Constipation can be uncomfortable, and unhealthy if it occurs frequently. The longer the stool sits in the colon, the harder it gets. The harder it gets, the more one has to strain to get it out. Straining can lead to problems such as hemorrhoids, diverticula (outpouching of the intestinal lining that can become infected) and rectal prolapse (the inside of the rectum protrudes through the anus). In addition, stool is a waste product ridding the body of toxins. The longer it sits in the colon, the longer these toxins remain in the body. Below are natural remedies that can help provide fast relief for constipation, as well as tips on preventing it from happening again.
Natural Constipation Relief
Drink a cup of warm water with the juice of half a lemon. You can also add a little honey to sweeten the taste. It is best to do this in the morning when your stomach is empty.
Eat a few prunes and drink a big glass of water (room temperature). Prunes, dried plums, are well-known to have a mild laxative effect. They are high in dietary fiber, sorbitol and phenolic compounds which may all aid in the laxative action.
Instead of eating prunes, you can drink a cup of warm prune juice. Prune juice is devoid of fiber and contains less sorbitol, but it can still help relieve constipation.
Psyllium is a type of soluble fiber. When it comes in contact with water, it forms a gelatin like mass that helps move stool through the intestinal tract. You can buy this bulk forming laxative in products like Metamucil (use as directed). You can also buy very fine flakes of psyllium bran at most nutrition stores and add 1 to 3 teaspoons of flakes to a cup of yogurt. Be sure to drink a glass of water with the yogurt.
This herb, the bark from the American buckthorn tree, has a long history of treating constipation by the Native Americans. Today, cascara sagrada is one of the most well known herbal laxatives. It is one of the few herbs approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as an over-the-counter drug. It contains anthraquinones, compounds that increase intestinal motility. Buy products (capsules, liquid extract) from a reputable source. If it is not prepared correctly, it can cause problems such as severe diarrhea and vomiting. Take as directed and do not use for more than eight or ten days. Pregnant women and breastfeeding moms should avoid use. Do not give to children younger than twelve years of age. Consult your doctor before use if you have a medical condition.
If you are really in need of fast relief for constipation, and the above natural remedies did not help, use a clear water or saline-solution enema. Although this is a very effective way in cleaning out the bowels, it should not be used often. Overuse can cause the colon to become lazy, making matters worse. Consult your doctor before use if pregnant.
Tips on Preventing Constipation
Drink plenty of water and avoid/limit beverages that dehydrate the body such as coffee and alcohol.
Eat generous amounts of fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes.
University of Maryland Medical Center: Constipation - https://www.umm.edu/altmed/articles/constipation-000041.htm
Pub Med: Chemical composition and potential health effects of prunes: a functional food? - https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11401245
People’s Pharmacy: Cascara Sagrada - https://www.peoplespharmacy.com/2005/10/18/cascara-sagrada/
Photo by allie.finch / Flickr
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