Home Health Home Remedies for Diarrhea: Effective Strategies and Tips

Home Remedies for Diarrhea: Effective Strategies and Tips

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Home Remedies for Diarrhea: Effective Strategies and Tips

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Let’s face it: Diarrhea straight up stinks (pun intended). That “uh-oh” urgency to run to the bathroom, especially multiple times per day, can get pretty annoying (and even painful at times). Thankfully, there are lots of different home remedies for diarrhea that you can implement ASAP to get relief.

“Acute diarrhea can be due to many root causes, from lactose intolerance, to an infection, or even food poisoning,” says Elena Ivanina, DO, MPH, a gastroenterologist and founder of the Center for Integrative Gut Health in New York City. While it’s important to get to the bottom of your diarrhea (especially if it’s more than a one-off event like a stomach bug), your primary focus at the moment is probably just curbing the flow of liquid stool so you can feel…a little less like death.

And with that, here are some at-home remedies to stop diarrhea, plus when to see the doctor if you just can’t stop pooping.

1. Eat easy-to-digest foods

Not everyone has an appetite when they have diarrhea. But if you’re up for it, eating soft and bland foods is usually your best bet. This could be things like the following, per the International Foundation for Gastrointestinal Disorders (IFFGD):

  • Toast
  • White rice
  • Bananas
  • Applesauce
  • Plain white pasta
  • Yogurt
  • Eggs

“These foods are mild and easy to digest, making them great choices for calming the intestines,” says Danielle VenHuizen, RD, a Seattle, Washington-based dietitian specializing in gut health.

You can also try eating more foods with soluble fiber. Unlike other types (i.e., insoluble fiber), it has “the ability to absorb water and bulk up stool, which slows transit time [through the gut],” says VenHuizen. “I like to think of it as the soft, soothing type of fiber.”

Some foods high in soluble fiber include the following, per VenHuizen:

  • Oats
  • Peas
  • Peeled apples
  • Peeled pears
  • Barley

2. Limit trigger foods

When you have a bout of diarrhea, you’re going to want to steer clear of anything that will further irritate your gut (i.e., cause a poop emergency). Some things that could trigger an upset stomach include the following, per the IFFGD:

  • Caffeine
  • Alcohol
  • Sugary juices
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Fatty or fried foods
  • Sugary snacks

It may also be helpful to take a break from foods high in insoluble fiber. “Insoluble fiber is a “scratchy” fiber. It slightly irritates the lining of the intestines, which then increases intestinal contractions,” says VenHuizen. “This can be a great strategy for constipation, but can make diarrhea worse.” Some foods with insoluble fiber you’ll want to avoid for a while include the following, per VenHuizen:

  • Whole wheat
  • Wheat bran
  • Quinoa
  • Brown rice
  • Legumes (i.e., beans)
  • Nuts
  • Seeds
  • Leafy greens
  • Cruciferous vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, etc.)
  • Fruits with the skin on

3. Hydrate

You lose a lot of fluids when you have diarrhea—thanks to all the liquid coming out in your poop. Unfortunately, this can lead to dehydration. To help keep your fluid levels up, you’ll have to replace them by drinking more. “Some doctors say to have a cup of liquid every time you have a loose bowel movement,” adds Dr. Ivanina.

A good place to start is by drinking plain ol’ water, but if the thought of that makes you queasy, you can try hot water with lemon, warm broth, or an herbal tea like peppermint, ginger, or fennel. (More on herbs in a few.)

Dr. Ivanina also recommends trying electrolyte-rich options like coconut water, or adding a powder like LMNT to your regular glass of H2O for an extra boost of nutrients.

4. Add pectin

Pectin is a type of soluble fiber found in many different fruits and vegetables that may also help curb diarrhea. If you’re having a pretty extreme case, and your food choices aren’t cutting it, you can get powdered pectin at the grocery store (it’s usually near pudding mixes in the baking aisle).

Just mix 1 tablespoon of pectin with 1/4 cup of lemon water, and drink it 20 to 30 minutes before eating a meal or snack for best results, per the IFFGD.

5. Pop probiotics

Adding some good bacteria, particularly strains like Lactobacillus and Saccharomyces, to your GI tract might help reduce your diarrhea. This is especially true if your diarrhea is a side effect from taking antibiotics, according to an August 2022 paper in Healthcare. (Antibiotics can wipe both the bad and good bacteria from your gut, causing some mild digestive upset as a result.)

Probiotics can also help you regain equilibrium after a GI infection, too. “Infections cause inflammation of the gut lining and disturb your gut microbiome, so it’s worth asking your doctor about taking probiotics and prebiotics after your illness has cleared, to support gut healing,” says Dr. Ivanina.

