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Find out all you need to know about diarrhea and how to combat those dreaded symptoms!


Diarrhea, or loose stools, occur as a result of your bowels moving too quickly. Our experts explain how these frequent trips to the toilet can affect your health and confidence, what the causes and symptoms are, and what treatments are available. You can also ask a question about diarrhea, or any other digestive problem.

An introduction to diarrhea

Diarrhoea is the frequent passage of loose, watery stools.

By frequently, this generally means opening your bowels four or more times in a 24 hour period; or three or more, with one trip to the bathroom during the night. Each episode will see a substantial amount (more than 200g to be precise) of faeces being passed.

The appearance of your stools can be a good indicator of the health status of your bowels. Generally, stools resembling types 6 or 7 on the Bristol Stool Chart suggest the presence of diarrhoea and inflammation in the gut.

The Bristol Stool Chart

Causes of Diarrhea

Aside from traveller’s diarrhea, gastroenteritis and irritable bowel syndrome, diarrhea can be caused by several other factors: 

  • Lactose intolerance 
  • Medication, such as antibiotics 
  • Sugar substitutes (ex.: sorbitol, mannitol) 
  • Over-consumption of alcohol 
  • Stress 
  • Over-use of laxatives 

What to avoid for diarrhea

  • Dairy products 
  • Foods high in fibre 
  • Fried food and pastries 
  • Spicy food 
  • Sweets and candies 
  • Raw fruits and vegetables (with the exception of bananas) 
  • Meat 
  • Legumes

What to do for diarrhea

  • The most important thing is to drink a lot in order to replace lost fluids. Ideally, you should drink up to 2 litres of water, vegetable broth or rice water each day.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeinated beverages. 
  • Eat lightly and increase quantities gradually: toast, white rice, crackers, light soup, banana, probiotic yogurt. 
  • Eat several small meals a day rather than 3 big meals. 
  • Wash your hands well and often, especially when preparing food, before meals and after going to the washroom in order to avoid spreading the infection (in the case of viral diarrhea).

Anti-diarrheal herbs

Tormentil (Potentilla erecta) is one of the foremost anti-diarrhoeal herbs which we have in Phytotherapy.

As well as this, the leaves of the blackberry, raspberry (which are related botanically) and blueberry have similar properties in reducing the secretions of the digestive tract and intestinal inflammation.

When to consult a doctor

  • Abundant diarrhea (over 10 times a day) lasting more than 48 hours
  • Signs of dehydration, especially in infants or elderly persons
  • Fever of 38.5 ºC (101.5 ºF) or more
  • Bloody stool
  • Intense abdominal pain

What do you think?

Have you found what you read useful? If so, I would love if you would leave your comment below. Thanks Sonia Chartier

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