Bathroom fear is real, my friends. You know where the restroom is at every restaurant, mall, and venue you go to. You’ve categorized toilet paper brands on a scale of razor-blade-sharp to pillow-soft. And you’ve mastered the art of quietly going to the bathroom out in public. But you know this is no way to live — constantly tied down to the toilet, hardly able to get through a Netflix binge fest, dinner party, or a full night’s sleep.
Diarrhea is a symptom of an underlying issue. While finding the root of your diarrhea issues may require testing with your doctor or health practitioner, there are many natural remedies you can do to reduce frequency, irritation and urgency. All in an effort to calm the digestive tract down (because it’s working too darn hard right now!) try one or all of these diarrhea remedies the next time you find yourself running to the bathroom.
1. Make herbal tea your friend
Need some fast relief? Herbal teas come in handy for so many health needs — diarrhea included. The best teas to address diarrhea are slippery elm, red raspberry, nettle, mint and cinnamon. Each serves a specific and beneficial purpose for digestive health, so having one or all of them in your cabinets for when the urge hits can help put a stop to the madness.
Slippery elm tea, for example, is extremely soothing to the digestive tract, helping to calm down inflammation and irritation. While it’s best to drink these teas regularly, they can help on the spot as well.
2. Recline and relax
The very nature of diarrhea is painful, so to help ease the pain, lie on your back with a pillow under your knees and then place a hot water bottle on a towel over your abdomen. This will help slow the downward pressure and calm muscle spasms and irritation. While lying in this position, take a few deep breaths. This can help calm the central nervous system, which plays a big role in transit time.
3. Sip on bone or vegetable broth
Like tea, broth is another soothing beverage that can help to address diarrhea.
Bone broth, for example, is made of collagen and gelatin, which help to rebuild and repair damaged cells. If parts of your digestive tract are damaged (which could be why you’re having diarrhea in the first place), bone broth can be quite healing.
Vegetable broth offers many nutrients to the digestive tract to help replenish lost vitamins and minerals due to poor digestion. You can either make broth at home in a crockpot or Instapot or buy pre-made bone broth at your local grocery store.
Here’s a video to teach you how to make chicken bone broth:
4. Avoid dairy, fat, sugar and excess meat
These foods are often the toughest for the body to digest, and as a result, can contribute to an irritated digestive tract.
For example, many of us naturally become depleted of the enzymes necessary to digest diary as we wean from breastfeeding and get nutrients from food instead. When you no longer have the ability to break down milk sugars (called lactose intolerance), it becomes quite difficult to process dairy-based foods, causing them to either sit for longer periods in your system or rapidly be expelled.
Fat is another resource-intensive food group, and meat is often high in fat. If you lack the ability to create the enzyme lipase, which is required to breakdown fat, that too can either cause the food to sit for long periods in your system or rapidly exit via diarrhea.
And because sugar is often highly processed and seen as food to things like Candida, a yeast in the body that can easily become overgrown, this can set the system on high alert and lead to issues like diarrhea.
5. Turn to the BRAT diet
If the above list of foods just cut out a lot of what you are currently eating, here are some new foods to focus on instead. Especially when diarrhea rears its ugly head, go back to basics by eating soft, easier-to-digest foods.
The foods that may benefit you the most during this time have a handy acronym: BRAT. Bananas, rice, apples, and toast (preferably gluten-free) can both give your system a break from digesting tougher foods as well as provide key nutrients to the body.
6. Befriend probiotics
Did you know that the good bacteria inside of us regulate most of the digestion process? However, levels of beneficial bacteria can dip due to overuse of antibiotics, a poor diet, lack of fiber, stress and aging. Overtime, this can cause us to lose full digestive function, causing issues like diarrhea.
Probiotics are the beneficial bacteria that can be taken via supplementation or by eating fermented foods to help restore balance in your digestive tract.
Probiotics can be found in fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi, or in drinks like kefir or kombucha. I
f those don’t excite you, or aren’t accessible at your local grocery store, keep a bottle of probiotic supplements on hand. Look for one that has several billion probiotics and a wide variety of strains.
If you’ve had digestive health issues for quite awhile, it may be beneficial to take probiotics for up to six months, but especially have them on hand for when diarrhea flares up.
7. Load up on aloe vera juice
Aloe vera juice is another incredibly soothing drink to have when you can’t seem to keep anything in. Just like you use aloe vera gel to soothe a sunburn or bug bite, the juice of the aloe plant has a very similar effect on your internal organs. When consumed, aloe provides a soothing coating to the digestive tract.
It’s recommended to drink 2-4oz a few times a day if you’re having diarrhea or general digestive upset. It can also be beneficial to drink it right before a meal to help the food settle in your system better.
Making aloe vera juice is easy, here’s how:
8. Slowly increase fiber intake
Fiber used to be looked down upon in the world of digestive health, but today there is much research on its benefits. Fiber not only helps to clear out toxins and waste (some of which may be causing irritation to the tract, causing diarrhea), in some forms it actually serves as food for your probiotic flora, keeping your good bacteria levels strong and happy.
To start, increase amounts of fiber slowly to get your system accustomed to this food group, especially if it’s not a regular part of your diet right now.
Ground flaxseed can be a great way to begin. Mix 1 tbsp of ground flaxseed in 1 cup of hot water to make a “tea” blend. Overtime, graduate up to dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables and soaked nuts or seeds, if tolerated.
If you’re looking for some high fiber foods, here’re some ideas: 20 Ultimate High Fiber Foods To Add To Your Diet
9. Make clay your partner in crime
Bentonite clay, that is. Bentonite clay is useful for removing harmful toxins and bad bacteria in your intestines, allowing good bacteria to flourish. It acts like a vacuum, slowly sucking up toxins from the digestive tract as it moves along. With irritants gone, digestion can begin to resume more normal function.
Please note that bentonite clay should be used with caution as it is very dehydrating. Always take it with ample water and start with a low amount.
10. Help your body better breakdown foods with enzymes
In my last post on home remedies for a stomach ache, I explained the many benefits of digestive enzymes. If the body is having trouble producing enzymes on its own (which are necessary to adequately breakdown proteins, fat, and carbohydrates), that can cause a lot of stress on the system. This can result either in slow or rapid transit time, depending on what else is going on inside, such as an infection or inflammation.
Short-term supplementation with digestive enzymes can help your body to better break down foods, making it easier for your system to absorb nutrients and maintain normal transit time. This can also help reduce undigested food from showing up in your stool.
So long bathroom, hello life!
Wouldn’t it be nice to see less of your bathroom each day? Having personally lived through a digestive health disease that caused me a great deal of bathroom fear and frequent bathroom trips, I know how debilitating and all-consuming diarrhea can be. However, following the tips in this post, you can help your body both in the near- and long-term, slowly making diarrhea a symptom of the past.
Remember to also get your stool tested to find out what else may be at play that is causing diarrhea in the first place. When addressed at the root of the problem, issues like diarrhea can resolve themselves much quicker. The tips in this post will help ensure even faster progress towards that goal.