Diarrhea- Atisara in Sanskrit means "excessive passage of watery stools"- "Ativa sarati iti Atisaram". Diarrheal disease is the second leading cause of death in children under five years old and is responsible for killing 1.5 million children every year. It is defined as the passage of three or looser or liquid stools per day or more frequently than is normal for the individual [WHO].
According to Ayurveda diarrhea is categorized under the diseases caused by Agni mandya- impaired digestive power. If we analyze the causes of diarrhea, we could conspicuously see almost all the causes end up with Agni mandya. According to the Ayurvedic medicine, Jatharagni [digestive power] consists of mainly three components; Pachaka Pita, Samana Vata and Kledaka Kapha. Imbalance between any of these doshas causes Agni mandya, mainly Kledaka Kapha and Samana Vata. For instance, an oil lamp lights with the aid of oil, air and fire. If there is excessive oil by any means, it would be extinguished as well as with the excessive air. But the action of the air varies from time to time. Here, air resembles with Samana Vata and oil with Kledaka Kapha. The result of Agni mandya is the accumulation of ama [undigested food particles] within the digestive tract, and it leads to diarrhea.
You would ask about the infectious diarrhea. Does Ayurvedic Medicine describe only about the concepts of doshas? The answer is "No". It describes that diarrhea can also be caused by Krimi- worms/ micro-organisms. Like modern medicine, Ayurvedic Medicine has also mentioned several types of diarrhea. However, one of the latest types of diarrhea is radiation induced Diarrhea. I am not going to compare both allopathic and ayurvedic types, but I assume that radiation induced diarrhea co-relates with Vataja Atisara, which is mainly due to vitiation of Vata. Radiation damages the cells of the body. Any damage to the cells causes "Dhatu Kshaya" - destruction of Dhatu. With the destruction of Dhatu, absorption of the food from the small intestines is defected. Then it causes a reverse effect on the Jatharagni [digestive power], and the result is the accumulation of ama. According to some of the modern concepts, radiation-induced diarrhea results from motility disturbances. Radiation damages the smooth muscles of small intestines, and hence bacterial overgrowth, which leads to diarrhea.
How do you manage a patient suffering from diarrhea? In any event, the patient should not be given heavy foods, but a light and thinly liquid diet. Gruels [Yavagu] prepared with the admixture of digestive drugs can be given in their proper order. In a case marked by colic and flatulent distension of the abdomen, fasting should be first advised.
Herbal remedies for the diarrhea
Drinking a ginger tea digests ama and it increases appetite as well. A mixture of ginger juice with honey is also useful. Hingwashtak, Trikatu and Bilva fruit powders are good remedies, which increase appetite as well as digest ama. Nutmeg is the households remedy for treating loose motions. It reduces unwanted mobility of the intestine, relieves colic and controls loose motions. Infusion of slightly toasted cumin in boiled water is also effective. Then Kutaja (Holarrhena antidysenterica) powder can be given with honey. Pomegranate juice/ powder cures the loose motion and also increases the digestive capacity. Can these herbs use even in radiation-induced diarrhea? Probably Yes, because almost all the herbs are radio-protective as well.
You can find some good products for diarrhea from the following websites.
Dr. Indunil Weerarathne