Constipation is a rather painful experience for us all: hardly anyone wishes to think, much less talk about it. But keeping in mind the unhealthy lifestyles that people have begun to adapt more and more in our society, the problem of constipation continues to grow. But thankfully, it isn’t something that can’t be easily cured at home. In fact, not only can it be easily remedied, but a properly maintained diet can actually keep the problem of constipation away from you forever.
In this article you will find the most known and effective natural and home remedies for constipation.
1. The Laxative Reflex
Laxatives are a quick way to relieve constipation. There are several different kinds of laxatives that come in different forms: pills, capsules, liquids, suppositories and enemas. Here is a quick overview of the different kinds of laxatives that help cure constipation:
- Bulking laxatives
These are fiber based laxatives. Fiber is essential for relieving constipation, and so is most commonly recommended by doctors for normal and slow-transit constipation. They work in the same way as fiber, meaning they increase the bulk of stools helping them to retaining more water, which then allows them to move quickly through the colon. It is important to remember that when taking fiber supplements, it is important to consume large amounts of water in order to minimize the possibility of flatulence and a possible obstruction.
- Lubricant laxatives
As might the name imply, lubricant laxatives stool slippery so that it can pass out with ease. The cause of this lubrication is the mineral oil present within these laxatives that adds a slick layer to the intestine’s walls and thereby prevents the stool from drying out.
- Stool softeners laxatives
They add moisture to stool to allow strain-free bowel movements, which increase the fluid content of hard, dry stools, making them easier to pass.
- Osmotic laxatives
These medicines attract water to the intestine and increase stool volume for easy natural elimination. They are also sometimes responsible for discomfort (bloating), at the beginning of treatment only.
- Stimulating laxatives
They accelerate and increase the natural contractions of the intestine. They also increase the secretions but sometimes cause colic.
- Rectal laxatives
In the form of suppositories (eg. glycerin suppositories) or enema, they can be useful in case of terminal constipation. They serve to trigger expulsion of the stool but without remedying the cause of constipation. These laxatives can cause anal irritation and for this reason are not to be used frequently.
Laxatives have the advantage of acting quickly (in 10 to 40 minutes for suppositories and in 8 to 10 hours for tablets and capsules).
However, prolonged use of laxatives can lead to various health problems such as disorders in the concentration of minerals in the blood. It can in particular lead to large potassium losses, which can promote and aggravate constipation. Many laxatives can cause colon damage and lead to chronic constipation. Others can cause gases in the stomach, nausea, bloating and even acute diarrhea or even allergies.
For these reasons, it is advisable to keep away the uses of the laxatives and to favor natural and home remedies for constipation. That’s what we will see in the next section.
2. Best Natural and Home Remedies for Constipation
It does not get any better than using natural ingredients to treat and even prevent health problems. With using nature’s own goodness, you have nothing to lose and everything to gain. As they come with no side effects, they are completely safe to use. Be mindful of not overdoing any treatment as that could prove to be counterproductive. Here is a list of effective and scientifically proven natural home remedies for coughs:
2.1) Drink lots of water
Where the benefits of water cannot be stressed upon enough for the functioning of all vital organs in the human body, hair, skin, nails, and in fact an endless list of why you should consume an adequate amount of water in your diet; curing constipation is among those reasons.
When looking for home remedies for constipation, water is number one. Constipation is caused when your stool is so dry that it has trouble passing out of your body. So, the simplest solution that appeals to common sense is to make this stool softer in order to help it pass out smoothly. Water helps in moving the food around in your intestines, as well as keeping the intestine smooth and flexible. So, step number one is to take in lots and lots of water.
2.2) Take lots of yogurt because bacteria are necessary
Do not be alarmed by the idea of bacteria inside your body. In fact, what we call ‘good bacteria’ is essential for the proper functioning of our body, without which we come to encounter issues such as constipation. Yogurt is one of the best foods available for relieving constipation because it helps your colon in two ways: the Lacto-bacteria help break down and digest food in the colon and the acidophilus in yogurt encourages healthy bacterial growth; this prevents several other internal problems too, such as colon diseases. Hence, yogurt being a pro-biotic food will aid the growth of beneficial bacteria in your digestive tract and help balance the conditions in your colon for optimal functioning.
