The People's Perspective on Medicine

Desperate For Diarrhea Treatment

Q. I have suffered from debilitating diarrhea for years and no one (including my doctors) has come up with a cure. I have taken many different medications with no beneficial results. Do you have any suggestions? I am getting desperate!

A. Of course the best approach to any symptom is to find out what is at the root of the problem. That requires excellent diagnostic efforts by your physician or a gastroenterologist.

If, after trying everything, you are still suffering then you may wish to try one of the many home remedies you will find in our book, The People’s Pharmacy Quick & Handy Home Remedies from National Geographic.

One of our readers shares his story of how a home remedy can sometimes work wonders:

“After my wife died suddenly I begin to drink too much. A side affect of the drinking was diarrhea. I eventually realized that the drinking was not helping with my grief so I stopped. Except the diarrhea did not stop.

I had heard that coconut would help, but experienced no real benefit. A nutritionist said to me that it would have to be the Archway Coconut Macaroon cookies. After two days of eating the cookies the diarrhea disappeared and has never returned.”

You will also find that many of our readers find probiotics very helpful. Wendy offered this experience:

“I nearly died from C.Diff. [which can cause terrible diarrhea] three years ago, brought on by tetracycline for a simple rash on my face. Vancomycin initially cleared it up but the C.Diff. recurred a few weeks later. I refused to go back on Vancomycin and instead went to the health food store and bought a package of several powerful mega-doses of probiotics, which got me back on my feet.

Now whenever I have to take antibiotics, I also take probiotics. I buy the active capsules, from the refrigerated section of the health food store. Per my doctor’s advice, I wait two hours after taking the antibiotic before taking the probiotic. I have not had a recurrence of C.Diff. since.”

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About the Author
Joe Graedon is a pharmacologist who has dedicated his career to making drug information understandable to consumers. His best-selling book, The People’s Pharmacy, was published in 1976 and led to a syndicated newspaper column, syndicated public radio show and web site. In 2006, Long Island University awarded him an honorary doctorate as “one of the country's leading drug experts for the consumer.” .
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I have had chronic diarrhea for over 20 years. I have been to several gastroenterologists over the years, who have all performed colonoscopies, 4 in total, also many blood tests, but none of them have ever found any cause for my diarrhea. I’ve been tested for every disease known to man to my knowledge, and still no answers. I was so thin and weak that I was no longer able to function as a productive human being. It slowly came apparent that I was not going to live through this, and that even if I did, I would never financially recover from the medical bills that have accumulated over all this time, due to not being able to work and support myself. I’ve tried every written prescription, natural herb, probiotic, supplement, flora, etc., that the Dr.’s have suggested & nothing has helped. If anything, they’ve only made the situation worse. Liquid diarrhea still constantly runs out like a spigot, sometimes even uncontrollably, and I soon become too weak and disoriented to stand.
One day, over a decade ago, an old friend of mine gave me a strong painkiller to try. He said that after taking the medication, that it would sometimes be several days before he could use the restroom. I took the mediation out a of desperation for survival, and it worked! It didn’t stop me up, it just slowed down my digestive system to an acceptable level for survival. The energy boost was a big plus too, especially after so many years of hardly being able to stand up, due to losing everything that I ate. I quickly went went to a pain specialist, and asked for a MRI due to chronic neck and back pain, in a hope to be prescribed some type of pain medication to continue to survive. The MRI’s revealed 3 herniated disks in my neck, 4 bulging disks in my lower spine, and right sided spondylosis. Bingo, pain medication for life!

It’s been over 10 years, and the frustration from having to survive from taking pain killers to cure my diarrhea has gotten worse and worse. Taking pain killers every day is no way to live. The side affects alone are horrible, and being addicted to a substance is a very limited form of living. They’ve also never really stopped the diarrhea, only limited the ritual runny stool sitting to once a day. When I take myself off of the pain killers, it’s the same old story, debilitating diarrhea. I don’t know what to do any more. My life is a hell. I can’t afford to take these expensive pain killers anymore, but if I don’t, my body starts losing everything like a running faucet after the meds are out of my system. Someone please help, I don’t want to die, but I refuse to survive from having to take pain medication anymore.

