Diarrhoea in childhood is not an uncommon ailment while infants develop their bowel flora and habits. Also children have a tendency to put anything and everything into their mouths. One must never underestimate the effects of serious, profuse or chronic diarrhoea because malabsorption, malnutrition, dehydration and infection may all be associated.

In principle, diarrhoea should not be considered a bad thing. Most often diarrhoea represents the body’s attempts to throw out some toxin -either a food that disagrees or a bacteria or virus, the most common of which is Campylobacter. Allowed to run its natural course, a few bouts of diarrhoea with or without abdominal pain will clear within a matter of hours or a couple of days and nothing needs to be done other than a simple homeopathic remedy and ensuring good hydration by keeping up the water intake.

Persisting diarrhoea in an infant may be associated with conditions such as coeliac disease (allergy to wheat) or other food allergies. The orthodox world, whilst having a clear definition and picture of wheat allergy, seems reluctant to accept that other foods may cause the same problems. It is worthwhile remembering this and obtaining a complementary medical practitioner’s suggestions before ending up following a drug-orientated orthodox approach. Incorrect bowel flora can show itself as persistent diarrhoea and often follows the use of an antibiotic, immediately or up to six months later. Unfortunately, much of our food is treated with antibiotics and chemicals, especially with meats, and gut dysbiosis (alteration of our bowel flora) can occur quite unwittingly due to the ingestion of these chemicals.

Severe, persistent, bloody or mucousy stool is an indication that a doctor’s opinion is required.

Any diarrhoea that persists beyond 48hr or is associated with pain, pallor or a change in the character of the child should be reviewed by aGP.

Ensure good rehydration. The smaller the child, the quicker dehydration can set in. Rehydration should occur with a mixture of fluids to ensure glucose and nutrient intake. Alternating some water then half an hour later some diluted fruit juice, water then some soup, water with a pinch a salt in rotation should do the trick. Try to match any output (including any water loss through sweat if fever is associated) with the amount taken in. Avoid milk and other cow’s produce except live yoghurt, which may be of benefit.

Avoid anything too sweet as this will pull water into the bowel and make the diarrhoea worse.

A weak chamomile tea can be very soothing and replenishing. Stir in a teaspoonful of honey per half-pint of fluid and a pinch of salt (it should not be possible to taste this) to replenish some glucose for energy and for salts that invariably have been lost.

Allow the child to eat by instinct. If the appetite is good then try to encourage foods that will ‘mop up’ poisons, such as wholegrain bread, pasta and rice, but avoid anything with refined sugar, caffeine or an excess of ‘binding’ foods, such as eggs.

Refer to your preferred homeopathic manual and pay attention to the remedies Chamomilla, Carbo vegetabilis, Nux vomica, Mercurius and Arsenicum album. These can all be used safely at potency 6, two tablets every l-2hr.

Use probifidus as a live yoghurt culture to encourage the growth of the body’s normal bowel flora.

Estimate the amount of diarrhoea and replenish with the same quantity of fluids. Dilute juices are acceptable but water is best.

Obtain the opinion of a complementary medical practitioner with a knowledge in nutrition, homeopathy and/or herbal medicine before taking orthodox medicine.