as often as you like. Often, this does the trick. I recommend the Organic Ginger Tea from Traditional Medicinals, which can be found at any natural food store and at many supermarkets.
If you feel that you are getting sicker, then a couple capsules of Andrographis – a Chinese herb – may stop things from progressing further. About 300 to 500 milligrams of Andrographis twice daily may alleviate symptoms. Nature’s Way, an herbal medicine provider, makes a good standardized Andrographis extract supplement.
To halt diarrhea due to food poisoning, a few drops of the Amazon herb ‘dragon’s blood’ can help to slow everything down and restore proper intestinal function. Available as a fluid, dragon’s blood is widely used in South America for diarrhea. It is also a traditional remedy given to women after childbirth to stop any internal bleeding. You can obtain fluid dragon’s blood from Raintree Nutrition.
If you wind up very sick – with chills, fever and diarrhea – then you need to step up the action. Without a doubt, call your doctor. Food poisoning can be debilitating, and in some cases fatal. When it gets very bad, that’s the time for antibiotics like the broad-spectrum CIPRO.
Once you are recovered from food poisoning, take a good probiotic. Your intestines require a healthy colony of abundant friendly bacteria to digest food, eliminate waste, rid the bowels of toxins and reduce the potential for intestinal inflammation. The friendly bacteria in probiotics help to re-establish normal, healthy intestinal and digestive function, assisting you in returning to normal. Look for either yogurts or supplements that say “live active cultures” right on the label, to ensure that the friendly bugs are still alive and viable. Pearls IC from Enzymatic Therapy is my favorite of all probiotic supplements.
No matter who you are, you can get food poisoning simply because there are so many pathogens that can get into food. Follow safe food handling guidelines and you’ll reduce risk. But if you do get sick, it’s good to be prepared.
Chris Kilham is a medicine hunter who researches natural remedies all over the world, from the Amazon to Siberia. He teaches ethnobotany at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where he is Explorer In Residence. Chris advises herbal, cosmetic and pharmaceutical companies and is a regular guest on radio and TV programs worldwide. His field research is largely sponsored by Naturex of Avignon, France. Read more at www.MedicineHunter.com.