How to Get Rid of Diarrhea Naturally (Based on Research)
Unfortunately, everyone will suffer from some form of diarrhea at some point in their lives. We all know that it can have a major impact on our daily activities and leave us feeling weak, drained, and sometimes even embarrassed. Understanding more about the condition and knowing how to get rid of diarrhea can help to lessen its impact on your life.
In this article I am going to look at home remedies for diarrhea that are supported by research. In order to know how to get rid of diarrhea naturally, you need to know what causes diarrhea.
The Causes of Diarrhea
When you have diarrhea, your stools are very loose and watery and you may also experience abdominal pain and nausea with it. You may have to use the bathroom more frequently during the day.
Diarrhea is caused because your digestive system isn’t working properly. Some of the reasons for experiencing an upset stomach are:
•Viral or bacterial infections
•Anxiety and/or stress
Usually, a bout of diarrhea that has been caused by one or more of these symptoms will only last a few days. However, sometimes diarrhea can last for many weeks and it can be a sign of a more serious digestive disorder.
Dr. Thomas Lamont, professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, says that chronic diarrhea is when a person has three or more loose stools per day for at least 4 weeks.1 The reasons for chronic diarrhea can be:
•Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS)
•Inflammatory bowel disease
If you suffer from chronic diarrhea, you should always visit your doctor because it requires more professional management to relieve the symptoms. If you suffer from IBS, then read my article about the best natural treatments to relieve IBS.
Let’s have a look at what you can do to treat diarrhea if it comes on suddenly. There are many natural, home remedies to relieve the symptoms of diarrhea and get rid of it quicker.
How to Get Rid of Diarrhea
Most cases of diarrhea will clear up within a few days. However, there are some foods and natural supplements that you can take to help you cure diarrhea naturally.
Foods to eat when you have diarrhea
Yogurt is a great food to help you get rid of diarrhea. Make sure that your yogurt is natural without artificial sweeteners and flavorings and that it contains live active cultures (probiotics) like lactobacillus acidophilus and bifidobacterium. These bacteria help to restore balance to your gut.
You can tell if the yogurt has these bacteria because usually it will be mentioned on the packaging or be called “live yogurt” or “yogurt with live & active cultures.”
A study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology showed that fermented milk products containing Lactobacillus acidophilus and Lactobacillus casei were effective in the prevention of antibiotic-related diarrhea and can also help if the diarrhea is caused by bacterial infections.2
Eating yogurt is especially important if your diarrhea is a result of taking antibiotics. In fact, if you take antibiotics, there are 3 things you should do to restore healthy intestinal flora.
Other studies into the effects of probiotics have shown that they are effective in treating and preventing diarrhea that connected with viral infections like the rota virus.3
Ginger has been used for centuries to provide relief from gastrointestinal problems and it’s also an excellent natural remedy for diarrhea. Ginger is a wonderful natural ingredient which helps to reduce stomach cramps. It also contains flavonoids which have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
The journal of Digestive Diseases and Sciences examined the use of ginger in gastrointestinal disorders and found that it can help in cases of diarrhea to reduce stomach spasms.4
To use ginger as a home remedy for diarrhea, you can make a cup of delicious ginger tea. All you have to do is slice a small piece of ginger and add it to a cup of water. Boil the water in a pan for a few minutes and strain the ginger tea into a cup.
Alternatively, you can grate a small piece of ginger, mix it with some raw natural honey (the best type is Manuka honey) and eat it.
You can read more about the benefits of ginger in my articles on how to use ginger as a medicine and on how to make anti-inflammatory and pain relief turmeric ginger tea.
Bananas and foods containing soluble fiber
Bananas have many health benefits, and are another natural ingredient that can help you get rid of diarrhea faster. This is because bananas contain pectin, a soluble fiber which is good for the digestion.
Many people associate fiber with making stools looser and helping them to move through the digestive system. However, Dr. David Goldstein, a gastroenterologist, says that soluble fiber absorbs excess fluid and can help to firm up a loose stool.5
So, foods containing soluble fiber can help to stop diarrhea. Other foods containing soluble fiber which can be good if you have diarrhea are:
Carrot soup has shown to have anti diarrheic effect on infantile diarrhea which is one of the most common diseases in infants and toddlers.
In the study, a carrot soup was made by washing, scraping and finely chopping 500g carrots. The carrots were pressure cooked with 150 ml of water for about 15 minutes. The entire pulp was then passed through a fine strainer and diluted with hot water up to one liter, and a little salt was added. Fresh soup was made every day. Eat this soup fresh daily for a few days when suffering from diarrhea.
It is important to remember to eat just small portions and ‘listen’ to your body.
Chamomile tea has many benefits and uses, and it’s also an excellent home remedy to stop diarrhea. This is because chamomile tea has properties that can help to reduce oxidants in the gut and reduce stomach spasms.
