Every year come December and the flurry of weddings and functions starts. With this there is also a proportional increase in the number of patients who come to me complaining of indigestion, vomiting, loose motions and terrible cramps. They will always tell me that they had eaten at some function and then felt uneasy. Though most of the time the symptoms settle after a few days sometimes they can be very dangerous and life threatening. Especially where children and old people are concerned you can't afford to take chances and you must consult your physician. The most important thing to remember here though is that "PREVENTION IS BETTER THAN CURE."


Food poisoning is defined as an illness characterized by nausea, vomiting, and diarrhoea due to something the patient ate or drank that contained noxious toxins, bacteria, viruses, parasites or metals.

There are a huge number of organisms and toxins that can cause this but here are a few of the common ones.

  1. Food poisoning caused by bacteria -

There are a variety of bacteria that can cause havoc in a person's digestive system. But the ones that are most frequently found to be the cause are Campylobacter Jejuni, E Coli, Salmonella, Listeria, Clostridium Botulinum etc The purpose of listing these out is to make people aware of where these organisms dwell and what kind of food should be avoided.

Campylobacter jejuni - this is one of the leading cause of bacterial food poisoning. Usually occurs when food is contaminated with raw or undercooked poultry. Even a single drop of this can make someone very sick.

Salmonella - there are a number of different foods which carry this organisms. Not only non-vegetarian food like raw, uncooked eggs, poultry, raw meat but also vegetarian foodstuff like DAIRY products, fresh vegetables, coconut, chocolate, sauces, salad dressing etc. It can also be found inside an egg.

E Coli - this species of bacteria is extremely large and most of them are harmless. But there is a deadly strain which can cause severe food poisoning and this is what we have to be careful about. Contamination of food can occur very easily with this organism if not heated to the adequate temperature. This organism can cause severe food poisoning so you have to be very careful when eating uncooked stuff like lettuce, salad and unpasteurized milk and dairy products and fruit juices especially outside. It can lead to kidney failure especially in the aged and children.

Botulinum - this a deadly spore forming bacteria. It's these spores that contaminate the food and release a poisonous toxin. This type is very rare but highly dangerous. It can happen by eating improperly processed foods like green beans, mushrooms, spinach, olives, beef and fish. Avoid eating canned food especially if they have dents or are bulging.


  1. Food poisoning caused by viruses -

There are a number of viruses that can upset your tummy and give you the runs. One of the most common one is the Norwalk virus. These viruses are usually the cause of food poisoning in most cases and present with milder symptoms but not always. But they are highly infectious and spread rapidly. They are present in contaminated food like salads, shellfish, things grown in polluted waters and eaten raw.


There is a general misconception that the symptoms will start immediately after consuming the contaminated food or drink. Sometimes it does but most of the time it takes a few hours to days for the symptoms to surface.

 Typical symptoms -

  1. Usually nausea and vomiting are the first signs to show up, letting you know that something is wrong.
  2. Loose motions or diarrhoea occurs most of the time. It could be of various kinds and sometimes blood may be present too.
  3. Abdominal cramps can be very severe and painful making the person extremely uncomfortable or make the child howl holding his stomach.
  4. Loss of appetite is only natural and the child refuses to feed or throws up instantly after consuming something.
  5. Fever is not always present but when there it is not a very positive sign.

 Rare and dangerous symptoms -

  1. If the patient complains of blurred or double vision, if the pupils are dilated then rush the person to a hospital.
  2. There may be difficulty in opening the mouth which is dry, sore.
  3. Weakness of muscles, grip and difficulty in swallowing are very rare symptoms but when they occur rush the person to the hospital.
  4. Dehydration and fainting
  5. Liver disorders
  6. Kidney failure

I have not listed all these to scare you but to make you aware of the damage that can be done. Be very careful when eating out and in your own kitchen because as I said earlier prevention is always better than cure.


There is no 100% prevention or safety net but here are a few tips that will help you tremendously when you eat at weddings or in your own house.

