About food and drug poisoning

Any substance, be it food or drugs, can be harmful and cause poisoning if taken in the wrong way, by the wrong person or in the wrong quantity. Drug poisoning is an important but poorly understood public health problem. Global attention to unintentional drug overdoses is limited compared to the scale of the problem. In recent years, the incidence and prevalence of drug overdoses has increased substantially in several countries worldwide. Food poisoning, on the other hand, is a broad term used to describe a variety of foodborne illnesses caused by the consumption of spoiled or contaminated food. If acute intoxication is suspected, a doctor should be consulted immediately!

Reasons for food poisoning

Most cases of food poisoning are not severe, and usually most people recover within a few days without treatment. However, some courses can be critical. For a better understanding, we have listed the most common causes of food poisoning:

1. Bacteria and viruses

The most common causes of food poisoning are bacteria and viruses. The symptoms and severity of poisoning vary, depending on which bacteria or virus has contaminated the food. The bacteria Salmonella and E. coli (Escherichia coli) have attracted much attention following outbreaks of contamination in food, particularly meat. However, other foodborne bacteria can be just as harmful, including listeria, clostridium botulinum (which causes botulism), clostridium perfringens, staphylococcus aureus, shigella, and campylobacter. Norovirus on the other hand is an extremely contagious virus that can be contracted via food or contact with a contaminated person. Along with typical food poisoning symptoms, it can cause gastroenteritis (inflammation of the stomach and intestines), which is commonly called a "stomach bug" or "stomach flu" but has no relation to the influenza virus. Hepatitis A is another common foodborne virus that can lead to kidney disease or liver disease if untreated.

2. Parasites

Parasites are organisms that derive nourishment and protection from other living organisms known as hosts. Common foodborne parasites include protozoa, cryptosporidium, and giardia. While a broad range of foods can cause food poisoning, the most common culprits are raw meat (chicken, beef, pork, and turkey), raw fruits and vegetables, eggs, and dairy products like soft cheeses or unpasteurized milk.

3. Molds, toxins, and contaminants

Most food intoxication is caused by bacteria, viruses, and parasites rather than toxic substances in the food. But some cases of food poisoning can be linked to either natural or added chemical toxins.

4. Allergens

Food allergy is an abnormal response to a food triggered by the body's immune system. Some foods, such as nuts, milk, eggs, fish, crustacean shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat or soybeans, can cause allergic reactions in people with food allergies.

Substances with drug overdose potential

Causes for drug poisoning include alcohol or medication. They can be harmful if taken or consumed in excess, which is called an overdose and can lead to intoxication.

*Substances that people can overdose on include:

  • Alcohol
  • Prescription and over-the-counter medications
  • Illegal drugs
  • Herbal remedies 
  • Food supplements

The risk of overdose or poisoning increases if more than one of these substances is taken at the same time, or if the body is not used to take one substance at a time. If someone has overdosed or is suspected of doing so, immediately call an ambulance! 

*Activated charcoal can be used to treat certain substances in drug poisoning. The local package leaflet must be observed, and the treatment should be carried out under medical supervision.


The symptoms of food or drug poisoning can range from mild to severe and depend on the substance ingested.

The most common symptoms include:

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Dehydration

Serious long-term effects of common types of poisoning include:

  • Kidney failure
  • Chronic arthritis
  • Brain and nerve damage
  • Death

People at higher risk of oral poisoning

Anyone can get food poisoning, but certain groups of people are more likely to get sick and to have a more serious illness. Their bodies’ ability to fight germs and sickness is not as effective for a variety of reasons. These groups of people are:

Adults aged 65 and older

Older adults have a higher risk because as people age, their immune systems and organs don’t recognize and get rid of harmful germs as well as they once did. Nearly half of people aged 65 and older who have a lab-confirmed foodborne illness from Salmonella, Campylobacter, Listeria or E. coli are hospitalized.


Young children's immune systems are still developing, so the body's ability to fight germs and diseases is not yet as strong. Food poisoning can be particularly dangerous for them, as the illness can lead to diarrhea and dehydration. Children under 5 are three times more likely to be hospitalised with a salmonella infection. And kidney failure occurs in 1 in 7 children under 5 who are diagnosed with an E. coli infection.

People with weakened immune systems

People with a weakened immune system due to diabetes, liver or kidney disease, alcoholism and HIV/AIDS or after chemotherapy or radiotherapy cannot fight germs and diseases as effectively. Dialysis patients, for example, are 50 times more likely to be infected with listeria.

