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Diarrhea is the condition of abnormally frequent and fluid-like bowel movements. Diarrhea may be a symptom of an underlying problem and can accompany mild and serious disorders.

Diarrhea is often a bodily defense mechanism to get rid of irritating and toxic substances, as may come from an intestinal infection, viral enteritis, or food poisoning. This reaction produces hypermotility of the bowel and consequently decreases fecal transit time. In this instance, water is not resorbed by the intestines as is normal.

There are two basic types of diarrhea: acute and chronic. Acute diarrhea, the more common form, lasts about two or three days. Chronic diarrhea may linger for months with recurrent or continuous symptoms. Any diarrheal condition can be a problem if it results in dehydration and excessive loss of nutrients and body salts.

Normally, adults are not harmed by diarrhea, but it can be life threatening to children, the elderly and the debilitated. Hospitalization may be required to restore electrolytes and fluids.

It is second only to the common cold as a cause of work time lost, and is the fifth greatest cause of death among children.

Treatment for mild diarrhea can involve dietary change, removing a specific causative agent from the diet, increasing liquids to replace fluid loss, and antidiarrheal medications.


Primary Factors
There are four major reasons for diarrhea:
1. Deletion or inhibition of normal active ion absorption
2. Stimulation of intestinal ion secretion
3. Presence of the gut lumen of unabsorbed osmotically active solutes which are substances which cause water to accumulate in their presence
4. Deranged intestinal motility

Predisposing Factors

AmoebaeWhipple's disease
ParasitesIngestion of infectious toxins
VirusesInflammation of the colon
Anal fissureIntestinal hypermotility
CirrhosisPseudomembranous enterocolitis
HemorrhoidsDrugs, particularly antibiotics
Change in dietUlcerative colitis
Rectal prolapseEnzyme deficiencies
Food allergiesAcute renal failure
Cushing's syndromeDecreased adrenal function
Diabetes mellitusIrritable bowel syndrome
Unabsorbed lactose, an osmotically active soluteBacteria responsible for acute food poisoning

Signs & Symptoms

NauseaAbdominal cramps
Loose and frequent bowel movements

Nutritional Supplements

Structure & Function: Intestinal Health

General Supplements

Adult Child/Adolescent
Acidophilus 3 - 5 tsp 1 - 3 tsp
Calcium400 - 600 mg 200 - 300 mg
Folic acid*
Pectin 3 - 5 tsp 1 - 3 tsp

* Please refer to the respective topic for specific nutrient amounts.


Diarrhea may be due to several different causes, whether bacterial, or an electrolyte imbalance, or an overgrowth of yeast etc.

Garlic may also be useful, even in extreme cases, such as dysentary.

A preparation from Brewer's Yeast is a major phytopharmaceutical given for diarrhea in Germany, with sales in excess of $30 million.

Note: All amounts are in addition to those supplements having a Recommended Dietary Allowance (RDA). Due to individual needs, one must always be aware of a possible undetermined effect when taking nutritional supplements. If any disturbances from the use of a particular supplement should occur, stop its use immediately and seek the care of a qualified health care professional.

Dietary Considerations

Acute diarrhea
The immediate concern is restoration of fluids and electrolytes to the individual's system, Accomplished by providing a Clear Liquid Diet. After 24 to 48 hours, the Low Fiber Diet may be administered to the convalescing individual.

In young children, fluids such as fruit juices and cola drinks can be used to replace lost fluids. Solids with high fluid content, such as sherbets, fruit ices, frozen fruit juice pops and flavored gelatins can also provide much needed liquids. Lactose-based fluids, such as milk, should be omitted from the diet for the duration of the illness.

Mild childhood diarrheas lasting one to four days can be treated at home. Severe diarrhea may demand hospitalization, as dehydration and fever can damage the developing central nervous system.

Chronic diarrhea
The treatment for chronic diarrhea depends on the underlying condition. In general, the individual may be placed on a Protein Enriched Diet supplemented with minerals such as sodium, potassium, magnesium, zinc and vitamins.

