I inherited a bunch of things from my family — shiny hair, almond-shaped eyes, an acerbic sense of humor, and a horrible stomach. My whole life has been plagued with spicy-food revenge and vacations with the entire first day reserved for recovery and acclimation. I grew up on the saccharine nectar of Pepto-Bismol, but before long I developed a tolerance so strong it could render even a full bottle useless. By the time I reached young adulthood, my intestinal system functioned more like that of a hard-living, middle-age divorce lawyer, and effective remedies shrunk to none, forcing me to begin every meal thinking about how quickly it would make me feel sick.
It was with this resignation that I went to a dinner party at a then-pregnant friend’s house. Her husband had brought me to my knees before with his delicious North Indian cooking and, glutton for punishment that I am, I couldn’t resist returning for seconds. Moments after I cleared my second plate of laal maans, the inevitable aches began emanating from deep within my stomach. But when I asked my expecting friend for some medicine, she didn’t pass me any familiar capsules or bottles of bubblegum-pink slurry. Instead, she poured some powder from a package featuring a New Age cartoon of a pregnant woman into a glass of water, handed it to me, and told me to drink. Within minutes I felt completely fine. Since then I’ve shamelessly carried Sparkling Mama’s Fizzelixir with me wherever I go.
Sparkling Mama is like no other remedy I’ve tried — and not just because I’m a man and it’s marketed to pregnant women. Other underwhelming solutions I cycled through (Kaopectate, Holigos, Emetrol, Iberogast, to name four) seemed to take a blunderbuss approach to solving my problems, and it always felt profoundly strange to take something that could treat serious stomach ulcers or heartburn or diarrhea when all I had was cramping or nausea. Even worse, after taking other medicines, I’d oftentimes find that I would just trade one symptom for another: instead of a soothed stomach, I’d end up with debilitating heartburn or throwing up. Making all of this even less pleasant is the fact that most other remedies are seemingly engineered to taste as disgusting as humanly possible (which, not surprisingly, never helped my nausea).
The key to Sparkling Mama’s effectiveness are magnesium and vitamin B6, two ingredients in the effervescent Fizzelixir packs that have been clinically shown to reduce cramping, nausea, and vomiting. My favorite, the raspberry-and-mint flavor, has the added benefit of peppermint extract, which studies have shown to relieve multiple IBS symptoms. These natural and simple ingredients are targeted specifically for nausea and upset stomach and, based on my experience using the stuff, cause little to no significant side effects. But I am happy to report that Sparkling Mama is not only effective on the stomach of this 30-something man — since I learned about it from my then-pregnant friend, I’ve preached its gospel to other expecting friends, who have confirmed it also works great for its intended purpose. One such friend, who had been throwing her money at “bougie” (in her words) remedies like Hatch Aromatherapy Oil and seasickness bands that “everyone swore by but never worked,” told me she was initially suspicious about Sparkling Mama’s “woo-woo branding.” Then she tried it and told me that she wouldn’t have been able to function during her first trimester without the stuff. Another pregnant friend I recommended it to was following her doctor’s recommendation to “eat less but more frequently” in order to combat nausea. While she said her doctor’s orders ultimately didn’t work, she swore to me that the Sparkling Mama did.
A last small, but not insignificant note: Sparkling Mama actually tastes good, like a cross between the (admittedly trashy) Crystal Light of my youth and a cup of soothing mint tea. So good, in fact, that I have on a rare occasion drank some when my stomach felt entirely fine.