2.3) Olive oil
Olive oil is one of the best natural laxatives. It stimulates the digestive system which allows a better functioning of the colon and helps to expel the saddle easily. If taken regularly, olive oil not only relieves constipation, but even prevents it from returning.
We advise you to always buy virgin olive oil, good quality and cold extracted.
How to use?
– 1 teaspoon of olive oil
– In the morning, on an empty stomach, drink a teaspoon of olive oil.
– If you cannot stand the taste, add a little lemon juice.
– You can do this until you get rid of constipation. Don’t drink water immediately after taking olive oil.
2.4) Baking soda
Simply adding one teaspoon of baking soda in half-filled cup of water, and drinking it quickly can do you wonders. It is known to aid bowel movements and help in the process of digestion in your body.
Baking soda is at the heart of home remedies, because it is so incredibly versatile and does its job 90% of the time. Baking soda works incredibly well for constipation and stomach pains in general, as it is a bicarbonate, which encourages the air to come out of you in one way or another, to relieve pain or pressure. It also helps the stomach neutralizing the acids a little bit and aids the bowel movements in the process of digestion.
How to use?
– 1 teaspoon baking soda
– 1/4 cup hot water
– Mix the teaspoon of baking soda with warm water, then drink all the mixture.
Baking soda is not recommended for pregnant women and for people suffering from heart failure or hypertension.
2.5) Epsom salt / Magnesium
As mentioned, magnesium deficiency may be one of the reasons why you’re experiencing constipation- thereby taking magnesium supplements might solve the problem.
Externally, using Epsom salt, which is rich in magnesium, may also relieve constipation.
How to use?
– When you’re ready for a bath, dissolve 4-5 cups of Epsom salt in a bathtub filled with warm water. Soak in this mixture for about 10-15 minutes. This may help to relax your gut and soften your stool as your skin absorbs the magnesium present in the salt.
Prunes work magic when it comes to constipation. The soluble fiber present in them improves the digestive system by encouraging movements in the intestinal muscles that move the food along without any blockage. It also helps in the adequate absorption of water and nutrients which are required for a healthy digestive tract. In addition to that, it has non-soluble fiber which passes through the body drawing up large amounts of water and bulks up the stool. It also encourages healthy bacteria in the gut which are vital for improving digestion.
How to use?
– In a bowl pour boiling water over 5 dry prunes and cover the mixture.
– Let it infuse overnight, filter, add a spoonful of honey. In the morning drink before taking your breakfast.
– Eat the prunes, one by one, throughout the day.
2.7) Flax SeedS/ flaxseed oil
Flax seeds have been known as one of the most effective ways to relieve constipation for years. The whole seeds contain somewhere about 6 to 12 % of a soluble fiber called ‘mucilage’. Mucilage is a substance that aids heavily in relieving constipation: its slimy, gum-like compound provides a soothing and protective coating along the entire length of the digestive tract, providing both bulk and softness to the stool.
Flax seeds are crushed to get the oil from what is called flaxseed oil. Although this oil can not contain all the benefits of flax seed, but it is considered healthy, rich in omega-3 fatty acids and has many healing properties. It is mainly used to promote cardiovascular and skin health.
How to use?
To treat and prevent constipation: Soak 5 to 10 g of flaxseed (whole or minced) in 150 ml of water for 20 minutes. Take 3 times a day, for 1 week.
Don’t take just before bedtime
Not recommended during pregnancy and lactation, and in children under 12.
Psyllium is a form of fiber made from the husks of an ovate plant. It belongs to the category of laxatives known as bulking agents which are constituted of fibers having the property of absorbing several times their weight in water. It is an excellent natural remedy for the symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome including constipation.
How to use?
To treat and prevent constipation: Swallow 10 grams of psyllium seeds in 100ml of water, one to three times a day for 1 week. This preparation should be drunk quickly, before it forms a gel.
Can be taken during pregnancy and lactation, but not recommended in children under 6.
2.9) Sesame seeds
Very rich in fiber and minerals, sesame seeds are a powerful remineralizing, antioxidant, and a good soft and natural laxative. These seeds are used as a remedy in many everyday troubles, such as cardiovascular diseases, high blood pressure, joint pain and rheumatism, and also to detoxify the liver. Sesame seeds also stimulate and improve digestion and are advocated as a mild laxative against constipation because they help softening the contents of the intestines to make elimination of waste out of your body a smooth process.
