- Stools (Loose)
Principal Proposed Natural Treatments
Other Proposed Natural Treatments
- Food Allergen Identification and Avoidance
- Green Banana
- Red Raspberry
- Sangre de Drago
- Slippery Elm
- Tormentil Root (Potentilla tormentilla)
- Witch Hazel
- Wood Creosote
Supplements to Avoid
Diarrhea, or loose bowel movements, can occur for many reasons. Food poisoning and infections are the most common causes of acute (short-lived) diarrhea. Chronic diarrhea may be caused by ongoing illnesses of the digestive tract, such as inflammatory bowel disease and irritable bowel syndrome . Conventional treatment for diarrhea involves addressing the cause, if possible, and, in some cases, treating symptoms with medications that slow down the action of the digestive tract.
Principal Proposed Natural TreatmentsSupplements called probiotics have shown considerable promise for safely preventing or treating various kinds of diarrhea. The following section summarizes much of the evidence regarding this treatment. For more information, see the full Probiotics article.
ProbioticsCertain bacteria and fungi play a helpful role in the body. For this reason, they are known collectively as probiotics (literally, "pro life"). Some of the most common include the yeast Saccharomyces boulardii and the following bacteria:
- Lactobacillus acidophilus
- L. bulgaricus
- L. reuteri (often studied in the proprietary form Lactobacillus GG )
- L. plantarum
- L. casei
- B. bifidus
- Saccharomyces salivarius
- Streptococcus thermophilus
Other Proposed Natural TreatmentsA large (255-participant), double-blind, placebo-controlled study found that use of a product containing apple pectin combined with chamomile significantly improved symptoms of acute diarrhea in children aged 6 months to six years. 74 A small double-blind study found that an extract of tormentil root ( Potentilla tormentilla ) reduced the severity and duration of rotavirus infection in children. 64 Another study of the same herb found that it was approximately equally effective as the drug loperamide for the treatment of nonspecific diarrhea in adults. 65 The herbal extract was particularly effective for reducing symptoms of abdominal cramping. A preliminary, double-blind study found that an extract of the Amazonian herb sangre de drago might be helpful for diarrhea associated with HIV infection . 46 The supplement medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) has also shown promise for this purpose. 47 Wheat germ might enhance the effects of standard treatments for giardiasis. 48 A double-blind clinical trial of 41 infants with diarrhea found that carob powder (at a dose of 1 g/kg daily) significantly speeded resolution of diarrhea as compared to placebo. 44 The herb Eleutherococcus might be useful in the treatment of antibiotic-associated diarrhea. 49 Brewer’s yeast, a bitter-tasting product recovered from the beer-making process, might be helpful as well. 50,51 The herb goldenseal contains berberine, a substance with antimicrobial properties. One study suggests that berberine can help in diarrhea caused by E. coli bacteria. 52 However, it is not clear that goldenseal itself would have the same effect. The herbs barberry and Oregon grape also contain berberine. Allergy to milk and other foods may trigger diarrhea. 53 Milk can also cause diarrhea in a completely different way—through lactose intolerance . This condition is the inability to digest milk sugar, and it occurs in many adults. Use of the enzyme lactase should help. 53 Weak (and in some cases inconsistent) evidence partially supports the use of the following as treatments for various forms of diarrhea: colostrum , 29-40 a special extract of egg yolk, 78 fiber, 45folate , 41,42 and green banana. 43Zinc has been shown to be beneficial for acute diarrhea in children, the most convincing evidence coming from studies done in developing countries. This suggests that zinc is most useful for this condition in the presence of a nutritional deficiency. 85,86 Other herbs that are suggested for diarrhea but have no meaningful supporting evidence include agrimony, bilberry , blackberry leaf, marshmallow , oak bark , red raspberry , slippery elm , and witch hazel . The supplement glutamine has been advocated for chronic diarrhea, but again there is no meaningful supporting evidence. Wood creosote is the principal ingredient in Seirogan. Seirogan is a widely used traditional herbal treatment for diarrhea. It has undergone a certain amount of safety testing and appears to be relatively safe, at least for short-term use. Efficacy, however, is unclear. 66Acupuncture has been studied for its beneficial effects on diarrhea, but to date there is no compelling evidence for its effectiveness. 55-59 This topic is also discussed in the Homeopathy database, under the chapter on diarrhea.
Supplements to AvoidExcessive intake of vitamin C or magnesium can cause diarrhea.
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- Reviewer: EBSCO CAM Review Board
- Review Date: 09/2014
- Update Date: 09/18/2014