Gastroenteritis is an inflammation of the mucous membranes that line the stomach and intestines. It's a broad category of illness that can be caused by bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections; food intolerances; antibiotic drugs; or any of several other factors.

Many alternative therapists recommend against suppressing the symptoms of gastroenteritis, believing instead that the body should be supported as it eliminates the cause of the illness.

Homeopathy for Gastroenteritis

Homeopathic medicine works to treat gastroenteritis by giving highly diluted doses of a natural substance that would produce the symptoms of gastroenteritis if given in full strength to a healthy person. The remedy stimulates the body to heal itself.

A homeopath will question the patient on details of the gastroenteritis. Using these clues, the remedy is then individualized to the patient. Some gastroenteritis characteristics to consider:

  • Is vomiting present? How does it look and smell?
  • Do you feel restless or prefer no movement?
  • Does your body ache? Where?
  • Are the symptoms made better by warmth or cold?

Common homeopathic remedies for gastroenteritis include minute quantities of arsenicum, ipecacuanha, and podophyllum. Arsenicum may be prescribed for gastroenteritis with:

  • vomiting and diarrhea
  • bad water or food as the suspected cause
  • restlessness or anxiety
  • thirst for small sips of liquid, especially warm liquid
  • burning pains

Podophyllum may be prescribed for gastroenteritis:

  • with painless, yellowish diarrhea
  • with diarrhea that is more intense than vomiting
  • in a child

Ipecacuanha may be prescribed for gastroenteritis with:

  • vomiting and gagging more intense than diarrhea
  • vomiting that doesn't relieve nausea
  • no thirst
Nutritional Therapy for Gastroenteritis

Nutritional therapy works to replace the fluids and nutrients that are lost from vomiting and diarrhea. It may also help prevent future bouts with some types of gastroenteritis.

Some bacteria occur naturally in the intestines and promote good health. These are called probiotics. The bacteria Lactobacillus, taken in supplement or food form, can build up the intestines' store of "good bacteria" and lessen the body's susceptibility to invading bacteria, such as Escherichia coli (which can cause traveler's diarrhea). Some practitioners of nutritional therapy recommend taking Lactobacillus acidophilus before going on an overseas trip.

Gastroenteritis may also be prevented by never eating protein-rich foods (such as meat, eggs, and cream) that have been undercooked or stored without refrigeration.

Dehydration can result when large amounts of water and electrolytes (including sodium, potassium, and glucose) are passed out of the body. Preventing it calls for drinking a lot of water mixed with small quantities of table salt and sugar. Fruit juices spiked with salt and sugar and nonfat vegetable broths can effectively replace lost fluids and electrolytes. Mineral supplements can also be helpful.

Until the symptoms have passed, spicy foods, oils, caffeine, animal fats including milk, and anything else that may irritate the stomach and intestines should be avoided. A diet of clear liquids and broths is best at first. When symptoms improve, graduate to a “BRAT” (bananas, rice, apples, and toast) diet.

The following can help replace fluids and electrolytes: Grate a carrot and cook in two cups of water; remove the carrot, salt the broth, and drink. Cases of severe dehydration require medical attention.

Other Gastroenteritis Therapies
  • Ayurvedic Medicine for Gastroenteritis -- Herbal therapy, meditation, and special dietary instruction are used to treat gastroenteritis.
  • Herbal Medicine for Gastroenteritis -- A common treatment calls for fresh garlic and thyme tea.
  • Traditional Chinese Medicine for Gastroenteritis -- A practitioner may use acupuncture, acupressure, herbal therapy, and qigong to rebalance qi and invigorate blood circulation.
  • Meditation for Gastroenteritis -- Reducing stress with meditation can prevent the production of gastric acid that further irritates an inflamed stomach.

For more information on gastroenteritis and alternative medicine, see: