Also known as the stomach-flu, Gastroenteritis is considered to be the most common cause of vomiting and diarrhea. It is a condition in which the gastrointestinal tract (stomach and bowels) becomes inflamed and irritated due to a viral or bacterial infection. When the source of infection is a food source, the condition is referred to as “food poisoning”. This condition is most commonly caused by contact with an infected person or through consumption of contaminated food.
Most cases of gastroenteritis can be managed fairly effectively at home, however, viral gastroenteritis can be a bit challenging. If your condition persists, please seek medical treatment.
– Stomach Cramping
– Loss of Appetite
– Fever (usually low-grade)
Symptoms may last anywhere from 1-2 days or even up to 10 days in severe cases. In the case of viral gastroenteritis, the condition may develop within three days from the time of infection.
This can help with nausea and vomiting. Ginger is well-known for its anti-inflammatory and anti-emetic properties. It has been tested in multiple clinical trials for treating nausea and vomiting of various causes including pregnancy, chemotherapy, sports-induced, and drug-induced and even post-operative (see study). Ginger is also the key ingredient in various over-the-counter products for treating vomiting. In my clinical experience, I have found that sipping on ginger-water (1 glass of hot water mixed with 1/2 teaspoon ginger powder) in multiple doses throughout the day can be of much relief in most mild-to-moderate cases of food poisoning. Ginger is also very useful for relieving cramping.
2. Vitamin B6
This vitamin, also known as pyridoxine plays a vital role in neurotransmitter formation, nervous system function, and the treatment of multiple conditions. Vitamin B6 has demonstrated potent anti-emetic properties in clinical research since the 1940s. In clinical studies, Vitamin B6 has been found to be just as effective as ginger for treating nausea and vomiting (see study). The combination of Vitamin B6 and Ginger is something I like to use in practice.
1. Kutaj (Holarrhena Antidysenterica)
This is one of the most prominent herbs used in Ayurveda for treating both acute and chronic diarrhea. It contains an alkaloid known as “connessine” which has potent anti-diarrheal and anti-amoebic properties. Kutaj has been used in multiple clinical trials as part of a formula called “Kutaj Ghana” (see study). It is also used in a clinically-tested formula called “Diarex” which is manufactured by a company called Himalaya (see study). The most common formula used is known as “Kutaj Ghana Vati” – This is an Ayurvedic medicine that must be used under an Ayurvedic doctor’s supervision. Misuse can result in adverse effects.
Diarex is a formulation (which I mentioned earlier) made by The Himalaya Drug Company. It contains several anti-diarrheal herbs including Kutaj (holarrhena Antidystenterica) and Bael (Aegle Marmelos). It is found to be highly effective in treating both acute and chronic diarrhea including amoebic dysentery (see study).
One of the most important things to keep in mind when experiencing diarrhea and vomiting is hydration. Loss of fluid can lead to serious complication so it is crucial that you stay well hydrated. Loss of fluids also means loss of electrolytes – this can be solved by consuming pure coconut water or using oral rehydration formulas. These are available at most pharmacies.
During the occurrence of such an illness, rest is vital. Trying to do any sort of heavy lifting or other physical activities can result in injuries as one of the main symptoms is fatigue. Allow your body time to heal and restore its energy reserves.
It is best to fast or stick to very light foods during the healing period. Afterward, once all symptoms have subsided, one should slowly re-introduce food by starting with easily digestible meals such as soups, kichidi, fresh fruit juices or steamed vegetables. Make sure these foods contain a good amount of digestion-promoting spices such as ginger, black pepper, cinnamon, cardamom, and fennel.
You may start introducing heavier foods like bread and meats once you notice that your appetite has become strong and you have been without symptoms for at least 2 days.
(Always use herbs under proper medical supervision)
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Written by Dr. Nishal Ramnunan B.A.M.S.
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