This past week, I felt unusual discomfort in my stomach that progressed as the day evolved. What started as a dull ache, a whisper, evolved to a roaring yell as my stomach was gripped in pain, while my body was both chilled, hot and achy. I was back and forth between the bathroom and my bed throughout the night as an unusual severe winter snow storm descended upon Portland, Oregon that, according our mayor, left us in a state of emergency. It was a dramatic backdrop for what I suspected was a case of the stomach flu. As I searched for relief, I learned about a couple of highly effective remedies I wanted to share with you. First, I’ll review old standbys I use for stomach upset:

Culing Pill Herbal Supplement

Heidi Nestler, maker of traditional Japanese fermented foods here in Portland, recommended that I try Culing, a traditional Chinese herbal remedy that she swears by.

The tiny pellets provide almost instant relief for occasional gastrointestinal discomfort such as stomach ache, nausea, indigestion, diarrhea, motion sickness, overeating, and intoxication.* They are also called Kang Ning Wan, Healthy Peaceful Pills, or Healthy Quiet Pills. Through the lens of Chinese medicine, their function is to dispel food stasis, harmonize the stomach, stem counter-flow ascent of stomach qi, dispel damp, dispel pathogenic factors, subdue yang, and relieve pain. Please note that they are not indicated for pregnant and nursing women or for children.


Polyporus (Fu Ling) Sclerotium, 1006mg
Southern Tsangshu (Cang Zhu) Rhizome, 580mg
Patchouly (Huo Xiang) Herb, 574mg
Fragrant Angelica (Bai Zhi) Root, 574mg
Kudzu (Ge Gen) Root, 526mg
Massa Fermentata (Shen Chu)*, 526mg
Job’s Tears (Yi Yi Ren), 532mg
Germinated Rice (Gu Ya) Seed, 406mg
Tangerine (Chen Pi) Peel, 406mg
Field Mint (Bo He) Herb, 322mg
Mum (Ju Hua) Flower, 260mg
Red Citrus (Chu Hung) Peel, 260mg
Other Ingredients: FD&C Red No. 40.

*Massa Fermentata (Shen Chu) is a fermented mixture of wheat flour, Sweet Annie aerial parts, Coclebur (Xanthuim sibiricum Patr ex Widd) aerial parts, and Smartweed (polydonum hydropiper L) aerial parts

I took one packet, didn’t experience the level of relief I hoped for, so about 30 to 45 minutes later as per Heidi’s instructions, I took another packet, and voila! It worked. I also ate umbeoshi or Japanese salt plums, so I am not completely sure of the impact the pills had alone. Nevertheless, I will have these Culing pills in my purse and herbal medicine cabinet from now on.

Umeboshi/Japanese Salt Plums

Heidi brought me some of her homemade umeboshi plums, which I didn’t photograph, because I was so eager to put them in my mouth with the hope of relief. Heidi describes them as her magic cure. Happily, we have google and google offers many pictures of these plums.

The word umeboshi is often translated into English as “Japanese salt plums,” “salt plums” or “pickled plums.” Ume (Prunus mume) is a species of fruit-bearing tree in the genus Prunus, which is often called a plum but is actually more closely related to the apricot.

Japanese pickled plums are said to have exceptional medicinal qualities. Their powerful acidity has a paradoxical alkalinizing effect on the body, neutralizing fatigue, stimulating the digestion, and promoting the elimination of toxins. It known specifically to help with vomiting, general nausea and nausea resulting from pregnancy and motion, diarrhea; dysentery, infection, runny nose, and liver toxicity. This is the Far Eastern equivalent to both aspirin and apple; not only is it a potent hangover remedy for mornings after; more than that, an umeboshi a day is regarded as one of the best preventive medicines available.

Within a relatively short period of time, the pain I had endured for over 24 hours completely subsided, and my next bowel movement was normal.

Here is a recipe if you’d like to make these plums! An organic version is also sold online.

Please add your recommendations for acute stomach upset in the comments!


*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. We recommend that you consult with a Traditional Chinese Medical practitioner, physician, or veterinarian before using any products or if you have any questions regarding your health or the health of your pet.