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Homeopathic Medicines for Diarrhoea and Dysentery


Homeopathic Journal :: Volume: 1, Issue: 6, Sep-Oct 2008 (General Theme)   -   from Homeorizon.com
Author : Dr. Sameer Chaukkar, Professor. Department of Materia Medica and Pediatrics. YMT Homeopathic Medical College and Post Graduate Institute, Kharghar, Navi Mumbai, India
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Article Updated: Oct 18, 2009


What is diarrhoea?
Diarrhoea is the passage of loose, watery stools occurring more than three times in one day. It is a common problem that usually lasts a day or two and goes away on its own without any special treatment. However, prolonged diarrhoea can be a sign of other problems. Diarrhoea can cause dehydration, which means the body lacks enough fluid to function properly and it must be treated promptly to avoid serious health problems.
Diarrhoea is also called loose motions. Diarrhoea is not itself a disease, but can be a symptom of several disease. Diarrhoea means there are frequent, loose or liquid stools. There may abdominal pain, which may reduce after a stool is passed. Acute diarrhoea may come on suddenly for a short time. Chronic diarrhoea may affect someone for a long period of time. If you have diarrhoea for long periods of time, it may very troubling and you may feel very weak and tired.

Diarrhoea causes dehydration. Children are more likely than adults to die from diarrhoea because they become dehydrated more quickly. Diarrhoea is also a major cause of child malnutrition.

Causes of Diarrhoea

Diarrhoea can be caused by a variety of reasons.

The most common causes are:

  • Overeating or eating of wrong foods.
  • Putrefaction in the intestine tract.
  • Fermentation caused by incomplete carbohydrate digestion.
  • Nervous irritability and
  • Excessive intake of laxatives

Other causes include:

  • Infection caused by parasites, germs, virus, bacteria or a poison, which has entered into the body through food, water or air.
  • Allergies to common foods such as milk, wheat, eggs and sea- foods may contribute to diarrhoea.
  • Emotional strain or stress in adults and fright in children could also cause diarrhoea.
  • Use of antibiotic drugs. This is due to the destruction of the beneficial bacteria in intestines along with pathogenic bacteria at which the antibiotic treatment was aimed.
  • Diarrhoea may be a prominent feature of organic diseases affecting the small or large intestine such as the sprue syndrome, malignant disease and ulcerative colitis. It may also result from operations on the gastro-intestinal tract.
  • Diarrhoea may alternate with constipation. This may be a result of the irritation of the mucous membrane by impacted hard faces.

Apart from the common causes, the causes of acute and chronic diarrhoea may differ. An acute diarrhoea condition could be caused by:

  • Viral gastroenteritis- is the most common cause of acute diarrhoea worldwide Symptoms of viral gastroenteritis include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, and diarrhoea. It typically last only 48-72 hrs.
  • Food poisoning- Food poisoning is a brief illness that is caused by toxins produced by bacteria. It also causes the small intestine to secrete large amounts of water that leads to diarrhoea.
  • Traveler's Diarrhoea- Tourists visiting foreign countries with warm climates and poor sanitation can acquire ETEC (Enterotoxigenic E. coli or ETEC) by eating contaminated foods such as fruits, vegetables, seafood, raw meat, water, and ice cubes. Toxins produced by ETEC cause the sudden onset of diarrhoea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and sometimes vomiting.
  • Bacterial enterocolitis- Disease-causing bacteria usually invade the small intestines and colon and cause enterocolitis (inflammation of the small intestine and colon). Bacterial enterocolitis is characterized by signs of inflammation (blood or pus in the stool, fever) and abdominal pain and diarrhoea.
  • Parasites- Cryptosporidium is a diarrhoea-producing parasite that is spread by contaminated water because it can survive chlorination Cyclospora is a diarrhoea-producing parasite that has been associated with contaminated raspberries from Guatemala.
  • Drugs- Drug-induced diarrhoea is very common because many drugs cause diarrhoea. The clue to drug-induced diarrhoea is that the diarrhoea begins soon after treatment with the drug is begun. The medications that most frequently cause diarrhoea are antacids and nutritional supplements that contain magnesium.

