Home Remedies for Diarrhea

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Diarrhea involves bowel movements that are loose and watery and often occur three or more times per day. Diarrhea can be accompanied by a sudden urge to use the bathroom, cramping, sweating, pain in the abdomen, nausea, and loss of control of bowel movements. Diarrhea is commonly the result of an infection, such as bacterial, viral, fungal, or parasitic—like food poisoning and the flu.

“Other causes could include – lactose intolerance, food allergy, celiac disease, chronic pancreatitis, or as a side effect of medicine,” says Rashmi Byakodi, BDS, of Best for Nutrition. “Most cases of diarrhea can be prevented by maintaining good personal hygiene and handwashing."

You also can prevent diarrhea by practicing food safety because diarrhea can be caused by food-borne illnesses like food poisoning. Dr. Byakodi also recommends hydrating well, to reduce further severity of diarrhea.

Home Remedies for Diarrhea

When diarrhea sets in, you likely will try anything to make it stop. Unfortunately, though, diarrhea sometimes has to run its course. But during that time, you can take steps to care for yourself like making sure you are staying hydrated. You also should follow a bland diet and can even consider supplementation with zinc and probiotics.

Rashmi Byakodi, BDS

The first step to diarrhea management is to replenish fluid and electrolytes in the body.

— Rashmi Byakodi, BDS

“The first step to diarrhea management is to replenish fluid and electrolytes in the body,” says Dr. Byakodi. "Drink diluted fruit juice, Pedialyte, or Gatorade for hydration. [And] eating foods that are lower in fiber may aid in making stool firmer.”

Here are some additional ways to address diarrhea.

Rehydrate Your Body

Fluid and electrolyte replacement is essential for those suffering from severe diarrhea, which can lead to dehydration. Opt for water, Pedialyte, electrolyte waters, or sports drinks like Gatorade if well tolerated.

You can also try making your own rehydration beverage at home with this recipe—combine six (6) level teaspoons of sugar, half (1/2) level teaspoon of salt, and one liter of drinking water in a large pot until the sugar and salt dissolve.

Soups, fruits, and vegetables are also good choices for rehydration. However, some fruits and vegetables may exacerbate diarrhea symptoms.

Eat a Bland Diet

The BRAT diet is a bland diet also referred to as a low-residue diet. It consists of food that is easier to break down and digest giving the gastrointestinal tract a break. Choosing bland foods will also help you feel better faster.

Foods to incorporate into your diet include bananas, toast, oatmeal, white rice, applesauce, and soup or broth. These foods may help provide bulk to stools and are easier to digest.

Other easily-digestible foods include eggs, pudding, fruit juices, cream of wheat, tofu, lean meat like chicken or fish, bland soft-cooked vegetables, and low-fat dairy.

Consume Less Fiber

Low fiber foods are often easier to digest and softer on the gastrointestinal tract. Focus on white flour carbohydrates like white bread, crackers, pasta, white rice, white potato, and the like. Avoid high fiber fruits and vegetables, and whole grains.

Because fiber helps push waste through the digestive tract, avoiding high-fiber foods while you are recovering may reduce loose, watery stools.

Try Zinc for Diarrhea

Several studies have shown that zinc is beneficial in the treatment of acute diarrhea. However, it is important to note that the mechanism is not fully understood.

Zinc supplements are available in tablets, capsules, and zinc-containing cold lozenges. You also can incorporate zinc-rich foods to help reduce diarrhea. But pay careful attention to whether or not the zinc-containing food is high in fiber or it may irritate the digestive tract.

You might try zinc-rich foods in small amounts to see how well you tolerate them. Some options include oysters, crab, lobster, fortified low-fiber breakfast cereals, low-fat yogurt, low-fat milk, skinless chicken breast, flounder, or sole.

Get More Probiotics

Probiotics are microorganisms or good bacteria and yeast that live in the gastrointestinal tract to help keep it healthy. Studies have shown that probiotics can help make diarrhea go away faster whether taken in food form or supplemental form.

Increase probiotic foods as long as they are not causing discomfort or additional diarrhea. Focus on yogurt containing lactobacilli, kefir, and tempeh. You also can try sauerkraut, miso, kombucha, pickles, and fermented cheese including Gouda, mozzarella, and cottage cheese in small amounts to see how well you tolerate them.

Avoid Irritating Foods

Avoid any foods that are considered non-bland. This includes spicy foods, fried foods, and acidic fruits like berries, lemons, oranges, and limes.

You also want to limit whole-grain products, high-fat dairy products, non-lean meats, dressings and sauces, alcohol, and strong cheeses while you are recovering. Even vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, onions, and peppers can cause issues.

When to See a Doctor

Acute diarrhea often goes away on its own. However, having diarrhea for an extended period of time can lead to dehydration, which is a serious issue. You should contact a healthcare provider if you experience any of the following:

  • Have 10 or more movements a day
  • Experience greater fluid loss than what is taken in
  • Have loose watery stools that last longer than 24 hours (in kids) or 3 days (in adults)
  • Have a fever of greater than 102 Fahrenheit
  • Produce bloody or black stools
  • Experience excessive thirst or dry mouth
  • Produce little or no urine
  • Experience drowsiness, weakness, fatigue, dizziness
  • Have severe abdominal or rectal pain

A Word From Verywell

Acute diarrhea is best treated with fluid and electrolyte replacement as well as good hygiene practices. Along with those healthy practices, a bland diet is usually well-tolerated. Combine bland foods with the addition of probiotics to help relieve diarrhea faster.

Although home remedies can be helpful, they are not always the answer. When diarrhea moves from acute to severe, it is time to see a healthcare professional. While diarrhea doesn’t sound like a big deal, dehydration is. If you are having difficulty staying hydrated and have 10 or more watery bowel movements per day, you should see a healthcare provider right away.

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8 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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  3. Rehydration Project. Oral rehydration solutions: Made at home. Updated July 4, 2014.

  4. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Bland diet. Updated July 31, 2021. PMID:30844169

  5. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Diarrhea. Updated July 19, 2021. PMID:28846339

  6. Hoque KM, Binder HJ. Zinc in the treatment of acute diarrhea: current status and assessmentGastroenterology. 2006;130(7):2201-2205. doi:10.1053/j.gastro.2006.02.062

  7. National Institutes of Health, Office of Dietary Supplements. Zinc. Updated March 26, 2021.

  8. National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine. Can probiotics help against diarrhea? Updated December 19, 2019.

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