How to use?
– To counter occasional constipation, one teaspoon of sesame oil taken at bedtime is enough.
– In the form of unshelled seeds, the dosage of 9 to 15 g per day in a glass of water is recommended.
Not recommended for pregnant or nursing women or children Under 6.
2.10) Ginger with honey
Ginger is famous for its qualities in relieving constipation. It has been known to aid digestion and help with smooth bowel movements for centuries. Together with honey, the combo helps to aid the digestive process as it contains high levels of protein and it also stimulates the secretion of bile, essential to dissolve fats which might delay the digestive process.
How to use?
– In a cup, pour boiling water over a tablespoon of fine cut ginger root.
– Let infuse for 10 minutes. Add some lemon juice + 1 spoon of honey.
2.11) Black radish
The major advantage of black radish, and especially black radish juice, is to act on different aspects of constipation. At first, its richness in fiber combats constipation and allows to lubricate the intestine. In addition, black radish increases the transit speed of food throughout the intestines, and promotes bowel movement, allowing food to progress.
Available as a vegetable, you can consume it directly or in juice.
It is also available as a food supplement in ampoules, powder or capsule.
How to use?
– A glass of black radish juice per day before the meal will bring a gentle and natural relief to the constipated.
– In case of capsule, take 2 to 3 capsules a day with a large glass of water during meals.
However, its use is prohibited in pregnant women.
2.12) Castor Oil
Castor oil is extracted from the castor seeds (Ricinus communis), a shrub found particularly in India. This oil is very viscous and has long been a must-have natural remedy.
Castor oil contains 90% of ricinoleic acid, a fatty acid that stimulates contractions and intestinal secretions. It is therefore often used for its laxative effect that helps the stool come out easily by aiding the movements of the bowel. But be careful, it should not be abused because it is a very strong treatment, which can cause irritations or lesions.
How to use?
– 1 teaspoon of pure castor oil or diluted in a little water, every 2 or 3 days only. Don’t abuse.
It is avoided absolutely in case of sensitive intestines.
2.13) Senna (Cassia angustifolia)
Originally from India, Senna (cassia angustifolia) is known for the laxative properties of its leaves and fruits. They have the particularity of accelerating the intestinal transit and of helping the movements of the bowel.
Senna is recommended in case of occasional constipation: it hydrates the stools which increases their volume and helps them to come out easily.
The effectiveness of Senna to treat constipation in the short term is recognized by the leading medical authorities such as the World Health Organization.
How to use?
– For Senna leaves: infuse 0.5 g to 2 g of Senna leaves in lukewarm water for 10 minutes.
Take a cup in the morning and, if necessary, a cup at bedtime.
– For Senna pods: infuse, for 10 minutes, 1/2 teaspoon of powdered pods into 150 ml of warm water. Take a cup in the morning and, if necessary, a cup in the evening.
Prohibited for pregnant, lactating women, and children under 12 years of age.
The fenugreek plant has been one of the ingredients to relieve constipations since the times of the ancient Egyptians. Fenugreek can help regulate the stomach and relieve constipation. Fenugreek is also a good source of fiber, it contains essential vitamins and minerals.
How to use?
– Take 2 grams of ground fenugreek with a cup of warm water twice a day, ideally 30 to 60 minutes before a hearty meal.
Prohibited for diabetics and children under 6 years.
Black molasses is a thick, dark brown liquid derived from the extraction of sugarcane. Black molasses is very effective in helping people with chronic or occasional constipation in a natural and economic way. Molasses contains several essential vitamins and minerals, such as vitamin B6, magnesium, iron, copper, potassium and many others. Magnesium, in particular, is very beneficial to treat constipation because a lack of it in the human body is one of the prime reasons for constipation. 100 grams of black molasses contain up to 400 mg of magnesium.
How to use?
– You can dilute a teaspoon of molasses in a cup of tea or hot water.
– Drink it regularly until you see the effect of this natural laxative on your intestines.
2.16) The crimson mallow – (Malva Verticellata)
The crimson mallow or Malva Verticellata was already well known in the days of the Greeks and Romans, who were delighted with its tender leaves, while recognizing laxative virtues. It was thus one of the favorite remedies of Hippocrates, the “father of medicine”, or even of Pythagoras, who used it against constipation.