A chronic diarrhoea condition is characterized by:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome: The irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) is a functional cause of diarrhoea or constipation.
  • Infectious diseases: There are a few infectious diseases that can cause chronic diarrhoea, for example, Giardia lamblia. Patients with AIDS often have chronic infections of their intestines that cause diarrhoea.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD): Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis, diseases causing inflammation of the small intestine and/or colon, commonly cause chronic diarrhoea.
  • Colon Cancer: Colon cancer can cause either diarrhoea or constipation. If the cancer blocks the passage of stool, it usually causes constipation.
  • Sometimes, however, a blockage causes the secretion of water behind the blockage, and liquid stool from behind the blockage leaks around the cancer and results in diarrhoea.
  • Severe constipation: By blocking the colon, hardened stool can lead to the same problems as colon cancer, as discussed previously.
  • Endocrine diseases: Several endocrine diseases (imbalances of hormones) may cause diarrhoea, for example, an over-active thyroid gland (hyperthyroidism) and an under-active pituitary or adrenal gland.
  • Laxative abuse: The abuse of laxatives by individuals who want to lose weight is an occasional cause of diarrhoea.

Consequences of Diarrhoea:

Diarrhoea for prolonged periods can lead to certain complications. These may include:

  • General weakening of health: due to loss of vitamins like vitamin A, E and K and other nutrients as food is rushed through the body without giving the nutrients a chance of being absorbed, dehydration due to loss of body fluids and flushing out of minerals from the body and nervous conditions.
  • Dehydration: also poses a serious problem, especially when diarrhoea is accompanied by vomiting. It can even be fatal if unchecked. Dehydration is characterized by hot, dry skin over the abdomen, sunken eyes, dry mouth, intense thirst and reduced flow of urine. This can usually be prevented by regular and continuous intake of liquid. It is advisable to have about 150 to 200 ml. of fluid every hour.

Diarrhoea refers to the frequent passage of loose or watery unformed stools

Pathophysiology:
The intestines normally get more than 10 litres of liquid per day, which comes from the regular food intake and from the secretions of the stomach, liver, pancreas and intestines. In the case of Diarrhoea, water is either not absorbed or is secreted in excess by the organs of the body.

What happens is, in the course of normal digestion, food is kept liquid by the secretion of large amounts of water by the stomach, upper small intestine, pancreas, and gallbladder. Food that is not digested reaches the lower small intestine and colon in liquid form. The lower small intestine and particularly the colon absorb the water, turning the undigested food into a more-or-less solid stool with form

Increased amounts of water in stool can occur if the stomach and/or small intestine secretes too much fluid, the small intestine and colon do not absorb enough water, or the undigested, liquid food passes too quickly through the small intestine and colon for them to remove enough water. Of course, more than one of these abnormal processes may occur at the same time.

In many cases, the root cause can be traced to the existence of some viruses, bacteria and parasites which cause increased secretion of fluid, either by entering and causing inflammation to the lining of the small intestine leading to excess secretion of fluid or by producing toxins that stimulate the lining to secrete fluid but without causing inflammation.

What are the Symptoms of diarrhoea?

  • Frequent, loose, watery stools.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting.
  • Stomach pains.
  • Fever.
  • Abdominal pain.
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Dehydration.
  • Pricking sensation.
  • Sometimes bacterial or parasitic infections sometimes cause bloody stools.

You may recover complete from diarrhea within three to seven days. One out of every ten people with cancer may suffer from diarrhoea at some time during their illness. If the diarrhoea lasts more than three weeks, it is considered chronic.

Diarrhoea can be either acute or chronic. The acute form, which lasts less than 3 weeks, is usually related to a bacterial, viral, or parasitic infection. Chronic diarrhoea lasts more than 3 weeks and is usually related to functional disorders like irritable bowel syndrome or diseases like coeliac disease or inflammatory bowel disease.

How is it diagnosed?

