Diarrhea – a common and uncomfortable digestive disorder – is characterized by abdominal pain, bloating, cramping, nausea and frequent loose, watery stools. Typically caused by parasites, bacterial or viral infections, most cases of diarrhea are temporary and will clear up on their own within a few days without extensive treatment. You can help speed up the recovery process with the following:
- Replenish lost fluids, salts, and electrolytes to prevent dehydration – drink electrolyte-rich formulas such as Pedialyte or coconut water.
- Avoid certain foods that trigger or worsen symptoms, including milk and other dairy products; caffeine and alcohol; and greasy, fatty and spicy foods.
- Follow the "BRAT" diet, an acronym for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. These foods should be added to the diet; however, they should not replace a normal, well-balanced diet.
- Carob powder can help soothe irritated intestines. Start with one tablespoon, mixed with some applesauce, cinnamon and honey to make it palatable. Take it on an empty stomach.
- Blackberry root bark (Rubus macropetalus) contains tannins, which have a desirable astringent action on the intestinal lining. Take a teaspoon of tincture in water every two to four hours.
- Probiotics help repopulate the digestive tract with healthy bacteria. Take one tablespoon of the liquid culture or one to two capsules with meals unless the label directs otherwise. (It is particularly important to take probiotics twice a day, with meals, as soon as you begin taking antibiotics. Continue the twice-daily ingestion of probiotics for a few days after completing the course of antibiotics.)
Anti-diarrheal medications – such as loperamide (Imodium) and bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto-Bismol) and kaolin pectin suspension (Kaopectate) – can reduce the severity of symptoms but won’t speed recovery. If you experience diarrhea that lasts longer than three days, or stool that contains pus or looks bloody or tarry, contact your physician.
Everyone's dietary needs are different based on a number of factors including lifestyle, diet, medications and more. To find out what vitamins you need, take the Weil Vitamin Advisor. This 3-step questionnaire requires just minutes to complete, and generates a free, no-obligation vitamin and nutritional supplement recommendation that is personalized to meet your unique nutritional needs.
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