Flat 7UP Settles a Sick Stomach

Background: Informant is 54-year-old woman living in Dublin, Ireland. She was born and raised in rural Ireland without access to modern medicine for minor ails, and so knows many folk-remedies for everyday pains. She is married and has one grown daughter. In this conversation, she is signified by the letters C.D.


Main Piece:

C.D.: My mam used to always do this when I had a sick stomach. Back home, at the time there was no access to fancy antacids or the like that there is nowadays, so this was pretty much Gospel – all the neighbors used to do it too, and when I asked the other people at school a good few of them had heard of it.

Basically, what you do to settle a sick stomach is you pour out a glass of 7up and just let it sit on a window-sill to go flat. And then you drink it, and your stomach should be all good in about 20 minutes. I think it replaces some of the sugars and fluids you lose when you’re sick too, sure there’s no harm in it anyways.


A.: Does it have to be a window-sill?


C.D.: Probably not, but that’s how my mam would do it and it seemed to work most of the time so why mess with a good thing, right?


A.: True. Where did your mam learn it?


C.D.: Would it be a cop-out to say that she learned it from her mam? But I actually think I do remember Granny coming around and minding us when mam went away and she did the same thing for my brother, but I think it was just flat Coke she used. It’s probably just a placebo effect anyways, the fact that we’ve been brought up to believe that it works probably gives you a false sense of feeling better after you drink it.


Performance Context: I interviewed the informant over FaceTime due to her being in Ireland and I in California. When I mentioned that I was feeling unwell and she prescribed this remedy. The original context as far back as I could discover was her mother. However, after a quick Google it is clear that this is a common ‘remedy,’ and is particularly associated with Irish folk medicine despite the origination of soft drinks in America.


My Thoughts: I’ve actually used this remedy and to an extent it seems to work. Perhaps it’s just because I was brought up in a culture where this was the first port of call when you had a minor stomach upset that it works for me purely based on placebo effect. This is similar to how it has been observed that people whose doctors wear white coats get better faster from the sense of confidence in their treatment the coat symbolizes. Considering the popularity of this remedy in Ireland, I’d be interested as to how someone discovered that flat soft drinks worked as a ‘cure’ in the first place, considering they’re not all that appetizing.