Diagnostic tests to find the cause of diarrhoea include the following:

  • Medical history and physical examination. The doctor will need to know about the eating habits and medication use and will examine for signs of illness.
  • Stool culture: Lab technicians analyse a sample of stool to check for bacteria, parasites, or other signs of disease or infection.
  • Blood tests: Blood tests can be helpful in ruling out certain diseases.
  • Fasting tests: To find out if a food intolerance or allergy is causing the diarrhoea, the doctor may ask one to avoid lactose (found in milk products), carbohydrates, wheat, or other foods to see whether the diarrhoea responds to a change in diet.
  • Sigmoidoscopy: For this test, the doctor uses a special instrument to look at the inside of the rectum and lower part of the colon.
  • Colonoscopy: This test is similar to sigmoidoscopy, but the doctor looks at the entire large intestine.

What is the treatment?
In most cases, replacing lost fluid to prevent dehydration is the only treatment necessary. Medicines that stop diarrhoea may be helpful in some cases, but they are not recommended for people whose diarrhoea is from a bacterial infection or parasite, stopping the diarrhoea traps the organism in the intestines, prolonging the problem. Instead, doctors usually prescribe antibiotics. Viral causes are either treated with medication or left to run their course, depending on the severity and type of the virus.
In adults with diarrhoea, it may help to drink plenty of fluids to avoid becoming dehydrated. Adding bulk to the diet may thicken the stool and decrease the frequency of stools. Certain foods thicken the stools, including rice, bananas, yogurt, and cheese. An increase in fibre from whole-wheat grains and bran add bulk to the diet.

Preventing dehydration:

Dehydration occurs when the body has lost too much fluid and electrolytes (the salts potassium and sodium). The fluid and electrolytes lost during diarrhoea need to be replaced promptly, the body cannot function properly without them. Although water is extremely important in preventing dehydration, it does not contain electrolytes. To maintain electrolyte levels, one could have broth or soups, which contain sodium, and fruit juices, soft fruits, or vegetables, which contain potassium.

Tips about food:

  • Until diarrhoea subsides, one should try to avoid milk products and foods that are greasy, high-fibre, or very sweet. These foods tend to aggravate diarrhoea.
  • As one improves, one can add soft, bland foods to the diet, including bananas, plain rice, boiled potatoes, toast, cooked carrots, and baked chicken without the skin or fat.
  • Traveller's diarrhoea happens when one consumes food or water contaminated with bacteria, viruses, or parasites. One can take the following precautions to prevent traveller's diarrhoea when one goes abroad:
    • Do not drink any tap water, not even when brushing your teeth.
    • Do not drink unpasteurized milk or dairy products.
    • Do not use ice made from tap water.
    • Avoid all raw fruits and vegetables (including lettuce and fruit salad) unless they can be peeled and you peel them yourself.
    • Do not eat raw or rare meat and fish.
    • Do not eat food from street vendors.

One can safely drink bottled water, carbonated soft drinks, and hot drinks like coffee or tea. Depending on where one is going and the period of stay, the doctor may recommend some antibiotics before leaving to protect one from possible infection.

Dysentery

Dysentery is an infection of the intestine (gut) caused by an amoeba called Entamoeba histolytica. Dysentery is caused by ingestion of food containing this amoeba, causing a disease in which inflammation of the intestines affect the body significantly. It is associated with colicky pain in the abdomen, and liquid or semi-solid stools mixed with mucus and blood. If you have dysentery for long periods of time, it may very distressing and you may feel very weak and tired.

Dysentery is a condition characterised by inflammation of the bowels. The inflammation results in severe stomach pains. Dysentery also involves severe diarrhea that is often associated with bood in the feces. Diarrhea can be fatal too if the body dehydrates completely.

Dysentery is a disease involving the inflammation of the lining of the large intestines. The inflammation causes stomach pains and diarrhoea. Some cases involve vomiting and fever. The bacteria enters the body through the mouth in food or water, and also by human feaces and contact with infected people. The diarrhoea causes people suffering from dysentery to lose important salts and fluids from the body. This can be fatal if the body dehydrates.

