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Gastro-enteritis

General characteristics


General characteristics

The word gastroenteritis is an umbrella term that describes inflammation of the stomach and intestines, usually due to some sort of infection with either a virus, bacteria or parasites. Toxic byproducts from the infective agents are released into the body and cause reactive changes in the walls of the intestinal tract such as irritation and inflammation.
Gastroenteritis usually comes on rather suddenly and symptoms include diarrhoea, pain and discomfort in the abdomen, weakness and tiredness, fever, nausea or vomiting and loss of appetite. It is usually caused by eating or drinking contaminated foods or through close contact with someone already infected, contact with animals or birds, from contaminated seafoods, some medications (antibiotics, cancer treatments and laxatives), food allergies or environmental toxins.
It is very similar to food poisoning in that the symptoms are virtually identical but food poisoning is caused by directly ingesting a food or liquid (such as infected foods or poisonous plants) that contains substances that irritate the intestinal lining.
Most cases clear up on their own within a few days but complications can include dehydration, irritable bowel syndrome and shock, especially in those who are already ill or in children and the elderly.
It is important to let the diarrhoea run its course as this is the body's way of cleaning out the digestive system but should be slowed if it remains for more than a few days.

Diet and lifestyle

Diet and lifestyle

Get plenty of rest during the illness.

Most people agree on a short fast in the early stages as solid food adds a high work load to an already struggling digestive system. Avoid solid food for the first day or two, instead drink diluted vegetable juices and potassium broth (see below). If you need some solid food stick to things like mashed banana, stewed apple or pear and boiled white rice as these are gentle on digestion.

Drink lots of fluids in the form of water, diluted fresh juices and herbal teas to replace lost fluids and prevent dehydration.

Potassium broth is packed with electrolytes and nutrients that are lost through diarrhoea and vomiting. Fill a large pot with 25% potato peelings, 25% carrot and beetroot peelings, 25% chopped onions and garlic, 25% celery and green leaves. Cover with spring water and bring to the boil, simmering on a very low heat for about an hour. Season with herbs or spices to suit your taste (not salt) and leave to stand until ready to drink at lunchtime. Strain and drink throughout the day. Remember to use only organic vegetables to avoid burdening the system with toxic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers etc.


Useful herbs

Useful herbs

Chamomile is anti-inflammatory and inactivates certain bacterial toxins so use together with peppermint for a very useful, intestinal soothing tea. Use a teaspoon of each per cup, 3 cups daily.

Try a cup of centaury tea or 40 drops of tincture 3 times daily.

Combine a tablespoonful of the powders of slippery elm, marshmallow root and fenugreek seeds in a cup and add enough warm water to mix a thick paste. This will provide a soft bulky, nutritious, soothing and healing porridge like meal. Add a pinch of cinnamon powder and eat from a spoon for the first few days of infection.

Take a teaspoon of echinacea tincture up to 4 times daily to help the immune system.

Strong plantain leaf tea can also help to soothe and heal.


Natural healing

Natural healing

Take a teaspoon of cider vinegar in some water a few times daily. It contains numerous nutrients and both encourages the growth of good gut bacteria and discourages the growth of harmful bacteria in the intestines.
Untreated honey is an excellent way to help rehydrate the body. Add a teaspoon to herbal teas, cider vinegar drink or just eat off the spoon. Honey lessens vomiting and speeds recovery.

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