Diarrhoea refers to the frequent passage of loose or watery unformed stools. As a rough guide, it can be said that more than three or four loose or watery stools in a day constitutes diarrhoea. It is commonly referred to as ‘loose motion’. It may be accompanied with stomach pain and discomfort, nausea, vomiting, skin rashes, cold, cough, dizziness, weakness and sometimes even fever. Read ahead to know how you can support your body naturally if you have loose motions.
What causes it?
When the intestinal tract is irritated, the body rushes to get rid of the noxious matters in the bowels. It is the body’s self-defensive, curative act to keep itself clean from obstructive, harmful or irritant substances.
Common causes for irritation
Wrong foods: Spicy, oily or processed foods, tea, coffee, colas and other soft drinks high in sugar and salt, stale food, are irritating to the body.
Heavy foods: Indulgence in grain heavy meals particularly without full hunger and incomplete chewing causes fermentation of partially digested food and loose motion.
Overeating - Eating without hunger or eating too many times puts an unwanted load on the digestive system when the body was not ready for food.
Wrong food combinations – Fruits along with cooked, oil heavy foods or with dairy etc particularly with no real hunger. Usually, some fruits like bananas or cucumbers are blamed for loose motions. The real issue however is indigestion and bloating caused due to combining fruits with heavy to digest foods like grains, non veg, milk, yoghurt etc or even eating fruits at the end of a meal. The fruit ferments and the entire meal becomes hard to digest and the body aims to get rid of it soon.
Food poisoning due to unclean water or food, particularly street food or food taken at unhygienic places.
Many children and even adults are lactose intolerant. So dairy products cause irritation in the digestive tract and is manifested as indigestion, gas and periodic diarrhoea.
Some people particularly children can be allergic to few nuts like peanuts, cashews etc.
Side effects of certain medications.
Stress – Stress or nervousness may also cause symptoms of loose motions. Remember exam time stress or that uncomfortable feeling just before an important job interview? Chronic stress redirects the body’s energy reserves to tackle the ‘fight or flight response’. The body has been unable to give its attention to digestion and this can initiate loose motions.
Sometimes we cannot pinpoint to a particular food intake for the problem. Our bodies keep accumulating toxic materials as a result of metabolism, chemicals from the environment and general wrong lifestyle practices. If enough gap is given between meals or intermittent fasting is undertaken, the body has a chance of regular housecleaning i.e. elimination happens smoothly without symptoms. Sometimes when this process gets hindered due to continuous eating, wrong foods and combos or stress, toxic waste gets backed up. When the body gets burdened with un-eliminated toxic waste, it waits for a chance to throw it out. At a conducive time, this house keeping is started and elimination through bowels, elimination through stomach (vomiting), mucous membranes (cough , cold, sneezing, watery eyes), raised temperature etc. will happen. This is an extra-ordinary effort by the body for house cleaning
These symptoms may happen together or only some of them. These are all normal inherent functions designed to free the body from obstructive, harmful or irritant substances or influences. Hence, loose motions need not be feared. Take them as a welcome sign that your body is working well to support your health. Also take it as a signal to correct the wrongful action of yours that lead to the loose motions.
Diarrhoea being a protective, remedial act by the body, should be facilitated by natural inputs given to the body, else the elimination process gets blocked. Forceful feeding also interferes in the elimination process.
The energies normally available for normal body functions like muscular or nervous (brain) activities, digestion, etc. are preempted and redirected by the body to complete elimination. Hence, the sick person has little or no energy for normal pursuits.
This means that total rest is indicated.
Digestive rest: There is no hunger because the body has withdrawn power from the digestive system to do elimination. The patient can sip on just plain clean water, coconut water, lemon juice or homemade fruit juice as per thirst or hunger. If he/she feels like eating something, it is best to have fruits such as banana, apple and pomegranate. Avoid milk, non veg, grains, pulses as they are heavy to digest foods.
Normally kanji, dal water, oats, jeera water, other herbal concoctions are traditionally fed to the patient. These should be avoided as they interfere with the elimination process and may further cause more pain and discomfort.
Physical rest: Let the patient lie down and take as much rest as needed till he feels well enough to get up. He/she should definitely get a good night sleep. Plus sleep whenever sleepy during the day.
Mental rest – Anxiety, worry, office stress and mental stimulation at this time should be avoided in order to conserve energy to complete the act of eliminations. Body heals best in a relaxed state, when it can focus on rejuvenation. Don’t take stress about your loose motions. Know that they are body’s cleansing mechanism and keep faith in the body’s self healing powers.
Wet towel pack – In case of pain in the tummy and abdomen, let the patient lie down .Put a thick, cold, wet, wrung out towel on that area and lie down for 20 minutes. Can be done 3 or 4 times in a day to get rid of the pain.
As a long term change, removal of offending materials like spicy, oil foods, meat and dairy, processed foods like chocolates and snacks, eating at unhygienic places, wrong food combinations, emotional and hurried eating etc if taken care of will reduce the incidence of this condition.
If nuts are indicated as a cause, choose unsalted, soaked nuts in lesser quantity.
Care of children
Children find this condition very distressing and tire out easily due to frequent trips to the bathroom. It may also be accompanied by fever and vomiting making it all the more worrying for parents.
As a parent, be calm and be present with the child. Every organism has an inbuilt mechanism to self-sustenance as programmed by nature. Usually the symptoms pass in 3 to 4 days. Soothe the fears of your child and explain in simple terms what the body is trying to do.
Avoid unnecessary arguments, noise and other stimulation at home. Allow the child to rest well as long as he/she wants without waking them up for feeding. Feed him/her with coconut water or homemade fruit juices as per hunger. Gently massage the tummy if it hurts and use a cold pack if needed.
The transition to cooked food should be done very gradually. First liquids and then fruits should be offered and checked if they can be digested. Banana, apple and pomegranate help in settling the stomach. Then soft cooked vegetables can be given. Only if the child is able to digest them well without discomfort, cooked grains and pulses can be given.
In case of very young children who are being breastfed, wrong foods eaten by the mother can cause diarrhoea in the child. The mother has to evaluate her food habits and make the shift to easy to digest, natural foods in the interest of the child.
In case of anxiety or worry on your part, you can consult a nature cure/naturopathy expert for guidance.
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