There are two types of dysentery.
1) Bacterial Dysentery - Shigellosis , which is caused by one of several type of Shigella bacteria - In this the stool comes mixed with blood.
2) Amoebic Dysentery - In this mucus may present in the stools, along with the organism.

Some of the main symptoms of dysentery are listed below:
  • The main symptom of dysentery is a bloody diarrhea.
  • Abdominal Cramps.
  • Fever.
  • Rectal pain.
  • Restricted bowel movements.
  • Frequent watery motions.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Stomach pains.

What are the causes of dysentery?

The two most common causes of dysentery are infection with bacteria of the Shigella group, and infection by an ameba called Entamoeba histolytica. They are primarily diseases of the tropics, but may occur in any climate.

Some other causes of dysentery are:
  • Digestive bacterial infection.
  • Digestive viral infection.
  • Scurvy.
  • Bowel ulceration.

How is dysentery Spread?

Amoebic dysentery is passed on by carelessness of people and negligible hygiene. The Entamoeba histolytica amoeba and the shigella bacteria often thrive in food and water contaminated by human feces. As these parasites live in the large intestine, they travel in the feces of infected people, and a number of times bacillary dysentery has occurred as the feces contaminate the water supplies where sanitation is poor, or where sewage mixes with drinking water.

Amoebic dysentery can also occur due to contamination of fruits and vegetables in areas where human feces are used as fertilizer or where contaminated food is consumed without adequate heat treatment. Fruits and vegetables grown with contaminated water are another common source of disease. When these cysts reach the intestine of another person the individual amoebae are released from the cysts and now they are easily able to cause infection.

Infections can also spread through households, through dirty hands of infected people especially when they don't wash their hands after using the bathroom, after changing diapers, or before handling food. Shigella infections tend to be especially contagious.

Dysentery is a serious condition affecting the large intestine. It is characterised by inflammation and ulceration of the bowel, a colic pain in the region of the abdomen and passing of liquid or semi-formed stools with mucus and blood. Chidden are more prone to this disease than adults.
The pathological condition of dysentery is caused by two organisms, protozoa and bacilli. The dysentery caused by former is generally known as amoebic dysentery and by latter as bacillary dysentery. An attack of amoebic dysentery is milder in comparison with bacillary dysentery. But while bacillary dysentery can respond quickly to treatment, amoebic dysentery does not, unless the patient is very careful.
Dysentery is prevalent all over the world, except in very cold countries. Places, where poor sanitary conditions prevail, are particularly affected. The disease is most common in late summer, and in hot, tropical climates.

Symptoms
Dysentery in children may be acute or chronic. The acute form is characterised by pain in the abdomen, diarrhoea and dysenteric motions. Yellowish white mucus and sometimes only blood from the intestinal ulcers is passed with stools. The evacuations are preceded by pain and tenesmus. The child feels a constant desire to evacuate his bowels, although there may be nothing to throw off except a little mucus and blood. There is a feeling of pain in the rectum and along the large intestine. With the advance of disease, the quantity of mucus and blood increases.
Occasionally, casts or shreads of skin-like mucous membrane, from small fragments to 12 inches or so, long and an inch wide, are seen to pass out with motions. Sometimes pus is also thrown out with motion and often the small of the stools becomes very foetid. All the digestive processes are upset and secretions are changed or stopped.
Chronic cases are after-effects of acute attacks. The child does not recover completely. Stool remains putrid and may contain blood, while diarrhoea and constipation may alternate, and general health is disturbed. In severe cases, the temperature may rise to 104 o to 105 o F. It may occasionally become subnormal also.

How can dysentery be prevented?

Good hygiene and a little common sense are the keys to avoiding dysentery. If you're visiting or living in an area with poor sanitation, be especially wary of the water. Simply brushing your teeth with tap water or tossing a couple of ice cubes in a drink can be enough to make you sick. In many areas, the only safe beverages are boiled water, canned or bottled sodas, beer, wine, and tea and coffee (made with boiled water). If it's not possible to boil your water, treat it with chemical disinfectants such as iodine or chlorine. For extra protection, strain the water through an "absolute 1 micron" filter (available at camping supply stores) before adding the disinfectant.

