If you constantly find yourself having to live with constipation, it can get frustrating, time-consuming, and even painful. Laxatives and all manner of artificial remedies are at hand, but is there a gentler way to solve the problem? Natural treatments to cure constipation aren’t complicated at all. And they are a lot easier on you too. In fact, you should be able to get started with some right after you finish reading this article!
Keeping your bowel movements regular is important for good digestive health. With everyone waking up to the importance of “being regular,” as much as USD 235 million is spent every year by Americans on treatments for constipation.1 But if you struggle with that daily effort on the throne, help is at hand with some all natural cures. While some offer immediate respite through a small tweak (like how you actually sit when you try and pass a bowel movement), others involve dietary changes that can go a long way. If you can make these work for you, your trysts with laxatives and other bottled remedies will be a thing of the past.
Get In More Fiber
According to research, 90 percent of all adults and children don’t consume the daily recommended quantity of fiber – the lack of this nutrient is, in fact, flagged as a “concern” in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Unfortunately, this could impact your bowel movements, with fiber playing an important role in keeping your movements regular and increasing stool frequency.2 So how can you up your fiber intake? On an average, people in the United States consume just 59 percent of the vegetables and 42 percent of the fruits they should be eating every day. So start by getting in plenty of fiber-rich veggies and fruit like broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, green leafy vegetables, berries, apples, and oranges. Use them as the star of the meal and as “fillers” or snacks between meals instead of relegating them to side-show status at just one or two main meals. You should also consider making whole-grain your go-to choice, for not just the fiber but the abundance of vitamins and other nutrients these whole-grain foods offer. 3
Drink Plenty Of Water And Other Fluids
Inadequate fluid consumption is a common cause of constipation. If your body is dehydrated, hard, small stool that moves very slowly through the gastrointestinal tract can make it difficult to have a proper bowel movement. If you are hypohydrated (dehydrated), drinking plenty of water and getting more fluids in can alleviate symptoms and make it easier on your bowels. You could also have lemon water or warm water with honey – whatever you enjoy drinking as long as they’re not sugary or caffeinated drinks that could dehydrate you further.4
Squat Or Semi-Squat
The squatting position used in many countries in Asia is now being acknowledged as the optimal way for the body to purge its bowels. For people who aren’t accustomed to it, this can be quite an uncomfortable experience – which is where innovators have come up with the idea of special foot stools that mimic squatting. You simply step onto these foot rests placed alongside your normal toilet and then sit down as your normally would on the seat. Because your feet are elevated, it places your body at an angle similar to squatting, making it easier to pass a motion.5
Say Cheers To Prune Juice
Often the subject of jokes about constipation, prunes can actually be very helpful. According to the University of California, San Francisco, people have even benefited from simply having a portion of prunes or juice from it (along with the pulp) just a couple of times a week. A special “cocktail” made from a blend of half a cup of applesauce, 4 to 6 oz of prune juice and about two tablespoons of wheat bran can be a great home remedy for constipation – just be careful not to have more than a tablespoon. Store the rest and try having a little more the next time until you get to a level that works well for your bowels.6
Take Your Time
According to the National Health Service, UK, one of the ways to ease symptoms of constipation is to avoid rushing things. Keep aside a time that you can spend at leisure on the throne and avoid trying to quickly move things along. This will only stress you out and tense up your muscles, adding to the problem.7
Try The Ayurvedic Route
To cure the vata excess associated with constipation, consume lots of warm, protein-rich foods that are moderately oily like seafood or lean meats. You can also try some other simple herbal or home remedies from Ayurveda.8
- Tank up on soups, warm stews, moist root vegetables like yams and turnips, and casseroles. They nourish your body, easing the vata.
- Drink some warm milk or warm water with a teaspoon of ghee added to it at bedtime. This simple Ayurvedic remedy helps if the constipation is moderate or mild.
- Triphala is also a good tonic to ease constipation. Mix about 2 to 6 gm in 50 ml of warm water and ghee and consume twice a day.
- Abhyanga or oil massage and svedana or sauna are also typically recommended.
- A poultice of asafetida may also help when applied around the umbilicus. An alternative is a poultice made with the rind of Indian gooseberry, saltpeter, sesame seeds, and ammonium chloride.
For medicated enemas (basti) and other more aggressive Ayurvedic treatments, you are best off consulting a professional who is trained in this alternative therapy.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Singh, Gurkirpal, Vijayabharathi Lingala, Huijian Wang, Shweta Vadhavkar, Kristijan H. Kahler, Alka Mithal, and George Triadafilopoulos. “Use of health care resources and cost of care for adults with constipation.” Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology 5, no. 9 (2007): 1053-1058.|
|2.||↑||Yang, Jing, Hai-Peng Wang, Li Zhou, and Chun-Fang Xu. “Effect of dietary fiber on constipation: a meta analysis.” World J Gastroenterol 18, no. 48 (2012): 7378-83.|
|3.||↑||Clemens, Roger, Sibylle Kranz, Amy R. Mobley, Theresa A. Nicklas, Mary Pat Raimondi, Judith C. Rodriguez, Joanne L. Slavin, and Hope Warshaw. “Filling America’s fiber intake gap: summary of a roundtable to probe realistic solutions with a focus on grain-based foods.” The Journal of nutrition 142, no. 7 (2012): 1390S-1401S.|
|4.||↑||Arnaud, M. J. “Mild dehydration: a risk factor of constipation?.” European journal of clinical nutrition 57 (2003): S88-S95.|
|5, 7.||↑||Constipation, NHS.|
|6.||↑||Constipation and Dietary Needs, University of California, San Francisco.|
|8.||↑||Mitra, Shankar K., and Paramesh R. Rangesh. “Constipation (Vibandha).” AYURVEDIC THERAPIES (2004): 325.|