Nowadays, the crimson mallow is used in the treatment of gastrointestinal disorders (gastroenteritis, dysentery, constipation, abdominal pain), inflammation of the skin, menstrual pain, urological disorders (diuretic), respiratory problems (cough, Laryngitis, asthma) and infections of the mouth (cough, toothache, aphthous, abscess).
It has mild laxative actions: it can treat chronic constipation, especially in fragile people such as young children, the elderly or pregnant women.
How to use?
– Infusion: 1.5 to 2 gr (3 to 4 teaspoons) of mauve flowers in a cup of warm water.
2.17) Oils rich in omega-3
The omega-3 fatty acids aid in the process of digestion. Some studies have shown that omega-3s can be helpful in curing symptoms of Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis, which include constipation.
Fish such as salmon, tuna, anchovies are natural sources of omega-3. Many vegetable oils also are rich in omega-3 like: Rapeseed oil, Wheat germ oil, Walnut oil, Linseed oil, Soybean oil, Olive oil, Krill oil, Chia oil. There are also many omega-3 dietary supplements on the market but one must always favor natural sources.
Among the omega-3-rich oils that are known to have virtues on constipation we mention:
- Cod liver oil:
The cod liver oil acts as a slippery agent which makes stool pass through your digestive tract more easily. It contains essential fatty acids and fat-soluble vitamins E, D, A and K. These provide the nutrition that your body requires in order to keep a healthy and functioning digestive tract.
3. How to Prevent Constipation? Lifestyle and Daily Tips
In order to avoid the painful ordeal of constipation all together, it is important to lead a healthy lifestyle which encourages a healthy digestive system. Here are a few tips to help you attain this lifestyle.
3.1) Change your bathroom habits
- Take your time to go to the bathroom
Stress and lack of time spent in the bathroom are conducive to constipation. Normal stool evacuation involves various muscles that must be relaxed to function better. So, take your time in the bathroom.
- Impose yourself a regular schedules
Go to the bathroom every day at the same time, so you will educate your intestine and your muscles to do their work regularly. Be patient because good habits are sometimes long to take!
Squatting is a natural solution to constipation that is often ignored by many of us. We get so caught up in looking for medicinal solutions that we overlook the most natural way to help the stool pass out smoothly.
In the squatting position, the entire weight of your upper body falls onto your feet and thereby presses against the thighs. This acts to naturally compress the colon, which aided by gravity, enables waste to be expelled out of the body more easily.
Compared to squatting, in the sitting position the ileocecal valve remains unsupported and tends to leak: making it very difficult produce the required pressure. This can cause waste to enter and contaminate the small intestines.
To simplify, the body muscles responsible for waste excretion are more relaxed in the squat position than when they are sitting: this allows you to pass the stools much more easily.
3.2) Change your diet
A very important part of home remedies for constipation is fiber. You are what you eat. There is probably no need to go into much detail regarding the importance of diet to avoid constipation: Fiber is, after all, what majorly constitutes your stool. So, if you feel that your diet lacks the vital dietary elements required for a healthy digestive system, chances are you’re very likely to experience constipation on a frequent basis. So, try your best to go on a diet that encourages a healthy digestive system: eat foods with lots of fiber and good bacteria, and of course, don’t forget lots of water!
1. Foods that help fighting constipation
You don’t need a lot of sudden and drastic changes in your diet: you can start slow, little by little and within a few weeks, you’ll notice an almost magical improvement in your digestive health.
- Eating More fibers
Fiber is the part of plant foods that the body can’t break down. When you eat foods that have a lot of it, the extra bulk helps keep stools soft and speeds digestion. Therefore, if you do not have ample amounts of fiber in your diet, you’re in for some trouble.
The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recommends 25 grams per day for women and up to 38 grams for men.
Examples of high-fiber foods include:
- Green peas: belonging to the legume family, these power-packed buddies are excellent to prevent constipation. Peas are an immense source of fiber. Just one cup contains 8.6 grams of fiber. They are also high in insoluble fiber which accounts for about 70% of their total fiber- this is necessary for a healthy and normal stool.
- Sweet potatoes and Brussels sprouts: both supply around 8 grams of total fiber in a single cup serving.