In many places, the food can be as risky as the water. You should be especially suspicious of salads, uncooked fruits and vegetables, unpasteurized milk, raw meat, shellfish, and any foods sold by street vendors. In general, fruits that you peel yourself and hot meals are safer choices.

If you have the infection, you can protect others around you by washing your hands regularly with soap and water, especially after using the toilet, after changing diapers, and before preparing food.

Treatment

If you have diarrhoea and vomiting, it's very important to drink plenty of fluids to replace those lost and stop you getting dehydrated. Water, fruit juice and isotonic (sports) drinks that replace salts and minerals are best. In severe cases, fluid can be given by intravenous drip at a hospital if required.

If you have amoebic dysentery your GP may prescribe metronidazole.

Since most cases of dysentery are short, antibiotics are only used if the dysentery doesn't clear up on its own. Antibiotics can also be used to stop the spread of dysentery to other people if there is a high risk.

Complications

Young children and babies who have dysentery can quickly become dehydrated. Its very important make sure they get plenty of fluids to replace those lost, or dysentery can be fatal.

Occasionally, amoebic dysentery can spread from the intestine through the bloodstream to other organs such as the liver, lungs and brain and can cause additional

Prevention

Dysentery is spread because of poor hygiene measures. To minimise the risk of catching the disease you should:

  • wash hands after using the toilet and regularly throughout the day, particularly after coming in contact with an infected person,
  • keep contact with an infected person to a minimum,
  • avoid sharing towels and facecloths,
  • wash the laundry of an infected person on the hottest setting possible, and
  • wash your hands before handling, eating or cooking food, handling babies and feeding the young or the elderly.

Avoid drinking tap water in countries with poor sanitation systems or that are known to carry waterborne infections. Avoid ice cubes, and salad and vegetables that have been washed in local tap water as well.

Homoeopathic Drugs for Diarrhoea and dysentery

1)    Aloe socotrina

2)    Podophyllum

3)    Croton tig

4)    Gambogia

5)    Acid Phos

6)    Veratrum album

The medicines specially likely to guard against an attack are Ipecacuanha and Arsenicum. Those who have to pass through malarious districts where dysentery abounds, or who reside in places where it is prevalent, should take these two medicines in the 3rd potency each twice a day in alternation. A couple of pilules of Ipecac. 3 on rising and in the afternoon ; or Arsen. 3 in the forenoon and going to bed.

Treatment during Attack. - The medicines may be given every hour if the symptoms are urgent ; less often when the patient is better.

 Aconite 3. - When days are warm and nights cold. Stools small, frequent, bloody or slimy ; fever, restlessness, anxiety, fear of death.

Arsenicum. - Stools dark, putrid, mixed with blood ; during stool tenesmus and burning in rectum, great anguish, restlessness, fear of death ; extreme thirst, aggravated at night, or after eating or drinking.

Colocynth 3. - Stools bloody mucus or like scrapings ; before stool, cutting and great urging, violent colicy pains about navel, causing the patient to bend double.

Ipecac. 3. - Stools bloody or bloody mucus ; fermented like frothy molasses ; nausea and vomiting ; loathing for all food, no thirst.

 Mercurius cor. 3. - Stools pure blood or bloody mucus. During stool straining and tenesmus. Severe pains in rectum after the discharge. Almost constant cutting pain in the abdomen. [This drug is at present a favourite antiseptic in the old school ; and its use has given rise to numbers of cases of poisoning, many of them fatal, with all the symptoms of dysentery ; thus proving to the allopaths themselves its homœopathicity to dysentery.]

Merc. sol. 6. - Similar cases to Merc. cor. Where the symptoms are worse at night, and where there are profuse night sweats, especially on the head.

