What is Food Poisoning?
Food poisoning is a common foodborne illness. A person gets food poisoning as a result of consuming contaminated food or drinks. Anyone can get food poisoning, and it is estimated that about 600 million people around the world tend to fall ill from food poisoning every year. The most common symptoms of food poisoning include diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. In most cases, it is mild and short-lived that resolves quickly in a day or two. However, in some cases, severe symptoms may arise that need urgent immediate help. Homeopathic medicine for food poisoning helps control the symptoms of food poisoning and speed up the recovery process.
Homeopathy for Food Poisoning
Food poisoning can be effectively managed with homeopathic medicines. These medicines help in boosting the self-healing mechanism of the body and fight the infection. They help control the symptoms of food poisoning and speeding up the recovery process. Homeopathic medicine Arsenic Album is the first aid medicine used in food poisoning cases. It can be taken in 30 C potency three to four times a day, depending upon the severity of symptoms. It helps control symptoms including diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Homeopathic medicine for food poisoning helps control the symptoms of food poisoning and speeding up the recovery process.
Top Homeopathic Medicines for Food Poisoning
Arsenic Album – First line of Treatment for Food Poisoning
Arsenic Album is a highly recommended homeopathic medicine for food poisoning, also known as the ‘homeopathic first aid’ for food poisoning. Food poisoning with diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting is indicative of using this medicine. Vomiting may contain clear water or thick glairy mucus. If the person eats anything, it is vomited out quickly. The stool is loose, foul smelling, and is attended with weakness. Burning pain in the abdomen may be present. Frequent thirst for water at short intervals is usually present.
Veratrum Album – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Copious Vomiting
Veratrum Album is a homeopathic medicine prepared from a plant named ‘white hellebore.’ It belongs to the family Liliaceae. Veratrum Album is a beneficial homeopathic medicine for food poisoning where there is copious vomiting. Even the smallest amount of water gets vomited, and excessive weakness follows the vomiting. Along with this, nausea and copious loose stool may be present. The body may feel cold, apart from the above symptoms.
Aloe – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Diarrhea
Aloe is a natural homeopathic medicine prepared from plant Aloe Socotrina. The natural order of this plant is Liliaceae. It is indicated in cases of food poisoning with marked diarrhea. The stool is watery, and there is an urgent need to pass it. Rumbling and gurgling in the rectum is present, and a constant bearing down is felt in the rectum.
Colocynthis – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Abdomen Cramps
Colocynthis is a homeopathic medicine prepared from a plant called ‘bitter cucumber.’ It belongs to the plant family Cucurbitaceae. Colocynthis is considered for food poisoning when marked abdominal cramps are present. Apart from cramping, the medicine is also indicated when cutting, colicky pains in the abdomen are present. Bending double or pressing the stomach helps relieve the pain. The pain tends to worsen from slight eating or drinking. Along with this loose stool, vomiting and nausea are also present.
Other Important Homeopathic Medicines for Food Poisoning
China Officinalis – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Diarrhea and Extreme Weakness
Homeopathic medicine China Officinalis is prepared from the Peruvian bark or the Cinchona tree that belongs to the natural order Rubiaceae. It is a well-indicated homeopathic medicine for food poisoning with diarrhea and extreme weakness. The stool is watery, foul, and painless with marked exhaustion and debility. Excessive flatulence may be present, and the abdomen may be bloated. China is also a well-indicated medicine for food poisoning that occurs from the consumption of bad meat, unripe fruit, and bad water. It is also indicated for traveler’s diarrhea.
Nux Vomica – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Excessive Retching
Nux Vomica is a prominent homeopathic medicine for food poisoning with excessive retching (efforts to vomit). The person in such a case wants to vomit but cannot. A frequent ineffectual urge to pass the stool is present. The person may attempt to pass stool frequently but is only able to expel small quantities. Loud, rumbling, gurgling sounds in the abdomen may be present along with the above symptoms.
Ipecac – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Nausea and Vomiting
Homeopathic medicine Ipecac is prepared from the ipecac root, which belongs to the natural order Rubiaceae. Ipecac is used to treat food poisoning accompanied by intense nausea and vomiting. The nausea is present all the time. Vomiting appears, but it does not relieve nausea. Vomiting of watery fluids, green mucus, or blackish matter may be present. A frothy stool and pain around navel are often noted with the above symptoms.
Croton Tig – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Gushing Stool
Croton Tig is a significant homeopathic medicine for food poisoning. Its chief indicating features are copious, watery, and gushing stool. The urge to pass stool is constant, and stool is passed suddenly with great force in one gush. Colic before passing stool is also present.
