Natural diarrhea remedies aren’t something that gets talked about much. I guess people just don’t like talking about bathroom issues.
So, it may come as a surprise that diarrhea is one of the top causes of death for children under five worldwide. (Source). The dehydration that diarrhea causes can be deadly for adults too.
Because of how dangerous diarrhea is, it is important to have emergency diarrhea medicines in your first aid kit at all times. In times of emergencies though, we don’t always have access to meds. This is a bigger problem than you might think. Just consider the outbreaks of GI ailments which occur after natural disasters.
To treat diarrhea naturally without medications, you’ve got to understand what causes diarrhea in the first place.
- Viral Infections: This is the most common cause of diarrhea. Antibiotics do not help with viral infections. You’ve got to wait for your body to tackle the virus on its own. Immune-boosting remedies can help though.
- Bacterial Infections: This often occurs in unhygienic circumstances, such as after flooding or when there is a boil alert for water. Bacterial infections are also the cause of traveler’s diarrhea.
- Contaminated Water: Even if a water source looks clean, you should never drink backcountry water without treating it first. There are bacteria and protozoa lurking there!
How to Treat without Medications
Remember that diarrhea is your body’s way of naturally getting rid of harmful agents in the body. In many cases, you actually don’t want to stop the diarrhea. Rather, you need to focus on treating the diarrhea on all fronts.
To effectively treat diarrhea naturally, you’ll need to focus on 4 things:
- Rehydration: It is the dehydration that diarrhea causes which is deadly. The best treatment is to stay hydrated.
- Soothing Stomach: Diarrhea often results in painful inflammation and bloating. Natural remedies can help with this.
- Killing the Pathogen: Natural antibiotics and antiviral remedies can kill the root cause of the diarrhea.
- Resetting Gut Flora: Gut flora are all of the natural bacteria and microorganisms which live in your gut. If you have an infection, then your gut flora can become unbalanced and needs to be reset.
A lot of the natural remedies listed here are plant-based. To use them, you will need to make a tea, powder, or tincture out of them.
Tincturing is usually considered the best way of making your own natural medications. It is easy to do and the tincture can last a long time.
The following video will show you how to tincture.
1. Homemade Rehydration Solution (aka Electrolytes or Pedialyte)
I always keep electrolyte packets (Amazon Link) in my first aid kit (and have had to use them more times than I’d like). They are also great for hangovers or for those days you simply forgot to drink enough water.
The reason this natural hydration remedy works better than plain water is because water doesn’t hydrate the body by itself. You need electrolytes to regulate the exchange of water molecules between cells.
If you forget this recipe, just remember that electrolyte solutions should be no saltier than tears. The amount of sugar doesn’t matter as much towards rehydration.
- Six teaspoons of sugar
- ½ teaspoon of salt
- 1 liter safe drinking water
Consume electrolyte solution after each bowel movement. Adults should consume at least 3 quarts/liters of the remedy per day until feeling better.
- Children under two: About ¼ to ½ a cup at a time.
- Older children and adults: About ½ to 1 cup at a time.
- Coconut water: A great natural source of electrolytes. You can use it instead of water in the recipe above.
- Rice water: The water from soaked or cooked rice is great for hydration. Too bad it tastes gross.
- Lemon juice, orange juice, or banana: Feel free to add these to your rehydration solutions. They contain natural electrolytes and some calories.
- Honey: Instead of sugar, you can use honey in your rehydration solution.
2. Natural Stomach Soothers
There are a lot of great plants that can help heal your upset stomach. The natural remedies listed here are all easy to find in North America. You can even forage many of them.
The reason that these plants work for treating diarrhea naturally is because they contain tannins. Tannins cause tissues to contract and tighten, which helps improve fluid retention and can stop bleeding in dysentery.
Some of these are so powerful that they can immediately stop diarrhea.
Some of the plants also have other properties which help treat diarrhea naturally, such as by having antibiotic properties and reducing inflammation.
These are a good source of tannins to stop diarrhea and are also rich in the minerals you’ll need to replace lost nutrients.
The leaves and roots are particularly good sources of tannin’s. You can also use the fruit for stopping diarrhea too though.
