10 Natural Remedies For Diarrhea + Causes, Symptoms, And Prevention Tips

Medically reviewed by Dr. Millie Lytle, ND, MPH
by Pooja Karkala

Norovirus, one of the causes of infectious diarrhoea, is responsible for causing over 200,000 deaths in developing countries (1). A disease that can be easily prevented by following basic hygiene habits is claiming a lot of lives.

All of us have experienced bouts of diarrhea at some point in our lives. And you probably know how distressing the stomach cramps and bloating associated with it can be. Diarrhea is a medical condition that is characterized by frequent bowel movements with abnormally loose and watery stools.

Mild cases of diarrhea usually last only for a couple of days. However, in some cases, diarrhea can also be an indication of a potentially life-threatening condition. If you are looking for natural ways to stop diarrhea, check out this post. We have included some simple home remedies and tips that can help prevent diarrhea in the future. Read on.

Note: If you have mild to moderate bouts of diarrhea, these home remedies may help ease the symptoms. However, if the condition persists beyond a week, consult your healthcare provider.

Home Remedies To Treat Diarrhea

1. Lemon Water

The mixture of lemon juice, sugar, salt, and water is a popular remedy used by many to treat symptoms of diarrhea, like dehydration (2).

You Will Need

  • ½ lemon
  • 1 glass of water
  • A pinch of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar

What You Have To Do

  1. Squeeze the juice from half a lemon into a glass of water.
  2. Add a pinch of salt and two teaspoons of sugar to it.
  3. Mix well and drink up.

How Often You Should Do This

Sip on this mixture every few minutes.

2. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar has antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties (3), (4). It may help fight the microbes responsible for causing diarrhea and soothe the inflamed intestines.

You Will Need

  • 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 glass of water
  • Honey (optional)

What You Have To Do

  1. Add two teaspoons of apple cider vinegar to a glass of water.
  2. Mix well and add some honey to it.
  3. Drink the mixture.

How Often You Should Do This

You can drink this mixture 2-3 times a day until the symptoms subside.

3. Almond Milk

Adults and infants who are lactose-intolerant tend to develop diarrhea on consuming dairy products (5). Almond milk is a healthy and safe substitute (6).

You Will Need

Almond milk (as required)

What You Have To Do

Replace cow’s milk with almond milk in your cereals, smoothies, and other dishes.

How Often You Should Do This

You can make this a daily habit if you are lactose-intolerant.

4. Coconut Water

Coconut water can be used as a rehydration solution for people with mild symptoms of diarrhea. However, it should be used together with early refeeding (7).

You Will Need

1 glass of fresh young coconut water

What You Have To Do

Drink a glass of young coconut water daily.

How Often You Should Do This

You must preferably drink this concoction after every bout of diarrhea.

Caution: This remedy should not be used to treat symptoms of dehydration. It should also not be used for cholera or renal impairment.

5. Peppermint Essential Oil

The active constituent of peppermint oil is menthol. Menthol can help relieve abdominal pain that accompanies diarrhea and other IBS symptoms. Two studies published in Digestive Diseases And Sciences and Mymensingh Medical Journal also confirmed the same post sustained release of encapsulated peppermint oil in the small intestine (8), (9).

You Will Need

  • 1 drop of food-grade peppermint oil
  • 1 glass of warm water

What You Have To Do

  1. Add a drop of food-grade peppermint oil to a glass of warm water.
  2. Drink the solution.

How Often You Should Do This

You can drink this mixture 1-2 times daily.

6. Ginger

According to a study published in Yakugaku Zasshi, Journal of the Pharmaceutical Society of Japan, the acetone extract of ginger can help curb serotonin-induced diarrhea (10).

You Will Need

  • 1-2 inches of sliced ginger
  • 1 cup of water

What You Have To Do

  1. Add an inch or two of sliced ginger to a cup of water.
  2. Bring the mixture to a boil in a saucepan.
  3. Simmer and strain.
  4. Drink the warm ginger tea.

How Often You Should Do This

You can drink this mixture 2-3 times daily.

7. Green Tea

Among the many benefits of green tea, one is its ability to treat diarrhea in the affected individuals (11).

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon of green tea
  • 1 cup of hot water

What You Have To Do

  1. Steep a teaspoon of green tea in a cup of hot water for 5-7 minutes.
  2. Strain and drink the tea.

How Often You Should Do This

You can drink green tea 1-2 times daily.

8. Electrolyte Drinks (ORS)

Consumption of electrolyte drinks, such as sports drinks, as well as the ever-popular oral rehydration solution (ORS), may help alleviate the symptoms of dehydration that often accompany diarrhea (12).