Podophyllum Peltatum – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Profuse and Offensive Stool
Homeopathic medicine Podophyllum Peltatum is a plant-based medicine prepared from Mayapple (Podophyllum). The plant belongs to family Berberidaceae. The characteristic features to use this medicine are a profuse, offensive, yellowish or greenish stool. Fetid flatus, mucus in the stool, and vomiting of hot, frothy mucus may also be present.
Elaterium Officinarum – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning with Vomiting and Diarrhea
Elaterium Officinarum is a natural medicine prepared from a plant commonly named as the Squirting Cucumber. It belongs to the natural order Cucurbitaceae. Elaterium Officinarum is a valuable homeopathic medicine for food poisoning with violent vomiting and diarrhea. The stool is copious, watery, forceful, greenish, and frothy. Cutting pain in the abdomen may be present.
Zingiber Officinale – Homeopathic Medicine for Food Poisoning by Drinking Impure Water
Zingiber Officinale is prepared from the dried root of ginger, which belongs to the natural order Zingiberaceae. It is a prominently indicated homeopathic medicine for food poisoning contracted by drinking impure water. Diarrhea with excessive flatulence and colic, heaviness and rumbling in the stomach, and belching are the primary symptoms that indicate the need for this medicine. It is also suited for diarrhea that results from eating melons.
Food Poisoning: Causes
The main cause of food poisoning is the consumption of food or drinks that have been contaminated by infectious agents. The infectious agents can be bacterial, parasitic or viral. Among them, food poisoning from bacterial agents is the most common.
Bacterial Causes of Food Poisoning
Bacterial agents linked with food poisoning include Campylobacter jejuni, salmonella, E.coli, Shigella, Staphylococcus aureus, Clostridium botulinum, and listeria.
It is one of the most common bacteria that cause food poisoning. The incubation period is 3 to 5 days. It can be transmitted through consumption of undercooked meat and poultry or unpasteurized milk. Symptoms that arise as a result of poisoning by this bacteria include fever, severe abdominal pain, and diarrhea. The symptoms last less than a week.
Salmonella is another common bacteria that cause food poisoning. Its incubation period is 1 to 3 days. The infection may arise from consuming raw/undercooked meat, eggs, milk and other dairy products. The symptoms of its infection include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, headache, abdominal cramps, fever. It lasts from 3 to 7 days, but in some cases, diarrhea may last up for to 10 to 14 days.
Escherichia coli (E.Coli)
E. Coli is a widespread cause of food poisoning and traveler’s diarrhea. It spreads through consumption of undercooked beef, unpasteurized milk, and contaminated water. The symptoms include diarrhea (it can be bloody), abdominal cramps, and vomiting. The incubation period of this bacteria is 1 to 8 days, and the infection usually gets better in a week.
E. Coli also carries a risk of a rare and serious complication known as the hemolytic uremic syndrome. Older people and children are at a higher risk of developing this complication.
The bacterium Shigella has an incubation period 1 to 2 days, and it spreads from consumption of food washed with contaminated water, drinking contaminated water, engulfing contaminated water while swimming, or via an infected person handling the food. The main symptoms of a Shigella infection include diarrhea with blood and mucus (dysentery), abdominal cramps, tenesmus, and fever. The infection usually lasts for a week, but it can take months for the bowel movements to normalize.
Shigella carries a risk of leading to complications like seizures, post infectious arthritis (reactive arthritis), and hemolytic uremic syndrome.
The symptoms of a Staphylococcus Aureus appear within 30 minutes to 6 hours after consuming contaminated food. Food poisoning from staphylococcal aureus may arise from eating contaminated, cream-filled pastries, sandwiches, cold salads, meat, milk, fish, cream sauces, and custard. Symptoms of the infection include diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and vomiting. It is, and the person usually recovers within a day or two.
Clostridium Botulinum causes a severe infection, the symptoms of which arise within 12 to 36 hours. The source of infection includes canned food, smoked, salted fish, and improperly processed canned, commercial food. The symptoms of the infection include facial weakness, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, double vision, drooping eyelids, difficulty with swallowing, difficult speech, nausea, vomiting, and paralysis.
Listeria causes a severe infection, and it may be present in ready-to-eat food like sandwiches, hot dogs, soft cheese, unpasteurized milk, and luncheon meats. The incubation period for Listeria can vary from a few days to several weeks. The symptoms include loose stool, fever, and body aches. The nervous system may also get infected, with symptoms like confusion, loss of balance, headache, stiff neck and convulsions. If the infection is contracted during pregnancy, it carries a risk of miscarriage, stillbirth, and life-threatening infection in the newborn.
Two deadly outbreaks of listeria infection had been reported to date in the USA.
Parasites Linked with Food Poisoning
The most common parasites linked with food poisoning include Toxoplasma, Giardia lamblia, and Entamoeba histolytica.
