Mucus is a thick, jelly-like substance that your body produces to protect and lubricate your delicate tissues and organs. It’s normal to have a small amount of mucus in your stool, but if you notice a lot of it, or if it’s accompanied by blood, pain, or diarrhoea, it may be a sign of an underlying health issue that needs treatment. Likewise, any sudden change in bowel movements and stool consistency should also be brought to the attention of your healthcare provider. Ayurvedic texts do offer helpful advice on preventing and treating mucus in stools, recognizing that there can be variations in the treatment as this ultimately depends on underlying causes.
Mucus in Stool Causes
Mucus in stools, also known as rectal mucus, can be caused by various factors, some of which may not be a cause for concern while others may require medical attention. Here are some possible causes of mucus in stools:
- Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD): Conditions like Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis can lead to inflammation in the digestive tract, causing the lining to produce excess mucus 1.
- Infections: Bacterial, viral, or parasitic infections in the intestines can trigger an increase in mucus production as the body’s defence mechanism 2.
- Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS): People with IBS often experience mucus in their stools due to changes in bowel habits and increased sensitivity of the intestines.
- Gastrointestinal (GI) Infections: Non-specific GI infections can also lead to mucus in stools.
- Food Intolerances: Certain food intolerances or sensitivities, such as lactose intolerance, can cause mucus production.
- Colorectal Polyps or Cancer: In some cases, mucus in stools can be associated with the presence of polyps or tumours in the colon or rectum 3.
- Haemorrhoids: Haemorrhoids, which are swollen blood vessels in the rectum or anus, can cause mucus discharge, presenting with blood and mucus in stools.
- Anal Fissures: Small tears in the lining of the anus can lead to mucus in stools. This can also result in bleeding, leading to bloody mucus in stools.
- Diverticular Disease: Inflammation or infection of small pouches in the colon called diverticula can cause mucus in the stool 4.
- Stress and Anxiety: Emotional stress and anxiety can sometimes affect bowel movements and lead to mucus production.
Mucus in Stool Symptoms
The presence of mucus in stools is itself a symptom of illness and not a disease. While mucus in stools may not always be a cause for concern, it is essential to pay attention to other accompanying symptoms and the frequency of mucus. If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is crucial to seek medical attention promptly:
- Persistent or recurrent mucus in stools
- Blood in stools (bright red or dark)
- Severe abdominal pain or cramps
- Unintended weight loss
- Changes in bowel habits that last for more than a few days
- Signs of dehydration (excessive thirst, dry mouth, infrequent urination)
- Fatigue or weakness
Mucus in Stool Risk Factors
Some factors that may increase the risk of mucus in stool are:
- Having a family history of IBD or cystic fibrosis.
- Having a weakened immune system due to medications or diseases.
- Eating contaminated food or drinking unsafe water.
- Having chronic constipation or diarrhoea.
- Having haemorrhoids or rectal prolapse
Mucus in Stool Treatment
As this is a symptom in itself, mucus in stool treatment will vary depending on the diagnosis. In general, treatment for mild symptoms may be focused on relieving dehydration, constipation or gastrointestinal infections, which are among the most common causes. Accordingly, treatment could include –
- Increased fluid intake and the use of oral rehydration solutions
- Dietary modifications such as avoidance of highly processed foods 5
- Use of supplements such as psyllium husk and probiotics to restore gut microbiome balance
- Prescription antibiotics or anti-parasitic medications if caused by bacterial infection or gastrointestinal parasites
- Long-term treatment with medications such as clidinium and chlordiazepoxide that reduce abdominal cramping and slow bowel movements 6
Unfortunately, the use of medications and other treatments to relieve symptoms is also linked to side effects, especially when used for a prolonged period. This is why, natural treatments and Ayurvedic medicines for mucus in stool are preferable. Traditional Ayurvedic sources mainly associate mucus in stools with irritable bowel syndrome, ulcerative colitis, and infections. Treatments can include:
- The administration of Ayurvedic therapies in a clinical setting to restore hydration and the optimal balance of doshas. Research shows clear benefits from Panchakarma procedures, including Basti or therapeutic enema and Shordhara or oil pouring 7.
- Some studies have shown that patients experience relief from mucus in stool symptoms linked to IBS with the use of formulations such as Kalingadi Churna 8. Some formulas may also depend on the underlying dosha imbalance, with Jeerakarista treating Vata-related diarrhoea, while Kutajarista, Mustakarista may be used for Pitta and Kapha-related problems.
- Ayurvedic physicians may prescribe antibacterial or anthelmintic herbs to treat infections, with some effective herbs including Nagarmotha, Indrayava, Nagakeshara, Amalaki, Sinduri, Ananta and Katvanga, among others 9,10.
If you’re unsure about the cause of the mucus or notice other concerning symptoms accompanying it, make it a point to consult a qualified Ayurvedic physician. They can perform a physical examination, ask about your medical history, and may order additional tests or investigations to identify the underlying cause and provide appropriate treatment.
Can mucus in stool be caused by some foods?
Yes, changes in nutrition, such as switching to a high-carb or low-carb diet can cause immediate changes in stool consistency. However, a significant increase and persistence in mucus should be investigated.
Which vitamin deficiency causes mucus in stool?
The presence of mucus in stools is not associated with nutritional deficiencies, but they may accompany the problem. This is because it is often linked to irritable bowel disorders that can also cause malnutrition.
What allergies cause mucus in stool?
Food allergies are not regarded as a primary cause of mucus in stools, but they can sometimes contribute to the problem. Typically, these include nut, lactose and gluten allergies.
Disclaimer: The information provided here is for general information and not meant to substitute any medical advice. Please consult your doctor for appropriate medical consultation.