You Will Need

  • 6 teaspoons of sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 liter of boiled water

What You Have To Do

  1. Add six teaspoons of sugar to a liter of water. Mix well until it dissolves.
  2. Add a teaspoon of salt to the solution and mix well.
  3. Drink a cup of the solution.

How Often You Should Do This

You may do this after every watery bowel movement you have.

9. Vitamin A

Vitamin A deficiency is often associated with an increased risk of diarrhea. Hence, restoring this deficiency can reduce the severity of the symptoms (13).

You Will Need

Vitamin A-rich foods or supplements

What You Have To Do

  1. Increase your intake of vitamin A-rich foods, like carrots, sweet potatoes, apricots, winter squash, cantaloupe, and spinach.
  2. You can also take additional supplements for this vitamin after talking to your doctor about the required dosage for you.

How Often You Should Do This

You can include small amounts of vitamin A-rich foods in your daily diet.

10. Rice Water

Rice water can cut down the number of stools without having any adverse effects on your health. It is especially great for treating diarrhea in infants that occurs as a result of infantile gastroenteritis in developing countries (14).

You Will Need

½ glass of rice water

What You Have To Do

  1. Strain the water from cooked rice.
  2. Consume half a glass of rice water after every bout of diarrhea.
  3. This remedy can also be used for children.

How Often You Should Do This

You can do this 2-3 times or more daily.

While these remedies work their magic, you can also make some changes to your diet for a speedy recovery.

What Foods Help Stop Diarrhea?

Diarrhea can be quite uncomfortable. Hence, you must be a little careful about what you eat. This is where the BRAT diet comes into play.

BRAT is “bananas, rice, apple, and toast.” These bland foods will be quite easy on your stomach and will not aggravate your condition any further (1).

It is also necessary that you drink lots of fluids to keep yourself well-hydrated.

Foods To Eat

The foods that can help ease symptoms of diarrhea include:

  • Clear broths
  • Bananas
  • Apples
  • Toast
  • White rice
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Yogurt

Foods To Avoid

Avoid these foods if you have diarrhea:

  • Dairy products
  • Fried or greasy foods
  • Spices
  • Raw vegetables
  • Caffeine
  • Citrus fruits
  • Raw vegetables
  • Pork
  • Processed foods
  • Alcohol
  • Artificial sweeteners

These foods may either be too heavy for your recovering tummy or may further aggravate your condition if they are already contaminated, like in the case of raw vegetables. Hence, exercise caution.

Here are a few additional tips to prevent the recurrence of diarrhea.

How To Prevent Diarrhea

  • Always wash your hands every time after using the washroom and also before you eat.
  • Wash your hands if you come in contact with any contaminants or pets/animals.
  • If you can’t get hold of water to wash your hands, use a sanitizer.
  • Be careful when you are traveling to a new place. Do not eat or drink until you are sure the food and drinks are safe to be consumed.
  • Wash your vegetables and fruits thoroughly before cooking them.
  • Cook all meats well.
  • Avoid eating uncooked or undercooked eggs.
  • Avoid using dairy that is not pasteurized. If you are lactose-intolerant, avoid dairy altogether.
  • Avoid handling food if you have diarrhea.
  • Limit caffeine, alcohol, and other foods that have laxative potential.

If you can think of any other possible hygiene tips that can help avoid diarrhea, add them to the above list and make sure you follow them religiously.

What causes diarrhea? Who is at risk of contracting this disease? Find out in the next section.

Causes And Risk Factors

Most cases of diarrhea are triggered by an infection in your gastrointestinal tract. Some common microbes that could be held responsible for triggering diarrhea are:

  • Viruses like Norwalk virus, cytomegalovirus, hepatitis, and rotavirus.
  • Bacteria like Salmonella, Campylobacter, Shigella, and Escherichia coli.
  • Other parasitic organisms like Cryptosporidium, Giardia lamblia, and Entamoeba histolytica.

In some cases, especially in chronic diarrhea, a clear cause may not be found. Such cases of chronic diarrhea are referred to as “functional.”

Other factors that can increase your risk of developing chronic diarrhea include:

  • Sensitivity to dairy products and/or artificial sweeteners
  • Stomach or gallbladder surgery
  • Hereditary or genetic conditions, like cystic fibrosis or enzyme deficiencies
  • Diseases of the pancreas or thyroid
  • Radiation therapy treatment of the abdominal or pelvic region
  • Consumption of uncooked meats
  • Swallowing water or swimming in contaminated water bodies
  • Traveling to countries with poor hygiene
  • Eating contaminated or unrefrigerated food
  • Close contact with an individual with gastroenteritis
  • Medications like laxatives and certain antibiotics can also trigger diarrhea.

