The medical books call it viral gastroenteritis, but your grandmother knew it as a stomach flu, and she knew how to handle it, too.
There is no cure for the stomach flu, and it is caused by a number of different viruses. Symptoms can include watery diarrhea, stomach cramps, headache, nausea and vomiting. Enduring it will be among the most miserable times you will have, guaranteed.
Your doctor can't help you: antibiotics don't touch viral infections. So your choices are to wait it out in misery – most people will recover after a few days – or remember how your grandmother handled it.
She would tell you to “stay hydrated.” Okay, she probably didn't say “hydrated,” but she did ply you with ginger ale and lots of clear broths. The idea was that, since you could not keep anything down, were losing fluids to diarrhea, and you did not feel like eating, you were in a real danger of becoming dehydrated. She would caution you to “sip slowly;” another good idea!
She would also make you tea. She probably made you tea when you were healthy as well – grandmothers love their tea – but especially when you were battling a stomach flu. The great thing about tea was all the grandmotherly cures and antidotes you could put in it that, as it turns out, really do help.
Ginger, for example, is considered both a natural antiviral that can help fight off the virus causing the flu and a terrific tea sweetener. It also helps to reduce inflammation and can help promote digestion by relieving diarrhea and nausea. It can also help to give some relief from stomach cramps and bloating. Although your grandma spiked your tea with it and kept the ginger ale flowing, you can skip the middle man and take ginger capsules or even chew on a piece of ginger.
Another one of your grandmother's go-to tea-sweeteners was peppermint, and it was not because she thought you needed a little Christmas to cheer you up. Peppermint, and other mints, can help to soothe an upset stomach and treat gas and bloating, and is most effective for an upset stomach when used in a tea.
Cinnamon, too, found its way into your grandmother's medicine chest and teapot, and for good reason. It is both an anti-inflammatory and antiviral, and helps improve digestion as well as heal infection. It even provides relief from vomiting and nausea.
So the next time the stomach flu strikes, don't call your doctor... call grandma!