Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Evolutionary Diarrhea

Three or more loose or watery expulsions from your bowels in a day and most docs would declare you a sufferer of diarrhea. But today's question is not whether or not you have it but whether or not you should try to stop the rush of fluids from your GI tract. “Diarrhea is a natural cleansing and should not be stopped,” say a growing number of people. That might be true--more importantly, it might not. Some diarrheal illnesses may be simply though uncomfortably removing bad things from your body, and some may be a symptom of serious sickness, perhaps even a threat to your longevity. And sadly, out there in the wild places, we don't know for sure which is which. Therefore we take steps based on what we do know--and that means we do not treat all cases of diarrhea. We know that if the patient is threatened with dehydration from prolonged diarrhea, we need to try to stop the diarrhea. And we know if travel is necessary but hindered by diarrhea, we need to try to stop the diarrhea. Otherwise it's a matter of inconvenience, and let the natural cleansing continue. The whole idea, by the way, that many of our responses to health challenges are the result of evolutionary adaptations is a very interesting one. For more ideas such as diarrhea-as-cleanser can be found by typing "evolutionary medicine" into your search engine.

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