The term “Diarrhea” refers to the passing of loose or watery stools. It may happen once in minor digestive trouble or multiple times in more acute infections. In chronic diseases like Irritable bowel syndrome, Crohn’s Disease, and Lactose intolerance, chronic diarrhea occurs and is often associated with many other symptoms.
The large intestine is responsible for absorbing water. In the case of diarrhea, this does not occur. In some conditions, the organs which secrete fluids secrete more than normal amounts.
Causes of Diarrhea:
-Amoebiasis (Waterborne infection)
-Incompatible food combinations
-Food allergies (Wheat, Milk, Eggs, etc)
-Viruses & Bacteria
-Inflammatory Bowel Disease (Crohn’s, Ulcerative Colitis, etc)
Prolonged diarrhea can cause dehydration and may pose a great danger due to the loss of several vital nutrients.
In this article, we will focus on acute diarrhea.
Ayurvedic medicine states that during the onset of acute diarrhea, it is important to allow a certain amount of stools to pass as this is the method via which the body expels toxins, microbes, and other substances which cause the condition to occur in the first place (modern research supports this). Of course, during this time, it is essential to hydrate. It’s best to use coconut water or any electrolyte-rich drink for the purpose of hydration. Afterward, you can give anti-diarrheal medicines.
The herb “Kutaj” is the key ingredient in a clinically tested anti-diarrheal drug known as Diarex, which is manufactured by The Himalaya Drug Company. In the case of Parasites, Amoebiasis, and Dysentery, Kutaj can be used. Kutaj is able to fight off most of the infections that cause diarrhea including Amoebiasis, Salmonella, Shigella, E.Coli, and Giardiasis (1-4). Kutaj is available in the form of tablets or capsules and is sometimes combined with another anti-microbial in a popular formulation known as “Kutaj Ghanvati”.
Cinnamon tea is an age-old remedy for stopping diarrhea and is supported by Ayurveda too. Cinnamon is a well known anti-infective, anti-parasitic, and anti-bacterial. Cinnamon is so powerful that studies have indicated that it is effective in killing E. Coli, a bacteria that causes bloody diarrhea. (5)
Usually used as an antacid and calcium supplement, Calcium Carbonate is also an anti-diarrheal and is showing promising results in research on intestinal bypass related diarrhea and protease inhibitor-induced diarrhea (6,7). In fact, long term use of it is linked to constipation. Try to keep the dose to a maximum of 1000mg no more than 2-3 times a day.
Fresh pomegranate juice is able to stop diarrhea due to its astringent properties. Pomegranate treats diarrhea, dysentery and fights bacterial, viral and parasitic infections (8). It’s also rich in fiber, potassium and vitamin C, all of which can help with diarrhea.
Apples are rich in fiber. When fiber is consumed, it goes into the intestines and absorbs fluid (9). This actually causes the fiber to swell, hence the reason high fiber foods are also used for the purpose of appetite suppression.
Rehydration is essential in treating diarrhea, both during the course of the condition as well as after, as the body loses electrolytes. A simple solution of salt, sugar and water can be used to rehydrate. A better solution is Coconut water, which contains a substantial amount of electrolytes.
Avoid eating any foods during the treatment of diarrhea as this can lead to more loss of nutrients if that food is immediately expelled. Allow the condition to completely subside before introducing any more food and when you do introduce food, make sure to start with light foods like soups, steamed vegetables, or fruits.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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by Dr. Nishal R.
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