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Loose motions, or diarrhea, can have many possible causes, such as a viral infection, a bacterial infection, a parasitic attack, food poisoning, a side effect of antibiotics, and lactose intolerance.
In most cases, loose motions will last a couple of days, but if they last for more than a week, it is important to seek medical attention as the condition can be a sign of a serious digestive disorder.
Loose motions can also cause dehydration and general weakness, which is why it is important to take measures to reduce the frequency of bowel movements and bring it back to normal.
Fortunately, there are many simple and easy home remedies that can help. (1)
Home Remedies for Loose Motions
Here are remedies you can try out for loose motions.
1. Consume probiotics
Taking antibiotics can pose an increased risk of developing antibiotic-associated diarrhea (AAD).
Probiotics are living microorganisms that, upon ingestion, may help to prevent AAD. Probiotics work by normalizing an unbalanced gastrointestinal flora. As such, these “friendly” bacteria are often recommended to reduce the risk of AAD.
Numerous clinical trials have been conducted to evaluate the efficacy of probiotics in preventing AAD. The results of these trials show that probiotics can indeed be effective in reducing the incidence of diarrhea in those who are taking antibiotics.
Probiotics are generally safe, but always consult a doctor before taking them. Additionally, certain individuals may not be able to take probiotics such as yogurt due to the risk of potential side effects. In such cases, other treatments may be recommended. (2)(3)
2. Eat green bananas
Several studies have demonstrated that consuming green bananas (Musa x paradisiacal sapientum) can be beneficial in treating diarrhea.
This is because green banana contains a high level of amylase-resistant starch, which is not digested in the small intestine but reaches the colon where it is fermented by the resident bacteria into short-chain fatty acids. These fatty acids stimulate salt and water absorption, while providing energy and having a positive effect on the colon and small intestine mucosa.
3. Drink ginger tea
Ginger has been proven to be an effective treatment for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome (IBS-D).
A research study conducted on IBS-D rats demonstrated that ginger can help reduce defecation frequency, fecal water content, and abdominal pain, as well as reduce colonic edema and inflammation.
Ginger is a highly recommended natural remedy for IBS-D. (5)
How to use:
Ginger can be consumed in the form of tea, which can be prepared by boiling 1 tablespoon of minced ginger root in 1.5 cups of water for 5–10 minutes, straining it, and drinking the tea 2–3 times a day.
4. Drink turmeric water
A study was conducted to assess the efficacy of curcumin (turmeric) for treating HIV-associated diarrhea. Eight patients were given a mean daily dose of 1,862 mg of curcumin for 41 weeks, and all experienced a resolution of diarrhea and normalization of stool quality within a mean time of 13 days.
The mean number of bowel movements per day dropped from 7 to 1.7, while five of the six patients had a resolution of their bloating and abdominal pain.
Curcumin was found to be effective in providing rapid and complete resolution of diarrhea and relieving bloating and abdominal pain. These results indicate that curcumin could be a safe and effective therapy for HIV-associated diarrhea. (6)
How to use:
Add ½ tsp of turmeric powder in a cup of warm water, mix it well, and drink it before the powder settles on the bottom. Drink this 2–3 times a day.
5. Drink cinnamon tea
A study was done to assess the effect of cinnamon water extract (CWE) on diarrhea symptoms in a randomized controlled trial. A total of 70 subjects with diarrhea symptoms were given three capsules of 400 mg CWE for 8 weeks.
Gut microbiota analysis revealed increased alpha diversity and significant changes in the Bifidobacterium longum strain in the CWE group in comparison to the placebo group. These results indicate that CWE can improve diarrhea symptoms and change the composition of stools and the gut microbiota.
Ginger and cinnamon can both be consumed as tea to relieve diarrhea symptoms.
How to use:
To make this tea, combine 1 teaspoon of cinnamon powder and 1⁄2 teaspoon of freshly grated ginger in a cup of boiling water. Cover and steep for 30 minutes, and drink this tea 2–3 times a day. (7)
6. Drink chamomile tea
A study was conducted to evaluate the antidiarrheal and antioxidant effects of a Matricaria recutita L. (chamomile) decoction extract. Results showed that chamomile extract had a significant protective effect against castor oil-induced diarrhea and intestinal fluid accumulation in a dose-dependent manner.
