Everybody has faced diarrhea at some stage in their lives, and let’s face it, it is not a pleasant experience. When I think of diarrhea, I associate desperate and rushed trips to the toilet, dehydration, cramps, and discomfort with it. It is not a condition that you want to experience when you are at work or in a public place.
In a desperate attempt to stop diarrhea as quickly as possible, many people will turn to over-the-counter medications. While this may be a short-term solution to the problem, in the long run, it is always healthier to turn to natural remedies to combat a bout of diarrhea. How do you stop diarrhea fast using natural remedies? The simple answer is by changing your diet and trying herbal remedies that have been relied on for centuries.
If you have experienced diarrhea before, you may want to keep this article handy if it comes around again!
What is diarrhea?
When you are desperately looking for your toilet more than three times a day because you have a loose and watery stool, then you are experiencing diarrhea.
When you have these watery bowel movements your body quickly loses much-needed fluids and nutrients including, potassium, chloride, and sodium. These minerals are crucial for the body because they affect the amount of water the body retains. Having diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration.
Diarrhea is commonly caused by a virus or from eating infected or contaminated foods. It can also be an indicator of other disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome or inflammatory bowel disease.
A lot of discomfort is felt when diarrhea is present and painful cramps and fever often join hand in hand with the watery stools. I recommend staying close to the toilet, you do not want to be too far away when the control behind the watery stools is limited!
What is the BRAT diet?
The “BRAT” diet is an abbreviation of the following foods that are known to alleviate diarrhea symptoms:
This diet is not intended for weight-loss and it is definitely not suitable to use as a long-term diet.
The BRAT diet is a short-term remedy for diarrhea that is low in protein, fat, and fibre which in turn does its part to make loose stools firmer and provides potassium to the body. There are other foods that can also be used to combat diarrhea, but these are the main foods that make up this low-fibre diet and get to work fast to stop diarrhea.
Benefits of the “BRAT” diet
The main benefit of the BRAT diet is that the foods included are considered “binding foods” which quickly act to stop diarrhea fast and to relieve uncomfortable symptoms. This diet helps provide relief because:
- It encourages firmer stools: The foods included are low in fibre and higher in starch which helps bind and harden loose stools.
- It is gentle on the stomach: Because the foods are low in fats and proteins that can cause irritation.
- It helps reduced nausea: No strong-smelling foods are included.
- It includes bananas: This fruit is high in potassium and helps replace the nutrients that are lost through the watery bowel movements.
How to follow the BRAT diet
The first six hours
If you have been experiencing nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting it is best to let your stomach settle for a period of one to two hours and to not chew on anything. You can suck on an ice Popsicle if needed. Thereafter you can move onto chips of ice and sips of water if you are still experiencing symptoms.
The first 24 hours (Day One)
Once the vomiting has ceased and diarrhea has started to subside then sipping clear fluids every ten minutes should be your next step. Sip on liquids such as water, and apple juice. A small bowl of clear broth or soup is also recommended. If your diarrhea and nausea start again then you need to start from the beginning of the process and eat or drink nothing for about an hour.
The second day (Day Two)
You can now start to add some bland foods to your diet such as rice, applesauce, toast, bananas, jelly, and some cooked cereals that are not too heavy on your stomach.
The third day (Day Three)
If all goes well, now is the time to start your progression into a more regular diet and to slowly add foods such as stewed fruits, vegetables, and white meat such as chicken or turkey.
Other foods that are usually well-tolerated when experiencing diarrhea include:
- Boiled potatoes with no skin
- Baked chicken with no skin
- Chicken soup
Foods to avoid
We have all done it, or at least I know I have. During a bout of diarrhea, I ate something that only made it worse and set me back with symptoms that were worse than before.
The foods included in the BRAT diet are excellent for binding your stomach and easing the symptoms of diarrhea, do not jump into other foods too quickly, and be very cautious of the foods that can trigger nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. There are some foods that need to be avoided unless you are happy to continue with the desperate bathroom dashes.
The following foods should be avoided for a few days after your symptoms have gone away:
- Coffee and caffeinated cold drinks.
- Dairy products, such as milk, cheese, and ice cream because these can be very difficult to digest especially when you are struggling with an irritated stomach. Instead, try some natural, plain yogurt as this contains probiotics that can aid in digestion.
- Foods high in sugar content as these can worsen your symptoms significantly. Artificial sweeteners should also be avoided as these contain substances that can cause diarrhea.
- Fried foods or foods that are high in fat because greasy foods can make diarrhea worse.
- Alcohol because it is a diuretic and can contribute to dehydration and cause stomach irritation.
- Spicy foods because they irritate the stomach lining.
