Diarrhoea is classified as watery, loose stool. They become this way when fluid is not able to be absorbed from the food in your bowel, or extra fluid leaks into the bowel. This can occur for many different reasons, but it is generally due to a viral or bacterial infection. However, if it comes and goes regularly, or lasts for a longer period of time, you know it’s chronic diarrhoea. In this case, the diarrhoea is a symptom of an underlying problem.
Causes of Diarrhoea
Some conditions that can cause diarrhoea are:
- Coeliac disease
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome
- Chron’s disease
- Food allergy/intolerance
These problems require medical attention, so diarrhoea must be investigated. But there are some natural things you can do while you are suffering to help with your recovery.
Natural Ways To Treat Diarrhoea
Some of the natural ways to treat diarrhoea are as follows:
The main concern with diarrhoea is dehydration, as you are not absorbing any fluids and are also releasing too much of what is being consumed. So the most important thing to do while you are experiencing diarrhoea (aside from seeing your medical practitioner), is to make sure you have enough fluids. Oral rehydration fluid preparations contain electrolytes, which replace the minerals your body is losing, and can be frequently sipped on.
However, drinks like Gatorade and Powerade will NOT help, as they are the wrong osmolarity - meaning that the ratio of salt to sugar is not suitable for re-hydration due to diarrhoea. Water, broths and herbal teas are also helpful. It is really important to keep trying to drink, even if it is difficult. Dehydration can be very serious, so definitely watch that one.
If the diarrhoea seems to come and go regularly, then it is a good idea to investigate possible food allergies or intolerances. Keeping a diet/symptom diary is a good start. I do offer food intolerance testing, which I find helpful because it narrows down the foods you need to avoid.
While you are suffering from diarrhoea, you should avoid aggravating substances like caffeine, soft drinks and alcohol - these also dehydrate you. Dairy, fatty, greasy foods, processed foods with added preservatives, spicy foods and foods that are hard to break down such as raw vegetables can also make the diarrhoea worse. Try to eat slow cooked foods, soups, stews and broths while you are suffering.
Slippery Elm Bark
Another natural remedy which can help is to take slippery elm bark. This coats the lining of the intestines to soothe and protect them from inflammation, and it adds bulk to the stool to help reduce watery diarrhoea. The dose is 1 teaspoon mixed in water twice per day.
A very common cause of diarrhoea is dysbiosis, which means that there is an imbalance in the gut bacteria. An overgrowth of a certain type of bacteria can cause diarrhoea.
Probiotics can help balance out the bacteria in the gut and ease diarrhoea – particularly Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria species.
Having diarrhoea is quite stressful, so it might be hard to tell if you were stressed before it started or you are stressed because of it. Your gut actually has its own nervous system called the enteric nervous system. Stress triggers the release of adrenaline, which causes movement in the large intestine and this is what can cause you to rush to the washroom.
90% of serotonin, your happy, feel-good hormone, is made in the gut. When there is altered serotonin signalling - meaning that too much stays in the gut - this can cause diarrhoea.
It is easier said than done to ‘relax’ while you are suffering from diarrhoea!
Do try to take some deep breaths, maybe listen to some guided meditations, do some yin yoga and rest if you can. Stress and gut symptoms are so closely related, so it will all help.
You can find more about acid reflux here.
About Sarah Spann
Sarah Spann is a Holistic Gut Health Consultant based in Brisbane, Australia. As an author, speaker, clinical nutritionist and wellness coach, she is dedicated to changing the paradigm of gut health and helping her clients to get back the freedom, energy, and vitality their digestive issues have taken away. Sarah’s passion is in empowering people to nurture themselves back to their most vibrant health so they can thrive in their lives.
Sarah was drawn to nutritional medicine after a long history of poor gut health including her diagnosis of celiac disease. With over 10 years of combined personal and clinical experience, and through working with many clients, Sarah has a deep understanding of the unique and holistic approach required to facilitate long-term gut healing.
Sarah’s qualifications include a Bachelor of Health Science (Nutritional Medicine) and Advanced Diploma of Nutritional Medicine. She is a registered nutritionist with the Australian Traditional Medicine Society.
Her work has been featured on Healthline, Food Shopper, and Health Magazine UK, amongst others. She has also featured in many interviews including the Humanley podcast, eHealth Radio Network and Ticker TV.