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What are Home Remedies for Diarrhea?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Most cases of diarrhea resolve within a few days, and simply require rest and intake of extra fluids to prevent dehydration. In some cases, chronic conditions like irritable bowel syndrome can cause ongoing bouts of diarrhea. Occasionally children end up with a lengthy case of diarrhea after initial irritation by a stomach virus.

When the cause of diarrhea is not determined as dangerous, or requiring medical assistance, home remedies can help reduce and often resolve the problem. The most common recommended home remedy is following the BRAT, or in some cases the BRATTY diet.

BRAT is an acronym, standing for bananas, rice, applesauce and toast. BRATTY stands for bananas, rice, applesauce, toast, tea, and yogurt. Most doctors recommend adhering to a diet that contains only these foods, as they help to bulk up the intestines and have a slightly constipating effect.

Many pediatricians now suggest the BRATTY version of the diet to resolve the problem in children, because of the active cultures present in yogurt. These cultures can help restore the natural balance of “good bacteria” after antibiotic use, or when the stomach is depleted by a viral case of diarrhea. Tea for children should be herbal, although decaffeinated green tea is also an excellent choice. In adults, green tea is relatively low in caffeine and has numerous health benefits.

Rice used should be brown rice, rather than white rice. Brown rice has greater dietary fiber content and will help add bulk so that diarrhea lessens. Toast should also be whole wheat when possible, to add fiber. However, nothing like butter or jam should be added as these may worsen the condition.

Applesauce contains pectin, which helps to naturally firm very soft or liquid bowel movements. Apple juice, conversely, contains little pectin, and may cause more frequent diarrhea. Rather than toast and jam, one might appeal to the picky eater by offering toast with an applesauce dip on the side.

The disadvantage to the BRAT diet is that it contains very little protein. The BRATTY diet, on the other hand, is a sustainable diet when yogurt is added. One should avoid yogurts high in sugar, as excess sucrose can increase the problem. One should also check to be certain the yogurt contains active live cultures, as these helpful bacteria can help eliminate stomach problems and make yogurt a digestible milk product for most who are lactose intolerant.

Usually, several days on the BRATTY diet can help restore one to a more normal cycle of bowel movements. Chronic diarrhea in adults may also be helped by daily intake of dietary fiber. Though fiber is often blamed for loose bowel moments, it has an undeserved reputation.

Regular intake of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of fiber can actually help to bulk up bowel movements and reduce diarrhea. Those who have irritable bowel syndrome are particularly encouraged to eat at last the RDA of dietary fiber daily. If unable to consume that much fiber, fiber supplements are readily available to help supplement a healthy diet.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.
Discussion Comments
By anon313336 — On Jan 11, 2013

My friend has been looking around for diarrhea remedies in Boise Idaho and this is interesting information! How synonymous is Diarrhea with IBS?

By anon262906 — On Apr 21, 2012

What natural cream or something can I use to clear the burn on me after the diarrhea?

By anon221163 — On Oct 11, 2011

So, why is it raw apples cause diarrhea, but applesauce cures it? Pectin is present in both.

By AniyahF — On Feb 10, 2011

I think drinking more water to avoid dehydration and a medicine will help. Is it possible that the foods kids eat might be triggering for ADHD? A correlation among eating habits and ADHD was suggested by a recent study. However, medical experts familiar with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder questioned the researchers' recommendation that diet become part of standard treatment for the condition.

By anon118317 — On Oct 13, 2010

For mou6130: I had chronic irritable bowel syndrome for many years to the point that I had to give up my work. I would have as many as 20 bowel motions in the first part of the day. I have been tested more than once for gluten intolerance and that tests as negative.

Even so, I eventually stopped eating gluten and within two days my IBS symptoms had halved along with with reflux and chronic fatigue. That must be two years ago now and I still find that if I eat gluten products (e.g., wheat being the most common one) my diarrhea returns. Some of us can be intolerant to gluten but it does not show in the test that is currently available. Its definitely worth a try to eliminate it. Good luck. Carmel

By mou6130 — On Sep 14, 2010

I used to live in the united states and came to Bangladesh three years ago. I came here when I was 16 and I just turned 19 three months ago. I now live in Dhaka,one of the most polluted cities in the world.

