Symptom of digestive troubles that are quite frequent even though they aren’t severe, diarrhea disturbs the patient’s daily schedule to the point of becoming a nightmare when it lasts for too long.
If not cared for quickly and effectively, diarrhea can even be fatal, especially in countries without a sturdy health system up yet.
According to key figures published by the World Health Organization, diarrhea is the second leading cause of infantile death, especially among those aged 5 and lower for which 18% are concerned.
This isn’t the case in more industrialized countries.
There are several different types of diarrhea, related to their cause and source. What alert signals can we rely on beforehand? Can this intestinal transit disorder be alleviated with plants? How best to proceed?
Let’s have a look around…
Diarrhea – what is there to know?
Diarrhea is defined as being the ejection of excessively soft stools, even to the point of being liquid. These stools are generally abundant and occur more often than usual (more than 3 occurrences of 10 oz (300 g) per day). They can be followed by blood or mucus as well as other symptoms.
This intestinal disorder can last up to 1 or 2 days and eventually disappear without any particular treatment.
Different types of diarrhea and symptoms
In some diarrhea cases, stools emitted are like “water” or transparent liquid.
They are often paired with intestinal cramps and abdominal pain, and in some cases include cold sweating and shivering.
There are several types of diarrhea, among which:
– Acute diarrhea typically consisting of liquid stools followed by headaches, muscle pain and sometimes transitory fever.
– Chronic diarrhea when they last over 4 weeks.
Symptoms of this type of diarrhea are among others lymph nodes, vomiting, greasy stools, fever, infrequent urinating, edema in the lower limbs and a general change in demeanor of the patient associated to weight loss.
Other types include:
– Traveller’s diarrhea, usually due to infectious food poisoning.
– False diarrhea which comprises indigestion, bilious attack, constipation-related diarrhea, anal incontinence, athlete’s diarrhea or irritable colon syndrome.
Source and causes of diarrhea
For certain types of diarrhea, the causes are easier to identify than for others.
Summarily, remember that:
– acute diarrhea is triggered in the case of bacterial or viral gastroenteritis, pseudomembranous colitis (very severe colon inflammation), dietary toxi-infections (collective or individual), parasite infections, organ infections that may affect the digestive tract (appendicitis, peritonitis, endometriosis), gluten intolerance, certain antibiotic treatments that impact the intestinal flora, and of course anxiety or other causes of intense emotions (school exams…).
When ingesting food that is contaminated with bacteria or a toxin is involved (meat or dairy products), diarrhea appears a few hours later, followed by nausea, vomiting and fever.
These types of diarrhea are attributed to viruses (enterovirus), germs (colibacillus, salmonella) or parasites (amoebae).
– Chronic diarrhea have many possible causes because of the pathologies and triggers that are involved.
They can be due to regular ingestion of laxatives, acceleration of intestinal transit, microscopic colitis, improperly digested food, chronic intestinal inflammatory diseases, a “leak” of blood constituents in the digestive tract, and in very rare cases an effusion of gastric juices in the digestive tract.
When to naturally treat diarrhea
Aficionados of natural treatments, did you know that diarrhea also can be treated in that manner? This is how you might treat your diarrhea naturally:
- Blackberry thorns
Common in forest underbrush, growing in hedges along the side of pastures and even along countryside roads, blackberry thorns are small shrubs with lots of thorns which present medicinal properties beneficial in the case of diarrhea.
Indeed, blackberry thorn is often prescribed to treat chronic diarrhea because of the anti-diarrhoeal properties that it boasts. A precious plant, its fruits, leaves and roots thus have unexpected curative properties.
To alleviate your suffering, a blackberry thorn infusion or herbal tea is recommended.
To prepare it, in an adequate container, bring water to boiling point. Add dried blackberry thorn leaves (1 teaspoon dried leaves for 7 fl. oz. (200 ml) water) and let sit for more or less 10 minutes. Drink from this 3 times a day until symptoms disappear completely.
- Lady’s mantle
A perennial for which the therapeutic benefits of its leaves are well-known in herbalism, lady’s mantle acts upon the digestive tract thanks to its tonifying properties that help tissues contract, and other anti-diarrhoeal properties. This medicinal plant registered on French and international Pharmacopea lists consequently increases risk of constipation.
To alleviate light diarrhea, prepare an infusion with 0.07 to 0.15 oz (2 to 4.5 g) of dried leaves infused in 7 fl. oz. (200 ml) water. Drink 2 to 3 cups a day until symptoms disappear.
- Black currant
Anti-diarrhoeal health benefits of black currant are due to the pectin contained in its berries. To alleviate light diarrhea, it it is a good idea to drink it in the form of juice.
If you prefer bud base tincture: ingest 1 to 1½ oz (30 to 50 g), 3 times a day.
Or decoction: drink ½ glass black currant juice, 2 to 3 times a day, before 5 pm (17 h).
Good to know
Very often, dehydration is the immediate consequence of diarrhea due to excessive water and mineral loss via the stools. Patients, and in particular children and elderly persons, must drink a lot of water to compensate that.
Treatment for traveler’s diarrhea is the same as that for acute diarrhea. However, it is important to submit to simple hygienic practices: cook thoroughly, boil or peel food before eating it.
Ingesting black currant is not recommended for pregnant women.
As for lady’s mantle, taking it should be associated to many precautions for persons prescribed oral contraceptives.
This advice does not replace a consultation with a doctor or pharmacist, especially if the symptoms occur over an extended span of time or increase in intensity.