Acute diarrhea is a classic example of a poisoned, infected, or irritated digestive system. When the body is exposed to a toxic substance, its first priority is to expel that substance, and the digestive system has two basic strategies for performing the task. First, it secretes extra fluid to the intestines; second, it produces an unusual number of very strong intestinal contractions. As a result, loose watery stools of increased volume and frequency help propel the toxins out of your body.
Most often, the toxin that needs to be expelled is a bacteria or a virus, although parasites can definitely be the cause as well. These invaders can enter your body through contaminated food or water or through contact with an infected person. Diarrhea may also be your body's response to certain foods. An inability to digest milk and dairy products, called lactose intolerance, is a frequent cause of diarrhea, but many other foods can cause problems as well. You may also have diarrhea as a result of dietary overindulgence in general, even when the foods eaten do not usually give you trouble. In addition, anxiety and stress often play a role in all kinds of diarrhea.
While diarrhea is a useful and necessary response to poisoning-you certainly wouldn't want the toxins to remain in your body-it is often very uncomfortable and disruptive. However, for most cases of acute diarrhea (unless directed otherwise by your doctor), you should resist the temptation to take over-the-counter anti-diarrhea medications, as they will only suppress the poisons and force your body to find some other way to get rid of them.
When it comes to most episodes of acute diarrhea, the best thing to do is allow your body to do its work. While no one enjoys the discomfort and the inconvenience, the symptoms usually run their course in a day or two. The main concern is that your intestines may be passing too much fluid, as well as vital nutrients like sodium and potassium, so you'll want to stay hydrated with plenty of fluids and electrolytes. Natural therapies can make you more comfortable and can reduce the intensity and the length of the illness.
Sometimes diarrhea can be a warning sign of a far more serious illness, such as bacterial enteritis, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, Crohn's disease, celiac disease, hyperthyroidism, parasites, or even cancer. Call a doctor right away if your stools are bloody; if abdominal pain and cramping are not relieved by passing stools; or if the urge is so forceful that you fear incontinence. You should also seek medical help if the episode lasts longer than three days or if it recurs over a period longer than one week. Diarrhea in children under six always requires a doctor's attention.
** All of these prescriptions below have been proven effective; the level of effectiveness depends on the individual. Please consult your doctor when taking any and all supplements.
The top 7 vitamins and supplements have shown to help Diarrhea:
Prescription for Natural
Cures by James F. Balch, M.D. and Mark Stengler, N.M.D.
Super Prescription # 1 Ginger - LifeSource Products (Zingiber officinale)
Drink a fresh cup of ginger tea, or take 500 mg in capsule form or 2 ml of tincture every two hours. Ginger reduces intestinal inflammation and lessens the effects of food poisoning.
Super Prescription #2 Probiotics / Dophilus - LifeSource Product: Take a product containing at least 4 billion active organisms two to three times daily. It contains friendly bacteria, such as Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidus, which aid digestion and fight infection. Studies also show the probiotic Saccharomyces boulardi to be effective for diarrhea, especially for diarrhea associated with antibiotic use.
Super Prescription #3 Echinacea and Goldenseal - LifeSource Products - See All of our Echinacea/Goldenseal Products.
Take 1 ml of the tincture form or 300 mg in capsules four times daily. It helps improve diarrhea that is related to an intestinal infection.
Super Prescription #4 Enzymes – Super Enzymes - LifeSource Product
Take 1 to 2 capsules of a full-spectrum enzyme with each meal. Enzymes aid in the breakdown and the absorption of food.
Super Prescription # 5 Oregano Oil - LifeSource Product
Take 500 mg of the capsule form four times daily or as directed on the container. Oregano oil has powerful antimicrobial effects.
Super Prescription #6 Astragalus - LifeSource Product
This is an excellent treatment for chronic diarrhea. It has an astringent effect and improves digestion. Take 500 to 1,000 mg or 3.5 ml of a tincture two or three times daily. Do not take astragalus if you have a fever.
Click Here to See All Products and Info for Diarrhea
- Watery, loose stools of increased volume and frequency
- Abdominal pain and cramping
- Viral infection
- Contaminated food or water
- A food allergy or intolerance
- Drug toxicity
- Bacterial or parasite infection
- Anxiety and stress
- Medication (such as antibiotics)
- Electrolyte imbalance and dehydration
Although there are several important dietary strategies for diarrhea, the most critical are those to help you stay hydrated.
While the attack is at its most acute, do not try to take in solid foods. Instead, focus on staying hydrated by drinking two cups of liquid every waking hour. Try water, diluted fruit and vegetable juices, electrolyte drinks, and broths. If you have a dry mouth or suddenly wrinkled skin that does not snap back when gently pulled, you may be on your way to severe dehydration. Drink a large glass of water or fresh vegetable juice immediately.
Foods to Avoid
During the most intense stages of diarrhea, you will probably not feel much like eating. Do not force yourself to take in solid food during this time (although you should drink plenty of fluids).
As you feel better and regain your appetite, you should stay away from dairy products, fats, and oils, which will only upset your stomach again. If you do not have an intolerance to any of these foods, reintroduce them to your diet slowly.
Avoid sugar, especially if you have a bacterial infection. Bacteria feed on it. Even if a bacterium isn't the cause of your problem, keep sugar out of your diet; it promotes inflammation, which discourages healing.
Avoid caffeine and alcohol, which are too stimulating to the digestive tract.
If the cause of the problem is not clear, determine whether your diarrhea is caused by a food allergy or an intolerance. Once you feel better, use the elimination diet to identify troublesome foods. Many cases of diarrhea can be traced to gluten intolerance, so make a special effort to examine the effects of wheat and seeds on your digestive system.
As you feel better, eat basic, simple foods that are easily absorbed. Soups, cooked fruits and vegetables, and brown rice are all good choices. Apples, bananas, carrots, and potatoes tend to taste especially good at this time, and for an excellent reason. They all contain an ingredient, pectin, that has a gentle binding quality.
One study has shown that roasted carob powder reduces the duration of diarrhea. Try a few tablespoons in some water.
Diarrhea is your body's method of self-detoxification. It's generally a good idea to fast on liquids for the first day; most likely, you will not want to eat solid foods anyway.
- Constitutional hydrotherapy can be helpful for acute and chronic diarrhea.