Got traveler’s tummy and not sure how to treat it? We’ve all been there before. You get off the plane, belly rumbling, unsatisfied by the airline pretzels. And there’s a food stand right in front of you, delicious smells wafting towards you. Or you’re at a restaurant with friends and are halfway through a glass of tap water before you remember to ask for water. Maybe your lunch sat out in the sun too long while you were on your tour.
However it starts, it usually ends one way: you in the bathroom, sick, missing out on the great sights you came to see.
Traveler’s tummy is the worst.
There are numerous bacteria responsible for these episodes: well-known E.coli and Salmonella spp. And then there are lesser-known but equally treacherous ones such as Campylobacter jejuni. The infections from these bacteria cause similar symptoms including abdominal cramps, vomiting, diarrhea, and occasionally fever. In short, they’re no fun at all. The primary causes of these illnesses are contaminated water or meat, raw or undercooked animal products, and unclean raw produce.1
How to treat traveler’s tummy
So how can you treat these diseases or, even better, prevent getting them in the first place? Always be conscious of what you are eating and drinking, even if it seems like other people are consuming it. If you do come down with traveler’s tummy, it will generally resolve within one to two days on its own. However, it’s time to see a doctor if your symptoms persist for more than two days, you’re dehydrated, or you have a fever over 102 degrees.2
In addition to caution as a preventative measure, there have been some interesting discoveries around a substance called monolaurin. Monolaurin is a medium-chain fatty acid that is formed from lauric acid. It occurs naturally in coconut oil and mother’s breast milk but can also be taken as a dietary supplement as it possesses a wide range of possible health benefits.3
For example, monolaurin possesses strong antibacterial properties.4 As all of the above pathogens causing traveler’s tummy are bacteria, monolaurin’s antibacterial properties are of special interest to us travelers trying to see more than the inside of a bathroom.
Monolaurin and E. coli
Escherichia coli or more commonly, E. coli, is a bacterium that we have heard a lot about over the years. Monolaurin has been so effective at inhibiting this pathogen that some scientists say that it could be used as a new natural preservative. Instead of using artificial and chemical additives, it could be monolaurin preserving your cheese!
Monolaurin and C. jejuni
You may not have heard of Campylobacter jejuni but it is actually the most commonly diagnosed bacterial cause of human gastroenteritis in the United States.5 Fortunately, an experiment studying the bactericidal potential of monolaurin found that it is potent against C. jejuni.
Monolaurin and C. perfringens
Another little-mentioned bacterium, Clostridium perfringens is a common culprit of food poisoning and causes around 1 million illnesses in the United States over the course of a year.6 Out of a number of fatty acids, lauric acid proved the most effective at battling this pesky bacterium.
Monolaurin and Salmonella
We’ve all heard of salmonella. I’ve had nightmares about biting into a raw chunk of chicken. Luckily, in research, monolaurin was also effective against Salmonella!
Stop these bacteria from interfering on your trips! Nothing ruins a vacation like an unhappy tummy. Purchase monolaurin before your next adventure, and use code CLAIRESUMMERS for 10% off your order.
- Switaj, T. L., Winter, K. J., & Christensen, S. R. (2015). Diagnosis and Management of Foodborne Illness. American family physician, 92(5), 358–365.
- “Traveler’s Diarrhea.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 16 May 2019.
- Ezigbo, Veronica O., Mbaegbu Emmanuella A. (2016). Extraction of Lauric Acid from Coconut Oil, Its Applications and Health Implications on Some Microorganisms. African Journal of Education, Science and Technology.
- Barker, L. A., Bakkum, B. W., & Chapman, C. (2019). The Clinical Use of Monolaurin as a Dietary Supplement: A Review of the Literature. Journal of chiropractic medicine, 18(4), 305–310. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jcm.2019.02.004