When we eat, food is mixed with large amounts of water and fluid in the stomach. It then travels through the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. The digested food then moves into the colon where water is extracted and what remains is a semi-solid stool. If the colon doesn't absorb sufficient fluids or if the digestive system produces too much, our stool will be loose, resulting in a watery bowel movement -- diarrhea.
People of all ages can have diarrhea. Usually it means urgent, frequent trips to the bathroom with a greater stool volume. At times, cramping, abdominal pain, bloating, nausea, or vomiting can accompany it. Sometimes individuals also experience a fever or bloody stools. For the most part, if the diarrhea goes away by itself, within a day or two, there is no need for concern. If, however, it persists for over two weeks, then there may be a deeper health condition that should be addressed.
The most common causes of diarrhea are viral or bacterial toxins, food poisoning, and parasites. These usually represent the acute form of diarrhea, which can last up to a couple of weeks. Diarrhea can take on a more chronic form which is typified by digestive disturbances that last more than four weeks. Typically there is an underlying disorder that contributes to this form, including Crohn's Disease, food intolerances (celiac disease, lactose intolerance), irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, and reactions to medications. Sometimes heredity and surgery (such as the remove of the gallbladder) can be the cause as well.
Fortunately, there are a number of natural and alternative health remedies you can try to help get bouts of diarrhea under control.
Recommendations For Wellness
-- Most importantly, drink lots of water, preferably with electrolytes, to replace the water and salts that have been lost. This prevents dehydration.
-- Avoid beverages containing caffeine (such as tea, coffee, and soft drinks) and ones containing alcohol. Also, eliminate foods such as dairy products, raw vegetables, acidic fruits, whole-grain cereals, sugary foods, strong spices, and fried fatty foods. Each of these can be rough on the digestive system.
-- Eat foods that are easy to digest, including clear soup, crackers, rice, potatoes, applesauce (not juice), and bananas.
-- If you suspect a parasitic infection, it should be addressed and the parasites eliminated.
-- When traveling to developing countries, avoid drinking the tap water or eating uncooked or undercooked foods, ice, or fruits that cannot be peeled to prevent a parasitic infection.
-- To rule out food intolerances that may contribute to diarrhea, try an elimination diet.
-- Juice from pomegranates has long been used to relieve diarrhea.
-- Teas from herbs such as blackberry and raspberry leaf have a binding effect on the mucous membranes of the intestine and help the body absorb fluids, while reducing inflammation.
-- While typically thought of when talking about constipation, soluble fiber, including psyllium can help to absorb the excess fluid in the intestine as it adds bulk to your stool.
-- Chamomile tea is an age-old remedy for calming the nerves and may reduce intestinal cramping and ease irritation and inflammation.
-- Ginger root in tea or capsule form can eliminate the discomfort, nausea, and cramping often associated with diarrhea.
-- Take a tablespoon of natural apple cider vinegar every hour until the diarrhea resolves. The use of apple cider vinegar also helps to replenish the potassium and magnesium that are often lost with diarrhea.
-- Folic acid can be used to help repair any damage to the intestinal lining.
-- Supplement with a high quality probiotic such as acidophilus and bifidophilus to inhibit the bacteria that causes diarrhea, as well as a vitamin and mineral supplement to replace any that have been lost.
-- To help reduce the irritation to the walls of the intestinal track, supplement with marshmallow root or slippery elm or a combination like Nature's Sunshine's Irritable Bowel Fiber or Intestinal Soothe & Build.
Note: If you suffer from Crohn's disease or any chronic gastrointestinal disorder, avoid blackberry leaf and supplements that contain soluble fiber.
Naturopathic Physician, Dr. Rita Louise, Ph.D. is the author of the books Avoiding the Cosmic 2x4 and The Power Within. It is her unique gift as a medical intuitive and clairvoyant that illuminates and enlivens her work. Let Dr. Louise help you bring health healing and wholeness back into your life. Medical Intuition & Energy Medicine Certification training classes are now forming. Visit http://www.soulhealer.com or call (972) 475-3393 for more information.© 2007 Dr. Rita Louise
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