Clinical trials have shown that a chamomile extract can help alleviate the symptoms of diarrhea6 and studies into the properties of chamomile show that it has a good all-around effect for soothing gastrointestinal conditions.7
Other Foods that Can Help you Get Rid of Diarrhea
You can also eat small amounts of other foods to help relieve your diarrhea symptoms. The U.S. National Library of Medicine recommends eating small meals throughout the day instead of 3 large meals. Salty foods can help to restore the essential salts that the body needs and reduce dehydration.8
Some also recommend to eat products made from refined white flour (although in your regular diet a wholemeal products are recommended). This is because the insoluble fiber (from whole grains) that can make stools looser has been removed. So, white pasta, white rice, and cereals can help. You can also eat vegetables, but you should remove the skins beforehand.
The BRAT diet (eating only bananas, rice, applesauce, and toast) used to be recommended by all pediatricians for children with diarrhea. While those foods in themselves are good to eat if you have diarrhea, over an extended period of time they won’t provide all the nutritional value that is needed to help the digestive system recover.
Therefore, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children with diarrhea should have an age-appropriate well-balanced diet with a mix of fruits, vegetables, meat, yogurt, and complex carbohydrates.9
One of the most serious complications of diarrhea, especially in babies, children and the elderly, is dehydration which can have adverse effect on the body.
When we have diarrhea we lose, not only a lot of water, but also essential minerals and salts from the body. Therefore, it is important to drink plenty of fluids. After each bout of diarrhea, it is good to drink a glass of water.
Dr. Joshua Evans, physician and expert on dehydration, recommends sipping small amounts of water as frequently as possible if you have nausea along with diarrhea. He also recommends taking rehydration solutions to replace the essentials salts the body requires. If you don’t have rehydration solutions at hand, then sports drinks can be helpful.10
Supplements to help Get Rid of Diarrhea
There are many dietary supplements on the market which can help you to keep a healthy digestive system and get rid of diarrhea. Let’s have a look at some of these.
I’ve already mentioned how useful probiotics can be used to cure diarrhea. You can also buy probiotics as a supplement and use them to restore the natural flora in the gut.
Most studies agree that probiotic supplements are effective in treating diarrhea that is caused by antibiotic use11, virus infections (rota virus) 12, and bacterial infections (C. diff). 13
So, if you are taking antibiotics, it is a good idea to take a course of probiotic supplements to make sure that the antibiotics don’t interfere with your digestive system. You can also read my article about the 9 reasons to take probiotics and why it’s so good for you.
Studies have shown that taking peppermint oil capsules can help to relieve symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome, one of which is diarrhea.14 It is important to take peppermint oil only in capsule form. The capsules allow the peppermint oil to bypass the stomach and be released in the small intestine.
Peppermint oil capsules can be bought as a dietary supplement from many health stores or online stores.
Saccharomyces boulardii is a yeast that can be used as a home remedy for various forms of diarrhea. Although it is classed as a yeast, it acts in the gut the same way that probiotics work to restore balance to your digestive system. Research into this yeast has shown that it can help to treat antibiotic-related diarrhea and acute diarrhea in adults.15
Saccharomyces boulardii can be bought as a dietary supplement from many online stores like this one.
What to Avoid If You Have Diarrhea
If you have diarrhea, you should also avoid certain foods.
Very often dairy products (except live yogurts), fatty foods, and high fiber foods can make your symptoms worse.
Also, foods like beans, broccoli, prunes, and peppers can increase gas and irritate your digestive system.
You should also avoid alcohol, caffeinated drinks and sodas.
There is also a term called “Traveler’s Diarrhea”. Often, traveling to foreign countries where foods are different and standards of hygiene are lower can cause an upset stomach. Therefore, it is always a good idea to avoid drinking tap water and to avoid having ice in your drinks.
Make sure that all food is cooked properly and be careful of raw seafood. If you eat raw fruit and vegetables, it is best if you peel them before eating.
Having a supply of probiotics with you can also help you to get rid of traveler’s diarrhea.
When to See a Doctor if you Have Diarrhea
If diarrhea lasts for more than 3 days in children and the elderly and 5 days in adults, you should see a doctor. Also, if the diarrhea is accompanied by a fever, weakness, and severe abdominal pain, or if you have blood in your stool, you should seek medical advice immediately.
James Achanyi-Fontem, is a Senior Health Journalist and Communication Consultant. He worked as a health journalist and broadcaster for 30 years with Radio Cameroon and later Cameroon Radio Television, CRTV before retiring in 2005 to engage fully with Cameroon Link (Human Assistance Programme). Cameroon Link is a registered charity, not-for-profit organisation involved in the promotion of community health, humanitarian assistance, promotion of women and child rights through involvement of communities in Cameroon for mother and child health care. Cameroon Link is a partner to Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Farm Radio International (FRI), International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN Africa), World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action (WABA). As the intermediary of Commonwealth of Learning (COL), Cameroon Link is engaged to implement a Cameroon Rural Radio story design Programming through an investigative research, which aims to discover through interviewing beneficiaries of health programmes on their interests, documenting and disseminating new ideas about how radio stations produce and air Healthy Communities Radio Programs in Cameroon.