Is Tom Yum Soup Good For Upset Stomach? A Soothing Thai Remedy

Feeling queasy and uncomfortable? You may wonder if turning to a steaming bowl of tom yum soup could help provide relief for your unhappy tummy. Learn whether this traditional Thai soup lives up to its reputation as a stomach soother.

With its refreshing blend of spicy, sour and savory flavors, tom yum has long been used as a comforting home remedy for digestive woes in Thailand. Its impressive lineup of herbs and spices contains compounds that aid digestion.

But does the evidence support this soup’s stomach-settling superpowers? Let’s take a closer look at the science and personal experiences behind tom yum’s benefits for an upset stomach.

What Is Tom Yum Soup?

Tom Yum Goong

Before diving into the specifics, let’s start with what exactly tom yum soup is.

This popular Thai soup features a sour, spicy broth flavored with lemongrass, garlic, galangal, kaffir lime leaves, cilantro, makrut lime juice and Thai chilies. Shrimp is typically added along with mushrooms, tomato and cilantro.

The tangy, aromatic broth packs some serious immune-boosting benefits. But many also revere tom yum’s potential to provide relief when you’re feeling queasy.

So why is this specific soup so soothing? The answer lies in its ingredients.

Key Compounds in Tom Yum That Aid Digestion

Tom yum soup gets both its intense flavor and digestive benefits from certain ingredients:

Galangal – This ginger-like rhizome contains compounds called gingerols that relax GI muscles and ease bloating and cramping.

Lemongrass – Lemongrass has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects that support overall digestive health.

Chilies – Capsaicin stimulates gastric juices to improve digestion and gut motility.

Garlic – Garlic boosts immunity and reduces bloat thanks to its antimicrobial effects.

Ginger – Gingerol compounds in ginger calm nausea, gas, bloating and diarrhea.

Mushrooms – Mushrooms contain prebiotics to feed healthy gut flora.

This natural pharmacy of herbs provides a one-two punch of flavor and function. The result is a broth-based dish that comforts your stomach woes.

Why Broth-Based Soups Soothe the Stomach

Beyond specific ingredients, the broth-based nature of tom yum soup makes it easy to digest. Here’s why it can calm an upset stomach:

Easily absorbed – The liquid broth moves quickly through the GI tract without difficulty.

Low fiber – Unlike some foods, broths don’t contain insoluble fiber that can irritate sensitive stomachs.

Contains electrolytes – The sodium in broth helps replenish depleted electrolytes from vomiting or diarrhea.

Provides nutrients – Broths supply easily digestible proteins and minerals that your body needs.

Reduces inflammation – Warm broth can reduce stomach inflammation that triggers nausea.

Increases blood flow – Heat and steam from soup boosts blood flow and promotes healing.

With its stellar digestibility, a warm bowl of broth provides soothing nourishment.

Personal Experiences Using Tom Yum Soup

Beyond the science, many also rely on anecdotal evidence about tom yum‘s stomach-calming prowess. Here are some real-life examples:

  • “When I had food poisoning, tom yum was the only thing I could keep down. It really settled my nausea.”
  • “I always order tom yum soup when my IBS flares up. The warmth and ginger seem to relax my angry stomach.”
  • “My mom always made me tom yum soup when I felt a stomach bug coming on, and I usually felt better quickly.”
  • “Even the smell of tom yum seems to ease my nausea. It’s been my go-to home remedy for any stomach upset since I was a kid.”
  • “My husband swears by spicy tom yum when he’s feeling queasy. He says the chili kick helps him sweat out whatever bug he has.”

While anecdotal, these reports speak to real people’s positive experiences using tom yum to soothe various stomach woes. The power of personal testimony can provide valuable insights.

However, it’s important to keep in mind that such accounts should not replace professional medical advice. Consult a doctor to diagnose and properly treat any persistent digestive symptoms.

How To Prepare Soothing Tom Yum Soup

Want to whip up a batch of traditional tom yum soup to help an ailing belly? Here’s a simple recipe:


  • 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 3 stalks lemongrass, cut into 3-inch pieces
  • 3-4 slices galangal or ginger
  • 3-4 kaffir lime leaves
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 3-4 Thai bird’s eye chilies, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • Juice from 1 lime
  • 1-2 Tablespoons fish sauce
  • Cilantro, green onion and lime wedges for garnish


  1. In a pot, combine broth, lemongrass, galangal, lime leaves, mushrooms, chilies and garlic. Simmer for 15 minutes.
  2. Add shrimp and cook 3-4 minutes until just pink.
  3. Stir in lime juice and fish sauce. Adjust seasoning as desired.
  4. Ladle into bowls and garnish with cilantro, green onion and a lime wedge.

