Natural Remedies for Constipation
When the pipes stop flowing, everything gets backed up, and you are miserable. The first thing you are recommended is a laxative, but these are not taken without cost to the body. Here are a few natural remedies for constipation without the nutritional cost of drugs.
I think it's important for you to begin with an understanding of what a laxative does. Most OTC brands are osmotic laxatives which prevent the large intestine from reabsorbing water. It is necessary of course to absorb water and the nutrients available. However, osmotic laxatives are designed to retain the water in the large intestine so that it may soften and flush out the stool. The main problem here is that preventing the absorption of water is dehydrating, which in turn causes more constipation, and of course a greater need for the drug.
The second problem is that preventing absorption of water also diminishes how many nutrients are absorbed. The vitamins and electrolytes we need are flushed right out with the stool. Finally many OTC laxatives are made with polyethylene glycol which is broken down into ethylene glycol in the body, the same toxin used in antifreeze and brake fluid. This congests the liver with toxic compounds, places stress on the kidneys, and according to the FDA can cause neurological disorders.
Before taking on the risk of OTC laxatives let me explain some natural remedies that should flush the pipes without stripping the water and nutrients your body needs. Remember that the two most important factors for elimination are fiber and water.
A high fiber supplement in addition to laxatives will not always work. Bulk-forming processed agents like psyllium or bran can cause more harm than good. When constipated, all processed fiber should be removed as it adds to the bulk of the stool causing more blockage and potential damage to the intestinal wall. The focus should be on fresh produce, primarily raw and gently cooked vegetables, chewed very well, and of course accompanied by more water.
Most of us recognize a drought in the landscape but we neglect to see the drought in our bodies. We are 55-60% water and we need to replenish daily. Make sure you are drinking a minimum of half of your body weight in ounces of plain, filtered, clean water every day. This does not include coffee, tea, juice or any diuretic beverages that can dehydrate the body. In fact, if you drink any of the beverages mentioned, I recommend you add back the same amount of water to your daily minimum.
A few herbal teas can be counted towards your daily minimum intake of water. Traditional Medicinals makes a Smooth Move tea and Yogi has Get Regular tea that can be very helpful. Teas that help with digestion such as licorice root or fennel are great. I honestly think sitting down to drink any relaxing herbal tea can help a great deal because much of constipation is dealing with stress.
Along the lines of reducing stress is a warm bath in baking soda or epsom salts. Simply add up to 1 cup of baking soda or 2 cups of salts. Add some relaxing oils like lavender or even chamomile tea bags. When you are in the bath, relax, read a book, and massage your abdomen in a clockwise circle.
A gentle massage along the large intestine can greatly help move things along. Start at the base of your belly on the right side just inside your hip bone. Massage upwards, across the abdomen below your ribcage and then down the left side. If you press deep enough you may be able to feel the congested "garden hose" and roll over it like your were kneading dough. Keep the direction of your massage towards the exit of your colon in a clockwise direction.
Here are two very effective remedies: 1. Add 1 Tbsp of Ghee to your herbal tea or hot water at night and sip this while relaxing. 2. If you do not eat dairy, try 1Tbsp coconut oil added to your tea or warm water, or a cold pressed flax seed oil. Where as flax seed can bulk up the stool like psyllium, the oil of these healthy fats will lubricate the intestines and should get things slipping and sliding.
You have tried everything above and the pipes are still clogged; you may need something stronger. One little trick is to take a vitamin C tablet or magnesium right before bed. Both of these supplements can cause diarrhea if over dosed so be careful not to continue taking these without guidance of a health practitioner. Triphala is an ayurvedic herbal combination of 3 fruits historically known to cleanse the blood, liver, and bowels. You can often find it in your local health food store.
I hope I have given you some strategies for dealing with constipation. We all know it is a total drag and there are health consequences related to being constipated. It is important to decipher whether your constipation is a consequence of bad diet or a side effect from a medication. If these two possibilities are ruled out, you are eating a proper diet to build a healthy food foundation and you still feel stuck, try a few of these remedies and find what works for your body.