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Diarrhea

Related Terms

Diarrhea is more than three loose, liquid stools in one day. It may also happen with belly pain, fever, nausea and vomiting, and other symptoms. It is a symptom of many health problems. It can lead to dehydration when it lasts too long.

It is treated by drinking plenty of fluids and making some changes to your diet until it goes away. Some people may need medicine. Others may turn to natural treatments to treat diarrhea.

Natural Therapies

Likely Effective

These supplements are likely to ease diarrhea:

  • Glutamine is a compound found in the body that is important for digestion.B2
  • Probiotics are healthy bacteria.B4, B6, B7
  • Zinc is an essential nutrient found in meant, dairy, and nuts. (Note: Nausea is possible.)B3, B5, B8, B11, B13

These therapies are also likely to ease diarrhea:

  • Acupuncture is likely to ease symptoms of diarrhea.A1
  • Massage (in children) C2

May Be Effective

These supplements may ease diarrhea:

  • Colostrum is the milky substance that mothers produce from their breasts in the first few days after birth. It may help ease diarrhea when taken as a supplement.B1
  • Modified Tongxie Yaofang is a traditional Chinese medicine.B9
  • Shugan Jianpi Zhixie therapy is a Chinese herbal formula.B12
  • Vitamin A is needed for immune function, vision, reproduction, and cell communication.B13

Not Enough Data to Assess

  • Tui Na C1

Editorial process and description of evidence categories can be found at EBSCO NAT Editorial Process.

Herbs and Supplements to Be Used With Caution

Talk to your doctor about any supplements or therapy you would like to use. Some can interfere with treatment or make conditions worse, such as.

  • Zinc may cause nausea.
 

References

Acupuncture

A1. Dang D, Guo K, et al. [Acupuncture for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis]. Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2017;37(8):907-912.

Herbs and Supplements

B1. Kaducu FO, Okia SA, et al. Effect of bovine colostrum-based food supplement in the treatment of HIV-associated diarrhea in Northern Uganda: a randomized controlled trial. Indian J Gastroenterol. 2011;30(6):270-276.

B2. Sun J, Wang H, et al. Glutamine for chemotherapy induced diarrhea: a meta-analysis. Asia Pac J Clin Nutr. 2012;21(3):380-385.

B3. Lamberti LM, Walker CL, et al. Oral zinc supplementation for the treatment of acute diarrhea in children: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Nutrients. 2013;5(11):4715-4740.

B4. Guarino A, Guandalini S, et al. Probiotics for Prevention and Treatment of Diarrhea. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2015;49(1):37-45.

B5. Zou TT, Mou J, et al. Zinc supplementation in acute diarrhea. Indian J Pediatr. 2015;82(5):415-420.

B6. Goldenberg JZ, Yap C, et al. Probiotics for the prevention of Clostridium difficile-associated diarrhea in adults and children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2017;12:CD006095.

B7. Liu MM, Li ST, et al. Probiotics for prevention of radiation-induced diarrhea: A meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. PLoS One. 2017;12(6):e0178870.

B8. Florez ID, Veroniki AA, et al. Comparative effectiveness and safety of interventions for acute diarrhea and gastroenteritis in children: A systematic review and network meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2018;13(12):e0207701.

B9. Dai YK, Li DY, et al. Efficacy and safety of Modified Tongxie Yaofang in diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome management: A meta-analysis of randomized, positive medicine-controlled trials. PLoS One. 2018 Feb 6;13(2):e0192319.

B10. Anheyer D, Frawley J, et al. Herbal Medicines for Gastrointestinal Disorders in Children and Adolescents: A Systematic Review. Pediatrics. 2017 Jun;139(6). pii: e20170062.

B11. Lazzerini M, Wanzira H. Oral zinc for treating diarrhoea in children. Cochrane Database Syst Rev. 2016 Dec 20;12:CD005436.

B12. Xiao Y, Liu Y, et al. The efficacy of Shugan Jianpi Zhixie therapy for diarrhea-predominant irritable bowel syndrome: a meta-analysis of randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trials. PLoS One. 2015 Apr 8;10(4):e0122397.

B13. Gottlieb T, Heather CS. Diarrhoea in adults (acute). BMJ Clin Evid. 2011 Feb 15;2011. pii: 0901.

B14. Patel AB, Mamtani M, et al. What zinc supplementation does and does not achieve in diarrhea prevention: a systematic review and meta-analysis. BMC Infect Dis. 2011 May 12;11:122.

Other Therapies

C1. Lai BY, Liang N, et al. Pediatric Tui Na for acute diarrhea in children under 5 years old: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. Complement Ther Med. 2018;41:10-22.

C2. Gao L, Jia C, et al. Paediatric massage for treatment of acute diarrhoea in children: a meta-analysis. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2018 Sep 18;18(1):257.

C3. Pavlinac PB, Brander RL, et al. Interventions to reduce post-acute consequences of diarrheal disease in children: a systematic review. BMC Public Health. 2018 Feb 1;18(1):208.

Last reviewed November 2019 by EBSCO NAT Review Board Eric Hurwitz, DC  Last Updated: 5/28/2020