ORS (oral rehydration solutions/salts): The home recipe

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#1 Feb 11th, 2008, 06:37
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#1
Usual disclaimer: We are no medics, consult your doctor rather than this site, and so on.

However, and at Karuna's instigation this time, here comes the home-grown very simple recipe for preparing your own ORS (oral rehydration salts/oral rehydration solutions), which to my best knowledge is in fact correct:

http://www.rehydrate.org/solutions/homemade.htm#recipes (The whole -- Goa-based -- site focuses on diarrhea and dehydration problems and so on especially in children btw. Their home page: Rehydration Project) :

Quote:
Ingredients:

one level teaspoon of salt
eight level teaspoons of sugar
one litre of clean drinking or boiled water and then cooled
5 cupfuls (each cup about 200 ml.)

Preparation Method:

Stir the mixture till the salt and sugar dissolve.
Write this in your guidebook, diary, whatever and keep it with you: http://www.rehydrate.org/solutions/homemade.htm#recipes

The commercial ORS (oral rehydration salts/solutions) will presumably have some minerals and stuff added, but this is said by many sources to be a good DIY-approach. More tips, also alternate or additional recipes, on that page & site. In case of persistent problems or any more worrisome symptoms, consult the nearest remotely trustworthy medical source, of course, this is mostly meant to keep you on your feet while doing so.

See also http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oral_rehydration_salt , which links to it, and which gives the WHO ORS ingredients as well. And always remembering to take Wikipedia with, er, a pinch of salt (pardon the horrible pun) as it's made by its users. It just makes for easy quick reference, and may provide some links or keywords to facilitate further searches.
#2 Feb 11th, 2008, 07:00
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#2
Packets of Gatorade crystals(I bring them from home but they might be available in India?) & good old Indian street bananas are a great combo for rehydration.
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#3 Feb 11th, 2008, 07:03
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#3
Possibly, I don't know those crystals' ingredients. Note that Wikipedia (again, always disputed, as even that section heading of theirs indicates) mentions:

Quote:
Fructose (fruit sugar) or artificial sweeteners should not be substituted for the table sugar in this recipe. A half cup of orange juice or half of a mashed banana can be added to each liter both to add potassium and to improve taste. If commercial solutions are used, true rehydration solutions should be used and sports drinks should be avoided (especially in younger children) as these solutions contain too much sugar and electrolytes.
I'm not sure if I read it there or elsewhere, but apparently those artificial or fruit sugars can aggravate diarrhea. (And to those who don't know it, Gatorade is normally a sports drink. Again, I don't know those crystals though.)
#4 Feb 11th, 2008, 07:57
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Interesting information, machadinha. And for anyone thinking of bringing their own, no need for the extra weight. Plenty of ORS readily available in any medical store all over India - Electral Powder, one of the common names here. Also, I've heard a sweet lime soda does the trick too - you have salt in the soda, and sugar in the sweet part.
Thanks for posting this - it is one of the most useful posts here because oral rehydration is no.1 for treating diarrhea and the sooner you start the better .
Every cloud has a silver lining!
#5 Feb 11th, 2008, 08:15
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Yes, thanks. btw I thought I'd leave a note that not just in case of diarrhea, but also with excessive heat, a general feeling of unwellness or drowsiness or dizziness, and so on, this is a good measure, and unlikely to do you any harm. (Well, you don't want to be taking in too many salts or sugars over extended periods, and a normally healthy diet should cover those anyway.)

Esp. newbies having just arrived there may have some acclimitization problems, and may fare well by this. (And the sweet & salty soda mixture you mention is popular for good reason.) But residents seem to enjoy it esp. in times of heat too, as attested to by many expats on this forum. It may even explain why people enjoy their tea as sweet. Or why the Arabs, and the Indians too, are big on tiny sweet desserts and snacks.

