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Can I treat my diarrhea or excess gas symptoms with natural supplements?

Stacy Wiegman, PharmD
Pharmacy Specialist

Many natural supplements are available for treating diarrhea and gas symptoms. But in some cases of diarrhea, the best medicine is no medicine: The most important thing to do is drink water and other liquids to replace fluids you have lost. Diarrhea caused by a viral infection or a food intolerance (among other common causes) usually goes away on its own in a day or two.

If a bacterial infection is the cause of your illness, it is possible that an antibiotic may be required, depending on the severity of the symptoms. Dehydration, fever or blood or pus in the stool should indicate a visit to a doctor. Taking an anti-diarrheal medication or health supplement that stops your body from purging itself may trap the infection and make you worse.

For milder cases, one particular type of natural supplement may help fix the underlying problem. Probiotic supplements contain beneficial bacteria and other microbes that normally live inside your gut. These "friendly" bacteria may help treat diarrhea caused by disease-causing bacteria or by antibiotics, which kill off "good" bacteria along with "bad" ones. Research suggests probiotics may be particularly effective in treating diarrhea caused by rotavirus. But note that these supplements are not regulated by the FDA; if you have any concerns, call your doctor.

Digestive enzymes, sold as over-the-counter supplements, may help some people who have excess gas from eating carbohydrates, especially beans. Another enzyme called lactase helps people who have gas symptoms as a result of trouble with digesting dairy foods.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.