Constipation occurs when digestive waste moving through the colon becomes hardened, dry, and eliminated with difficulty. Lack of physical activity, certain drugs, several diseases and a host of other factors may contribute to being constipated, according to the National Digestive Diseases Information Clearinghouse. Constipation is common across both genders and all age groups and can often be relieved with home remedies. If constipation is a serious, long-term issue, check with your health practitioner before trying new treatments or herbs, which may cause side effects.
High Fiber Diet
Eat a diet high in natural fiber to help bulk up stools preventing constipation. This is one of the easiest home remedies available to overcome constipation. Fiber-rich foods are beans of all kinds including peas, lentils, lima, kidney, pinto, black, garbanzo and soybeans. The list also includes canned and baked bean as well as all kinds of frozen legumes. Other foods high in fiber include whole grains, nuts, broccoli, baked and sweet potatoes with their skin, and fruits like plums, pears, raisins and prunes. If you are not used to eating a lot of fiber, start slowly. Eating too much fiber too quickly may cause intestinal gas and discomfort. Choose organic foods to avoid pesticides, GMOs and other additives that may compromise your health.
Another easy home remedy to relieve constipation is water. Drink enough water every day to properly hydrate your system. The recommended amount of water is usually 6 to 8 glasses per day. A more accurate way of calculating the amount of water you need is to drink 1/2 oz. water per pound of body weight. In other words and 150 lb. individual needs 75 oz. of water daily. You can replace non-caffeinated herbal teas for some of your water intake.
Bulk laxatives help enlarge the stool content making it easier to pass. Psyllium husks and flaxseed are the two most widely known bulk laxatives. You should always drink lots of water when taking bulk laxatives to prevent your stool from becoming too hard or dry, exacerbating your constipation. Use ground flaxseed as a garnish on foods like salads or cereals. Always grind your flaxseeds right before using them to preserve nutrients, and never heat them. Use a coffee grinder reserved for grinding spices.
You can also consume plain flaxseeds daily as a laxative. One tbsp. flaxseeds taken three times daily followed by 16 oz. water is the recommended dose.
Psyllium is available in most pharmacies or health food stores over-the-counter and in supplement form. Follow the label directions for dosing or consult your health practitioner for guidelines for use.
If changing your diet is too slow or if you need something to relieve constipation right away, use Cascara sagrada, a well known, but gentle purgative laxative. This Native American herbal remedy is made from the bark of a tree called “sacred bark.” It helps tone your colon while clearing out the bowels. Cascara sagrada should be taken as a tea, which is very bitter, unfortunately. Sweeten with a dollop of raw honey. Do not use it for more than a two week period and make sure to by it from a reputable herbal company to obtain the purist product available. Check at the health food store or with an herbal practitioner for guidelines for dose. Use honey to sweeten to make it more palatable.
“Back to Eden”; Jethro Kloss; 2002
“The Green Pharmacy Herbal Handbook: Your Everyday Reference to the Best Herbs for Healing“; James Duke; 2002
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