Herbal Health Treatment of Diarrhoea

Symptoms vary from just passing a loose stool once a day, to several bowel movements accompanied by bowel cramping, pains and often an urgency to go to the toilet.

Severe diarrhoea due to a bacterial or viral infection is the world’s biggest killer of children due to resulting dehydration.

If the diarrhoea is caused by a bacterial or viral infection then it will probably only last up to 48 hours and the important thing is to keep fluid and electrolyte levels up. There are several rehydrating products on the market such as Dioralyte, which will prevent dehydration in severe cases of diarrhoea. If it lasts longer than 48 hours and you suspect you have a bacterial or viral infection then go to the Doctor. Many cases of Gastroenteritis are caused by toxins produced by bacteria in food and this can be very dangerous not only due to the dehydration caused but also due to the effect the toxin can have on the kidneys. So it is important to try to drink plenty of water but go straight to the Doctor or hospital if you start passing blood in the urine.

If the diarrhoea is long term with blood and mucous then you must go to the Doctor for a diagnosis as it may be Colitis or Crohn’s disease. I am not going to discuss, Colitis, or Crohn’s disease in this article. Irritable Bowel Syndrome is discussed in its own article.

The last paragraph sounds a bit scary but I want you to be aware that a possibly innocent tummy bug may be extremely detrimental to the body and needs quick action.

If the symptoms are loose bowel movements several times a day with urgency and possibly stomach cramping with no underlying cause, then Herbal Medicine is worth trying.

I have helped many people in my clinic who have suffered with diarrhoea from varying causes.

Food intolerance is often a cause of unexplained Diarrhoea and I do ask people to keep a food diary for a month to see if there is any connection to food substances.

Obviously this is one time when high fibre foods should be eliminated from the diet.  All high fibre cereals and wholemeal bread need to be cut out. Dairy and wheat are also prime suspects for causing gut irritation, but it is difficult to cut out all these foods at once, so cut the high fibre foods first and take the Herbal medicine.

The aim with herbal medicine is to tone the gut lining, making it less sensitive to food irritants and to calm the gut down.

A typical Herbal mixture of tinctures would be:-

Agrimony to tone the gut lining

Chamomile to calm the gut making it less irritable

Marshmallow is high in mucilage which coats and protects the gut

Fennel to calm the gut and dispel wind

Drink plenty of water, but cut out Caffeine containing drinks. Caffeine is a strong stimulant and also a diuretic which may contribute to dehydration.

Caffeine is in:-



Boost drinks

Some alco pops

And don’t hate me too much on this one, CHOCOLATE

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Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information

Fennel (Foeniculum Vulgaris)


You may often see the tall feathery stems of Fennel in hedgerows. It does seem to like growing near the sea as I have seen it quite often near the beach as well as growing wild inland on our country walks. If you crush the leaves they give off a warm aniseed smell. Both the leaf and seed are used medicinally.


It contains coumarins, volatile oils and flavonoids. By now you will be getting the picture that anything with volatile oils has antibacterial properties, but fennel’s main action is as a “carminative”. This means it calms stomach cramping due to its antispasmodic properties, therefore settling and soothing any discomfort in the digestive tract, as well as dispersing wind by breaking it up into small pockets so that it can be eliminated easily.

I use it in a mix with chamomile as an anti colic mix for babies and it is, in fact, in some proprietary anti colic mixes you can buy over the counter.

Fennel tea made from the seeds is a wonderful digestive calmer and “soonf” (fennel seeds) are often handed around after an Indian meal sometimes coated in sugar like sugared almonds…..very nice to chew after a heavy Indian meal and will help aid digestion.

I’ve just read that it smoothes wrinkles when drunk as a tea! I’m definitely going to give that a go!

Sadly, I’m allergic to Fennel oil which is extracted from the seeds as it is a most wonderful smelling oil. Fennel seeds were found amongst the royal grave goods of ancient Egypt, so obviously has a long history of usage.

Linda Bostock

Medical Herbalist/Herbal Health Information