Steatorrhea means excessive fat in the stool. Most part of the stool is water with a mixture of proteins, fat, fiber, bacteria, mucus and salts. In case of fatty stool, the stool is pale, has an oily or greasy appearance, it is bulky and has a foul smell. It may happen due to the lack of enzymes, or bile that digests food, or when the nutrients are not properly absorbed in the body.
Homeopathy offers supportive help in cases of steatorrhea along with conventional mode of treatment. Homeopathic medicines are prepared from naturally occurring substances that help in managing steatorrhea without any side effects. These medicines along with fatty stool also focus on managing its attending signs and symptoms. As the causes behind it vary from mild to serious, so it is advised to take homeopathic medicines only under supervision of a homeopathic doctor and never self-medicate. A homeopathic physician can do a detailed case evaluation and prescribe medicines individually for every case. In case homeopathic medicines can’t help, like surgical causes biliary atresia and serious causes like bile duct obstruction from gall stones, pancreatic cancer, gall bladder cancer, kidney / liver damage, the homeopathic doctor can refer conventional mode of treatment as homeopathy can’t help such cases. Also in cases where stool is bloody (red, black or tarry), stool has pus, high fever is there or there is chest pain, shortness of breath, changes in level of consciousness, it is advised to take immediate help from the conventional mode of treatment.
Top Homeopathic Medicines For Fatty Stool
1. Iris Versicolor – For Fatty Stool And Heartburn
It is a natural medicine prepared from a plant commonly called ‘blue flag’. It belongs to family Iridaceae. It is helpful for managing cases having fatty stool and heartburn. The stool smells fetid where it is required. Another major symptom is abdomen pain which is relieved by passing gas or by bending forward. Nausea and vomiting of bitter or sour watery fluid may accompany.
2. Phosphorus – For Fatty Stool In Case Of Pancreatic Disease
This medicine is well indicated to manage fatty stool in case of pancreatic disease. Along with oily stool, there is excessive emission of gas. The stool has an offensive smell, sometimes one suffers from diarrhea which causes exhaustion. In some cases, heartburn and sour belchings are also present along with the above symptoms.
3. Magnesia Carb – For Undigested Stool With Fatty Mass
It is a beneficial medicine when stool is undigested, loose and has fatty mass in it. Stool may be greenish or yellowish-green, mucus may also be present. There is gas in the abdomen which causes abdominal heaviness and bloating. There may be abdominal colic which gets better by bending double.
4. Iodum – For Fatty, Loose Stool From Pancreatic Disorders
It is useful for cases having fatty loose stool from disorders of pancreas. The stool may also be frothy and have white mucus in it. Loose stool is attended with exhaustion. Cutting pain in the abdomen may be felt, there is obstructed flatus in the abdomen. Vomiting with greasiness may occur.
5. Causticum – For Oily, Liquid Stool
This medicine is considered when stool is like an oily liquid with white mucus in it. Before passing stool, twisting pain in the abdomen may be felt. Nausea may occur after stool. Besides, sometimes there is distension of abdomen with pain.
6. Picric Acid – For Thin, Yellow, Fatty Stool
This medicine is indicated for cases having thin, yellow, fatty stool. Persons needing it have ineffectual urge to pass stool after which they feel excessive weakness. They also have rumbling of gas in the abdomen along with the above complaints.
7. Thuja – For Pale, Yellow, Copious, Greasy Stool
It is a natural medicine prepared from fresh twigs of plant Thuja Occidentalis having common name ‘Arbor Vitae’. This plant belongs to family Coniferae. It is a useful medicine for persons who have pale, yellow, copious greasy stool. The stool is expelled forcibly with noisy flatus. They feel rumbling in the abdomen along with bloating with gas.
8. Bambusa Arundinacea – For Greasy, Fatty Stool And Diarrhea
It is another medicine indicated for greasy, fatty stool and diarrhea. In cases needing it, severe diarrhea is there. Other than this, there is bloating and rumbling noises are felt in the abdomen.
