Summer is the season for fun and outdoor activities. Because more people are cooking outside at picnics and on camping trips in hot and humid weather, food poisoning is more common in the summer.

Food poisoning occurs when people eat contaminated food which has harmful toxins or micro organisms such as Salmonella.

General symptoms of food poisoning are nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain and cramps, diarrhea, chills, fever and headache, all which can last from a few hours to a few days.

To prevent food poisoning, safe and clean steps in handling, cooking and storage of food are essential. However, when people are sick from bad food, Chinese medicine is a useful and effective method of care. Acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine can relieve symptoms such as abdominal cramps, nausea, and diarrhea and recovery is quicker by assisting the body to eliminate the pathogens. It can also strengthen the digestive system, preventing future incidents of food poisoning as well as the development of a chronic immune disorder.

When the patient sees the acupuncturist or Chinese herbalist for food poisoning, the main purpose of treatment in Chinese medicine would be clearing damp-heat that causes nausea and diarrhea and expelling parasites from the body. The individualized prescription of acupuncture points and/or Chinese herbs will be given based on specific symptoms the patient presents.

The very common acupuncture points for food poisoning are Zu San Li (Stomach 36), Tian Shu (Stomach 25), and Nei Guan (Pericardium 6) Zu San Li is located on the shin, 4 finger breadth below the outer-lower corner of kneecap. It is a powerful point to balance the digestive system and relieve abdominal pain.

Tian Shu is located on the abdomen, 3 finger breadth lateral to the belly button. It is used to relieve abdominal pain and stop diarrhea.

Nei Guan is well known point for nausea including morning sickness, and it is located 3 finger breadths above the inside of the wrist. Acupressure or massage on those points is helpful to relieve major symptoms of food poisoning.

Bao He Wan, Curing Pills, Kan Ning Wan and Po Chai Pills are common Chinese herbal remedies, and they effectively treat general food poisoning symptoms such as cramping and diarrhea. These formulas are good to bring with you when you travel.

Another simple, good home remedy for food poisoning is ginger tea. In Chinese medicine, the functions of ginger are to alleviate nausea and vomiting, to benefit the stomach, to expel cold and to resolve the toxicity. From the western point of view, it has been found to increase the secretion of gastric juice and the production of hypochloride, so it effectively treats digestive disorder. I always recommend ginger tea to my patients for strengthening the stomach and preventing colds. Cut up two small pieces and boil them with water for 30 minutes to 1 hour to make fresh ginger tea. Add some honey or maple syrup and enjoy!

Sungmi is a licensed acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist and has received national certification in Oriental Medicine. Her practice specializes in fertility care for women and men, prenatal care, and post-partum care. She has also successfully treated seasonal allergies, chronic cough and respiratory diseases including children’s colds and allergies, along with treating chronic and acute back/knee/shoulder pain, insomnia, headache, sciatica, abnormal skin conditions, and digestive problems. Sungmi is excited to be working in an integrated center for complementary health care.
Sung Mi’s flexible schedule allows for acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine appointments mornings, evenings and Saturdays