Top 15 Natural Remedies for Diarrhea
That’s a pleasant topic to write on now isn’t it?!
When I was compiling my list of home remedies for colds and flus, I noticed just how little information was available for relieving this common ailment naturally. It was time to pull something together!
Diarrhea… What Is It Really?
When you say the word “diarrhea” chances are you mean a loose stool. But the clinical diagnosis of diarrhea doesn’t related to the consistency of the stool, but rather the frequency.
If you are experiencing more than 3 bowel movements a day you would be diagnosed as having diarrhea.
A frequent urge to pass a stool occurs either:
1) when the digestive system fails to absorb the usual amount of fluid from your food/drink or,
2) when the bowels secrete more electrolytes and water than they absorb.
Typically the small intestine and colon absorb 99% of the fluid you ingest. Even a slight variance in that amount can trigger a loose stool with a frequent urge to go.
There are many causes of diarrhea that span from common viral or bacterial infections to food poisoning, diet intolerances, digestive disorders like IBS and side effect to prescription drugs.
Acute issues of diarrhea are very common, last only about two days and are largely the result of infection or food poisoning.
With proper care, home remedies are a wonderful way to ease the discomfort and facilitate fast and complete healing.
Real Food Remedies for Diarrhea
1. Lots o’ Fluids
The greatest concern with diarrhea is how quickly the body can become dehydrated. Therefore, make it your top priority to drink as many fluids as possible.
Since diarrhea often accompanies a stomach virus, chances are you may feel too queasy to drink much. However, every little bit of fluid you can get down counts for something.
Try sucking on ice chips or sip ginger or peppermint tea if you’re unable to drink anything else.
2. Homemade Electrolyte Replacement
One of the best fluids to ingest when you have diarrhea is a homemade electrolyte replacement beverage. The body loses tremendous amounts of sodium and potassium when in the throws of vomiting and/or diarrhea and the sooner you can bring these important minerals back to normal levels, the better you’ll feel.
3. Make Probiotics a Priority
It is said that buttermilk is one of the most efficient home remedies for diarrhea. I’ve yet to try it myself, but the premise for why it works so well is a sound one.
Buttermilk is a cultured food and contains hefty amounts of beneficial bacteria that boost the immune system and bolster the function of the intestines. Buttermilk also contains lactic acid, which has been shown in recent studies to prevent and even cure diarrheal diseases.
If downing buttermilk isn’t appealing, simply introducing other probiotic-rich foods like unsweetened greek yogurt or kefir into your diet is a great idea.
This coconut water kefir would be an excellent choice, both for it’s probiotic properties but also because coconut water is an ideal beverage for rehydrating the body!
4. Aloe Vera Juice
Once you’re feeling better, pure aloe vera juice is a wonderful thing for healing an irritated digestive system. It cleanses the colon and functions as an anti-inflammatory to sooth irritated tissue. (Source) It can also relieve nausea and reduce the risk of heart disease, leukemia and kidney disease.
Why Not Follow a B.R.A.T. Diet???
The B.R.A.T diet (Bananas. Rice. Applesauce. Toast.) has been a common method for rectifying digestive ailments for decades. This “diet” recommends four foods that are low in fiber, protein, and fat, which supposedly allow the gastrointestinal tract to recover.
The reason I don’t whole-heartedly recommend this however, is that none of these foods will do much to nourish a body fighting an infection. You’d be better off making it a BRATTY diet, which adds the extra “T” (tea) and “Y” (yogurt) to the mix! At least then you’re boosting your fluid intake and supplying your digestive system with the added probiotic boost!
Homeopathic Remedies for Relieving Diarrhea
If you are experiencing acute diarrhea a homeopathic remedy may be your best ticket to relief. Consider taking one of the following best-matched remedies in a 6C potency every 30 minutes until symptoms subside.
Homeopathic remedies are safe, non-toxic and do not interfere with prescription medications. However, keep in mind that there are hundreds of remedies that can offer relief from symptoms of diarrhea. If one of the following popularly prescribed remedies do not relieve your symptoms, consult a professional homeopath for best results.
1. Arsenicum Album
Diarrhea accompanied by severe nausea and vomiting and a feeling of anxiety indicate this remedy. This should be the go-to remedy for cases where food poisoning is suspected. You may feel tired, weak, and restless with burning stools that cause severe irritation. Better with warmth.
This remedy is indicated in instances of foul-smelling diarrhea accompanied by irritability and abdominal pain. Stool smells of rotten eggs and may be green in hue.
3. Argentum Nitricum
If you’re experience explosive diarrhea that’s accompanied by large amounts of flatulence, this is the indicated remedy. You will feel better from fresh air but worse from warmth and worse at night. This diarrhea stems largely from nervousness or other extreme emotional disturbance.
