Black Stool Treatment: Home Remedies You Should Know About

A white bathroom stall with a toilet.
  • Black stool is often the result of digested blood in the stool due to internal bleeding, which may indicate a serious medical condition that requires immediate attention. However, black stool can also be the result of certain medications and foods.

  • Depending on the underlying cause, black stool may be treated at home by increasing fluid intake, avoiding certain foods, and taking probiotics.

  • While home remedies are useful, they shouldn’t substitute professional medical care and should be used alongside a recommended treatment regimen. You should also see your doctor if your black stools persist.

What Causes Black Stool?

Black stool — also known as melena — is a type of excretion that appears tarry and sticky in texture.

It’s usually caused by digested blood that comes from internal bleeding. This may happen because of serious medical conditions like:

  • Colon or stomach cancer

  • Upper gastrointestinal bleeding due to stomach ulcers

  • Benign tumors that weaken the gastrointestinal tract

  • A bleeding stomach ulcer

  • Gastritis (inflammation of the stomach lining)

  • Esophageal varices (dysfunction)

  • Colon polyps (small growths in the large intestine)

  • Angiodysplasia (breakdown of blood vessels in the colon)

  • Liver disease

Although black or dark stools are often the result of a serious health condition, this discoloration can also be caused by certain medications and foods.

These may include:

  • Folate or iron supplements

  • Dark-colored foods like blueberries

  • Amniotic fluid (in newborns)

  • Medication containing bismuth, like Pepto-Bismol

It’s important to identify the cause of black stool and see your doctor if it persists, as it may indicate an underlying condition that requires professional attention.

Why Do Some Medications Cause Black Stool?

The ingredients in medications like iron and folate supplements (iron and vitamin B) and Pepto-Bismol (bismuth) have to react with digestive fluids so that the body can absorb them.

These reactions result in harmless chemical changes, which is what alters the color of the stool and makes it appear black.

You may also experience black stool more often if you take iron supplements or any of the other above-mentioned medications regularly.

This is because supplements like iron, vitamin B, and bismuth may build up over time, causing more frequent episodes of black stool.

A woman in a hospital gown lays in a hospital bed.

Is Black Stool a Medical Emergency?

Black stool can be a medical emergency, depending on the underlying cause.

If you experience any other symptoms like dizziness, abdominal pain, and vomiting along with black stool, you should seek medical attention right away.

These symptoms may indicate a serious condition that requires prompt treatment.

If you’ve recently had surgery and are experiencing black or tarry stools, you should also speak to your doctor as soon as possible.

They will be able to perform diagnostic tests to help you determine the underlying cause of your black stools. If it’s a serious condition, they will also recommend the appropriate treatment.

Passing black stools after surgery may indicate internal bleeding, which requires emergency medical care to avoid serious complications.

Can You Treat Black Stools at Home?

Depending on the underlying cause of black stool, you may be able to treat it at home.

If you’ve identified and determined that the cause isn’t serious, the following home remedies may help to improve your condition.

  1. Increase fluid intake: Drinking plenty of water and other fluids can help prevent dehydration and promote bowel movement, which may alleviate black stool.

  2. Avoid certain foods: Avoiding foods that contribute to black stool — like alcohol, caffeine, and fatty or spicy food — may help improve your condition. This can also help you avoid other symptoms like stomach pain and upper GI tract issues.

  3. Consume fiber-rich foods: Eating foods that are rich in fiber can help promote regular bowel movements and improve your digestive health.

  4. Use probiotics: Probiotics contain healthy bacteria that can neutralize stomach acid and promote digestive tract health. You can take probiotics as a supplement or eat fermented foods such as yogurt, kimchi, and sauerkraut.

  5. Try herbal remedies: Certain herbs — like ginger, turmeric, and peppermint — may have anti-inflammatory and digestive benefits that can improve black stool. You can consume these herbs as supplements, add them to your meals, or brew them in tea.

It’s important to note that these remedies shouldn’t substitute professional treatment, and they should be used to supplement proper medical care.

You should also seek emergency medical attention if you experience black stool regularly.

A man drinks a glass of water.

Where Can I Learn More About Black Stools and Similar Conditions?

If you’re struggling with black stool or are concerned about any of your symptoms, you can speak to a board-certified physician or nurse practitioner from the comfort of your home.

Head over to LifeMD to schedule a telehealth appointment.


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This article is intended for informational purposes only and should not be considered medical advice. Consult a healthcare professional or call a doctor in the case of a medical emergency.

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