What Is Norovirus?
Norovirus is a highly contagious virus that causes vomiting, diarrhea, stomach cramping and sometimes a fever. Norovirus is not related to the influenza virus, although it is often called “stomach flu.” It has been estimated that more than 250 million people are infected with norovirus each year. The gastrointestinal illness was named in the late 1960s after the town Norwalk, Ohio, where the first outbreak was identified.
What Are the Symptoms of Norovirus?
Within 12 to 48 hours of exposure to norovirus, infected individuals will begin to show symptoms, which include:
- Stomach cramping
- Body aches
The symptoms of norovirus can last for as little as 24 hours or as long as a week.
How Is Norovirus Spread?
Norovirus is extremely contagious. It can be transmitted in several ways very quickly. First of all, researchers have found that norovirus can be temporarily airborne. There have been several instances when an infected person vomits in a hotel lobby, restaurant or other crowded area and infects several bystanders without even touching them.
A second way to contract norovirus is through hand-to-hand contact. The virus lives in the fecal matter, vomit and saliva of those who are infected. If an infected person doesn’t thoroughly wash his or her hands after using the restroom, the infected person can spread it easily to the next person he or she touches. Also, when tested, the saliva of an infected person can test positive for norovirus for 10 days after he or she is feeling better.
Contaminated food is another way that norovirus is transmitted. When a person with norovirus is preparing your food and not washing his or her hands properly, the food becomes contaminated, and those who eat it may contract norovirus. Often, people who believe they have food poisoning are actually sick from norovirus.
Finally, norovirus can live on hard surfaces and cloth surfaces for weeks. It is also resistant to most household cleaners and disinfectants.
Natural Remedies and Treatments Are Best for Norovirus
While you may be able to get antinausea and antidiarrheal medications from your doctor, there isn’t a certain prescription that will cure norovirus. However, there are plenty of natural home remedies that will help ease your discomfort and get you back on the road to wellness quickly.
1. Hydrate Gently with Ice and Ice Pops
Chances are that, while you’re first experiencing norovirus symptoms, you won’t be able to drink water without throwing it right back up. One helpful tip is to enjoy some ice chips, crushed ice or an ice pop instead of drinking water.
Why it works: Ice chips dissolve very slowly, so they’re easier for your body to handle. Similarly, ice pops will help you get some fluids slowly. They also have a bit of sugar, which can help eliminate nausea. If you’re opting for ice pops, look for some that contain a little bit of salt to help bring your electrolyte balance up.
2. Have Some Ginger Tea
You can make yourself some ginger tea easily with about an inch of peeled ginger root and some boiling water. Just chop up the ginger a bit and put it in the bottom of a mug. Pour the boiling water over the ginger root and let it sit for about five minutes to steep. Take tiny sips of the tea. If you can’t bear to stand up long enough to brew a cup of ginger tea, you can also just chew on a little bit of the ginger root.
Why it works: A 2012 study in the medical journal, Integrative Cancer Therapies, found that ginger reduced nausea and vomiting significantly in chemotherapy patients. The helpful compound called gingerol in the ginger is what eliminates the urge to vomit and relaxes the muscles in your digestive tract.
3. Peppermint Helps
Brew a cup of peppermint tea, enjoy a candy cane or put a couple of drops of peppermint essential oil in a carrier oil, and apply it to your temples.
Why it works: Peppermint is an antispasmodic substance that relaxes the muscles in your stomach and relieves nausea.
- Take Apple Cider Vinegar
One tablespoon of organic, raw, apple cider vinegar in a small glass of water is helpful for relieving nausea associated with norovirus.
Why it works: Apple cider vinegar is acidic but, once it hits the body, it turns alkaline and helps neutralize excess stomach acid in the digestive tract.
5. Relieve Nausea with Lemons
Studies have shown that just the smell of lemon can relieve nausea. Try diffusing lemon essential oil. Drinking a small glass of water with a squeeze of lemon can also help.
Why it works: Similar to apple cider vinegar, lemon is acidic. However, it is alkalizing to the body and can help balance the pH levels in your digestive tract.
6. Bananas Can Help Ease Diarrhea
Try just a few slices of banana at first. The fruit can help relieve nausea and put a stop to diarrhea.
Why it works: Bananas are starchy and easy to digest. The starchiness also helps to firm up your stools and relieve diarrhea. The potassium in bananas is also helpful to restore the electrolytes lost in vomiting and diarrhea.
7. Munch on Soda Crackers
Simple soda crackers are excellent for an upset stomach. They are particularly helpful when you’re hungry and nauseous. Keep a few on the bedside table to help relieve nausea.
