When we eat, food is mixed with large amounts of water and fluid in the stomach.
It then travels through the small intestines where nutrients are absorbed. The digested
food then moves into the colon where water is extracted and what remains is a semi-solid
stool. If the colon doesn’t absorb sufficient fluids, or if the digestive system
produces too many fluids, our stool will be loose, resulting in a watery bowel movement
People of all ages can have diarrhea. Usually it means urgent, frequent trips to
the bathroom with a greater stool volume. At times, cramping, abdominal pain, bloating,
nausea or vomiting can accompany it. Sometimes individuals also experience a fever
or bloody stools. For the most part, if the diarrhea goes away by itself, within
a day or two, there is no need for concern. If, however, it persists for more than
two weeks, then there may be a deeper health condition that should be addressed.
The most common causes of diarrhea are viral or bacterial toxins, food poisoning
and parasites. These usually represent the acute form of diarrhea, which can last
up to a couple of weeks. Diarrhea can take on a more chronic form that is typified
by digestive disturbances that last more than four weeks. Typically there is an underlying
disorder that contributes to this form, including Crohn’s Disease, food intolerances
(celiac disease, lactose intolerance), irritable bowel syndrome, colitis and reactions
to medications. Sometimes heredity and surgery (such as the remove of the gallbladder)
can be the cause, as well.
Fortunately, there are a number natural and alternative health remedies you can try
to help get bouts of diarrhea under control.
Recommendations for wellness
- Most importantly, drink lots of water, preferably with electrolytes, to replace
the water and salts that have been lost. This prevents dehydration.
- Avoid beverages containing caffeine (such as tea, coffee and soft drinks) and
ones containing alcohol. Also, eliminate foods such as dairy products, raw vegetables,
acidic fruits, whole-grain cereals, sugary foods, strong spices, and fried fatty
foods. Each of these can be rough on the digestive system.
- Eat foods that are easy to digest, including clear soup, crackers, rice, potatoes,
applesauce (not juice) and bananas.
- If you suspect a parasitic infection, they should be addressed and eliminated.
- When traveling to developing countries, avoid drinking the tap water or eating
uncooked or undercooked foods, ice or fruits that cannot be peeled to prevent a parasitic
- To rule out food intolerances that may contribute to diarrhea, try an elimination
- Juice from pomegranates has long been used to relieve diarrhea.
- Teas from herbs such as blackberry and raspberry leaf have a binding effect on
the mucous membranes of the intestine and help the body absorb fluids, while reducing
- While typically thought of when talking about constipation, soluble fiber, including
psyllium can help to absorb the excess fluid in the intestine as it adds bulk to
- If you suffer from Crohn’s disease or any chronic gastrointestinal disorder,
avoid blackberry leaf and supplements that contain soluble fiber.
- Chamomile tea is an age-old remedy for calming the nerves and may reduce intestinal
cramping and ease irritation and inflammation.
- Ginger root in tea or capsule form can eliminate the discomfort, nausea and cramping
often associated with diarrhea.
- Take a tablespoon of natural apple cider vinegar every hour until the diarrhea
resolves. The use of apple cider vinegar also helps to replenish the potassium and
magnesium that are often lost with diarrhea.
- Folic acid can be used to help repair any damage to the intestinal lining.
- Supplement with a high quality probiotic such as acidophilus and bifidophilus
to inhibit the bacteria that causes diarrhea as well as a vitamin and mineral supplement
to replace any that have been lost.
- To help reduce the irritation to the walls of the intestinal track, supplement
with marshmallow root or slippery elm or a combination like Nature’s Sunshine’s Irritable
Bowel Fiber or Intestinal Sooth & Build.