A Toxoplasma infection can occur due to consumption of poorly cooked food, contaminated meat, and from exposure to cat feces. Mother-to-child transmission during pregnancy is also noted in some cases. Flu-like symptoms including body aches, fever, weakness, headache, and swollen lymph nodes are typical of this infection. Mother to child transmission during pregnancy can cause stillbirth, miscarriage, and severe complications in the child, like seizures, eye infections, jaundice, and enlarged liver/spleen.
Giardia Lamblia has an incubation period of 1 to 2 weeks, and it is contracted through water and food contaminated by the excreta of humans or animals. Diarrhea, abdomen cramps, gas, bloating, weight loss, and low appetite are the most common symptoms of this infection. It is a mild infection, but the symptoms can linger on for 2 to 6 weeks.
Entamoeba Histolytica causes amoebiasis, which is a contagious disease. A person contracts it through the consumption of contaminated food or water, and the incubation period varies from a few weeks to months. The symptoms include loose stool, bloody stools (dysentery), severe abdominal cramps, appetite loss, and fatigue. The infection can spread to the liver, lungs, heart, and brain. It can lead to an abscess in internal organs, severe illness and may even cause death.
Virus Linked with Food Poisoning
Norovirus and Rotavirus are the two viruses that cause food poisoning.
Norovirus is a very contagious virus that causes diarrhea and vomiting. The incubation period for this virus varies between12 to 48 hours. Symptoms of infection include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhea. Complete recovery from the infection taken about 2 to 3 days.
Rotavirus commonly affects children who are less than five years of age. The symptoms of infection appear within one to two days. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, abdomen pain, stool containing pus/blood, black/tarry stool, and irritability. Children who contract the infection are at risk of developing dehydration.
Food Poisoning: Symptoms
The symptoms of food poisoning can appear within hours of eating contaminated food, or they may develop after a few days or weeks. The incubation period of the infectious agents varies, which decides when the symptoms will appear (following the consumption of contaminated food). The typical symptoms of food poisoning include vomiting, nausea, diarrhea (loose stool), abdominal cramps, mild fever, and weakness.
How Does Food Get Contaminated?
Food can become contaminated by any of the following means:
- Washing fruits or vegetables with water contaminated by human sewage.
- Not cooking food thoroughly.
- Not heating the previously prepared food enough.
- Improper storing of the food.
- Contamination of meat and poultry during slaughter.
- Handling of food by a person having an infectious disease without thorough washing of the hands.
- Transfer of infectious agent to food from using kitchen tools like a knife, cutting board or any utensil that is already contaminated.
Common foods that can cause food poisoning include:
- Raw or undercooked meat and poultry
- Fish and shellfish
- Unpasteurized milk
- Ice cream
- Leafy green like spinach, cabbage, and lettuce
- Deli meat
- Fruits such as melons, berries
- Raw sprouts
When to See a Doctor
In case of severe food poisoning, it is essential to get conventional treatment. The symptoms of acute food poisoning that need urgent medical attention include:
- Blood in stool or vomiting
- High fever (more than 101 F)
- Severe dehydration
- Loose stool lasting for more than three days
- Blurred vision
- Tingling in arms
How to Prevent Food Poisoning – Safety Measures
With a bit of precaution, food poisoning can be prevented in most cases. Some of the measures that can be taken to minimize the risk of food poisoning include:
Wash hands before and after every meal or snack, since germs tend to survive in places like utensils, around the kitchen, cutlery or even your hands.
Rinse fruits and vegetables thoroughly under running water before consuming them.
Cross-contamination is a very common cause of food poisoning. Foods like eggs, raw meat, seafood, etc. can spread germs too, even when handled with clean hands. Keeping such food items separate from ready-to-eat food items is essential.
Foods need to be cooked thoroughly to a safe temperature which ensures that all disease-causing pathogens have been eliminated. Raw foods and meats especially need to be adequately prepared.
Foods should be refrigerated below temperatures of 40 F since pathogens start growing within 2 hours in food left at room temperature. In summers, this process can begin in half an hour, and so food should ideally not be left outside.
When traveling in developing foreign countries, it is necessary to wash vegetables and fruits before consumption and to drink from sealed bottles only. Ice should be avoided.
Managing Food Poisoning
Food poisoning usually gets better without any treatment within 48 hours. Management involves being comfortable and preventing dehydration during recovery. Some measures that can be taken are:
- Do not drink or eat anything for a few hours and allow the stomach to settle.
- Keep taking small sips of water or suck on ice-chips to stay hydrated. Clear broth and non-caffeinated drinks can also be taken in small quantities.
- Start by eating easy-to-digest, bland foods like rice and curd, plain crackers, toast, bananas, etc.
- Avoid foods containing caffeine, alcohol, nicotine, dairy products, and fatty foods until complete recovery. Greasy, spicy, fried, and sugary foods are hard to digest and should be avoided.
- Get adequate rest and keep physical activity to a minimum.