Two Letters Re: Oral Rehydration Solutions

Dear Sir,

I was perusing your blog for the first time and saw the post about dehydration due to diarrhea. I have five sisters and one brother (yeah mom!) so my mother is quite the home medic. My eldest sister had been prescribed a very strong antibiotic for a common infection she had. After she took the course of the antibiotic, she also began having severe chronic diarrhea (we’re talking months here).
She began going to a specialist after her regular doctor couldn’t diagnose her. My mother, conscious of her medical history, realized the antibiotic she had taken for her other ailment had killed all the good bacteria in her intestines which help make it possible for food to be digested and absorbed into her body. She had my sister tell her new GI specialist and the doctor confirmed as much.

My mother also told her that she had to eat Goat yogurt with live bacteria in it to get the bugs back. She had to eat yogurt and banana (which is nutritious and also is a “binder”) for 80 days. She couldn’t vary from her diet. If she tried to eat anything beyond her bland diet, she found out real fast that it was a mistake.

The GI team was going to put her on a much fancier drug for a much longer period of time with far more life impacting side effects.
My sister started taking the drug (I don’t know what it was) and didn’t have much relief. Out of desperation she started eating the goat yogurt and felt immediate relief in her bowels. Yeah mom, again!
I vote for the yogurt! My mom learned about the yogurt method from a female doctor in Saudi Arabia who had to help travelers when they drank the water and all the bugs got killed in their systems. She didn’t prescribe medicine, she had them eat yogurt and banana for 80 days.

I just finished reading “Patriots,” I greatly enjoyed it, found it inspiring, and can’t wait to talk about it with the friend who lent it to me. I was glad they had goats in the book, so they can make goat yogurt! May God bless and protect your ministry! – Hilary C.

Mr R.,
First, my condolences on the loss of Mrs. Rawles. One of your contributors mentioned using non-nutritive sweeteners in rehydration solutions. That is an absolute No – No! Non-nutritive sweeteners are not absorbed. They increase the solute load in the gut, will elicit GI mucosa fluid dump to maintain isotonicity . Translation to plain speak: the gut will maintain – or attempt to maintain – the same ration of solvent and solute. Nutrasweet isn’t absorbed, and the gut lining will dump fluid into the system to maintain ideal balance. Net Result? Diarrhea. This will occur in healthy, uncompromised individuals, let alone those with lower GI distress. Gum chewers who load up with Xylitol and sorbitol-laden gums experience this in a low grade way. In an emergency medicine situation, with absolute requirements to maintain fluid and electrolyte levels, it’s potentially fatal.

One quart of verified safe water (boiled or treated as necessary) with a couple tablespoons of sugar or Karo syrup (for better mix ability) and 1/4 teaspoon of salt and baking soda, sipped by spoonfuls works very well. Slowly sipping approximates the rate achieved via IV line, and prevents “overburdening” an already inflamed intestinal wall. You maintain fluid, Na+, HCO3- , glucose levels and body function while immune response and other measures come to bear. – Murray P.

JWR Replies: Thank you for mentioning that. While I’m not a proponent of the extensive use of refined sugar in a regular diet, it is certainly preferable for prophylactic use in oral rehydration solutions versus using artificial sweeteners. In my opinion, it is likely that in another 20 or 30 years, following extensive testing and correlative statistical analysis, some artificial sweeteners will have been proved to have profound deleterious health effects, and hence they will eventually be banned. I predict that they’ll have a reputation on the par of that currently held by Red Dye #2.

For details on do-it-yourself oral rehydration solutions, see the “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course.