Special to CSMS MagazineThe BRATT diet—bananas, rice, applesauce, toast and tea—provides surefire relief for a detestable case of diarrhea. Why? Bananas replenish the depleted supplies of potassium and sodium the body depends on for normal functioning. Rice and toast contain fiber. Applesauce provides pectin, a common ingredient in over-the-counter diarrhea remedies, which works with “good” intestinal bacteria to coat and soothe the irritated lining of the intestines. And the tannin found in tea reduces intestinal inflammation resulting from an infection. Physicians advise staying on the BRATT diet until diarrhea symptoms subside.
Failing to drink water and clear liquids during a bout of diarrhea can worsen the condition. Since you lose a lot of water as a result of the intestinal infection, limiting fluid consumption can cause serious dehydration. Try to drink as much water, broth or herbal tea (at least eight cups a day) to replenish fluids and restore your immune system so it can fight the infection.
A Two-Stage Plan of Action
First, some bad news. Physicians often tell patients that no matter how bad diarrhea may feel, it should not be treated for the first twelve hours or so. The body is actually trying to cleanse itself of the offending bacteria, virus or toxins—it needs to do its job before you bring in reinforcements. After the twelve-hour waiting period, activated charcoal capsules may be the best option. Taking two capsules each hour should bring quick relief, along with the temporary side effect of darkened stools. Note: Charcoal is wonderfully efficient absorbent—which means that it also will sop up other medications that have been taken recently. So, to be safe, if you have taken any other medication, wait at least one hour before taking charcoal capsules.Eastern Wisdom Worth a TryMacrobiotic practitioners often recommend brewing up a cup of Japanese Kuzo-pickled plum paste tea for those suffering from painful stomachaches and/or diarrhea. Kuzo is a thickening ingredient, much like arrowroot, and acts as a binding agent. To make the tea, dissolve a teaspoon of kuzo in water to make a paste, then add a teaspoon of the plum paste boiling water.Homemade Remedy to Prevent Dehydration When you suffer from diarrhea, make sure your body is taking in enough fluids to prevent dehydration. You can do this by drinking an oral rehydration solution. You can buy one premade (Gatorade, instance) or you can make your own. Add one-half teaspoon of salt to four cups of boiled water, then gradually stir in one to two cups of infant rice cereal. Drink eight to twelve ounces of this rice drink as much as three to six quarts over the next two to four hours to counteract dehydration. If you’re suffering from nausea as well, have small slips every few minutes. If you have more than three bouts of diarrhea per day, seek medical attention.Also see What You Need to Know About Your Child’s Health Care