Best known as a natural treatment for coughs, mullein is also a potent anti-diarrheal remedy and fights inflammation.
Peppermint tea is one of the best known natural remedies for diarrhea and upset stomach. It helps by relaxing the GI tract muscles so painful spasms don’t occur.
Cinnamon has antibacterial properties which can treat diarrhea naturally. It also reduces pain, bloating, and relieves gas.
Best known for its ability to stop nosebleeds, there are many medicinal benefits to yarrow. It helps kill bacteria and yeast that can cause diarrhea.
This one acts as a thickening agent which binds stools together and can quickly stop diarrhea.
This calms the stomach. It is also rich in a natural antibiotic called berberine and can cure protozoan or bacterial-induced illness.
Even though psyllium is often used as a laxative, it can help diarrhea because it grabs water. It will cause stools to bind together.
Black walnut is particularly effective at treating diarrhea from intestinal parasites or worms. To use, make a tincture out of fresh black walnut hulls (while they are still green colored).
A potent anti-inflammatory agent, agrimony helps calm the GI tract and treat digestion issues.
3. Natural Antibiotics
Even if you have emergency antibiotics stockpiled, you might not want to reach for them right away. Most cases of diarrhea are caused by viruses – not bacteria. Taking antibiotics won’t help in these cases. Antibiotics might even make the diarrhea worse by disrupting gut flora. And there is the risk of antibiotic resistant bacteria…
Natural antibiotics are often more effective than pharmaceuticals for infections. This is because, unlike antibiotic drugs which do one thing, plants contain thousands of natural chemicals which fight infection on multiple levels.
These are some of the most effective natural antibiotics that you can easily find or forage.
Oil of Oregano
Oregano contains antimicrobial compounds such as Carvacrol which are very potent in killing bacteria and protozoa.
You can consume fresh oregano, but it won’t be strong enough to treat diarrhea. Extracting the oregano oil or making a tincture is the better solution.
Astragulus is a great source of flavonoids, alkaloids, and other immune-boosting agents.
Studies have found that astragulus root extracts have a strong antibacterial effect and are good for treating diarrhea naturally.
This plant is well known for boosting immunity. It also contains the natural antibacterial agent berberine which can kill the pathogens causing diarrhea and viruses too.
Lemon will help treat diarrhea in many ways. The acidity of lemon juice helps increase stomach pH, thus helping the body naturally kill many pathogens.
It also has antibacterial properties and is a good source of hydrating electrolytes.
Charcoal won’t kill bacterial infections directly. However, charcoal absorbs substances that it comes into contact with the digestive tract.
If you have food poisoning, for example, taking charcoal immediately can help absorb the harmful substances and pass them out of the body.
You can buy activated charcoal on Amazon or you can make it yourself.
Making charcoal isn’t as straightforward as you might assume. Once made, grind the charcoal into a powder and drink it. You might vomit (the taste is horrible!) but keep on drinking it.
Just like with charcoal, certain types of clay can be consumed to absorb pathogens in the gut and expel them before they cause more harm.
Take about two tablespoons of clay with water per day.
4. Homemade Probiotics
Probiotics are “good” bacteria and yeast that live in your gut. We now know that they are important for everything from regulating mood to preventing heart disease. Some probiotics help keep “bad” bacteria in check.
Antibiotics (including natural antibiotics) kill off both good and bad bacteria. So, whenever you take antibiotics, you should also take some probiotics.
Lacto-fermented foods like pickles, sauerkraut, kimchi, and kefir are great natural sources of probiotics. Fermenting is something that all homesteaders should look into anyway. Since ferments also taste great, they are great to have around.
What natural diarrhea remedies do you know?
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Diarrhea is the symptomatic effect of, as noted in this article, a virus or bacteria infection or contaminated water. What if the root cause is none of the above, like chronic IBS which is the result of anxiety and/or stress? Understandably these remedies may help but never resolve the underlying problem. Do you have any natural remedies for more chronic affections other than the obvious of reducing the stress and anxiety?
Slippery elm and coptis are good natural remedies for IBS (https://superfoodjournal.com/slippery-elm-bark-ibs-gi-disease/, https://superfoodjournal.com/coptis-health-benefits/). Otherwise, I’d look into fecal transplant therapy.