There are mainly three types of clinical diarrhea.

Types Of Diarrhea

  • Acute Watery Diarrhea – It can last for several hours or even days. This type can also be caused due to cholera infection.
  • Acute Bloody Diarrhea – Blood is also noticed in the watery stool. This type is also referred to as dysentery.
  • Persistent Diarrhea – It lasts for 14 days or more.

Other than the characteristic watery stool, diarrhea may be accompanied by the following symptoms.

Signs And Symptoms

The common signs and symptoms associated with diarrhea include:

  • Stomach ache
  • Bloating
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Weight loss
  • Increased thirst
  • Fever

Other symptoms may include:

  • Presence of blood in the stool
  • Pus in the stool
  • Dehydration
  • Persistent vomiting

If you notice such symptoms along with chronic diarrhea, it could be an indication of a more severe illness. Most cases of diarrhea may ease on their own without treatment. However, in some cases, it is important to seek medical intervention.

When To See A Doctor

If your infant has had 6 bouts of watery bowel movements and 3 or more bouts of vomiting in 24 hours, do not waste any time in consulting a doctor. Children above 1 year should also be taken to a doctor if they have experienced 6 or more bouts of diarrhea in 24 hours.

You must also see a doctor immediately if you notice certain symptoms like:

  • Continuous vomiting
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Significant loss of weight
  • Pus or blood in stool that may also turn the stool black
  • Dehydration

Once you visit a doctor, they may do the following to diagnose diarrhea.

Diagnosis

Most often, doctors can diagnose diarrhea without having to carry out any additional tests as two or more watery stools a day indicates the condition without the need for any further diagnosis (1).

But, in severe cases, your doctor may suggest you take a stool test. This is done especially if the patient is very young or old.

For chronic and persistent cases of diarrhea, your doctor may ask you to take any of the following tests depending on the suspected cause:

  • Full blood count – a low or raised blood count may indicate inflammation.
  • Liver function test to test your albumin levels.
  • Malabsorption tests to check the absorption of vitamin B12, calcium, and folate. Your iron status and thyroid functions may also be assessed.
  • Testing for antibodies – as it can indicate Celiac disease.
  • Erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein levels – Raised levels are usually an indication of inflammatory bowel disease.

If an underlying cause is responsible for causing diarrhea, the doctor may suggest further treatments accordingly.

Diarrhea is a condition that is rather easy to manage by paying a little bit of attention to your day-to-day hygiene habits. However, if there is an underlying cause of your symptoms, it is best to seek medical intervention.

Expert’s Answers For Readers’ Questions

Why do I get diarrhea after eating?

Experiencing symptoms of diarrhea every time after you eat something is known as postprandial diarrhea. The underlying causes of this kind of diarrhea may include infection, food poisoning, IBS, lactose intolerance, or certain medications.

What is the best thing to drink when you have diarrhea?

You should drink 8 glasses of fluids like fruit juices without pulp, broth, soda (without caffeine), and sports drinks to alleviate dehydration that often results from diarrhea.

How long does diarrhea usually last?

Diarrhea caused by an infection often lasts for no more than 3-5 days. If your symptoms last for more than 4-6 weeks, you most probably have an underlying gastrointestinal condition.

How do you know if your baby has diarrhea?

If your baby has 6 or more bouts of watery bowel movements in 24 hours, he/she has diarrhea and must be taken to a doctor immediately to prevent further health complications.

Can you have diarrhea in early pregnancy?

The shifting hormones, diet changes, and stress are all factors that contribute to many changes in your body during pregnancy, including diarrhea and constipation.

How to prevent traveler’s diarrhea?

Here are some tips that can help prevent traveler’s diarrhea:
• Drink only bottled water.
• Use bottled water even for brushing your teeth.
• Avoid consuming ice that may be made with tap water.
• Eat vegetables that are cooked. Avoid eating them raw.
• Make sure that all foods that you eat, including dairy, seafood, and meat, are properly boiled and/or cooked.
• If the area you are traveling to has had a recent outbreak of hepatitis, take the vaccination for the same before commencing your trip.

14 sources

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Pooja Karkala

Pooja is a Mass Communications and Psychology graduate. Her education has helped her develop the perfect balance between what the reader wants to know and what the reader has to know. As a classical dancer, she has long, black hair, and she knows the struggle that goes into maintaining it. She believes in home remedies and grandma’s secrets for achieving beautiful, luscious hair. When she is not writing, she learns Kuchipudi, practices yoga, and creates doodles.
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