6. Turn to herbs

While any herbal tea will help you stay hydrated, you’ve got a few options that may actively help make your diarrhea less awful, say Dr. Ivanina and VenHuizen. Not only that, but if your diarrhea is caused by stress, sipping on a steaming cup of tea could help you relax.

Some common herbal remedies for diarrhea include the following:

  • Peppermint: Peppermint essential oil “works by relaxing the intestines and reducing spasms, which slows down stool transit time. This may reduce cramping and discomfort associated with diarrhea,” says VenHuizen. Sip peppermint tea or try peppermint oil capsules like IBGard.
  • Ginger: “It has potent antioxidant properties that can help slow and regulate intestinal movement,” says VenHuizen. Again, ginger tea can do the trick, or try ginger chews like The Ginger People GinGins. You can also try mixing ginger with other spices to help gut health and inflammation, like turmeric.
  • Fennel: Fennel tea, which has long been used as a digestive aid, “can be great for cramps associated with diarrhea,” says Dr. Ivanina.

7. Consider an elimination diet

If you think your diarrhea might be caused by a food sensitivity or intolerance, a temporary elimination diet can help you tease out the offending food or ingredient, says VenHuizen. It’s best to check in with your doctor first though, especially if you’re considering cutting out multiple foods or food groups at the same time. Together, you can come up with a plan for how long you’ll need to cut the foods out and when and how to reintroduce them.

TIP

Try keeping a food diary while cutting out certain foods, to help keep track of which ones trigger diarrhea.

When to choose home remedies vs. medication

If none of the above helps stop your diarrhea, you can turn to over-the-counter (OTC) medicine as a last resort, says Dr. Ivanina. Things like Imodium or Pepto-Bismol could help slow down your bowels and reduce any painful cramping or discomfort.

That said, OTC meds won’t actually treat the underlying cause of diarrhea. In fact, if your diarrhea is caused by an infection, taking Imodium could make things worse by trapping stool in your intestines for too long, says Dr. Ivanina.

Bottom line: It’s fine to take Imodium or Pepto-Bismol occasionally if you just need to get through the day (i.e., you’re at work or you’re traveling). But if your diarrhea is persistent or comes with other symptoms like fever, chills, vomiting, or blood in your stool, you should hold off on the meds and get to your doctor first, to figure out and treat the underlying cause.

When to see the doctor

“The best way to deal with diarrhea really depends on what’s causing it,” says Dr. Ivanina. If it’s caused by an infection or illness, for example, you may need to see a doctor for a course of antibiotics or other form of treatment. But if your diarrhea is from a chronic issue (like a food intolerance or underlying GI disorder), it may keep coming back until you address your condition.

If your diarrhea lasts for more than two days, reach out to your doctor. Persistent loose stools can put you at risk for dehydration, and could be a sign of a more serious GI issue that needs to be treated.

You should also get to the doctor if you have any of the following, per Johns Hopkins Medicine:

  • Symptoms of dehydration—like fatigue, dizziness, less urine, or dry mouth
  • Diarrhea with rectal bleeding
  • Black or tarry stools

FAQ

Should you let diarrhea run its course?

Diarrhea caused by an infection should go away on its own within a day or two. You should make an effort drink plenty of fluids to avoid dehydration, but other than that, you don’t need to do anything to treat it, says Dr. Ivanina. If your diarrhea lasts longer than two days, get in to see the doctor, as it could be a sign of a bigger issue.

Why do I get diarrhea after drinking certain drinks?

If you’re talking about caffeinated drinks or alcohol, it’s a pretty common thing. Caffeine can have a laxative effect, especially in large quantities (think: more than two to three cups of coffee per day), notes the IFFGD. And as for booze? Alcohol irritates your GI tract to make you poop more, and over time, heavy drinking might throw your microbiome out of whack.


Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.


  1. Kopacz K, Phadtare S. Probiotics for the Prevention of Antibiotic-Associated Diarrhea. Healthcare (Basel). 2022 Aug 2;10(8):1450. doi: 10.3390/healthcare10081450. PMID: 36011108; PMCID: PMC9408191.



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Harmony Evans is an award-winning author of Harlequin Kimani Romance, African-American romance, and so on. Harmony Evans is an award-winning author for Harlequin Kimani Romance, the leading publisher of African-American romance. Her 2nd novel, STEALING KISSES, will be released in November 2013. Harmony is a single mom to a beautiful, too-smart-for-her-own-good daughter, who makes her grateful for life daily. Her hobbies include cooking, baking, knitting, reading, and of course, napping and also review some of the best-selling and popular brands and services in the market and also write comprehensive blogs.

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