Allergic diarrhea
Diarrhea can be a symptom of food allergy. Other manifestations of food allergy include asthma, dermatitis, vomiting and/or eczema.

The most common allergenic foods are fruit juices, nuts, chocolate and milk. According to one author, more than 140 foods have been shown to cause allergic reactions. The Elimination Diet should be used to identify the offending substance or substances. The allergen can then be excluded from the diet.

Toxic diarrhea
Severe diarrhea may be a symptom of molybdenum intoxication. Toxicity occurs at doses greater than 1,000 micrograms per day.

Homeopathic Remedy

2. Cinchona officinalis tinct.30C
3.*Phosphoricum acidum15C

Advanced, by symptom:

1. Simultaneous diarrhea and vomiting (food poisoning)Arsenicum Album.
Veratrum album.
2. FlatulenceCarbo vegetabilis.
3. NervousnessArgentum nitricum tinct..
4. Early morning onset (5 a.m.)Sulphur.
5. Early morning onset (4 a.m.), much flatusPodophyllum.
6. Food intoleranceAloe.

Treatment Schedule

Doses cited are to be administered on a 3X daily schedule, unless otherwise indicated. Dose usually continued for 2 weeks. Liquid preparations usually use 8-10 drops per dose. Solid preps are usually 3 pellets per dose. Children use 1/2 dose.


X = 1 to 10 dilution - weak (triturition)
C = 1 to 100 dilution - weak (potency)
M = 1 to 1 million dilution (very strong)
X or C underlined means it is most useful potency

Asterisk (*) = Primary remedy. Means most necessary remedy. There may be more than one remedy - if so, use all of them.


Boericke, D.E., 1988. Homeopathic Materia Medica.

Coulter, C.R., 1986. Portraits of Homeopathic Medicines.

Kent, J.T., 1989. Repertory of the Homeopathic Materia Medica.

Koehler, G., 1989. Handbook of Homeopathy.

Shingale, J.N., 1992. Bedside Prescriber.

Smith, Trevor, 1989. Homeopathic Medicine.

Ullman, Dana, 1991. The One Minute (or so) Healer.

Tissue Salts

Calc. Phos.especially teething children;
Ferr. Phos.sudden onset with fever;
Kali Mur.light colored stools;
Kali Phos.foul-smelling stools;
Kali Sulf.yellow, watery stools;
Mag. Phos.painful cramping relieved by hot packs;
Nat. Mur.watery stools, from excess salt;
Nat. Phos.sour-smelling, green stools;
Nat. Sulf.bilious stools (dark or green); elderly.

Herbal Approaches


Peppermint oil
Red raspberry plant
Slippery elm bark
Valerian root
White oak bark

In children:


Note: The misdirected use of an herb can produce severely adverse effects, especially in combination with prescription drugs. This Herbal information is for educational purposes and is not intended as a replacement for medical advice.


Chamomile reduces inflammation, relieves spasms, counteracts flatulence and reduces pain. (1,500 mg t.i.d. between meals.)

Peppermint oil is a carminative. (2 capsules t.i.d.)

Valerian root extract is also carminative. [2 tablets b.i.d.] (It should be avoided if pregnant!)


Hoffmann, D: The New Holistic Herbal. Element, 1983. Third edition 1990.

Aromatherapy - Essential Oils

Camphor Essence,Chamomile Essence,
Eucalyptus Essence,Geranium Essence,
Lavender Essence,Lemon Essence,
Marjoram Essence,Peppermint Essence,
Rosemary Essence,Sandalwood Essence.

Related Health Conditions

Acute renal failureHemorrhoids
Adrenal fissureInflammation
Celiac diseaseInfection
CirrhosisIntestinal influenza
Crohn's diseaseIrritable bowel syndrome
Cushing's syndromePseudomembranous enterocolitis
Diabetes mellitusRectal prolapse
FatigueUlcerative colitis
Food poisoningWhipple's disease



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