This 30-minute tom yum is brimming with aromatics to calm the stomach. Feel free to adjust ingredients to suit your preferences.

Avoiding Common Pitfalls When Making Tom Yum

To get the most stomach-soothing benefits from your tom yum soup, it pays to avoid some common mistakes in preparing it:

Use Fresh Spices and Herbs

Dried, old galangal, lemongrass, chilies and kaffir lime leaves lose their potency over time. Seek out fresh herbs and spices for optimal medicinal value.

Don’t Overcook the Broth

Letting the tom yum broth boil too long destroys the active digestive compounds in the herbs and spices. Simmer gently instead.

Watch the Salt Content

Some recipes add too much fish sauce or salty broth. This can worsen dehydration from vomiting or diarrhea. Go easy on the sodium.

Mind the Spice Level

If your stomach is highly sensitive, too much chili spice can further inflame it. Start with just a pinch of chili and adjust up cautiously.

Practice Safe Preparation

Since tom yum is often eaten when recovering from illness, take care to avoid cross-contamination or spoilage. Store soup safely.

With care taken when selecting ingredients and cooking your broth, tom yum soup can be an effective and safe home remedy for an upset stomach. Avoid these common mistakes for soothing success!

Potential Side Effects of Tom Yum for Upset Stomach

While quite soothing for many, tom yum does come with some potential downsides:

  • Spiciness can further irritate sensitive stomachs.
  • Some may have food intolerances to ingredients like shrimp or chilies.
  • Overconsumption of salty broth can worsen dehydration and edema.
  • Not recommended for those with ulcers, GERD, or certain food allergies.

It’s important to assess your personal tolerance and consult a doctor about any concerns before using tom yum to treat stomach problems.

Best Soups for an Upset Stomach

When your stomach is upset, what’s the best soup to help settle it? Here are some top soothing soup options:

Chicken Noodle Soup – The classic! Chicken broth provides electrolytes while noodles are easy to digest. A simple, comforting choice.

Tom Kha Gai – This coconut milk-based Thai soup infused with ginger, lemongrass and galangal aids digestion.

Congee – Chinese rice porridge made from slow-cooked rice is extra gentle on delicate tummies.

Bone Broth – Sipping mineral-rich bone broth provides hydration and gut-healing compounds.

Vegetable Soup – Low-fiber cooked veggies in vegetable broth are nourishing but not harsh on your stomach.

Miso Soup – The probiotics in fermented miso can help rebalance your gut microbiome.

Ginger Tea – Sipping on anti-nausea ginger tea can help relax your upset stomach muscles.

When an upset stomach strikes, stick to bland, soothing soups like these until it feels better. Their ability to provide hydration, electrolytes, and nutrients without overworking your digestion makes them ideal for recovery. With its combination of ginger, aromatics and broth, tom yum can be considered right up there with the best stomach-settling soups.

When To Seek Medical Care for Persistent Stomach Issues

While tom yum soup can help provide temporary relief for occasional indigestion, more serious or persistent symptoms require medical care. See a doctor if you experience:

  • Fever over 101°F
  • Bloody stool or vomit
  • Inability to keep liquids down for over 24 hours
  • Severe pain or diarrhea lasting over 48 hours
  • Immune system compromise from medication or illness
  • Recent international travel to high-risk regions
  • Weight loss or lack of appetite
  • Ongoing indigestion despite home remedies

Don’t hesitate to seek emergency help for alarming symptoms like extreme pain, bloody stools, confusion, or fainting. For recurring stomach troubles, see a GI specialist to identify the underlying cause.

The Takeaway: Tom Yum for Upset Stomach Relief

For many, a steaming bowl of tom yum soup can provide soothing relief when stomach discomfort strikes. Its blend of nourishing broth, spicy aromatics and healing herbs make it a go-to home remedy.

Just keep in mind it’s not appropriate for all circumstances. Those with chronic conditions or serious symptoms should always consult a doctor first.

But when used sensibly, flavorful tom yum just may live up to its reputation as nature’s tummy tamer! Its ability to aid digestion and settle the stomach can help transform even the crankiest belly.

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Bill Kalkumnerd
Bill Kalkumnerd

I am Bill, I am the Owner of HappySpicyHour, a website devoted to spicy food lovers like me. Ramen and Som-tum (Papaya Salad) are two of my favorite spicy dishes. Spicy food is more than a passion for me - it's my life! For more information about this site Click

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