Constipation Natural Remedies
Constipation can have different meanings for different people. Not everyone’s definition of “regular” bowel movements will be the same. Some people have a bowel movement a couple of times a day, others might have one every other day. If you are feeling discomfort in your abdomen in the form of bloating and stomach pains and it has been longer than usual since you went to the bathroom, you may be constipated. Straining while on the toilet may also be a sign of constipation. Be sure not to hold it for very long–if you have to go, then go! Otherwise your muscles will close up and cause the bowels to get impacted. If your bowel movements are less frequent than normal, or if you have limited fiber and water in your daily habits, you might find yourself in need of a laxative of sorts.
When you are constipated, gassy, and bloated, it’s tempting to go straight to over-the-counter medicines you can find on the shelf. The problem with those medications is that they may be full of chemicals that might be harmful to your body and may also cause problems to your body. Your body could get addicted to these pharmaceutical helps and eventually not be able to remedy constipation on its own. Rather than go the the pharmacy, go to your kitchen cabinets–or possibly the grocery or health food store–to find natural remedies for constipation. These solutions can aid in digestion and make constipation a problem that you can leave behind for good.
Tea for Constipation
Certain teas have been traditionally used to ward off constipation. Starting with simple black tea, feel free to add blackstrap molasses or honey. Part of the benefit of tea is the hydration it brings to the body, as well as the fact that caffeine stimulates the digestive system. Other teas that may aid with constipation are peppermint tea, ginger tea, rhubarb root tea, and licorice tea. Tea made with chia seeds or fennel can act as a laxative. Senna tea is very strong and should be used sparingly or you will find yourself with the opposite problem of diarrhea. Part of the benefit of the hot tea is the factor of sitting down to sip it slowly. This helps relax your body and may create relaxation of the muscles in the intestines as well.
Mineral Oil for Constipation
Mineral Oils have been used to combat constipation for many years. Taken orally, these oils quickly run through your digestive system and act as emollients or lubricants that trigger the intestinal tract to begin doing its work. The oils provide a coating around the stool to make it more able to slide through and exit the body. Mineral oil works best when it is taken prior to bedtime by mixing one teaspoon into a glass of water and drinking it slowly. Mineral oil may possibly be an inhibitor to absorption of some vitamins and minerals so it’s best if taken only for a week or less. It is not recommended for young children or pregnant women. Other oils that might be useful for constipation are flaxseed oil, sesame seed oil, and olive oil–up to three teaspoons per day included in the diet should be helpful.
Magnesium for Constipation
Because of the fact that the digestive tract is essentially a muscle, magnesium can be an effective laxative in that it affects muscle function. Magnesium is a bit of a super mineral in that it helps retain water in the digestive system which keeps the stool from drying out, and it helps to keep up the proper amount of nerve function within the bowels. It is an option to take magnesium supplements in pill form such as magnesium citrate which is chelated. About 800 to 1000mg will likely loosen the stools of a constipated person safely. Even better, however, is to get magnesium to your body from foods that you eat regularly. Foods that are high in magnesium include dark, leafy green vegetables, beans, grains, fruits, wheat germ, honey, fish, cabbage, and avocado.
Prune Juice for Constipation
Prunes have natural laxative properties because of the natural presence of sorbitol. Sorbitol is a carbohydrate which the body does not digest easily, therefore it passes through the system causing the stool to loosen. Either eating prunes (two or three at a time) or drinking prune juice (one to two cups) is a good way to stimulate the bowels to move. Other juices that are recommended for use to relieve constipation include apple juice, pineapple juice, and orange juice with the pulp, which all include necessary fiber and acids which assist the body in digestion of foods.
Blackstrap Molasses for Constipation
Although not an option for a daily constipation remedy because it is so full of calories, blackstrap molasses works best for quick constipation relief when taken prior to going to sleep at night. Use one or two tablespoons. Because of its strong taste, blackstrap molasses is often preferable when taken with fruit juice. Taking it in prune juice provides a double whammy, and putting it in tea is helpful as well. A sweet, gooey substance similar to molasses which sometimes helps with constipation is honey–the more natural and fresh the honey, the better. Mixing it into your tea, juice, or water can provide stimulation to your digestive tract.
Foods for Constipation
As mentioned previously, prunes are great for constipation. Also, that old adage of an apple a day is truth: apples have fiber and can help regulate your system. Pears, peaches, guava, and figs are other fruits which do the same. Carrots and broccoli, although not a quick fix for constipation, will add fiber to your healthy diet and allow your body to gently release bound up stool. Beans will not only make you gassy, as their reputation insists, but will also loosen up your bowels. Whole grains of any kind, and seeds, also contain fiber which will keep your tract on track with emptying itself of waste. Yogurt with live active cultures provides probiotics which encourage the digestive system to get moving and eliminate the unhealthy waste that is making you uncomfortable.
In addition to foods you need to eat to remedy constipation, there are also some foods you may need to avoid in order to keep yourself from getting constipated. Anything high in potassium, such as bananas, as well as sugary or processed foods will also inhibit proper digestion and may cause constipation. Red meats such as beef and pork are famous for containing iron, but iron is also a contributor to tight ends. Add roughage any time you plan to eat red meat. Dairy products such as milk and cheese are culprits when it comes to constipation, which is why many children can have troubled tummies.
Seeds and Nuts for Constipation
Many kinds of seeds can aid in digestion because of their rough exteriors and makeup. Chia seeds, otherwise known as salvia, is reputed to bring a laxative effect when eating as hydrated seeds or drinking it as a tea. One seed that is found ground up in over the counter laxatives is psyllium seed. This is used to add a slippery constitution to the outside of the stool in order to eliminate it more comfortably. Almonds, pine nuts, sesame seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, fennel, ground flaxseed (or flaxseed oil is even better!) are all seed options which will aid the digestive system and provide extra incentive for your bowels to get working.
Exercise for Constipation
Regular exercise added to your lifestyle is a very important way to prevent constipation. However, when you are already constipated, it often helps to take a slow, meandering walk. This can happen in the park or at a department store, as long as you are relaxed and not stress out, and make sure that you are somewhat near a bathroom! Maintain a slow, comfortable pace and breathe deeply to encourage your body’s muscles to release. Sometimes careful massage of the intestines can also induce bowel activity, but make sure to study up on this because poking around in your abdomen in an effort to massage can also make matters worse at times.
Water for Constipation
One of the problems with constipation is that the stools become hard and dry, increasing the pain felt during a bowel movement. Adding plenty of water to your diet will insure that there is enough hydration for the stool to soak up during digestion. This eliminates the threat of dehydration and may soften the stool to promote more comfortable bowel movements. Drinking at least 6-8 eight ounce glasses of water per day is recommended for maximum health benefits.
Natural Remedies for Constipation as a Lifestyle
Constipation is just a pain in the rear! Literally. And taking over the counter medications may address the symptoms, but ultimately will not take care of the problem. Changing your diet and lifestyle to include foods rich in fiber, plenty of water, and exercise will go a long way in creating a more healthy you, and it will keep you on the go! I hope these natural remedies for constipation are helpful to you and a great start to getting you back on the path to becoming regular.
Image: “writer’s block” from Flickr by Andrew
Image: “Derek Has Issues” from Flickr by Steve Parks
Image “Pilates Class at PHV Activity Center” from Flickr by Herald Post
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