Natural First Aid Kit for Holiday Health – Food Poisoning

By Judith Reid - Naturopathic Nutritionist -

Eating something dodgy and getting food poisoning is probably one of the most miserable feelings you can get whilst on holiday. Common symptoms are diarrhoea and vomiting.

  • The most important thing is to let it all out because you have a foreign body in you and you don’t want to block its exit routes. For the first 24 hours, try to resist the temptation to take anti-diarrhoeal or anti-sickness medication. Obviously, if you are concerned or if it goes on for longer, then consult a doctor.
  • SIP small amounts of water at regular intervals throughout the day. Both diarrhoea and vomiting are hugely dehydrating.
  • Avoid eating. Your body is doing its utmost to get rid of stuff. The last thing it needs is the stress of trying to digest new food. When you do start eating again, eat VERY lightly and plainly. (I often use a tablespoon of Aloe Vera Leaf in warm water, or Slippery Elm – see below – for a soothing, restorative drink. Please note that Aloe Vera is contraindicated in pregnancy and where there is an allergy to salicylates)
  • After 24 hours, I usually add a little Himalayan salt to my water as this is a good way to replace lost electrolytes (which we lose in sweating too, so is a good one for the first aid kit in general).
  • Coconut Water is also good for replacing electrolytes.
  • Activated Charcoal is very effective at binding to toxins in the digestive tract and escorting them out of the body. The only problem is that it also binds to nutrients and medications which, if you need a steady level of something in your bloodstream, can cause a problem, so please do check before taking. I use the powder (capsules also available). Add two tablespoons to a carton of orange juice (this makes it more palatable, but you can use water too), and drink a glass at a time, for several hourly / 2- hourly doses. It makes for a black and gritty drink but just close your eyes and think how much good it’s doing you!!
  • Slippery Elm is also a useful remedy and helps to soothe the intestines as well as move things through. Add 2 – 3 teaspoons in a glass of water and stir thoroughly. Repeat until symptoms subside. This can be taken on its own or alongside the charcoal.
  • If you are taking medication, please check for any drug interactions before taking.
  • A little freshly grated ginger in water also helps alleviate nausea.ginger
  • Homeopathy is very effective. Arsenicum Album is my first choice for food poisoning (especially where there are gnawing pains and loss of appetite), but other remedies may suit better, depending on your symptoms.
  • Ensure you take a good quality probiotic after a bout of food poisoning. See below.


To help prevent getting food poisoning in the first place, it’s a good idea to arm your body with a battalion of good bacteria, a.k.a. probiotics.

I suggest taking these for a good 2 weeks beforehand and throughout your holiday as well as a few weeks after. (Probiotics are a must whether you are travelling or not).

I recommend:

  •  Saccharomyces boulardii – this helps prevent the bonding of certain pathogens to the walls of our intestines. It’s very effective against E-coli. Take 1 capsule (250mg) daily. Note that this does not colonise the intestines.

  • A good quality pre/probiotic with high levels of live bacteria. These WILL take up residence in your guts and help boost your immune system as well as help to keep nasties at bay.

With a little natural know-how and a big helping of common sense, you can sit back, relax and really enjoy your holiday. Enjoy 🙂

To read my holiday health articles on dehydration and insect bites, click here and on sun safety click here

Judith Reid is a naturopathic nutritionist and passionate about all things natural, elephants, travel and dance. Judith’s philosophy in life is very much in taking personal responsibility for one’s own health and believes that living more naturally is common sense. To read more about Judith click here

We stock a range of probiotics suitable for travel and every day health. Take a look at these and other travel aids in our natural health shop 

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