Gastroenteritis disorders from a naturopathic point of view

How to treat gastroenteritis naturally?

Gastroenteritis is an acute or chronic inflammation simultaneously affecting the lining (inner lining) of the stomach (gastritis) and the small intestine (enteritis). This pathology is generally infectious; that is to say, it results from the presence and multiplication of pathogenic germs (viruses, bacteria in contaminated food: salmonella , Escherichia coli, etc.) Gastroenteritis is common in children and results in vomiting and especially diarrhea, with abdominal cramps, sometimes fever. In very young children, care should be taken to avoid dehydration from excessive water loss.

Acute gastroenteritis in infants and toddlers

This pathology is mainly of viral origin and represents 80% of cases. In children under 5, it is particularly common and can range from 1 to 3 annual episodes per affected child. This virus affects 1 in 5 children and evolves over 2 to 8 days. This viral pathology also represents a high rate of hospitalization (over 50,000 cases per year) with a non-negligible mortality of around 10 deaths per year post-antibiotic therapy.

Some natural tips for the proper management of gastroenteritis in young children

Food :

  • Rapidly prevent the establishment of a state of nutritional diet by early refeeding.
  • The resumption of the diet must be gradual, excluding milk and dairy products, acidic fruits and green vegetables.
  • Favor a diet based on rice, carrots, steamed fish or grilled meat, bananas, compotes or fruit jellies.


  • Watch for signs of dehydration in children; skin folds, dry lips, sunken eyes, lack of tone, drowsiness and weight loss.
  • Favor rehydration solutions and lactose-free milk.
  • Prevent dehydration by immediately compensating for hydroelectric losses by administering an oral hydro-gluco-electrolyte rehydration solution or drinks with a few carbohydrate compounds (sugar water, jam, etc.) to avoid ketosis.
  • Avoid covering the child too much (clothes and bedding) because there is a risk of dehydration by sweat.

Hygiene :

  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, especially after each bowel movement.

Complementary care:

  • If diarrhea persists beyond 3 days, consult a doctor.
  • If the buttocks of the child or infant are irritated from diarrhea; apply a suitable paste or ointment to relieve it.
  • Taking yeast or probiotics may be recommended to restore the flora.

Are there herbal medicine formulas to act on the viral cause of gastroenteritis in young children?

The proposed herbal medicine treatment is cypress extracts .

  • The antiviral activity of Cypress:

The proanthocyanidol oligomers or OCPs are polymers of flavonoids whose antiviral mode of action is twofold; on the one hand, they have protein binding properties, in particular on enzyme substrates and on cell surface proteins. In fact, OCPs hinder the adhesion of viruses to their host cell, thus limiting virus / host cell recognition and viral replication. On the other hand, they induce virus lysis, which allows the rapid decrease in viral load .

Some naturopathic advice to fight against acute gastroenteritis in adolescents and adults

  • Rehydrate with abundant salty or sweet drinks (in small amounts) to compensate for the loss of body fluids and minerals.
  • Avoid frozen and carbonated drinks (degasify them if necessary: coca cola ).
  • The resumption of food must be gradual
  • Wash your hands regularly and thoroughly, especially after each bowel movement.
  • Check for blood or mucus in stool.
  • Stay hydrated, wash your hands regularly, favor well-cooked rice and / or cooked carrots, avoid fiber, fat, dairy products and specialized probiotics.

Are there herbal medicine formulas to fight against gastroenteritis in adolescents and adults?

Nausea and vomiting:

Take 1 to 2 capsules of standardized extract of ginger 2 to 3 times a day until healing.

Viral diarrhea and abdominal pain:

Take 5 ml of a mixture of cypress, walnut and elderberry extracts , 2 times a day in the acute phase.

  • The antiemetic properties of Ginger:

Ginger indeed has antiemetic activity , both demonstrated and confirmed by numerous clinical trials and meta-analyzes. The active constituents are thought to have an inhibitory action on the NK1, 5-HT3 and M3 receptors at the level of the ileum and of the area postrem a, the medullary structure of the brain which controls vomiting .

  • The anti-diarrheal properties of Walnut:

Walnut leaves are traditionally used in the symptomatic treatment of mild diarrhea . The advantage of walnut extract lies in its ability to inhibit diarrhea without completely blocking defecation , unlike the standard treatment ( loperamide ).

It has also shown anti nociceptive effects which have not been seen with loperamide . The special properties of this extract have been attributed to the presence of hydroxycinnamic acids (chlorogenic, neochlorogenic, 3-p- and 4-p-coumaroylquinic acids) and flavonoids (mainly derivatives of quercetin, myricetin, kaempferol , and taxifolin). Some of these molecules exhibit anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties , and also have the ability to inhibit water-electrolyte secretions as well as intestinal motility .

  • The antiviral and antibacterial properties of Elderberry:

Elderberries seem to work on two levels; first of all, they neutralize the activity of hemagglutinins, antigenic glycoproteins present on the surface of the virus and responsible for binding the viral particle to a receptor located on the target cell. When these are deactivated, viruses can no longer enter host cells, and therefore replicate. They also act by stimulating the immune system by increasing the production of cytokines by monocytes (IL-1β, TNF-α, IL-8, IL-10).


Medical bibliographic sources and clinical trials :


Clementine. M.
Naturopath – Aromatherapist / Herbalist – Phytotherapist
Consultant in Clinical Phyto-aromatherapy and Ethnomedicine

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