Why it works: Soda crackers are easy to digest and starchy. So, they will help soak up excess stomach acid and help you feel better. The salt in soda crackers can also help restore electrolytes.
8. Try a Dose of Baking Soda
One teaspoon of baking soda in a shot of water can relieve stomach pain and nausea quickly and effectively. It doesn’t taste good, but it works wonders.
Why it works: The alkalinity of baking soda can help balance your body’s pH levels and neutralize stomach acid. Baking soda can also reduce the production of gas, providing fast relief from stomach cramps.
9. CBD Oil Can Relieve Nausea
Cannabidiol is the non-psychoactive compound in the cannabis plant. Cannabidiol is abbreviated as CBD and is extracted into an oil. The oil is excellent for numerous ailments including nausea and digestive pain. A 2012 study in the British Journal of Pharmacology found that CBD oil suppressed vomiting and eased nausea in patients. CBD oil is legal in most areas, as it contains no THC (tetrahydrocannabinol, which is the psychoactive compound found in cannabis) and is not a mind-altering substance.
Why it works: According to the experts at cbdMD, a medical cannabis farm in Kentucky, “Cannabinoids, specifically CBD, contain antiemetic (antinausea) properties that indirectly activate particular receptors in the midline of the brain stem.” CBD oil can be taken by drops, directly under the tongue or in a glass of water.
10. Fennel Seeds Are Excellent for Nausea and Gas Pain
Fennel seeds help treat nausea by preventing gas formation in the digestive tract and making existing gas easier to pass. Fennel also contains anesthetic compounds that aid in pain relief.
Make fennel tea by putting about a teaspoon of fennel seeds into a mug. Then, pour over some near-boiling water and let it steep for a few minutes. You can also just chew on fennel seeds to overcome nausea.
Why it works: Fennel is a carminative herb. A carminative herb helps to prevent gas formation in the digestive tract.
11. Sit Upright
Lots of rest is very important when you’re sick with the norovirus. However, after you’ve had a good nap, consider propping yourself up into a reclined sitting position. Sitting more upright will help you keep fluids and food down.
Why it works: Laying down flat keeps your entire digestive system horizontal. Sitting up at an incline uses the force of gravity to help keep your digestive fluids flowing in the right direction.
12. Massage Clockwise Around Your Naval
Put two fingers on your belly, about two inches to the right of your navel. Then, rub lightly in a clockwise, circular motion around the navel. This message will help your digestive system work properly.
Why it works: Your intestines are situated to move fluids and foodstuffs through in a clockwise fashion. Massaging around the naval clockwise helps move everything along in the right way.
Prevent the Transmission of Norovirus
Because norovirus is particularly resistant to many cleaners and disinfectants, it is best to use bleach when you’re cleaning up after someone who is sick. Use a solution of 1/4 cup of bleach to 32 ounces of water to clean and sanitize hard surfaces, light switches, doorknobs, stair rails, and remote controls.
Wash your hands with soap and water anytime you make contact with an infected person and before you eat or touch your face. Wash the bedclothes of sick individuals in hot water. If you are sick with norovirus, be sure to wash your hands thoroughly and often. Avoid preparing foods for others and getting too close.
Soak your toothbrush in a glass of hydrogen peroxide if you’ve been ill. Make sure all of your towels and bathroom supplies are washed in hot water as well. Clean all the toilets with a bleach solution and don’t have friends over for at least seven days after your symptoms are gone.
What Are the Best Foods to Eat During and After the Illness?
It’s best to stick with the basic BRAT diet when you’re sick with norovirus. BRAT stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast. While we normally recommend whole grains, when you’re sick with norovirus, buy the best quality white bread you can find. White bread is easier to digest and will be easy on your system. You can also eat pasta while you’re sick. Drink clear liquids. Water, herbal tea and electrolyte drinks are perfect.
Take your time introducing new foods. Even after you feel better, tomato-based and spicy foods will be off-limits for a few days. Introduce acidic and spicy foods slowly — about three or four days after you feel back to normal.
Norovirus Is Best Treated Naturally
When you’ve brought home a nasty stomach bug, the very best thing you can do is lay low, stay hydrated and try your absolute best not to spread the virus to your friends and family members. Use some of these natural remedies to care for yourself and get back on your feet quickly.
Bolognini, D, (2012). Cannabidiol, a non-psychotropic component of cannabis, attenuates vomiting and nausea-like behaviour via indirect agonism of 5-HT1A somatodendritic autoreceptors in the dorsal raphe nucleus. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih. gov/pmc/articles/PMC3423241/
Panahi, Y. (2012). Effect of ginger on acute and delayed chemotherapy. Retrieved from: https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/full/10.1177/1534735411433201