Where I live, the water supply isn't that great so now I drink and cook with store bought water. But before this, for about two and a half years, I've been suffering from diarrhea and indigestion. I have lost a lot of weight and I'm guessing minerals too, from my body. My skin has changed dramatically. Recently, my teeth became slightly loose and about a year ago I developed a cavities in like eight of my teeth all at once.

The dentist had me take an x-ray of my jaw and it turns out that the bones that hold my teeth and make then strong have started to disintegrate. He gave me calcium and vitamin D supplements but those didn't help since I have diarrhea and its hard to digest and absorb calcium tablets I guess. But none of my teeth have fallen out or gotten looser and I didn't develop any more cavities after that.

And before, when I had diarrhea, I never really paid attention to it. I would just restrict my diet a little and it would go away in like two or three days. I never took any medicine for it. I rarely took medicine for anything because my biology teacher once told me that taking medicine decreases your resistance to the disease.

Every time I had the flu or anything it would just go away by itself. So when I came to Bangladesh, I though this would go away by itself, too. I mean it wasn't anything severe at first. I just had a couple of loose stools but it wasn't completely watery. I ate like I regularly would and my diet included a lot of junk food and sugar and also caffeine. And there was that stress from school too, which caused me to consume more coffee to make it through the night and things of that sort.

Now, I regularly eat cooked green bananas, sometimes twice a day and it helps a lot. I went to the doctor and he ran some tests but said that there were no viral or bacterial infections in my gut. He gave me a medicine called "lopamid" and told me to take it every other morning before breakfast. It helped at first but now it doesn't work as great as it used to.

I've visited the united states three times after I came here and when I go back there, my digestion improves but not completely. Also, about one month after I came to Bangladesh, I had problems sleeping at night. I adjusted to the 12 hour time difference but I feel extremely sleepy during the evening but as soon as it's night it's like I'm an insomniac or something and I can't sleep until like 4 or 5 in the morning.

When I go back to the united states to visit, the same thing happens with sleep. I went to see a doctor about this and he gave me a medicine called "amilin" which is 25 mg and he told me to take it around 6 every evening. I've been taking this for about four months now and I can sleep fine but when I don't take it, the same sleeping problems return.

My health is getting worse by the day and I just don't know what to do. If someone can help or advice me in anyway, I would really appreciate it. I'm desperate, please someone help me.

By anon110899 — On Sep 13, 2010

i took zinc and my diarrhea stopped. i had it for several weeks.

By anon104924 — On Aug 18, 2010

@anon14020: Fiber only makes diarrhea worse when the underlying cause is something other than diet such as IBS or Crohn's Disease. If it just just certain foods that give a person diarrhea or if someone simply suffers from chronic diarrhea without having any medical condition, fiber is always the best option. It absorbs the excess water in the stool and gives it "bulk."

It will only draw in more water when all of the water in the stool has been absorbed and there is still dry fiber left (which is highly unlikely).

By anon93488 — On Jul 04, 2010

in response to 3: you are so right! The question is to what is the diarrhea due? If it is IBS, then don't eat whole grains and no applesauce either. You should have rice, toast, you can have cooked fruit and plain pasta is OK too as well as non-fatty chicken (no soy sauce or oil).

By anon86560 — On May 25, 2010

Thank god my best friend told me about this. We were about to take our two year old the doctor for the worst case of diarrhea I've ever seen. The applesauce alone (she wouldn't eat anything else) regulated her back to normal. I'm keeping this for everybody in the house to stay regular!

By anon73586 — On Mar 28, 2010

The BRATTY diet worked, thank you, one week of continuous drink or eat, gone in 10 seconds. I took everything over the counter. Then the internet had this remedy from an angel. Can't thank you enough.