When my daughter was 15 months and was cutting teeth, we had to watch her diet closely because she was suffering mild diarrhea symptoms regularly. Her dad’s grandparents had come from Poland many years previous, and his aunt told us that in Poland, they used to use cornstarch for diarrhea. When needed, I started mixing a very small amount (maybe a half teaspoon) of cornstarch with just enough liquid (I used whatever fruit juice I had on hand) with the cornstarch, a few drops, just enough to liquify the cornstarch.
It worked! She’s now 33 and I have not bought any diarrhea medicine since. When my elderly mom lived me, she would have occasional bouts with diarrhea. I’d take about a teaspoon of cornstarch and, again, just enough juice to liquify it. After every trip to the bathroom, I’d give her a dose. It most often worked after one or (at the most) two doses.

Have you tried adding turmeric and curry to your diet? Try making Kirchadi and eating that everyday for a week. Good luck!

Exactly! I feel the same. I suggest people look for remedies at People’s Pharmacy all the time. I was writing about the dog as an answer to those physicians and others we encounter who doubt people’s experience, trusting only drug companies. I’m glad you did not need the input about my dog. And of course I believe in the power of suggestion! There is just more going on than that with these cookies.

Coconut cookies are not a medicine. Who cares if they cure by the power of suggestion? If it works for some folks, who needs a stupid, expensive, “blind” study? The way that I know that coconut cookies work for diarrhea is that people say they do. I am glad they work for your dog, but I didn’t need her input to make me a believer.

Thank you for all of your comments and advice. I have suffered from chronic diarrhea for 30 years. It started immediately after my hysterectomy. After years of many, many medical tests no one can can figure out why I have this problem. The only thing that helps is Loperamine and some doctors have told me that I shouldn’t take that because of the long term effects. I have tried the macaroons, probiotics, citricel, etc. etc. diet changes, gone on a gluten free diet, and nothing works.
The gastroenterologist gave me a fructose drink in the office and I was so ill I couldn’t leave the office. He said that he had never seen a patient have such an immediate and violent reaction to this like I did. I was still in agony and in the bathroom when his office was getting ready to close in the evening. I had to go across the street from his office and stay in a hotel overnight because I wasn’t able to make the 1 hour drive home. I am unable to go to lunch anymore with my friends or have any resemblance to a social life because of this problem. I am frustrated to say the least.

Half an hour before meals, I take chitosan, a fiber pill made from shellfish. It also helps with losing weight as well as adding fiber. My friend tried it when she went on a diet. It stopped the chronic diarrhea she had for decades. She’s been taking chitosan for about 4 years now.

After a few weeks of intractable diarrhea I mentioned to my naturopath that I had started using coconut milk in my protein drinks. She said that coconut milk helps to soften stools. Alas, it was very tasty! For me the coconut macaroons did not work at all.
thank you for the heads up about fructose!

Don’t forget about using fecal transplantation preferably rectally to re-establish normal bacterial flora. I do not think Probiotics work since the acidity of the stomach contents kill bacteria. As a practicing veterinarian, I have treated chronic diarrheas by making a gruel of feces from a normal cat and instilling the mixture in the intestinal tract rectally. It has not worked every time, but the majority of times, within 2-4 days the stool is normal. Overuse of antibiotics wreaks havoc with the intestinal flora.

After almost 60 years of chronic diarrhea and every diagnosis possible (including “it’s all in your head – take a valium”) my very savvy naturopath suggested that I be tested for gluten intolerance/celiac disease. Bingo! With in 5 days of removing gluten from my diet I had 50% more energy and haven’t had any diarrhea.
It is not an easy lifestyle but well worth it.

