Today’s blog is all about how to deal with stomach pain. Let’s be honest: stomach pain is bloody horrible. Whether it’s from ibd, ibs or being accidently glutened- it sometimes just completely stops us in our tracks. There’s that dull niggling pain that threatens to get worse but seems to linger in the background, the sharp stabbing pain that feels like your gut is about to explode but then just goes away five minutes later. Or, one that seems to be a favourite with my gut, the ‘contractions’: pain that stops, then starts, then stops, then starts: you get the idea! I am no expert at dealing with pain and luckily it’s not something I experience every single day but I thought I’d do a quick round-up of some top tips that might help.
1. TENS Machine Although there’s not much scientific evidence to prove it, thousands swear by TENS machines . They work by sending small electrical currents to the body which are thought to ease pain. Although more traditionally used for muscle and joint pain, many report good results for stomach pain and period cramps.
2. Gentle Yoga Although yoga can be the last thing you want to do when in pain (I barely want to move off the sofa, let alone wrap my head around my head) it can definitely help with pain. For one it encourages deep, controlled breathing which in itself can be effective. It also can help the body move gently without putting excess strain on it. This youtube sequence is really gentle and calming.
3. Alternative Therapies. There’s lots of case studies out there that suggest alternative therapies (which range from reflexology to reiki) can be really beneficial in dealing with pain. I’d love to hear if this has worked for you in the comment section; I know lots of people have found accupuncture great for stomach pain too.
Now, I have blogged about mindfulness before- but I’ve only dipped my toe in it. I know how good it is for you; I just struggle to keep up with a program and they are often quite vague. I bought this book on Mindfulness for Health and was really impressed with it.
Now it’s early days yet (I may well do a review when I’ve finished the book) but it is different to any I’ve seen before as there’s a specific focus on health. It’s divided into two parts: the first is discussing issues with chronic pain and health (The concept of primary and secondary pain really resonated with me; since I can get pain almost in anticipation of being unwell.) It explains how pain effects other peoples lives and how they use mindfulness to help- it doesn’t expect cures but instead a better understanding of your pain how to manage it. The second part is a CD of guided meditations which specifically focus on pain management and health- getting you to tune into your body, reflect on the pain and work with it over an eight week program. At just under £10 it’s incredible value!
5. A Hot Bath
Can anything beat a hot bath? I’m yet to find it! Light some candles, play some soothing music and you’ll find the combination of heat and relaxation can make a huge difference.
6. Pain Busting Foods
Can food really stop you from feeling pain? Well, some foods can certainly have a positive impact on your pain levels. Ginger is an amazing anti-inflammatory but can also help pain: one study found it to be as effective as Ibuprofen to help with pain. Other good choices are turmeric and dark chocolate (read my latest turmeric recipe here)
7. Hot Drinks
I am a huge fan of herbal tea when I am experiencing chronic stomach pain. The best herbal teas for stomach pain are peppermint (but be warned it can give you reflux); ginger and fennel. Chamomile always works as a general relaxant too. Using bone broth can also be really beneficial too.
8. Heat Therapy
Using heat therapy is one type we’re all no stranger to- come winter my hot water bottle and I are inseperable. I recently discovered the yuyubottle which are the world’s first long hot water bottle which can actually wrap around your stomach- which I think is ingenious!
As someone is constantly trying to find ways to keep their hot water bottle in place as they walk around the house; I really think this in an amazing idea. It is also perfect for joint pain too since you can wrap it around your neck or shoulders.
That’s obviously not me by the way- I was just struggling to take a decent selfie that showed how versatile it actually is!
Compared to my usual heating devices ( I was using a microwavable lavender beanbag) it seems to last way longer too- around 5 hours! The range varies from the super snuggly fleecy version I tried to the luxury cashmere version (surely the best christmas present for those of us with stomach pain) to a cute one for the kids in your life too (shown below)
Chronic stomach pain can be difficult to manage but hopefully I’ve given you some suggestions to get you started. I’d love to hear any more tips you have so comment below.