Diarrhea

Diarrhea

Diarrhea is liquid, watery, thin, loose, extreme or uncontrollable frequent bowel movements.  It can be a medical emergency due to dehydration, mineral imbalance or eventually malnutrition.  Dehydration is a severe concern, especially in infants, children, elderly and those individuals who aren’t drinking enough of fluid.  I recommend about 2 quarts of water intake for a normal adult, and diarrhea increases the need

Diarrhea is a symptom of an underlying problem. See a doctor for dehydration if you notice the development of sunken or dry eyes, leg cramps, or stretchy skin that doesn’t snap back into place when pulled (this symptom is less indicative the elderly due to the natural loss of skin elasticity with age).

Probiotics (also called friendly intestinal bacteria or “Gut Bugs”)

Probiotics are an essential part of the treatment for diarrhea.  They are the normal bacteria that live in the intestines, and include Lactobacillus species, Bifidobacteria species and others.  Often diarrhea is due to the loss of the beneficial bacteria of the intestines.  Probiotics can also reduce the effects of food poisoning.

Probiotics fight intestinal infections and reintroduce the good “gut bugs.”   The good bacteria feed your intestinal lining with beneficial short chain fats, which also help the intestinal cells regenerate.  Good gut bacteria are often destroyed by food poisoning, infections, stress, change in body pH, poor diet, hormones, chemotherapy, antibiotics or other drugs.

If diarrhea is caused by these factors, you can eat and/or supplement probiotics to shorten the duration of your illness.

Food sources of Probiotics include: live (refrigerated) miso, live culture yogurt, live (refrigerated) sauerkraut, live kim chee, and kefir.  None of these foods should be boiled, because the heat kills the bacteria.

Probiotic supplements come in pill or powder form that delivers healthy friendly bacteria to the intestines.  Not all probiotics are created equal.  Some must be kept cold so the living bacteria don’t die.  Others are suspended in a “bacterial food” so they can survive at room temperature.

Some companies use bacteria that are isolated from soil.  I do not recommend soil based organisms because they don’t inhabit the intestines, rather they just pass through.  I recommend products that will eventually take over the intestines and maintain healthy populations.

 

Probiotic Pearls: 1-2 tabs up to 3X/day.

Ideally away from food.  Refrigeration not necessary.

Colostrum

Colostrum is the “milk” that is made during the first few days after a baby is born.  It is how a mother gives her baby immune function, before the baby’s own immune system can effectively fight infections.  Supplemental colostrum is isolated from cows, and can confer the same temporary immune protection while your immune system becomes more active.  Colostrum contains immune boosters called “transfer factor” and antibodies.  Antibodies stick to viruses, bacteria, fungi and some toxins.  By attaching themselves their target they hasten the destruction of the target by our immune system.  Colostrum also helps soothe the stomach lining.

Colostrum can also be used preventatively against gut infections and food poisoning in both adults and children.  It can also be use preventatively in integrative cancer care to prevent chemotherapy-induced diarrhea. Colostrum also helps stimulate your immune system directly.

Colostrum should be obtained from healthy fed cows.

Pure encapsulations colostrum is obtained from free-range cows, and it antibiotic, growth hormone and pesticide free.  Pure Encapsulation colostrum also has 40% antibody levels in the pill, conferring more protection from infections and more immune stimulation than standard colostrum.

Dosage of colostrum is typically 2-4/day in divided doses.  For severe diarrhea, acute food poisoning or chemically induced nausea, you can use up to 2-4 capsules every 2 hours.  The capsules of colostrum can be opened and mixed into foods, fluids, breast milk (for short term use) or smoothies.

Glutamine

Glutamine is an amino acid that is the preferred source of energy for the intestinal lining.  It helps feed the intestinal cells, which helps them recover faster from damage.  Glutamine also feeds immune cells and helps muscle growth.  It is useful in integrative cancer care to reduce destruction of the stomach lining during chemo/radiation and also support to muscle mass.  Glutamine helps ulcers and gastritis heal faster and frequently reduces nausea and vomiting.  It can help repair the stomach and intestinal damage from pain kills such as aspirin or Tylenol.

Glutamine is taken in doses of 0.5-3 gram (read the label how much that is) 3X/day.

I recommend glutamine be bought in powder because it is practically tasteless and can be mixed into fluid or smoothies.

My suggestion for the treatment of diarrhea most certainly includes probiotics and glutamine.

