Constipation • Natural home remedies

Constipation refers to infrequent bowel movements which are often difficult to pass. The number of bowel movements that is normal varies from person to person. You might have a bowel movement a few times a day or a few times a week and still not be constipated.

Constipation - Image of an outhouse with a Do Not Disturb sign

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

  • A feeling that you need to have a bowel movement but cannot
  • Bloating
  • Fewer than three bowel movements in a week
  • Hard or small stools
  • Straining

PREVALENCE

Constipation is a common problem affecting approximately 20% of the population, according to the NCBI. It is more common in the elderly.

ALLOPATHIC TREATMENT

There are numerous reasons why you may be constipated.  It could be a poor diet, lack of exercise, a disease condition or a number of things in between. Your doctor will try to determine the cause before determining a course of treatment. If your constipation is a lifestyle issue, you can make changes in your habits to give relief.

SELF TREATMENT

DIET

A balanced and wholesome diet is the first line of defense against digestive disorders. To promote a healthy digestive system, it is important to eat a balanced diet, with as much variety as you can manage, with lots of whole, fresh vegetables and fruits, quality protein and healthy sources of monounsaturated fat. The Zone is an excellent nutrition plan. It is also import to drink plenty of fluids throughout the day.

FOODS THAT PROMOTE HEALING

  • Beans
  • Bone broth
  • Flaxseeds
  • Foods rich in fiber. Adults need an average of 20-40 grams of fiber daily and closer to the high end if you are constipated. Men may need a little more and seniors a little less than the average adult.
  • Foods with high water content
  • Fresh, whole fruits and vegetables
  • Include some raw foods in your diet
  • Molasses
  • Raisins
  • Sesame seeds

FOODS AND OTHER SUBSTANCES TO AVOID

  • Alcohol
  • Antacids containing calcium or aluminum
  • Caffeine
  • Chocolate
  • Dairy (experiment to see if reducing or eliminating dairy products has an effect)
  • Excess iron or calcium
  • Gluten (experiment with reducing or eliminating gluten)
  • Processed foods (sugars, meats, grains)
  • Smoking
  • Unripe bananas
  • White rice

TEAS AND OTHER LIQUIDS

It is especially important to be well hydrated if you suffer from constipation and some teas have laxative properties.

  • A pinch of baking soda in water; drink rather than sip
  • Black tea
  • Burdock root
  • Clove
  • Dandelion
  • Green tea
  • Lemon and honey in hot water
  • Licorice root
  • Mint
  • Peppermint
  • Senna
  • Slippery elm
  • Tulsi

HERBS AND SPICES

  • Aloe
  • Anise seed
  • Coriander
  • Cumin
  • Dandelion
  • Fennel
  • Fenugreek
  • Ginger
  • Nettle
  • Sea buckthorn
  • Senna
  • Slippery elm
  • Sorrel
  • Tarragon

ESSENTIAL OILS

Essential oils can be administered via a diffuser for inhalation, administered topically in a carrier oil, or undiluted drops can be added to a hot bath. For constipation, use your carrier oil and any one or more of the oils below for a tummy massage.

  • Basil
  • Black pepper
  • Cinnamon leaf
  • Fennel
  • Ginger
  • Grapefruit
  • Lemon
  • Orange
  • Peppermint
  • Petitgrain
  • Rosemary
  • Spearmint
  • Sweet basil
  • Sweet marjoram

OTHER SUBSTANCES AND SUPPLEMENTS

The cost of having a blood test to determine if you have nutritional deficiencies is likely to be negligible compared to over-consuming expensive supplements that you do not need.

  • Fiber
  • Magnesium plus Vitamin C
  • Omega 3’s
  • Prebiotics
  • Vitamin B-1, 5, 9 and 12

HYDRATION

Water is essential and a main nutrient for the human body. Without it, you cannot survive for many days. Staying hydrated is fundamental for a healthy body, so how much is enough? There are so many differences in people (i.e., how much we sweat), as well as the diets we consume (a lot of water comes from healthy, whole foods), but a general rule is to consume enough water that your urine is clear, but not so much that you dilute your nutrients. If you are taking certain supplements that make your urine yellow, then you can start out with the formula of drinking ½ ounce to 1 ounce of water for each pound you weigh. If you weigh 130 pounds, drink 65 to 130 ounces of water a day. Definitely drink when you are thirsty. If you suffer from constipation, you should drink more than usual.

EXERCISE

That exercise is beneficial for overall health is undisputed. It is crucial for a well-functioning digestive system. If you are ill, you will want to take it easy, of course, but there is always something you can do to support your body. Do what you can without making yourself feel worse. Exercise in fresh air whenever possible.

EMOTIONAL SUPPORT

Constipation can be a result of stress. Stress contributes to muscle tension and inflammation. Stay calm. Chronic anxiety undermines health in every possible way. Practice relaxation exercises, talk to a friend. Do what works for you to stay mellow.

OTHER THINGS YOU CAN DO

  • Deep breathing exercises
  • Empty your bowels when the urge arises.
  • Eating whole foods helps avoid a buildup of guanidine.
  • Give yourself time on the toilet and avoid straining, which can cause hemorrhoids. Try relaxing on the toilet for 20 minutes after every meal.
  • Honey
  • Organic ACV for better bowel flora
  • Try cutting back on oils. Some theorize that eating oils causes a film to form in the stomach, making digestion difficult, causing gas and toxins. This may not apply to oils in their natural form, like whole olives and avocados.

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES

  • Acupressure (http://acupressurepointsguide.com/most-important-acupressure-points-for-constipation/)
  • Acupuncture
  • Biofeedback/SCIO
  • Chinese Medicine
  • Earthing
  • EFT
  • Homeopathy (https://www.drhomeo.com/constipation/homeopathic-medicine-constipation/)
  • Massage
  • Meditation for relaxation

CAUTIONS

  • Don’t overuse laxatives; use only as a last resort and as seldom as possible.
  • Some medications can cause constipation.
  • Eating disorders will cause constipation.
  • A number of serious diseases are associated with constipation: colon cancer, Parkinson’s, MS, hypothyroidism. Consult your doctor.

PREVENTION

  • A wholesome, balanced diet
  • Regular exercise
  • Low stress levels
  • Quality sleep
  • Stay hydrated
  • Don’t resist the urge to evacuate your bowels
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