Remedies: The Good, the Bad, and the Natural
defined as infrequent or difficult bowel movements—is not
considered a disease of the digestive system or the colon. Instead,
constipation is usually a symptom and sign that a person should
make changes in his or her lifestyle to improve the function of
the colon. This is why constipation remedies are often based on
improving one’s diet, fluid intake, and exercise program.
If these constipation remedies do not work, there are other natural
options, including herbs, to relieve constipation.
In addition to
encouraging more frequent and easier to pass stools, constipation
remedies also help the secondary symptoms of constipation such as
abdominal pain, bloating, and gas. Like acid
reflux pain, chronic constipation is one of the most common
stomach problems in the United States (it affects more than 4 million
Americans at any given time), people are urgently seeking constipation
remedies from pharmacies, supermarkets, health food stores, and
their own kitchens.
The most commonly
used of these constipation remedies is probably the least healthy
option—over-the-counter laxatives. Consumers spend about $725
million on laxatives every year in the United States, in spite of
their very undesirable side effects. The worst side effect of laxatives
is dependence. Over time, laxatives can damage the nerves and muscles
in the colon, and the body will become dependent on laxatives to
have a bowel movement at all.
Due to the side
effects of laxatives, healthier constipation remedies are becoming
the rule rather than the exception. The following are some natural
and herbal constipation remedies that have been effective for many
- A high-fiber diet (20-35 grams
of fiber a day)
- Increased exercise
- Avoiding diets high in fatty
foods like cheese, eggs, and meats
- Consuming prunes, prune juice,
- Certain strains of friendly
- Abdominal massage
- Licorice root
- Dandelion root
- Psyllium seeds
- Rhubarb root
- Aloe, Buckthorn, and Senna
(but do not overuse these herbal constipation remedies, as they
Other common constipation
remedies are bulk-forming laxatives, stool softeners, and lubricants.
Bulk-forming laxatives (fiber supplements that come in the form
of pills or drink mixes) are typically considered safe but they
must be taken with a lot of water. Some individuals also say they
experience bloating and abdominal pain from bulk-forming laxatives.
Stool softeners work by drawing more water into the colon. Lubricants,
such as mineral oil, are constipation remedies that lubricate the
stool. All in all, keep in mind that chronic constipation could
be the sign of a more serious condition such as irritable bowel
syndrome (IBS), especially if the constipation is accompanied by
acid reflux, abdominal pain, and other digestive symptoms.