By eddiegrice — On Dec 21, 2009

Regarding post 2: Once the diarrhea has stopped and constipation has set in, slowly start adding in small amounts of fiber. A switch to brown bread is normally the best kick start your bowels need.

Regarding your weakness, read my post below regarding blood sugar when on the BRAT diet and start eating some sweets. Also, custard is extremely good here. High in sugar but still very low residue.

By eddiegrice — On Dec 21, 2009

Regarding Post number 4: Be careful buying anti-diarrhea drugs if you are suffering from short term diarrhea. The cause of most short term diarrhea episodes is a most common viral infection.

By taking drugs that stop the diarrhea you will be giving the virus more time to multiply within your bowel and will only prolong you symptoms and suffering. The virus has to come out so don't take anything that will stop that. I learned this the hard way!

Regarding post 3: Correct! The idea behind the BRAT diet is low residue/low fiber. The aim of the diet is not to bulk up the stool, but for you to be eating foods that will pass through the bowel so the bowel won't strain (as is the case with the silly 24 hour fasters) without leaving anything (namely fiber and fat) behind for viruses to feed upon.

The bottom line is to eat a low residue diet and don't take anything that will medically stop the diarrhea (unless you suffer from chronic diarrhea -- for example in IBS). If you suffer from IBS you should be eating low residue and taking Buscopan.

It's vitally important to keep fluids up, but most soups and broths, despite popular opinion, will only aggravate diarrhea. Soups are not low residue. This idea comes from taking soup when we have a fever and are dehydrated as it replaces lost electrolytes. Instead, just stick to plain old clear water. The problem here though is that water has no nutritional value, and coupled with the BRAT diet you will be losing energy fast as your blood sugar level will be dropping.

Every so often have a suck on hard boiled candy. Hard boiled candy is mostly digested by amylase in the mouth and then destroyed by stomach acids, thus it will keep your energy up without entering and compromising the bowels.

So the simple rules are:

1: Eat only low residue foods.

2: Drink plenty of clear liquids (water).

3: Eat some hard boiled candy.

4: Do not take anti-diarrhea meds unless for chronic diarrhea.

5: Do not fast, you'll only strain the bowels

P.S: For all type of diarrhea, either viral or chronic, if you are suffering from stomach cramps, the best painkiller for this is co-codamol 8mg/300mg coupled with Buscopan 10mg. Go see your doc for this.

Also, if you have strained the bowels and your anus is hurting, ask your doctor for Instillagel or a similar anal anesthetic.

By anon37151 — On Jul 17, 2009

I dissolve 7 teaspoons of sugar and 1 teaspoon of salt in one liter of water and drink it sip by sip when I have the bum squirts.. That helps me every time! but if you want to spend money you can also buy ORS at the drugstore.

By anon14020 — On Jun 09, 2008

You should never use whole wheat toast or whole wheat pasta. Although they are high in fiber and could hypothetically help "bulk" up your stools, studies have shown with people who have diarrhea, it has the opposite effect! Fiber enhances a persons ability to go the bathroom so needless to say if a person has a diarrhea, fiber is only going to worsen it. Not only does fiber enhance ones ability to go the bathroom it can cause gas only making a person with gastrointestinal problems more uncomfortable.

By releived — On May 11, 2008

I had a week of severe diarrhea and then medication combined with the BRAT diet did the trick. I am now feeling well but weak. (I'm 73) However the pendulum has swung the other way and I haven't had a motion for a couple of days. My question is when should I attempt to address this by taking fruit and fiber? I am at the moment quite comfortable with my condition but do not wish to encourage a return to loose bowel nor do I wish to have severe constipation.

By somerset — On Feb 19, 2008

In some cultures dark chocolate is used to help stop diarrhea. It appears that some recent studies have confirmed that in fact some compounds in dark chocolate slow down the loss of fluid.

Tricia Christensen
Tricia Christensen
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
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