Feeling Lousy? Could Be Food Poisoning

Food Poisoning

After you eat, you may feel over the next few days with abdominal cramps, a fever, headache, and just feeling lousy. That could be a sign you have food poisoning, also known as salmonella.

No, it is not named for the fish. Salmonella, a group of bacteria, is the most common cause of foodborne illness, and was named for a doctor named Salmon who discovered it more than 100 years ago. The illness that people get from Salmonella infection is called salmonellosis.

Salmonella comes from food contaminated with bacteria, which can happen during food processing or food handling. It only takes a tiny amount of bacteria to cause food illness.

Salmonella can occur in raw, tainted or live poultry, eggs, beef, fish and unwashed fruits and vegetables. People can get salmonella when they are handling food and don’t wash their hands, especially after being in contact with animals, such as chicks or rodents.

Impacts Millions of People

About one of six people in the U.S. will get some type of food poisoning this year. The

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimate 1.2 million illnesses, 23,000 hospitalizations and 450 deaths related to salmonella each year.  Food is the source for about one million of these illnesses.

Nausea, vomiting and diarrhea are the most common signs of salmonella, but fever and chills often accompany the illness. It can take a week  for symptoms of the illness to begin.

One of the most important things you can do if you get salmonella is drink plenty of liquids to replace fluids lost through vomiting or diarrhea.

Chinese Herbs To Reduce Symptoms

There are herbs and alternative remedies that may be effective in reducing symptoms of food poisoning, and help speed recovery.  Traditional Chinese Medicine has been used for centuries to improve gastrointestinal dysfunction.

How salmonella occurs

The most common causes of salmonella usually come from animals. Touching certain birds and lizards can spread the disease. Reptiles, baby chicks and small rodents are among the animals that may carry it.

Foods contaminated with bacteria can occur during food processing or food handling. Salmonella hides in cooked meats, such as chicken or beef. It is also found in meats or seafood, dairy products and lettuce, in packaged and prepared foods. Outbreaks of contamination have ranged from pre-cut fruit to dried coconut, frozen shredded coconut, chicken salad and sprouts, and imported spices. A kind of cereal was found to have salmonella problems.

Shell eggs have been known to carry the risk of salmonella, but it’s extremely uncommon. In some rare instances, water can be contaminated with salmonella.

Kratom, an herbal supplement that the Food and Drug Administration has said is not safe, also has had instances of containing salmonella, the agency said.

When someone is sick

Most people affected with salmonella develop diarrhea, fever and abdominal cramps, anywhere from 12 to 72 hours or nearly a week after infection. The illness usually lasts 4 to 7 days and most people recover without treatment. However, in some people, diarrhea may be so severe that the patient needs to be hospitalized.

Most people get better without treatment, but an infection could be more serious in infants or people with chronic conditions, according to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. If left untreated, salmonella poisoning can appear in joints and the urinary tract in a condition known as Reiters Syndrome. In some cases that could become permanent.

Use Best Practices

Taking care in handling food is one of the most important preventative practices in preventing salmonella.  For instance, take care when making or handling raw eggs or foods such as cookie dough or burgers. You should also make sure raw meat is cooked to the proper internal temperature, or properly refrigerated. You should always wash the food after purchasing.

What You Can Do

  • Stay hydrated. Liquid intake is important for your body to fight off food poisoning effects. You can have sports drinks that include electrolytes to prevent dehydration, clear sodas, chicken or broth, and decaffeinated tea.
  • Eat foods gentle on your stomach. Such foods would include bananas, potatoes, cereals, honey, gelatin, and oatmeal.

Helpful Chinese Herbs

  • The Chinese formula Bao He Wan is traditionally used for all sorts of gastrointestinal disorders ranging from food poisoning as the result of contaminated foods, or from general overeating or over indulgence in rich foods and alcoholic beverages. It includes Shan Zha, Shen Qu, Lal Fu ZI Chen PI, Ban Xia, Fu Ling, Lian Qiao.
  • Shao Tao Tang can be taken to regulate and harmonize both the Qi and blood while cleaning heat and removing toxins. It includes Bai Shao Yao, Dang Gui, Gan Cao and others.
  • Garlic is known to possess antibiotic properties. The Hospitality Institute of Technology and Management reports that the active ingredient in garlic is effective for halting the growth of bacteria in salmonella
  • Ginger has anti-inflammatory compounds to help quell nausea and gastric problems. It is a rhizome of the plant Zingiber officnale. Tea from giner and chamomile is also an effective treatment.
  • Andrographis paniculata, a Chinese herb described as bitter and cold, is good for relieving toxins. It is grown widely and has a history of a traditional use for a wide variety of conditions, such as infections and an assortment of digestive disorders. It also has been used for the common cold.
  • Oil of oregano is used for antimicrobial properties.


Rahayu, S, Nurdiana, N, et al. The Effect of Curcumin and Cotrimoxazole in Salmonella Typhimurium Infection in Vivo. 2013. ISRN Microbiology. Article ID 601076, 4 pages.

Healthline. What to Eat After Food Poisoning. Retrieved from: https://www.healthline.com/health/food-nutrition/what-to-eat-after-food-poisoning

Teatulia. What is Ginger? Retrieved from: https://www.teatulia.com/tea-varieties/what-is-ginger-tea.htm

Michael and Lesley Tierra’s East West School of Planetary Herbology. Salmonella in Species and the Herbal Treatment of Food Poisoning. Retrieved from: https://planetherbs.com/blogs/michaels-blogs/salmonella-in-spices-and-the-herbal-treatment-of-food-poisoning/

WebMD. Andrographis. Retrieved from:https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-973/andrographis

Richard Palmquist, MD. Science Rediscovers the Forgotten Herb Andrographis. Retrieved from: https://www.huffingtonpost.com/richard-palmquist-dvm/andrographis_b_1221334.html

National Institutes of Health. NIH Scientists describe how salmonella bacteria spread in humans. Retrieved from:

Food and Drug Administration Administration. 2018. FDA warns companies selling illegal, unapproved kratom products marketed for opioid cessation, pain treatment and other medical use. https://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm608447.htm

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