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General characteristics

General characteristics

Diarrhoea is defined as passing watery, liquid bowel movements containing no solids at all and often having a foul smell. The word diarrhoea comes from the Greek 'to flow through'.

A one off liquid bowel movement is not usually cause for concern but if 3 or more occur in a day or last for several days this is classed as diarrhoea and should be taken seriously as a symptom of an underlying disease process.

Diarrhoea can be caused by either bacteria, viruses or protozoa (microscopic creatures) and it is very easy to transmit the causative agent by hand, water and food. Its causes include infection with agents such as novovirus and rotavirus, E.coli, shigella, crytospiridium, cholera, salmonella, Giardia but can also arise from many other causes such as stress, food allergies and intolerance, heat exhaustion, appendicitis, irritable bowel, pancreatitis, teething in babies, colitis, crohns disease, hormonal changes and certain prescription drugs.

If the diarrhoea occurs as a result of a mild infection it should not be surpressed but allowed to run its course as it is the body's way of cleansing the system.

The biggest danger from diarrhoea is dehydration and loss of vital mineral salts due to excessive fluid loss via the faeces. If vomiting accompanies the diarrhoea then dehydration can set in very rapidly.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Plenty of water should be taken, little and often, to prevent dehydration.

Avoid drinks containing caffeine and alcohol as these will encourage dehydration.

Fresh watery foods such as raw or lightly steamed fruit and vegetables should be eaten if possible but avoid heavy, rich, fatty and spicy foods.

Spices that are beneficial in diarrhoea include ginger, turmeric and garlic.

Potassium broth will help to replace lost salts and electrolytes. Make this by gently simmering a handful each of cleaned fresh organic potato peelings, green leaves (such as celery tops, chard or spinach), carrot peel, beetroot, onions and a pinch of sea salt in a pan of water for about an hour. Strain off the liquid and drink throughout the day.

Grate a fresh organic apple and allow to go brown then eat with a spoon. The high pectin content in the apple will soothe inflamed and irritated intestines. The Russians eat this every 2 hours with no other food or medicine taken for the duration of the diarrhoea and swear by its effectiveness.

Fresh tomato juice with a pinch of salt and pepper added can be beneficial in mild diarrhoea. Take in the morning on an empty stomach.

Eating pomegranates or drinking the fresh juice can help.

Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Herbs such as psyllium seed, slippery elm and fenugreek seed will add bulk to the stools, soothe inflamed intestines and slow the transit time in the bowels allowing a little more fluid to be reabsorbed into the body. Put half a teaspoon of each in a pan with half a litre of water, bring to the boil and remove from heat. Drink the liquid, seeds and all (chewing well) slowly, sip by sip, up to 3 times daily.
The astringent herbs such as raspberry leaf, agrimony, lady's mantle, sage, bayberry, yarrow, meadowsweet, yarrow, cranesbill, oak bark, will tighten the membranes in the intestines and prevent excessive fluid loss from the blood vessels into the bowels thereby lessening the diarrhoea. Use any 3-4 of the above in combination, a teaspoon of the mix per cup up to 3 times daily.
Goldenseal can help in cases caused by bacteria, virus or protozoa. Add a pinch of the powder or a few drops of tincture to any of your drinks up to 4 times daily.
Ground ivy tea can also be useful as an anti-diarrhoeal herb.
Peppermint and chamomile tea will help calm the bowels and promote feelings of relaxation and rest. Use a teaspoon of each per cup and take 3 cups daily for mild diarrhoea.
Nettle tea can replace many salts and minerals lost through the diarrhoea. Drink strong cups (2 teaspoons per cup) for a few days after the diarrhoea has gone as a precaution.
Gentian drops (tincture) can help slow yellowish watery diarrhoea.

Natural healing

Natural healing

A good probiotic can help replenish and repopulate the bowel with beneficial bacteria.
Drink a glass of water with a teaspoon of salt and 2 teaspoons of sugar dissolved in it.
A teaspoonful of arrowroot powder in water can help rapidly.

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