Fiber:

Fiber can add bulk to the intestine and bind the fluids, which loosen diarrhea.  Any soluble fiber would be useful to help slow diarrhea.  Fiber can also contain charcoal or clay.  Charcoal and clay bind to the toxins that irritate the intestinal lining but also cause loss of nutrients.

 

Digestive enzymes:

Food travels fast though the intestines during diarrhea.  This means the body may not have enough time to digest and absorb the food.  Digestive enzymes can speed digestion in the stomach.  Digestives enzymes increase absorption of proteins, fats and nutrients.  They are extremely useful in those who can’t digest their meals well and those who can’t gain weight because of digestion problems.

Signs that you might require digestive enzymes include partially digested food in the stool, food allergies, food reactions that cause diarrhea, and the sensation that food is “sitting” in your digestive tract.

Digestive enzymes can be taken as a pill or opened and sprinkled on food, or mixed into smoothies.

Digestive enzymes should not be used with active ulcers/gastritis.  Use should be discontinued if they cause burning, as this is probably symptomatic of an ulcer or gastritis.

Similase: 1-2 with food

Liposimilase: 1-2 with food

 

Infections:

If your diarrhea is caused by bacterial, viral, fungal or parasitic infections, you should treat the infection

Wise Woman Herbals Photobiotic caps: a broad-spectrum natural antimicrobial capsule.

Goldenseal plus: goldenseal works best on surfaces it can touch.  Goldenseal is great for gut infections because the antimicrobial herb touch the digestive tract when taken internally.

Mycopryl 680 is a slow release caprylic acid.  Mycopryl 680 is taken with food and is antifungal and antibacterial.

Note: even though you are taking treatment for an infection, they may not be successful. If the treatment isn’t sensitive to the treatment, it won’t work.  Often I test for the sensitivity of organisms before treating.  This can be done with a stool test for bacterial infections.

Stool tests can be obtained from Steve Clark, ND.  A phone appointment will be necessary for a stool test.

Diet

Eat a simple diet of whole vegetables, grains, and protein sources such as fish, chicken, tofu or beans.  Do not eat spicy foods or foods that you are or may be allergic to.  Consider wheat, dairy, sugar, alcohol, coffee or citrus as the cause of your diarrhea.  Avoid food groups or follow an elimination diet.

Chronic pancreas inflammation, Chron’s disease, irritable bowel syndrome, alcohol abuse, colitis, diverticulitis and other diseases can cause frequent diarrhea.

See a doctor if you can’t get your diarrhea under control quickly.  Children and the elderly are more susceptible to medical emergencies due to frailty and a low volume of body fluids.  Diarrhea with mucus or blood should be treated immediately

Diarrhea in children should be diagnosed rather quickly if possible.

Large doses of vitamin C, high doses of magnesium and any nutrient or medicine you have a sensitivity to, can cause diarrhea.  If you are on any new supplements or medicines, consider that a possible cause of your diarrhea.  If it is safe to do so, stop the medicine long enough to see if the diarrhea goes away.

 

Diarrhea as a result of antibiotic use could be C Diff and should be evaluated by a doctor immediately.

 

My goal for fixing diarrhea is to find the underlying cause of the problem.  I suggest testing to rule out SIBO, dysbiosis, food reactions, hyperthyroid, adrenal fatigue and many other conditions.  I often get an email asking what the easy way to fix diarrhea is.  (How much XXXXXX should I take, etc).  That is not how a naturopath works!  We endeavor to find the underlying cause of the constipation and correct that.  I love tests!  I test and try to find the solution to the problem to create better management which leads to better digestion, absorption and assimilation of nutrients.  I believe the gut is the mother of the body.  If you can’t get your nutrients in, you can’t be healthy.  Using treatment to decrease frequency of BM is sometimes necessary, but it’s always better to find the cause of the problem and correct it then it is to manage a symptom.  If you have diarrhea because something is irritating you and you are trying to remove it, then it’s not wise to slow down your stool.  You’re still getting irritated, your body is just going to express differently.  Let’s say you have an inflammatory reaction to nuts so you get diarrhea when you eat nuts.  Slowing down your BM so you can eat more nuts is just going to make it that you get different inflammation.  Different inflammation can include asthma and eczema.  It’s always better to figure out what is bothering you than covering up your symptoms.  Your body is just going to express itself different if you cover up symptoms!