What Are The Reasons Behind It?
It may arise from eating diet with high fat / fiber content which results in temporary steatorrhea.
When it is severe or it is a persistent complaint, then it may be due to some medical condition that needs to be diagnosed and treated.
Bile (produced in the liver and stored in the gallbladder), enzyme pancreatic lipases which breaks down fat and normal intestine function collectively play a role in fat absorption. So, steatorrhea may happen when there is some problem in any of these including pancreas, biliary tract or intestines.
Following are the medical conditions that may result in steatorrhea.
First among them is cystic fibrosis. It is an inherited condition affecting the cells that produce mucus, sweat and digestive juices. In this disease, there is severe damage to lungs and the digestive system.
Second cause is chronic pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas). Pancreas releases enzymes that help in digestion of fat, protein, carbohydrates in the small intestine, and hormones to regulate the way our body processes sugar. Other than fatty stool, the symptoms that can occur in this condition are pain in the upper abdomen, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, unexplained weight loss, jaundice, intestinal blockage and internal bleeding.
Another cause is Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency (EPI) in which the enzymes required for breaking of food and absorbing nutrients are not made or released by the pancreas in sufficient quantity.
Celiac disease is another reason. It is an autoimmune disease in which eating gluten (a protein found in wheat, barley and rye) leads to an immune reaction in the small intestine. It damages the lining of the small intestine, so the damaged intestine is unable to absorb some nutrients (malabsorption). Other than fatty stool, its signs and symptoms include diarrhea, foul smelling stool, gas, bloating, fatigue, undigested food in the stool, weight loss and anemia.
It may also occur in case of biliary atresia (medical condition in infants in which there is a blockage, narrowing or absence of the ducts that carry bile from the liver to the gallbladder), biliary stricture (the bile duct gets smaller or narrower), and obstruction of bile duct by gallstones.
Next cause is Crohn’s disease. It is one among the two diseases included in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD), it is of autoimmune origin that causes inflammation in any part of the gastrointestinal tract from mouth to the anus. In addition to fatty stool, its other signs and symptoms are diarrhea, abdomen cramps, undigested food in the stool, blood in stool, weakness, weight loss and malnutrition.
Another cause is whipple disease. It is a rare bacterial infection caused by Tropheryma whipplei that affects joints and digestive system.
Tropical sprue is also a cause. It is a malabsorption syndrome that occurs in travellers to the tropical regions or the natives of the tropics. It is thought to be caused by an overgrowth of bacteria in the intestines. It causes chronic diarrhea, abdominal cramp, indigestion, excessive gas, nausea and weight loss other than fatty stool.
Steatorrhea can arise in case of lactose intolerance. It results from deficiency of an enzyme called lactase due to which the sufferer is not able to digest the sugar lactose in the milk completely. Its symptoms occur after eating or drinking foods that contain lactose. It can cause fatty stool along with other symptoms including diarrhea, gas and bloating.
Infections of the GIT (gastrointestinal tract) caused by bacteria Clostridium difficile and parasite Giardia may also result in fatty stool.
Next reason can be gallbladder stone, gallbladder removal or gallbladder cancer.
Another cause is short bowel syndrome. It is a condition in which the body cannot absorb enough nutrients from the foods eaten because of the small size of small intestine. Other than fatty stool, it may cause signs and symptoms like diarrhea, fatigue, malnutrition, weight loss and swelling in the lower limbs.
It may also occur in case of kidney or liver damage.
Other than the medical conditions, it may also occur from taking certain medicines that block fat absorption, injury to intestine and gastric bypass surgery.
What Other Signs And Symptoms Can Attend It?
Person having steatorrhea passes bulky stool that floats and the stool is pale, covered with oily film and is foul smelling.
It may be attended with other signs and symptoms depending on the cause behind it. These include diarrhea, gas, abdominal bloating, cramps in the abdomen, indigestion, heartburn, nausea, vomiting, jaundice exhaustion, weight loss.