Sugar is just a fast energizer -- and gets you down just as fast btw, you don't wanna see the graphs on it. Talk about hypomania in cube form. But it is helpful in case of heat fatigue. New arrivals again may also not realize how much fluids they are losing unnoticed; both in very dry or in very humid conditions, you may sweat without noticing, or conversely, not be able to shed it. This is when the body starts breaking down and succumbs first to heat exhaustion, then to heat stroke (a dangerous and possibly fatal condition if left untreated) -- if it cannot get rid of its excess heat. It's kind of like the reverse of hypothermia, but the result is much the same -- the body no longer being able to control its temperature, and quickly succumbing to the exponential effects of it.

Anyway, keeping yourself hydrated should be your first line of defense in any of this yes (and again in case of severe symptoms, seeking appropriate attention should definitely be your second). In young children, it was reported again here recently that dehydration may prove fatal in a matter of hours.
Last edited by machadinha; Feb 11th, 2008 at 10:11..
#6 Feb 11th, 2008, 09:48
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#6
Gatorade is definitely sweet and contains not the most natural of ingredients but the packet can be diluted to whatever concentration you deem appropriate.

I'm not sure about what is available in ready-made sachets in India but the brands the Canadian pharmacies sell/recommend all contain the dreaded aspartame (so read the label carefully).

Whatever the formula, a ready-made (sealed)packet in your luggage - at your immediate disposal - is definitely a wiser option than having to suddenly source individual components in the midst of an emergency dehydration situation or god forbid on a long train journey.

Regardless of the cause - diarrhea, caffeine/alchol drinks, or excessive exercise etc.- hydration is an often neglected yet ongoing concern in India - especially for a traveller's metabolism that is not use to such heat and precautions/plans should be included in one's travel scheme.
#7 Feb 11th, 2008, 09:49
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Quote:
Originally Posted by machadinha View Post
one level teaspoon of salt
eight level teaspoons of sugar
one litre of clean drinking or boiled water and then cooled
5 cupfuls (each cup about 200 ml.)
Just out of curiosity - any idea what complications (if any) are present with the above in regard to diabetics? Appreciate you may not be a doctor and that you've already stated that people should consult a doctor before his site - but the above looks likes a lot of sugar to have in one hit??? Just curious.
#8 Feb 11th, 2008, 09:53
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Nope BB, no idea, sorry. Others probably will. Nor would I suggest taking overdoses of either sugar or salt just for the heck of it as already indicated (I use very little of either in my food for instance, as they're in there anyway). But it can help to keep your spirits up when you're down and out. Lesser of a couple of evils I reckon, barring any medical conditions that should overrule the same.

But let those in the know speak. I'm not one of them. I was merely urged on another thread to drop this common home recipe here. It's very sweet, and a little salty, yes, no doubt about it. Rather icky really. As one of those pages states: It should taste no saltier than a tear. Thought that was rather poetic

ps Would agree with Peak, in warm weather anywhere, just carry enough water with you. That 1.5 liters may look heavy, the nice thing is it gets lighter as you drink it A thermos (sports) type of bottle will do wonders to keep it cool, or warm even if the drink requires it. I've been carrying an aluminium one forever that weighs nothing and cost maybe 5 Euros at the time, at the most.

ps So Peak, what's the dreaded aspartame? --> Ah, I see, artificial sweetener. Hmm.
#9 Feb 11th, 2008, 09:54
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oh...ok. Thanks
#10 Feb 11th, 2008, 10:11
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The rehydration formula is finely balanced, even the exact, specified, dilution quantities should be followed: not more, not less. This is not only about getting fluids back into the body, when they are pouring out both ends, but also about keeping the body's mineral levels correct.

Also, you are right about too much sugar causing diarrhoea. Quite some years ago there was a scandal about manufacturers putting too much in rehydration salts, to make them more palatable to babies!!!! The real stuff, by the way, tastes disgusting; not salt, not sweet, some sort of indescribable flavour!

I really feel that, with the commercial product being easily obtainable (and taking very little space in the medicine bag if you want to take it with you) that the DIY methodology here is ill-advised. It might be fine for one of the 24-hr runs cases, which isn't going to kill you anyway, but for anything more serious.... Well, for anything more serious, visiting a doc is well advised!

