Researchers say this traditional African medicine can naturally treat diarrhea

In Ethiopian folklore medicine, broad-leaved croton (Croton macrostachyus Hochst.ex Del.) is said to possess antidiarrheal activity. Researchers from Ambo University and Addis Ababa University in Ethiopia looked at the plant’s medicinal effect in mice models.

For the study, which was published in the journal BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine, the researchers used castor oil to induce diarrhea in mice. They also used aqueous, chloroform, and methanol leaf extracts of the broad-leaved croton plant.

They then randomly assigned the mice to two control groups and three treatment groups. One of the control groups served as the negative control, while the other served as the positive control and was treated with standard drugs for diarrhea. Meanwhile, the treatment groups received different doses of the extracts: 300, 400, 500 milligrams per kilogram (mg/kg) for the chloroform and methanol fractions; and an additional dose of 1000 mg/kg for the aqueous fraction.

Based on the results, both the chloroform and methanol extracts exhibited significant anti-diarrheal activity. In mice with castor oil-induced diarrhea, the chloroform and methanol extracts at doses of 400 and 500 mg/kg substantially delayed the development of diarrhea and decreased stool frequency and the weight of feces.

Moreover, the chloroform extract demonstrated anti-motility effect at all doses, while the methanol extract displayed anti-motility effect at the 400 mg/kg dose. The aqueous extract exhibited significant anti-motility effect but only at the dose of 1000 mg/kg. These results suggested that the broad-leaved croton could improve the symptoms of diarrhea.

The researchers also found that the antidiarrheal benefits of the broad-leaved croton extract could be attributed to its bioactive components, such as tannins, alkaloids, saponins, flavonoids, steroids, and terpenoids.

The findings of the study indicated that the chloroform and methanol extracts of broad-leaved croton leaves could potentially be used to treat diarrhea as they exhibited significant anti-diarrheal activity.

Diarrhea and how to treat it naturally

Diarrhea is a common problem in the digestive system. Research says that approximately 179 million cases of acute diarrhea occur in the U.S. every year. Acute diarrhea may last up to two weeks and can occur due to various causes, such as a viral infection, a bacterial infection, food poisoning, recent antibiotic use, and consumption of contaminated water. Diarrhea symptoms commonly include frequent, watery stools, abdominal cramping, and bloating. (Related: Diarrhea Home Remedies and Treatments.)

The following are some of the most effective ways to manage diarrhea:

  • Stay hydrated – Dehydration can occur when someone has diarrhea. It can be life-threatening for young children and older adults. Thus, staying hydrated by drinking lots of water is important. Do not drink alcohol, milk, soda, and other carbonated or caffeinated drinks for hydration, because they may make your symptoms worse.
  • Consume more probiotic food – Probiotics are sources of beneficial bacteria that are needed to create a healthy gut environment. They help with diarrhea by restoring the balance of gut bacteria. Good gut bacteria are important in protecting the intestines from infection. Probiotics can be found in certain foods, such as aged soft cheeses, dark chocolate, green olives, kefir, kimchi, kombucha, sauerkraut, miso, natto, pickles, sourdough bread, tempeh, and yogurt.
  • Foods to eat – There are certain foods that can help improve the symptoms of diarrhea. These include bananas, white rice, applesauce, and toast.
  • Foods to avoid – People with diarrhea typically cannot tolerate fried and greasy foods. Foods rich in fiber should also be limited as they can increase bloating. Some of the foods to avoid include those with artificial sweeteners, beans, berries, broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower, chickpeas, corn, ice cream, milk, peas, peppers, prunes, and tea.

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