- Citrus fruits such as tomatoes, pineapples, and oranges as these can also irritate the lining of the stomach.
- Certain vegetables such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage can cause gas and bloating. This can worsen your stomach cramps. Broccoli was my worst mistake and my nemesis whilst suffering from diarrhea!
- Food such as steak, pork, and salmon are heavy proteins and are difficult to digest. Eating these foods can cause unnecessary stress on an already sensitive stomach.
Herbal Remedies for Diarrhea
You have the foods in the BRAT diet handy, but what else can you turn to when you want to stop diarrhea fast?
Let’s take a lot at some excellent herbal remedies.
Sipping on chamomile tea can help reduce stomach gas, diarrhea, and cramps due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
Steep 1 tablespoon or 2 grams of dried chamomile leaves in 1 cup of hot water. Allow to steep for 5-minutes and drink slowly.
Berry leaf teas
Blueberry, blackberry, and raspberry leaves decrease inflammation and the secretion of fluids in the intestines due to the tannins they contain.
Studies have suggested that ginger can assist in the treatment of diarrhea and other abdominal issues. It can help prevent nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain, and promotes healthy digestion. Ginger is believed to be one of the best cures for diarrhea caused by eating contaminated food.
If you have diarrhea, you can eat fresh ginger or use it to make tea. When I make ginger tea, I use freshly grated ginger steeped in boiling water and I add a little lemon and honey to taste, which are both excellent for helping relieve diarrhea too!
For more information on the natural healing benefits of ginger, click here!
Turmeric contains a chemical called curcumin. This natural compound helps reduce bowel movements to aid in the fight against diarrhea and stomach pain, especially in people who suffer from Chrohn’s disease.
The leaves of the Cinnamomum Tamala plant are commonly used in folk and ayurvedic medicines to treat diarrhea. This plant has antimicrobial, anti-diarrhoeal, and anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve a bout of diarrhea.
Guava leaf extract can soothe the intestinal tract muscle and assist in slowing down the chemical processes present in diarrhea. Guava leaf extract has antimicrobial properties that help neutralize harmful gut microbes that may be causing diarrhea.
This perennial plant has sterile and anti-inflammatory features that make it extremely effective in the treatment of diarrhea. Yarrow has antispasmodic effects and can help ease those painful stomach spasms. This plant also contains several flavonoids and alkaloids; these plant compounds are known to relieve digestive issues such as diarrhea.
Drinking yarrow tea is beneficial for quickly easing diarrhea.
This plant belongs to the pea family and has a binding effect on the mucous membranes of the intestinal tract. It is a great remedy to use when treating infants and small children suffering from diarrhea.
Carob powder is commonly used to treat diarrhea. Carob is high in a polyphenol called tannin. Research has found that giving tannin-rich carob powder, together with an oral rehydration fluid, is excellent for quickly relieving diarrhea and its associated symptoms. It can be given to babies as young as 3 months.
Barberry contains a rich source of berberine, an alkaloid that is a naturally occurring nitrogen compound. Berberine has antiprotozoal properties which make it effective for treating diarrhea because it inhibits the protozoans that cause diarrhea. Barberry can be consumed as a tea or as fresh berries.
Peppermint has excellent natural medicinal properties and offers a soothing effect to people who are suffering from pains, aches, flatulence, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. Peppermint essential oil contains the active ingredient, menthol, which has antispasmodic effects because it blocks calcium channels in the intestines. Using peppermint essential oil can help relieve stomach cramps, limit bowel inflammation, soothe the digestive tracts, and reduce diarrhea.
Other natural remedies for diarrhea
- Lemon juice:
Squeeze half a lemon into a glass of water and slowly sip on this throughout the day. Lemon juice has high anti-inflammatory and acidic properties which helps restore the PH balance of the body and settle irritable intestines. Lemon juice also contains magnesium and potassium which helps replace the nutrients the body loses during diarrhea.
- Honey: Studies have proven that honey can shorten the duration of diarrhea with its antibacterial properties.
Avoid the toilet runs!
It is uncomfortable and I personally feel embarrassed when my stomach is rumbling at its loudest in the bathroom and letting everyone in the house know that “moms got the runs”! There is, however, hope when turning to the natural remedies above and when using the BRAT diet. Always remember to stay hydrated and wash your hands regularly so that you do not pass it on to the next person if you have a stomach virus!
Remember to consult your doctor if your symptoms persist beyond two days or if you have a fever, rectal pain, or bleeding. Similarly, you should consult with your doctor if you are showing signs of dehydration such as dry mouth, thirst, dizziness, weakness, and reduced urine output. Diarrhea can become serious if left untreated!
Until next time