Nit. ac. 6. - This medicine follows the use of the mercurials where they cease to act. There is tenesmus during stool, and spasmodic contraction of the anus.

Long-lasting exhausting pains after stool.

Nux vom. 3. - Stools thin bloody mucus, sometimes mixed with lumps of fecal matter. Constant urging before stool. Violent tenesmus and cutting in hypogastrium during stool. Relief after stool. Worse in the morning. In intemperate people or those who have been drugged. Patient very irritable.

For relief of the distressing tenesmus, injections of linseed tea are very useful and shooting to the patient.

Courtsey: CHOLERA, DIARRHŒA AND DYSENTERY :HOMŒOPATHIC PREVENTION AND CURE, by John Henry Clarke, M. D.

Indications of Commonly used Homeopathic Remedies

Argentum nitricum: If a person has diarrhea when anticipating a stressful event (such as giving a speech or a public performance, taking a test, or attending a party) this remedy should come to mind. Bloating and flatulence are usually seen, pain may be felt in the region of the groin, and the diarrhea may look green. Diarrhea that occurs immediately after eating or drinking, or after eating too much sugar, will often respond to Argentum nitricum.

Arsenicum album: Diarrhea accompanied by anxiety, restlessness, and exhaustion suggest a need for this remedy. Burning pain is felt in the digestive tract, and the person may be thirsty for frequent small sips of tea or water. The stools may be watery and have a putrescent odor. Simultaneous diarrhea and vomiting is another strong indication. Arsenicum is often useful when diarrhea has been caused by spoiled or tainted food.

Bryonia: This remedy is often helpful for diarrhea during flu (especially when the person feels grumpy and wants to lie still and be left alone). It may also be helpful for diarrhea that occurs when a person gets overheated, then drinks a lot of cold water. Symptoms often are worse in the morning. The person's mouth may be very dry.

Chamomilla: Hot, green, watery diarrhea with abdominal pain and gas suggests a need for this remedy. The person's face will be red and flushed (sometimes only on one side) and problems may be worse from warmth. Children who need this remedy will often seem extremely angry, and scream or hit. Adults are irritable and hypersensitive.

Colocynthis: Cutting and cramping pains in the abdomen precede the diarrhea when this remedy is indicated. The person feels relief from doubling over, or from putting hard pressure on the abdomen. This remedy is often helpful when diarrhea follows anger (especially if the feelings were not expressed).

Gelsemium: This remedy is often indicated if trembling and weakness accompany diarrhea, especially when nervousness, fear, or emotional upset is the cause. Gelsemium is also useful during flu with diarrhea, droopy lethargy, fever, chills, and headache.

Ipecacuanha: If a person has diarrhea accompanied by extreme or constant nausea, this remedy may bring relief. Cutting, clutching pains are worse around the navel, and the diarrhea looks frothy or green.

Phosphorus: This remedy can be soothing if a person has a weak or empty feeling in the abdomen, followed by diarrhea that runs out "like an open faucet." People who need this remedy are often thirsty, and may be fearful when ill.

Podophyllum: Profuse, gushing, watery diarrhea that is usually not accompanied by pain suggests the use of this remedy. The abdomen rumbles and gurgles before the diarrhea passes, and urging may soon be felt again. Bouts of diarrhea are often worse in the morning, and also in hot weather.

Pulsatilla: If diarrhea occurs after eating rich and fatty foods, this remedy can be helpful. Queasiness and abdominal pain are likely to occur, and the diarrhea has a changeable appearance. The person usually is not be thirsty, feels worse from being warm or in a stuffy room, and is better in open air. A need for attention, sympathy, and comforting is a strong indication for Pulsatilla (a very useful remedy for children).

Sulphur: Urgent, hot diarrhea that occurs in the early morning, making the person rush to the bathroom, suggests a need for this remedy. Burning is often felt in the digestive tract, and the anus can be itchy, red, and irritated. The person may also have hemorrhoids that burn and itch.

Courtesy: http://www.publix.com/wellness/notes/Display.do?id=Homeo&childId=Diarrhea_hm


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