Diarrhoea refers to the frequent passage of loose or watery unformed stools.
Causes and Symptoms
Diarrhoea may be acute or chronic. Commonly known as ‘loose motions’, it is one of the commonest diseases, particularly in India, in children.
The small intestine normally gets more than ten litres of liquid per day which comes from the diet and from secretions of the stomach, liver, pancreas, and intestines. In the case of diarrhoea, water is either not absorbed or is excreted in excess. It is then sent to the colon whose water-holding capacity is limited. Thus the urge to defecate comes quite often.
The main causes of diarrhoea are overeating or eating of wrong foods, putrefaction of food in the 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; emotional strain or stress in adults and fright in children. Certain organic diseases affecting the intestines may also lead to diarrhoea.
Buttermilk: Buttermilk is one of the most effective home remedies in the treatment of diarrhoea. 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.
Carrot Soup: Carrot soup is another effective home remedy for diarrhoea. 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 ‘n small amounts to the patient every half an hour.
Fenugreek: Fenugreek leaves are useful in diarrhoea. 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 •he treatment of this disease.
Ginger: In case of diarrhoea caused by indigestion, dry or fresh ginger is very useful. A piece of dry ginger should be powdered long 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
Mint: Mint juice is also beneficial in the treatment of diarrhoea. 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.
Bottle Gourd: The juice of bottle gourd is a valuable medicine for excessive thirst due to severe diarrhoea. A glass of plain juice with a pinch of salt should be taken every day in treating this condition.
Drumstick Leaves: The juice of fresh leaves of drumstick is also valuable in diarrhoea. 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 diarrhoea.
Pomegranate: The pomegranate has proved beneficial in the treatment of diarrhoea 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 diarrhoea.
Mango Seeds: Mango seeds are valuable in diarrhoea. 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.
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: Turmeric has proved to be another valuable home remedy for diarrhoea. 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.
Rice: Rice is useful in treating diarrhoea in children. A teaspoon of powder of charred parboiled rice, mixed with a glass of buttermilk, should be given in doses of thirty grams every half an hour. This will bring excellent results.
Other Remedies: Cooked or baked apples are good for diarrhoea. The cooking process softens the cellulose. Much of its value as a regulating material is thus lost and it is effective in looseness of the bowels.
A glass of fresh tomato juice, mixed with a pinch of salt and pepper, taken in the morning, also proves beneficial.
Other starchy liquids such as arrowroot water, barley water, and coconut water are also useful in the treatment of diarrhoea. They not only replace the fluid lost but also bind the stools. Other home remedies include bananas and garlic. Bananas contain pectin and encourage the growth of beneficial bacteria. Garlic is a powerful, effective, and harmless germ killer. It aids digestion and removes intestinal worms.
In severe cases of diarrhoea, it is advisable to observe a complete fast for two days to provide rest to the gastrointestinal tract Only hot water may be taken during this period to compensate for the loss of fluids. Juices of fruits may be taken after the acute symptoms are over. After the condition improves, meals can be enlarged gradually to include cooked vegetables, whole rice, soured milk. Raw foods should be taken only after the patient completely recovers.
Other useful methods for the treatment of diarrhoea are the application of cold compress at 15.6°C on the abdomen and a cold hip bath at 4.5°C— 10°C. The procedure for cold compress is to wring a folded cloth from cold water and apply it on the abdomen. The wringing should be just sufficient to prevent dripping. The compress should be renewed every fifteen to twenty minutes. For a cold hip bath, a special type of bath tub is used. It is filled with cold water so that it covers the hip and reaches up to the level where the patient’s navel is covered in a sitting position. The duration of the bath is usually ten to fifteen minutes. The patient should rub the abdomen from the naval downwards in brisk anticlockwise movements across the body with a moderately coarse, wet cloth. The legs, feet, and upper part of the body should remain completely dry during and after the bath.