Pregnant women

Pregnant women have a higher risk than other people of contracting certain germs. For example, the risk of listeria infection increases tenfold in pregnant women.

On the other hand, people of all ages can suffer drug poisoning. The risk factors for drug-related harm are increased when:

  • more than one substance is taken at the same time
  • the body is not used to taking a certain substance

"The best and most efficient pharmacy is within your own system."

- Robert C. Peale -

Established treatments for oral intoxication

Natural home remedies for overcoming food poisoning

When struggling with the symptoms of food poisoning, an important question is how to alleviate them. Regardless of the cause of the illness, the top treatment priority is to drink plenty of fluids and replenish electrolytes. If dry mouth, dark urine, headaches, muscle cramps and other signs of dehydration are present, an infusion may also be needed. However, there is no one-size-fits-all cure for food poisoning. Medical care usually focuses on treating the symptoms, as most foodborne infections simply have to run their course. Apart from rehydration, this means prolonged rest and a restricted diet. Once food intake is restored, easily digestible foods (such as crackers and rice) should be consumed and dairy products, caffeine, alcohol and greasy or spicy foods should be avoided. Moreover, certain medications can also help treat food poisoning. Antidiarrheal medications, such as activated charcoal and antacids can settle the stomach and relieve symptoms. Probiotics may be also recommended to restore healthy digestion. In rare cases, an antibiotic may be prescribed. Fortunately, most of these are fought off by the immune system after a few days. In any case, however, it is important to consult a doctor about the right treatment beforehand.

Nutritional approaches for recovery after food poisoning

Water and electrolyte drinks

If you cannot drink any or very little fluid, try sucking on ice cubes or taking small sips of water or electrolyte drinks.

Apple cider vinegar

Its natural antibacterial properties can help in small amounts if your infection is caused by E. coli or other bacteria.

Oregano or thyme oils

They have antimicrobial properties. Just add a few drops to fresh water.

Ginger tea

Ginger can support your body absorb essential nutrients, calming your stomach.


Its antimicrobial and antifungal properties can aid diarrhea and abdominal pain.

Conventional treatment of drug poisoning

Treatment of drug poisoning depends, among other things, on the type, dosage, and time of ingestion of the substances. The effect on the person, including any medical complications resulting from the overdose, also plays a role.

Once someone comes to hospital because of a suspected drug overdose, the medical team will:

  • Carry out a full assessment (e.g. with blood tests, observation, and psychological examination)
  • Remove the drug from the body (e.g. by administering activated charcoal, which binds the drug so the body cannot absorb it)
  • Administer an antidote, if feasible
  • Admission to hospital for further treatment

A follow-up visit with a doctor is important for anyone who has suffered an overdose. The doctor can monitor recovery, advise on further treatment (if needed) or organise further help (referral).

How to avoid oral poisoning in a natural way



Effective strategies for food poisoning prevention

The best way to avoid food poisoning is by taking preventative measures to reduce the chances of exposure. Here are some tips to ensure food safety and avoid situations where contamination could occur:

  • Wash hands when preparing food
  • Cut raw meat on separate cutting boards and store separately
  • Clean utensils and surfaces that have come into contact with raw meat, fish and eggs before reuse
  • Clean your cooking area and utensils thoroughly
  • Cook food thoroughly
  • Respect the best-before date
  • Keep your hands and food clean while traveling

Natural approaches to avoid drug poisoning

Some ways to avoid drug overdose include:

  • Practise medicine safety. Always read medication labels carefully. Take medications only as directed. Keep all drugs in their original packaging.
  • Avoid drugs of any kind unless advised by a doctor.
  • Always tell your doctor or other health professional if you have had an overdose before.
  • Do not keep medications you no longer need. Return them to the pharmacist.
  • Keep all drugs, alcohol and poisons locked away in a safe secure place and out of reach of children.
  • Be careful when taking different substances (including alcohol) at the same time. They can interact negatively and increase your risk of overdose.

Naturally alleviate the discomfort
of oral food or drug poisoning

Acticated charcoal is an anciently known substance that has been widely used for thousands of years as a healing remedy. It is especially well-known for its binding and cleansing properties and is commonly used to both treat and improve digestive distress.
The right amount of activated charcoal can help alleviate diarrhea, oral food or drug poisoning and flatulence in a sustainable, natural and safe way.

More about activated charcoal