7 March, 2015
Preventing and Treating Food Poisoning while Traveling
Mexico is notorious for sharing unfriendly bacteria and giving traveler’s a good case of Montezuma’s revenge. Given that we are traveling with a little one, I am even more loathe for any of us to fall ill. I’ve been doing some research and have a couple of good in-house preventative remedies as well as some home remedies to try if we catch something dining out.
For treating produce at home:
- Arrange fruit and veggies first before filling. For every gallon (16 cups) of water used, add 4 drops of grapefruit seed extract and 2 TBS of salt.
If you are already out of state and cannot find grapefruit seed extract have no fear! This salt and vinegar bath is similar to what we used at a natural foods restaurant I once worked at. Fortunately, both salt and vinegar can be found pretty much anywhere in the world!
- Produce Bath: Combine 1/2 cup vinegar and 3 TBS salt (stir until dissolved) then add to sink. Soak for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove, pat dry.
General food safety tips:
- Avoid ice cubes, as they may be made with tap water which is of questionable cleanliness.
- If dining on street fare, watch the vendors serve others. Do they use gloves when handling cash, clean hands often, have access to clean rags for wiping counters? Some demonstration of basic education and awareness of food safety increases the odds that you can eat there safely.
What happens if you don’t dodge a bacterial bullet? These are some remedies I picked up from Herbmentor.com:
Susun Weed’s remedy for ‘Traveller’s Trots':*
- 3 drops of wormwood (Artemisia absinthemum) tincture in water every hour for 4 hours
Activated charcoal has also been recommended as a preventative as well as a treatment for food poisoning. Because it has the ability to bind to minerals and vitamins I’m not keen on using it preventatively. Most recommendations I found online are for treating poison, food borne illness is typically not that severe so I will be using it as indicated on the bottle.
Dosing activated charcoal for kids (again, this appears to be more aligned with a child getting into the draino rather than getting into some giardia-tainted water, so I would strongly recommend visiting a doctor if your child becomes ill while traveling):
Usual Pediatric Dose for Gastrointestinal Decontamination:
Administer aqueous suspension or as a slurry in water.
<1 year: 0.5 to 1 g/kg or 10 to 25 g orally or by nasogastric tube once
1-12 years: 0.5 to 1 g/kg or 25 to 50 g orally or by nasogastric tube once
13-18 years: Single-dose: 25 to 100 g orally or by nasogastric tube once
The routine use of single-dose activated charcoal is not recommended.
<13 years: Initial dose: 10 to 25 g orally or by nasogastric tube, as a slurry in water
Maintenance dose: 1 to 2 g/kg every 2 to 4 hours
13-18 years: Initial dose: 50 to 100 g orally or by nasogastric tube, as a slurry in water
Maintenance dose: 12.5 g every hour, 25 g every 2 hours, or 50 g every 4 hours until toxic symptoms resolve. (drugs.com)
*I have already had reason to test the wormwood out and I can say it works like a charm! I had some nausea and rumbling stomach after a glass of limeade with ice our first day in Guanajuato and it eliminated both. The following day I showed signs of GI distress and after 24 hours of symptoms I repeated the treatment the following day. Symptoms were gone by the third dose.