The last time Mike and I were in the Middle East I came down with stomach bugs three different times in 40 days. That’s more times than I’ve been sick with tummy troubles during the rest of my adult life combined (other than that trip, I only remember having stomach flus twice since being a kid!). Lucky for me, my mother-in-law is well-versed not only in cooking, but also in home remedies, many of which very effectively use food as medicine.
As Hippocrates said, Let thy food by thy medicine and thy medicine be thy food.
My mother-in-law Sahar isn’t a doctor: she’s a Syrian homemaker, which means she’s pretty fabulous at everything. Here’s the short list: cooking; baking; ancient food preservation techniques like lacto-fermentation and meat-curing; cleaning everything (among many things, she taught me that ash is used to polish silver, and lemon and salt is used to polish brass and copper); home maintenance (she showed me how to sharpen knives on earthenware); laundry; sewing and mending; raising children (she raised six children of her own and several orphans); keeping her husband happy; diplomacy, especially negotiation and mediation; organizing; budgeting; listening; providing advice as needed; belly dancing; beauty regime, including the art of henna and use of it as hair dye, as well as other natural beauty treatments; soothing aches and pains, whether they’re emotional or physical; and home remedies, whether they’re preventative or curative.
This particular home remedy comes from Mike’s dad’s Palestinian mother – my mother-in-law’s mother-in-law – who passed it on to Sahar, who passed it on to me. Her name was Zahara (which means “flower”) and she was a truly remarkable woman; although is no longer with us, she lived to an incredibly healthy age of over 100. She drank a small cup of extra virgin olive oil every night and had radiant hair, skin, and nails her whole life. Although she never went to school and couldn’t read or write, you’d never know it based on the incredible amount of life knowledge she had.
Zahara had ten children of her own and with all the tummy issues kids are bound to get while growing up, she needed a foolproof treatment. According to her (and also in my own experience), this remedy works for stomach bugs of every kind including nausea, cramping, vomiting, and diarrhea. There hasn’t been a single time when someone with a stomach bug has thrown up after taking this remedy. That has been my personal experience, and also my mother-in-law Sahar’s experience (who dealt with the tummy troubles of her six children) and her mother-in-law Zahara’s experience (who raised ten children and dealt with even more tummy issues than Sahar did). Since Sahar showed me this remedy I’ve passed it on to my own family who has had the same results.
I think it’s amazing how Zahara knew the purpose of every aspect of this remedy without any formal education (and by no formal education I’m not talking about no medical school – I mean no grade school). Mike described the following purpose of each ingredient to me, as he remembers his grandmother Zahara telling him:
Potato: Very easy to digest, this gives the body energy and helps to “hold the stomach together”. A great source of vitamins and minerals (including the mineral potassium, which functions as an electrolyte), potato also helps to replenish the body with vitamins and minerals that have been depleted because of vomiting and diarrhea.
Yogurt (with live cultures): A probiotic, this replenishes the healthy or “good” bacteria in the intestines that have been lost, especially because of diarrhea.
Raw garlic: With its antibacterial and antiviral properties, this kills the stomach bug(s) that started the problems in the first place.
Salt: This replenishes electrolytes that have been lost because of vomiting and diarrhea, and helps prevent or minimize dehydration.
Like I said, Zahara was a remarkable woman and so is my own mother-in-law. I’m grateful to both of them for the knowledge and legacy they’ve passed on.
Next time you or someone you know gets a stomach bug consider giving this a try. You probably already have everything you need right at home, and like I mentioned before, no one who has taken this remedy has thrown up afterward – those are pretty good odds, right?
I hope this home remedy gets put to use in your family, soothing tummies for generations to come.
As a side note, this dish is pretty delicious too; when you’re not looking for food as medicine you can enjoy it as a side dish with just about any meal!
- 1 medium white or yellow potato
- ¼ to ½ cup plain, unsweetened yogurt (with live cultures)
- 2-3 medium cloves raw garlic, peeled and crushed
- Salt, to taste
- Put the whole potato in a medium saucepan and add enough cold water so the potato is covered by about 2 inches.
- Bring to a boil over high heat, then turn heat down slightly and boil (uncovered) until the potato is softened but not fully tender, about 30 minutes; do not overcook. (The best way to test if the potato is done is to pierce it with a sharp paring knife. The knife should easily go straight through to the other side, but when you lift up the knife, the potato should stay on the knife for about 1 second before falling off.)
- Cool the potato slightly, then peel and coarsely mash it. (It should not be easy to mash, since the potato should not be overcooked; I was told that keeping the potato slightly undercooked helps hold the stomach together.)
- Mix in the yogurt, raw crushed garlic, and salt to taste.
Please note that I am NOT a doctor or medical practitioner of any kind, and neither is my mother-in-law Sahar or her mother-in-law Zahara. Nothing in this post should be construed as medical advice; I am merely recounting personal experience in case it might benefit anyone else. If you need medical advice you should immediately seek a physician’s care.
If I don’t have plain kefier or/yogurt . Can I use flavored kefier for this recipe?
