Q: Can you offer any help for someone who has been having diarrhea for more than a year?
GR: “Bathroom problems” can be difficult and embarrassing to discuss with a doctor.
But it’s important to get them checked out, because diarrhea could be caused by something as simple as too much vitamin C (or a vitamin C supplement that isn’t well-tolerated)… or more serious concerns like allergies, a bacterial or parasitic infection, and even medications.
That’s right – a drug taken to “fix” one problem could saddle you with a whole new set of woes!
For instance, antibiotics are notorious for disrupting digestion – and those troubles often don’t go away until the drugs do.
And because antibiotics wipe out the good bacteria with the bad in your gut, overusing them can leave the body open to something much more serious, like an attack of the superbug C. diff, which causes “deadly diarrhea.”
While diarrhea is a common symptom of several health concerns, if it doesn’t go away, it MAY indicate a digestive disorder like inflammatory bowel disease (which is caused by inflammation in the gut and intestines) or the comparable irritable bowel syndrome (which has no discernable cause).
And while there’s no cure for either, the symptoms can be kept under control.
As I’ve shared before, TRILLIONS of bacteria call your gut home. The majority of them are beneficial, as they break down food, synthesize vitamins, and bolster your immune system.
But your body is also home to bad bugs — and studies have shown that if anything disrupts the delicate balance between the two, those “bad guys” can hit you with everything from toilet troubles to increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.
Refined carbs are known to trigger inflammation and flare-ups in IBD, so I always recommend following the low-carb Paleo (a.k.a. “caveman”) diet, which eliminates grains, sugars, and processed foods in favor of lean proteins and colorful veggies. Getting plenty of fiber and even drinking black or green tea can also help promote the growth of beneficial bacteria.
Eating fermented foods like yogurt and sauerkraut can also help keep bad gut bacteria in check, as can supplementing with a probiotic.
Studies have shown that accumulation of yeast plays a role in IBD, so adding natural antifungals like garlic, oil of oregano, and grapefruit seed extract to your diet may have a calming effect.
It can be tempting to turn to an OTC anti-diarrheal remedy like Imodium, but it can cause dizziness, drowsiness, and subsequent constipation.
And that’s just when it’s taken on its own.
Even worse, Imodium doesn’t play well with other OTC tummy-tamers and heartburn-relievers — and if you’re taking both, you have a much greater risk of developing serious heart issues, like irregular heartbeat and death.
Whenever one of my patients complains of having “the runs,” I tell them to drink peppermint tea, which, as a digestive aid, stimulates the flow of digestive fluid in the stomach and alleviates intestinal problems.
As I shared with you in the December 2016 issue of my Nutrition & Healing newsletter, peppermint (a.k.a. Mentha piperita, or MP) is used in the treatment of IBD and IBS-D.
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