These findings suggested that chamomile extract could be an effective and safe treatment for digestive system disorders.
How to use:
To make a chamomile tea, add 1 teaspoon each of dried chamomile flowers and peppermint leaves to a cup of hot water. Allow it to steep for 5–10 minutes, strain, and drink the tea at least 2–3 times a day. (8)
7. Drink fresh pomegranate juice
Pomegranate (Punica granatum L.) is a native fruit in the Middle East and North Africa, including Tunisia, which is gaining popularity as a functional food and nutraceutical source due to its richness in phenolic compounds, sugars, and minerals.
Studies have found that pretreatment with pomegranate juice and total extract can reduce the number of defecations in animal models with diarrhea. Administration of various doses of the pomegranate methanol extract (200, 400, and 800 mg/kg body weight) also decreased defecation rates significantly and dose dependently. Furthermore, pomegranate extracts can be used to correct the mineral content deregulation during diarrhea.
In conclusion, data indicates that pomegranate extracts and juice have inhibiting effects on the gastrointestinal tract and possess antidiarrheal activity in rats, confirming the basis for the use of P. granatum seeds in traditional medicine for the treatment and/or management of diarrhea. (9)
Additional Tips and Prevention Against Loose Motions
Here are some points to remember to avoid and manage loose motions: (10)
- Education and proper hygiene are essential for preventing and treating infectious diarrhea. Vaccination against rotavirus is highly recommended to reduce the prevalence of the virus.
- Caregivers should also emphasize the importance of proper food preparation practices to reduce the risk of infection. Oral rehydration therapy should be given to prevent dehydration, and starting early may help speed up the healing of the intestine mucosa.
- Eating small, frequent meals slowly throughout the day will help keep your energy levels up.
- Sources of soluble fiber may help firm up stool, while limiting fried or fatty foods may help reduce diarrhea.
- Travelers should be aware of the risks associated with infectious diarrhea and should take preventive measures, such as drinking bottled water, avoiding raw fruits and vegetables, and consuming hot, well-cooked meals.
- When experiencing diarrhea, it is important to drink 8–10 cups of fluids per day, such as water, broth, half-strength juice, weak tea, or electrolyte replacement drinks.
- Foods with a lot of sugar, such as regular pop, candy, large quantities of juice, and chocolate milk, should be avoided.
- In some cases, the use of prophylactic antibiotics may be beneficial, while probiotic therapy may help prevent C. difficile colitis when antibiotics are taken. All of these measures can help reduce the risks of developing infectious diarrhea and maintain good health.
Most-Asked Questions About Diarrhea
What is an oral rehydration solution?
Oral rehydration therapy (ORT) is a medical intervention used to prevent and/or correct the dehydration that can occur with diarrhea.
As soon as diarrhea is suspected, home remedies to prevent dehydration should be started. If these measures are not sufficient, an oral rehydration solution (ORS) should be given to adults and children.
What does an ORS contain?
The World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF recommend a specific formula for ORS, which contains 2.6 g of sodium chloride, 2.9 g of trisodium citrate dihydrate (or 2.5 g of sodium bicarbonate), 1.5 g of potassium chloride, and 20 g of glucose (anhydrous). These ingredients should be dissolved in one liter of clean water.
Can stress cause diarrhea?
Stress can contribute to the initiation and exacerbation of bowel and abdominal discomfort symptoms such as abdominal pain, bloating, intestinal gas, constipation, and diarrhea. (12)
Is there a vaccine against diarrhea?
A new vaccine that can be taken by mouth is now available to protect babies against most of the types of rotavirus that cause illness. It’s recommended for infants and given when they are 2, 4, and 6 months old to keep them safe from this disease. (12)
What does traveler’s diarrhea mean?
Traveler’s diarrhea is caused by germs in the local water and can make you sick with vomiting and diarrhea. Doctors can usually tell if you have it just by checking your symptoms. If you do have it, they may give you medicine such as ciprofloxacin or azithromycin and tell you to drink fluids to replace what you’ve lost.
If you have a fever, really bad belly pain, or bloody diarrhea, it could be something more serious and you should get help right away. (13)
Diarrhea is a digestive problem that causes loose, watery stools. It can be uneasy for a few hours or even days, following which the signs should get better. In some cases, they last longer.
While diarrhea usually resolves on its own, some home remedies can alleviate symptoms and accelerate recovery.