Milk allergy did it for me. I thought I was lactose intolerant, so I was consuming lactose-free milk, yoghurt and cheese. But no, it really was milk. Just yesterday I thought I would try a little lactose-free cheese to test it out – bad move. Won’t do that again.

A food journal is how I found I have an intolerance, which causes almost immediate diarrhea, to certain foods: onion in any form in anything edible; iceberg lettuce (most other lettuces or greens are o.k.); mushrooms; or heavy garlic. I now read labels even for salad dressings and ask at restaurants before I order.

Chronic Diarrhea can be a symptom of Crohn’s disease : Abdominal pain may be the initial symptom of Crohn’s disease. It is often accompanied by diarrhea, especially in those who have had surgery.

I earned a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from a rigorous program (UNC-CH) and I have worked for decades as a therapist, so I am familiar with research, statistics, and the wonder of suggestion and the need for studies in which those receiving a medication are “blind” to what is expected to happen to them after receiving that medication.
The way that I know that the Archway Macaroons treatment DOES work for diarrhea, at least in one species, is that the very chronic and unattractively runny and bloody diarrhea of our indoor-living Italian Greyhound (dog) is controlled well with a couple of those cookies every day. When her poop looks bad, someone has forgotten to give her the cookies.
When she gets the cookies, all is well, and she has NO diarrhea at all. This has been true for years now. Over all that time we have never told her (the dog) that the cookies would be effective for her diarrhea : ) And she has shown no ill effects from the cookies.
Her other food is always consistent, the same exact food being given to her twice a day, every day, with no extra foods ever given her (due to finding out early on that her digestive system was sensitive.) Humans reluctant to try this treatment – go ahead and try it.

Glutamine is very safe, and very helpful for the subset of people whose diarrhea or IBS is caused by a deficiency of this crucial chemical in the gut.
http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/08/100802110825.htm

Are the probiotics off the shelf (such as Enzymatic Pearls ) just as good as the ones kept in the refrigerator in a Health food store?

I had diarrhea for 2 years before I found the answer. Actually, my second try with a gastroenterologist was the one that found the answer. (bless him) I have fructose malabsorption which means I cannot ingest high fructose corn syrup or corn syrup. I am also limited with gluten. I already knew that I was lactose intolerant, so I knew to take a little capsule to help with that. But the other thing, there is nothing to help, no cure but to avoid them. It means that almost everything that is processed has HFCS!! My diet now consists of meat and veggies (not all) and fruit (not all because some have more fructose than I can handle). Very basic but I have NO MORE DIARRHEA. Yay!
Find a good doctor that will test for this.

Two years ago, I had a bout with c diff after taking antibiotics for a salivary gland infection. Vancomycin cleared it up, but it seemed my intestines were never quite the same after. I would have short bouts of diarrhea, but then get over it. About 6 months ago, I started having week-long episodes of diarrhea ever few weeks, along with abdominal pain, nausea, gas and bloating. I was miserable.
I just couldn’t figure it out, and neither could my family physician. I had stool tests and c diff tests, but all was normal. I decided to keep a food journal to see if there was any pattern. To make a long story short, I discovered it was the fault of eating SOY products. The week-long episodes coincided with bicycle trips where I would eat protein bars that had soy for the protein. I would also drink soy energy drinks for breakfast. After eliminating soy from my diet, it was a difference of day and night with how I felt, and the diarrhea is a thing of the past.
I now realize why the Archway macaroons didn’t work for me, as they contain soybean lecithin. Eating out is a little more challenging now, but I just ask the server what kind of oil they use in the kitchen for cooking and frying (it usually is soy oil), and I can usually steer clear of trouble. If you check the labels of products in the store, a high percentage of prepared foods contain some form of soy, so I have become an avid label reader. I never dreamed I had a problem with soy, but it sure was an easy fix.

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