Morning diarrhea that’s watery and worse with rest, but relatively painless indicates this remedy. Better with dry heat and open air. Diarrhea may alternate with constipation.
This remedy is indicated if the diarrhea is combined with persistent nausea that is not improved with vomiting. You may experience pain around the navel, have no thirst and feel worse lying down. Stools are slimy, yet painless and accompanied with much flatulence.
Diarrhea that’s worse at night indicates this remedy. Stools my be slimy and green or watery and colorless. Very foul-smelling accompanied by a feeling of “not being done”. May be painful and scanty.
Herbal Remedies for Relieving Diarrhea
Just as there are several homeopathic remedies that can relieve symptoms of diarrhea, there are dozens of herbs that have an affinity for the gastrointestinal system, too.With any of these herbs, the best way to prepare them is as a tea.
Here are my top 5 favorites:
1. Red Raspberry / Blackberry Leaf
Red raspberry leaf is a must for any home herbal apothecary! It is an excellent tonic for the intestines, can relieve nausea and is very rich in iron and calcium. An herbal cousin, blackberry is also an excellent herb for diarrhea. Both blackberry and red raspberry are considered astringent herbs, which means they help to tighten and contract body tissue while calming the digestive system.
The leaf of red raspberry and blackberry contains the same medicinal properties, but is milder, which make the leaves an excellent choice to children dealing with diarrhea.
When considering the two herbs, blackberry root contains the strongest properties, especially if the root was harvested when the plant was young. Rosemary Gladstar in her book “Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health” recommends making a tincture of blackberry root and then taking it every 30 minutes until gastrointestinal symptoms subside.
Peppermint, like red raspberry/blackberry leaf, is an astringent herb. It’s anti-spasmotic properties make it an ideal herb for IBS, as suggested by a recent study. Peppermint is also a carminative, which means it relieves flatulence.
Catnip is NOT just for cats. It’s an excellent carminative and anti-spasmotic in addition to being a mild sedative. It provides a calming effect on the digestive system and reduces the intestinal spasms so often accompanying episodes of diarrhea.
4. Marshmallow Root
Marshmallow root is very beneficial on the large intestine and is a highly mucilaginous herb. It is an anti-inflammatory and can actually have a laxative effect if used in excess. However, it does wonders at soothing and healing the intestinal tract.
In addition to marshmallow root, consider also licorice root or slippery elm bark, too. They all taste yummy, although licorice root is my personal favorite. I use it in pretty much every tea recipe!
Calendula is a well-prized herb for external use, but it doesn’t get nearly the recognition it should as an herb with internal benefits as well. It is an excellent choice for relieving gastrointestinal inflammation and cramps. Calendula is an anti-spasmodic with anti-viral and anti-microbial properties as well!
Essential Oils for Relieving Diarrhea
I strongly advise against taking essential oil internally, unless under the guidance of a trained professional. However, you don’t have to ingest oils to find substantial relief from these aromatic wonders.
Simply dilute a few drops of your chosen essential oil in a carrier oil, like olive or coconut, and apply topically, directly on the abdomen.
Ideal essential oils for relieving diarrhea include:
As previously mentioned, the volatile oil of peppermint contains antispasmodic properties which works well at calming an irritated intestine. Chemically speaking, peppermint oil is abundant in methol which is responsible for most of the healing properties attributed to this great herb!
The volatile oil of ginger contains wonderful medicinal properties for relieving diarrhea. Ginger’s oil offers carminitive (relieves flatulence) and anti-inflammatory benefits. It is a digestive stimulant and can increase gastric motility (the movement of food through the digestive tract) while neutralizing toxins and acid in the intestines. (Read more.)
Geranium oil has been traditionally used for issues involving inflammation and gastro-intestinal dysfunction. The volatile oil also functions as a relaxing and mild sedative. It is largely comprised of natural plant alcohols like cintronellol and geraniol.
Who doesn’t love orange oil? It’s great, isn’t it?! The volatile oil of orange has antispasmodic properties and can also function as a sedative. It stimulates a sluggish digestive system while calming the intestines, making it a great remedy for constipation and diarrhea.
At the end of the day…
One of these 15 natural remedies may be just the trick you need to relieve the discomforts of diarrhea without having to reach for over-the-counter medication.
Nature offers tremendous healing potential, with fewer side effects. Furthermore, these natural remedies don’t simply provide relief for diarrhea alone, but instead offer a host of nourishing benefits to the entire body leaving you feeling better than ever on the flip-side.
NOTE: If you’ve tried home remedies and your symptoms persist and/or you begin to run a high fever, show signs of dehydration and/or see blood in your stool, please consult your health care provider immediately.
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