Nana, I haven’t tried this home remedy with flavored kefir, but I think the concept would be the same. Depending on what flavor your kefir is (and how well the kefir flavor pairs with potato and garlic), I would try it. Let me know how it goes if you give it a try!
LaDonna Brown says
Will definitely try this recipe. Thank you & your Mother in Laws!
Sending tons of love and gratitude to you for sharing this wonderful home remedy! I was traveling the past two weeks and returned home with some sort of stomach issue (upper stomach pain, very bloated, gas etc..)…I’m sure ate some funny stuff.
I saw this post yesterday and since I had potato, garlic and kefir already in my fridge, I went for it and had that for my only meal yesterday …. not only I though it was delish but it was such a gentle meal, I digested it well.
Today I woke up feeling better ! I will repeat this through out the weekend (not saying I won’t go get check with the doctor if I don’t feel normal by Monday). I’m just stating that this recipe helped me feel so MUCH better
It helped me get some sleep because my tummy was appeased also it is great for nausea ….though it was worth sharing
Wishing you much joy & health
Lisa Rogers says
Amazing! Settle my stomach after 3 days of severe GI upset! It’s also delicious! Thank you for sharing your family recipe!!
Worked like a dream.
Veronica Miller says
This remedy is used at least once a year in our household and works every time. Thank you again!
Louis Burton says
This made me feel better, thanks.
It worked! I have had no diarrhea since eating the potato yesterday and things have…solidified if you know what I mean. haha! It’s a miracle! I didn’t need another one but I went ahead and ate it for breakfast because it just sounded so good. I will be using this forever. Thank you! I feel human again.
Veronica, You totally made my day – I’m so happy it worked for you and that you’re feeling better!!!
I caught a stomach virus from my mother (everyone in my family has now had it except for Dennis-lucky man) and was thinking of this cure the first day when I was throwing up but really didn’t think I could tolerate eating anything solid. This is the third day and while I’m not vomiting any more, the diarrhea just won’t quit and I’ve missed too much work so I finally broke out the potatoes and got to work making this remedy. My body must have known I needed this because it tasted SO wonderful and although the garlic burned my esophagus going down (I might have added too much b/c I used large cloves–oops), it was like ambrosia to me and my stomach feels better than it has in three days. I will update you tomorrow. I’m hoping this is the cure that will help me get back to work. Thank you so much for posting this! And I agree that this would be a good side dish for meals-delicious!
Wow! Faith, your mother-in-law is such a fascinating woman! She is so talented! And you’re so lucky to have her! I’m sure she still has a lot more things to teach you!
Love that you shared the purpose of each ingredient in this remedy! It can’t go wrong with these ingredients! What’s more, it’s so easy with simple ingredients! Thank you for sharing these with us!
Nutmeg Nanny says
What an amazing recipe and story! Art suffers from a lot of stomach issues so maybe this is just what he needs!
Hello Miss Faith! I hope you’ve been well and happy, I haven’t stopped by in a while. This remedy sounds so wonderful, I’m pinning it for future use. We do a healing bath when the flu hits (2 cups Epsom salt and an entire bottle hydrogen peroxide added to a hot bath–it’s magics) and I bet if we add this in, we’ll be cured in just a day! Also, interesting fact, a friend of mine married a man from Morocco and his one sister that also lives in America is named Zahara too. :D
I don’t have yoghurt at home and live out of town, is pure cows milk (direct from udder to cup) a solid substitute? Hoping to try todag
Emma, I honestly have no idea if this is a good substitute. The way it was explained to me is that the yogurt replenishes the “good” bacteria in the gut that was lost because of diarrhea. Please let me know how it goes if you try it!
Jenn and Seth says
definitely bookmarking this, such a useful recipe! and such an interesting post Faith!
[email protected] says
What a sweet homage to an undoubtedly wonderful woman. It certainly sounds like you have huge respect for your husband’s family’s traditions beyond just the culinary. Although this is a delightful crossover. Luckily we don’t seem to get gi bugs but it’s good to know what to try if we are ever so unlucky. Great post.
Julie M. says
What a great post! I wish I could have met Zahara. She sounded wise beyond her years. It just goes to show that there’s more than one way to get an education. I’ll definitely be trying this the next time one of my boys has a bothersome tummy.
[email protected], pleasure, and health says
This is a great recipe regardless of tummy trouble or not.. but I do believe in traditional way of treating health problems because there is always some reasoning that coincides with modern medicine :) I love this short health benefit of each ingredient. You are awesome yourself and on top of that surrounded by amazing people :) thanks for sharing all that
Laura (Tutti Dolci) says
Your potatoes look delicious, tummy troubles or not!
Alyssa (Everyday Maven) says
This is awesome Faith and they really sound like such amazing women! What a gift to have your life touched with their wisdom.
How interesting!! Im totally trying this in the future if we have tummy troubles
My body always craves yogurt when my stomach is grumbly. Works every time. Thanks for the additional items to make a sour stomach sweeter.
A great remedy! Not only is it useful, but it is also scrumptious.