As a preventative measure, I think a pinch of salt and a very little sugar in each litre bottle of water is a good idea. Some juice from a fresh lime makes it a great drink, especially for those of us who don't really like drinking plain water too much.

In some strange sort of display of moderatorial brother/sisterhood, both Yogagal and I have had occasion to spend an afternoon on an an IV Glucose drip, here in India, over the past two months! Whilst we're agreed on its entertainment value (choose a popular saying featuring the words, "paint", and "drying"), it is easily obtained at a private hospital, along with doc's advise. This is something well worth remembering, especially if you can't even keep the rehydration fluid down.

Mach... if it tastes very sweet, then the formula is almost certainly over-sugared. Rehydration salts, as I noted above, do not taste sugary.

Quote:
... I've been carrying an aluminium one forever that weighs nothing and cost maybe 5 Euros at the time, at the most.
Aluminium controversy, anyone?

Last edited by machadinha; Feb 11th, 2008 at 10:18.. Reason: merged posts
#11 Feb 11th, 2008, 10:15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nick-H View Post Mach... if it tastes very sweet, then the formula is almost certainly over-sugared. Rehydration salts, as I noted above, do not taste sugary.
That's funny Nick. I've had the commercial brands. And found them icky and yuckily sweet.(Or maybe not even really sweet. Just... indescribably weird, as you describe. And sweet.)

Anyway as stated amply above I think, none of this should be to substitute decent professional advice and assistance, of whatever medical persuasion you happen to be comfortable with. It's just about common and widely-advocated measures to take on those few days it may take you to get on a bus to those services.

It may also depend a lot if you're settled down somewhere and know your way to the chemist's, or are on the move without too much recourse. But sure, ORS can be bought over the counter at any chemist's again. The thing is if you're doubled over that salt and sugar jar may be closer at hand, or more easy to ask for from anyone who will listen, such as hotel staff etc.
#12 Feb 11th, 2008, 10:28
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#12
After a Delhi Belly episode - I always try water if okay -> then bananas if okay -> then potato Chips/crisps. Not really recommending this self-medicating method of testing the stomach while attempting to rehydrate/resalt the body - because it's all about what works for you .... but then again you never know.

..... if all that stays down - then bring on some real Indian grub!!!
#13 Feb 11th, 2008, 10:53
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#13
Quote:
That's funny Nick. I've had the commercial brands. And found them icky and yuckily sweet.(Or maybe not even really sweet. Just... indescribably weird, as you describe. And sweet.)
Amazing how tastes differ!

Although I add almost no salt when cooking, and never afterwards, I am a sugar addict, so my definition of 'sweet' must be different to yours!
#14 Feb 11th, 2008, 12:40
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Although not so enjoyable at the time, your Mods on drips story is very amusing reading, Nick!
I have here a small pack of ORS - and it has no aspartme in the list of ingredients - dextrose is one. It's name is Relyte, and ingredients are sodium chloride, sodium citrate, potassium chloride and dextrose plus some lemon flavour. As you say, Machadinha, the taste leaves a lot to be desired especially the one called Electral which is a horrible orangey type. I go for the lemon flavours.. WHO actually does huge donations of this powder in small sachets for villages - and sometimes you see it being sold in medical stores as well (I wonder if being diverted for sale in a corrupt manner??)
In the really hot time, I take it daily and it prevents that excessive tiredness that can come on.
Also, Machadinha, you mentioned failing to sweat - as you said ,this is extremely serious and should never be taken lightly.
#15 Feb 11th, 2008, 14:49
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#15
Quote:
Originally Posted by Aishah View Post Although not so enjoyable at the time, your Mods on drips story is very amusing reading, Nick!
hmmm....there's a punchline there somewhere - where's the capt when you need him? Very timely this thread - currently have 2 our of 3 children down with ailments. Have already visited the doctor this morning and will now contemplate a devious method for getting - as Machadinha described it - "icky and yuckily sweet -or maybe not even really sweet -just... indescribably weird, as you describe - and sweet" ORS into them (did I mention sweet)?
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