- Broccoli: 5 grams of fiber in a single cup serving
- Sweet green peppers, celery, spinach: 2-4 grams of fiber in a single cup serving
- 1/2 cup navy beans: 9.5 grams
- 1 small pear: 4.4 grams
- 1/4 cup dates: 3.6 grams
- 1 medium apple: 3.3 grams
- 1 medium sweet potato: 4.8 grams.
- Fiber supplements
If you feel that you simply cannot manage to intake the required amounts of fiber that is necessary to prevent constipation, then try opting for fiber supplements. But, you have to be sure to add this in very small amounts and gradually to your diet. Otherwise, you can end up upsetting your stomach.
- Eat whole cereals
Say yes to grains: by replacing items such as white bread, white rice or regular pasta with whole-grain bread, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice, you do yourself body a favor that is beyond any medication that you might take to relieve constipation.
- Add vegetables
If you don’t prefer vegetables on their own, mix them in with your favorite chicken salad or toss a few pieces in your sandwich. Either way, it is very important to consume vegetables on a daily basis, even if very small amounts, to make sure you never have to sit on the toilet for hours!
Beans are also a really good choice in meals to prevent constipation. Add cooked beans to salads or try a bean soup every once in a while. It does wonders!
2. Foods that cause constipation
Just like avoiding greasy foods is a good idea if you’re suffering from some kind of heart-related issue, or sugary foods when you’re diabetic; it is just as important to avoid certain foods that might actually cause constipation. Such foods are high in fat content and very low in fiber, which slows down the process of digestion. They may be tasty and highly tempting, but is it worth all the pain that constipation causes you?
- Red meat
Red meat is abundant in fat but lacks fiber. This can slow down the digestion process. It also has something known as protein fibers, which our body finds difficult to digest completely.
Cheese? No, please. It is high in fat and contains lactose that may cause gas. People who are already constipated should say a big no to cheese.
- Unripe bananas
Unripe bananas have a high amount of starch present in them, this can, in fact, make symptoms of constipation worse.
Caffeine is generally considered bad for health. But when it comes to constipation, it’s an evil which must be avoided at all costs. If you’re someone who’s addicted to caffeine, you might have a hard time letting it do at first, but the results are worth it. Caffeine is known to dehydrate the body and lead to constipation.
- Fried foods
As fried foods are high in fat, they can, in fact, slow down the process of digestion in our body. We know how a plate full of French fries already lacks the nutrients that our body needs, so it isn’t something many doctors would recommend, to begin with: but the fact that it is also very low in fiber content simply makes matters worse.
Our sweet friend chocolate comes with two threats all at once: first, it is high in fat that slows down digestion, and second, it may also have caffeine which causes dehydration and further makes matters worse.
3.3) Exercise end stretching
A good exercise is like massaging your bowels. This helps in smoother and more flexible organs that are able to digest and excrete without hindrance. Here are a few tips:
- Begin by walking slowly for about a minute, then gradually pick up the pace, walking as fast as you can but still not actually running.
- Do this brisk walk for about 4-5 minutes. Then slow down and walk at a reduced speed for another 4-5 minutes. Thereby the total time spent walking would round up to 10 minutes.
- If you’re severely constipated, walking fast may be somewhat uncomfortable for you: but remember the good that you’re doing for yourself. This exercise will do wonders to relieve constipation.
Yoga might also be a good choice if the brisk walking isn’t enough to cure your constipation completely. Here are some positions we suggest you:
- Badda Kosana
This requires you to sit and then bend your knees, bringing your feet together so that the soles of your feet are touching each other. Then grasp your toes with your hands. Flutter your legs quickly and then lean forward to make you forehead touch the floor. Stay in this position for about 30 seconds.
This requires you to sit in a reclined position and stretch your legs out in front of you. Then you bring one knee close to your chest and hold it in that spot with the help of your hand. Next, you pick one leg and pull your knee against your chest- wiggle your toes. Hold that position for about 30 seconds and then repeat using the other leg.
Stand by keeping your legs straight and then bend at the waist. Touch the floor with your hands, or grasp the back of your legs. Hold this position for a few seconds, let go and then repeat.
4. When Opting For Medication?
If none of the natural or home remedies seem to work out for you, it is very important to seek medical help immediately and then follow the medication prescribed by your doctor.
Constipation can be a painful ordeal to deal with, but with a proper lifestyle and diet, you can enjoy a healthy digestive system in no time!
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