  1. Wash your HANDS. Wash them before, during and after food preparation. Use soap and water. Teach your children to wash their hands after visiting the bathroom.
  2. At home clean all your utensils, cutting boards, cutlery with soap and hot water.
  3. All the sponges used and the dishcloths should be washed with water and then the water should thoroughly drained from them.
  4. Wash all your vegetables and fruits before you consume them.
  5. Cook all food completely. When eating out make sure that you eat food that is thoroughly cooked and not raw salads, chutneys, milk products, cold cuts etc.
  6. Keep cold food cold and hot food hot, in short don't leave food out in the open at room temperature for a long time as bacteria start multiplying at this temperature.
  7. Do not thaw or defrost food outside at room temperature, it has to be done in the refrigerator or the microwave.
  8. If something tastes funny or looks suspicious then do not eat it or make someone else try it. Remember even a tiny amount can make you violently ill.
  9. Do not drink WATER outside if you are not sure of its purity. Instead have a soda or soft drink which is the safer option or carry your own especially if you have a child.

When eating at a wedding or party just remember to eat the right and safe things which are least likely to make you sick. Anything cooked well like rice, dal, idlis etc. are rarely known to cause food poisoning whereas things like salads, paneer, mithais, ice-cream etc. are highly likely to upset your stomach.



Diarrhoea and vomiting are ways that the body tries to rid itself of the toxins or harmful organisms. Therefore it is not advisable to try and stop this process. It is better to let all the contaminated food leave the body instead of remain and allow the bacteria or organism to multiply inside. But do not induce vomiting that is not advisable either.

The most IMPORTANT thing to remember is to replace the fluid and water lost. Must keep sipping water with a little salt and sugar if nothing else. In the market are available certain electrolyte solutions like ORS (oral rehydration solution). It is always handy to keep some of this at home especially if you have small children. Avoid solid food and specially oily, heavy food for a few days till your digestive system has settled down. Just remain light on boiled rice, rice kanji, arrowroot kanji and soups.

You should definitely see your Doctor and get treatment in the following cases specially:-

  1. If the affected person is a child or an elderly person you cannot afford to take any chances, take them to your physician even if the symptoms are mild.
  2. Diarrhoea lasting longer than 24 hours needs treatment.
  3. If the vomiting does not cease in 24 hours then go to your Doctor.
  4. Along with the food poisoning symptoms the patient is running a fever then the Doctor must be consulted.
  5. Severe cramps in the abdomen is a bad sign, the patient needs medical attention.
  6. Inability to retain liquids for more than 12 hours should not be taken lightly, see a Doctor.
  7. If the patient complains of blurred or double vision, paralysis of certain parts, inability to swallow, difficulty in breathing then rush him to a Hospital.


Homoeopathy has excellent remedies to offer in cases of food poisoning and gastroenteritis. In these cases the correct remedy tries to bring the disturbed digestive tract back to its normal functioning and rid the body of the harmful effects of the organism or substance. It stimulates the body's own immunity to fight against the offending, noxious agent. Nausea, vomiting, diarrhoea, all these can be very effectively controlled with Homoeopathy and correct diet control. There are a number of wonderful drugs for this problem but here are a few that have proven to be extremely effective in controlling an acute attack.


There is terrible nausea so much so that the person cannot even tolerate the smell or sight of food. Even the thought of it makes him sick and brings on the nausea and vomiting. The patient wants to drink ice cold water which he thinks will make him feel better but even this is expelled.

He has no energy at all, feels drained and exhausted, has lost his appetite completely. This all leads to fear in the mind and a typical arsenic patient thinks that he is suffering from some drastic disorder and the end is near. There is great restlessness especially of the mind and anxiety about his health.

Arsenic Alb 200, 5 pills four times a day will give great relief to the patient.


The Nux patient will go to a party or wedding over eat, drink in excess and end up with a bad attack of indigestion, gastroenteritis or food poisoning the next day. They love all stimulating, pungent and fatty food and alcohol. But the next morning when they wake up they suffer from terrible nausea, acidity and vomiting. They try to induce vomiting because it makes them feel better.

They feel hungry but dare eat out of fear of nausea and retching they experience later. This makes them depressed and sad.

Nux patient always has a sensation of wanting to pass stool but when he tries little comes. They feel unsatisfied and there is a constant urging which makes them uneasy.

Nux Vomica 200, 5 pills four times a day will help to bring the system back to normal.


This remedy is especially effective against diarrhoea caused by food poisoning. The whole digestive system is disordered and you can even hear the rhumbling sounds. The patient complains of pain, gas which seems to be moving inside shifting from one place to the other.

There is no pain while passing stool and it seems to just gush out like water from a tap. The person has to run to the bathroom for fear of passing stool in his clothes. This is especially effective in cases where a child has got loose motions due to milk and milk products. Sometimes the diarrhoea is so severe that the person develops piles or prolapse of the anus.

Podophyllum 200, 5 pills four times a day will resolve these symptoms.