Alternative name : Loose motion
What is diarrhea?
Diarrhea refers to the frequent passage of loose or watery unformed stools. As a rough guide it can be said that three or four loose or watery stools a day can be considered as diarrhea. The disease may be acute or chronic. Commonly known as “loose motion”, it is perhaps the most common disease in India.
The intestine normally gets more than 10 litres of liquid per day which comes from the diet and from secretion of the stomach, liver, pancreas and intestines. In the case of diarrhea, water is either not absorbed or is secreted in excess by the organs of the body. It is then sent to the colon where water holding capacity is limited. Thus the urge to defecate comes quite often.
What are the causes of diarrhea?
There are many and varied causes of diarrhea. The chief causes are overeating or eating of wrong foods, putrefaction in intestinal tract, fermentation caused by incomplete carbohydrate digestion, nervous irritability, use of antibiotic drugs and excessive intake of laxatives. Other causes include parasites, germs, virus, bacteria or a poison which has entered into the body through food, water or air; allergies to certain substances or even common foods such as milk, wheat, eggs and sea foods and emotional strain or stress in adults and fright in children. Some of the common causes of diarrhea includes:
- Viruses, bacteria, and parasites.
- Food intolerance.
Diarrhea may be a prominent feature of organic disease affecting the small or large intestine such as the sprue syndrome, malignant disease and ulcerative colitis. It may also result from operations on the gastrointestinal tract. Diarrhea may alternate with constipation. This may result from the irritation of the mucous membrane by impacted hard feces. Diarrhea for prolonged periods can lead to certain complications. These may include
- Weakening, due to loss of vitamins like A. D, E and K and other nutrients as food is rushed through the body without giving the nutrients a chance of being absorbed.
- Dehydration, due to loss of body fluids and washing out of minerals from the body and nervous conditions.
What are the symptoms of diarrhea?
Some of the common symptoms of diarrhea includes:
Natural home remedies for the treatment of diarrhea
Buttermilk is one of the most effective home remedies in the treatment of diarrhea. Buttermilk is the residual milk left after the fat has been removed from curd by churning. It helps overcome harmful intestinal flora. The acid in the buttermilk also fights germs and bacteria. Buttermilk may be taken with a pinch of salt three or four times a day for controlling this disease.
2. Carrot Soup
Carrot soup is another effective home remedy for diarrhea. It supplies water to combat dehydration, replenishes sodium, potassium, phosphorus, calcium, sulphur, and magnesium, supplies pectin and coats the intestine to allay inflammation. It also checks the growth of harmful intestinal bacteria and prevents vomiting. Half a kilogram of carrots may be cooked in 150 ml of water until they become soft. The pulp should be strained and enough boiled water added to it to make a litre. Three quarters of a tablespoon of salt may be added. This soup should be given in small amounts to the patient every half an hour.
Mash a tender, just ready to eat banana (not over-ripe) and have with a cup of milk twice a day. It useful in diarrhea and dysentery.
4. Fenugreek Leaves
Fenugreek leaves are useful in diarrhea. One teaspoon of seeds which have been boiled and fried in butter should be taken with a cup of buttermilk twice daily. They are valuable in allaying biliousness. The seeds are also beneficial in the treatment of this disease.
In case of diarrhea caused by indigestion, dry or fresh ginger is very useful. A piece of dry ginger should be powdered along with a crystal of rock salt, and quarter of a teaspoon of this powder should be taken with a small piece of jaggery. It will bring quick relief as ginger, being carminative, aids digestion by stimulating the gastrointestinal tract.
6. Mint Juice
Mint juice is also beneficial in the treatment of diarrhea. One teaspoon of fresh mint juice, mixed with a teaspoon each of lime juice and honey, can be given thrice daily with excellent results in the treatment of this disease.
7. Bottle gourd
The juice of bottle gourd is a valuable medicine for excessive thirst due to severe diarrhea. A glass of plain juice with a pinch of salt should be taken every day in treating this condition .
8. Drumstick Leaves
The juice of fresh leaves of drumstick is also valuable in diarrhea. A teaspoon of this juice, mixed with a teaspoon of honey and a glass of tender coconut water, can be given two to three times as a herbal medicine in the treatment of diarrhea.
The pomegranate has proved beneficial in the treatment of diarrhea on account of its astringent properties. If the patient develops weakness due to profuse and continuous purging, he should repeatedly be given about 50 ml of pomegranate juice to drink. This will control the diarrhea.
10. Mango Seeds
Mango seeds are valuable in diarrhea. The seeds should be collected during the mango season, dried in the shade and powdered, and kept stored for use as a medicine when required. A dose of about one and a half to two grams with or without honey, should be administered twice daily.
11. Unripe Banana
Boil an unripe banana with the skin on. Let it simmer for 3-4 minutes on a low fire. Remove the skin of the banana and slice it. Heat two teaspoons of ghee in a vessel, splutter 2-3 cloves and add the sliced banana. Add one-fourth of a teaspoon of turmeric, one-fourth to half a teaspoon of rock salt, half a teaspoon of ground coriander seeds, and a tablespoon of yoghurt, or a cup of buttermilk. Cover and cook for a while. The unripe plantain or banana is astringent and antibilious.
12. Sesame Seeds
Sesame seeds are helpful in the treatment of this condition. Two tablespoons of the seeds should be lightly roasted in a frying pan. They should then be ground into a fine powder and mixed with one tablespoon of cow’s ghee. The mass should be divided into three parts and each part should be taken with half a cup of boiled goat’s milk thrice daily for six days by the patients. It acts as an excellent medicine in this condition.
Turmeric has proved to be another valuable home remedy for diarrhea. It is a very useful intestinal antiseptic. It is also a gastric stimulant and tonic. One teaspoon of fresh turmeric rhizome juice or one teaspoon of dry rhizome powder may be taken in one cup of buttermilk or plain water.
14. Banyan Tree Bark
Take a teaspoon of the dry powdered bark of the banyan tree. Make an infusion using a glass of hot water. Let it steep for a while. This water is ‘cooling’ and helps control diarrhea. Take half a glass of this infusion twice a day.
15. Curry Leaves
Crush a handful of fresh curry leaves. Grind them to a paste. Add one-fourth of a cup of water. Strain and have this curry-leaf juice with a teaspoon of honey once or twice a day. Chewing a few curry leaves twice a day will also help.
Summer diarrhea are usually self-limiting and need fluid replacement more than medicine. Drinking ORS (oral rehydrating solution) and eating the fresh, tender kernels of water chestnuts, known as shinghara, either fresh, boiled or roasted, with buttermilk, provides nourishment as well as fluid and minerals. This too has a binding action.