* Constipation occurs when wastes move too slowly through the large intestine where water is reabsorbed from the waste back into the body. This causes infrequent, difficult to eliminate and hard stools.
* If constipation is a regular occurrence and is not treated, it may lead to many other more serious problems such as hemorrhoids, appendicitis, hernia, diverticulitis, bowel cancer and varicose veins.
* There are many causes and risk factors involved with constipation. Certain drugs and supplements, including iron supplements, antidepressants and painkillers are associated with constipation. Pregnancy, ignoring the urge to move the bowels, insufficient dietary fiber, insufficient exercise, insufficient water, genetics, high calcium intake, bowel disease, kidney disorder, diabetes, nerve damage and advanced age have also been linked with constipation.
* Inability or difficulty moving the bowel. Painful bowel movement, dry, hard stool, abdominal bloating and/or discomfort.
* Do not ignore the urge to move the bowel as this can cause the stool to dry out and exacerbate constipation. Try to go to the toilet at the same time each day in a relaxed manner, as straining may tighten the abdominal muscles exacerbating constipation.
* Exercise – participate in regular exercise, as it is thought that the regular movement and use of abdominal muscles helps to encourage healthy bowel movement.
* Drink plenty of fluids, most of which should be filtered water. Some herbal teas and juices are also good for constipation. You should drink at least two liters of fluids per day, even if you are not thirsty. Avoid coffee and sodas as they have a dehydrating effect. If you are constipated, drink about 500 ml of filtered water within half an hour to relieve symptoms.
* Dietary Changes – diet may be one of the easiest ways to manage or to avoid constipation.
– Eat smaller, more regular meals.
– Avoid mucous forming foods such as dairy products, fatty, fried and spicy foods.
– Avoid foods with little or no fiber such as white flour products, meat, processed foods, salt, alcohol, coffee, soft drinks and sugar.
– Eat plenty of foods high in fiber and pectin such as whole grains, prunes, citrus fruit, beets, raw green leafy vegetables, brown rice, asparagus, kale, cabbage, carrots, apples, bananas, garlic, peas, okra, figs and sweet potato.
– Add fresh ground flaxseed to cereal, as this will help to soften stool.
– Take psyllium supplement with plenty of filtered water for chronic constipation. Dehydration may occur if you do not take plenty of water with psyllium.
Natural treatments for constipation:
* Conventional treatment uses supplements that encourages bowel movement. However some may have damaging side effects including dependency on the product, destruction of friendly bacteria population in the intestines, reduced absorption of fat soluble vitamins, liver damage and increased toxicity of other drugs taken at the same time.
* It is recommended to use conventional treatment as a last resort only if natural therapies do not work. Treatments including dietary and lifestyle change, aromatherapy, yoga and massage usually improve the condition.
ALFALFA – Helps to detoxify the body and is used for constipation.
ALOE VERA, ALOE, ALOE BARBADENSIS – Has a healing effect on the gastrointestinal tract and helps to soften stools. Aloe vera is used for all colon disorders. Drink 1/2 cup in the morning and again in the evening. Use aloe vera from health food stores.
CASCARA, SACRED BARK, BUCKTHORN, CASCARA SAGRADA BARK – Used as a laxative and colon cleanser. Take according to label instructions. Do not use if pregnant, lactating or if you have an inflamed intestine. Children should not use this preparation. Do not use for a prolonged period.
DANDELION – Increases the production of bile, which helps to soften stool. Use according to label instructions. Avoid dandelion if you have ulcers or gall stones.
GARLIC – Protects against infection and cleanses the body. Use according to label instructions. People taking anticoagulant drugs should take garlic under medical supervision.
GOLDENSEAL – Cleanses and soothes the mucous membranes, strengthens the colon. Use according to label instructions. Do not use for prolonged periods. Do not use if pregnant or if you have glaucoma, cardiovascular disease or diabetes. Cleanses and soothes the mucous membranes, strengthens the colon. Use according to label instructions. Do not use for prolonged periods. Do not use if pregnant or if you have glaucoma, cardiovascular disease or diabetes.
MILK THISTLE – Soothes the tissue in the colon. Use according to label instructions.
ORANGE – Essential oil. May help with constipation if blended into carrier oil and massaged onto the abdomen in a clockwise motion.