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You are suffering from constipation if your bowel movements are infrequent, uncomfortable, and the stools are small and hard. Frequency of bowel movements varies, but regularity is important. For optimum health you should generally have one to three good bowel movements daily. It is quite surprising, however, that many people have a bowel movement only every few days, or even once a week. This is certainly not good, as decaying fecal material and toxins in your intestines can contribute to many other diseases. For your health, it is vital to get fecal material out as quickly as possible.
We firmly believe the old adage "death begins in the colon." Constipation also inhibits the flow and absorption of vital nutrients in the body, and thereby may affect one's overall health.
Prolonged bouts with constipation can lead to other health problems, such as Hemorrhoids, Varicose Veins, indigestion, Bad Breath, Headaches and Body Odor. The blockage caused by the constipation forces the blood under more pressure than normal through certain veins and capillaries, causing the hemorrhoids and varicose veins.
As mentioned above, the waste matter in the colon may contain toxins, and the longer they are in your intestines the greater the chance they have to develop other diseases, such as colon and colorectal cancer. Other intestinal problems caused by constipation are diverticulosis - pouches in the intestinal walls that catch waste material and hold it while it putrefies - and diverticulitis, the swelling and inflammation of these pouches.
If you suddenly become constipated and the condition doesn't clear up within a week, consult your health care professional as you may have a potentially serious underlying medical condition. Also, if you have a sudden change in bowel habits or experience abdominal pain or bleeding, see a doctor at once.
Take this simple test to see if you have a bowel problem: if your stools float, they have enough fiber; if they sink, you don't.
Types of Constipation
There are two basic kinds of constipation: atonic (lazy bowel) and spastic (narrowing of the colon, with small, ribbon-like stools). For atonic constipation, a high fiber diet and increased fluid intake is recommended. Once the problem has gone away it will be necessary to retrain the bowel, as explained below. Spastic constipation may be caused by an obstruction or nervousness or anxiety. See your doctor if you can rule out the last two causes.
Constipation has many causes. Discovering the cause will point the way toward using the appropriate remedy.
For constipation, we suggest you try some of the remedies listed below and follow the wellness program.
As a general rule, if you are prone to being constipated you will need to make some dietary and lifestyle changes to get your bowels to function properly. Take these steps:
Since you haven't been going to the bathroom on a regular basis, you will need to retrain your bowels to get into a regular habit. Follow these steps in the retraining process: 1) go to the bathroom at the same time each day, even if nothing happens; relax and don't try to force the stool; 2) don't spend more than five minutes sitting on the toilet without producing any results. If you go into the bathroom to read, remove the reading material; 3) don't suppress the urge to defecate; 4) don't strain to have a movement. Prolonged straining can injure nerves and muscles of the colon and rectum, resulting in hemorrhoids and fecal incontinence; 5) exercise at least four times per week for a minimum of twenty minutes each time; 6) stop using enemas or laxatives or other products used to relieve constipation. The idea is to make the bowel function on its own with no other aids. After a week or two with the necessary dietary and habit changes, your stools should come at a regular time and frequency.
Folic Acid Take 60 mcg of folic acid daily. There are not dietary sources that contain enough, so supplements are necessary.
Iron If you don't get enough iron-rich food in your diet, we suggest taking chelated iron supplements for better absorption.
MSM Take MSM - methylsulfonylmethane - a natural organic sulphur, one of the essential structural minerals. It reduces inflammation and helps the digestive system work better. MSM has a soothing, healing influence on the mucous membrane that lines the GI tract.
Triphala This supplement, widely used in Ayurvedic medicine, is a mixture of three fruits which help tone the musculature of the GI system without acting as an irritant laxative. Best used regularly rather than for symptomatic treatment as it has greater benefit the longer it is used.
Vitamin B1 (Thiamin), if you have a deficiency.
Vitamin C Taking vitamin C and betaine hydrochloride or glutamic acid hydrochloride with meals will help digestion and absorption, thereby helping to alleviate the anemia and constipation.
Apples Apples contain pectin which will add bulk to your stools and their cleansing action will encourage bowel movements. They have a laxative effect.
Apple cider vinegar As a fermented version of apples they have some of the same beneficial properties. Take two teaspoons twice a day with a glass of water.
Bananas Bananas are high in fiber and can help restore normal bowel function.
Bran Put at least 1/3 cup of bran on your cereal each morning.
Flaxseed oil Flaxseed oil is a traditional folk remedy. Take 1 to 2 tablespoonsful with lots of water right after lunch or dinner.
Flaxseed Combined with apple cider vinegar, this mixture is another remedy. Boil two cups of water and add two tablespoons of flaxseed; boil for fifteen minutes; strain off the flaxseed, leaving a jelly-like substance. Drink a cup of this on an empty stomach, adding one teaspoon of apple cider vinegar. Take daily until you get regular bowels. Flaxseed is an excellent source of essential fatty acids which are necessary for proper bowel functioning, among other benefits.
Beets Take two small beets, scrub them clean, and eat them in the morning. You should have a bowel movement 12 hours later.
Brewer's Yeast/Wheat Germ Take half a teaspoonful each of brewer's yeast and wheat germ with all meals. After several days if you haven't gotten the needed results, increase the amount by 1/4 teaspoon two or three times until you do.
Carrot juice The essential oils in carrot juice have an effect on the mucous membranes in the stomach and help get the bowels functioning properly. Take juice several times daily. This will help regain proper digestion. This is good for children, too.
Dates Soak six dates in a glass of hot water; when cool, drink the water and eat the dates.
Elderflower Drink an infusion of elderflower once daily, as needed.
Epsom or Rochelle salts Drink a mixture of one teaspoonful in a half glass of water before bed. This is very bitter, but very efficient.
Fruit Eat at least three raw fruits daily. The citrus helps promote regularity. Strawberries, prunes and spinach are laxatives.
Garlic Garlic is effective for three reasons: it soothes, cleanses and reduces inflammation. Garlic is also very rich in potassium which is essential for proper contractions of muscles, including the intestines. Without proper contractions the muscles become partially paralyzed, resulting in constipation. The potassium is also important in the body's electrolyte system. Dice some garlic and take with juice, milk, soup or honey two or three times a day. You may also cook the garlic. Garlic tablets are also effective and can be used by people who have problems digesting raw garlic. Take two tablets once or twice daily for mild cases, three times for bad cases, and up to five times daily for severe cases. The doses should be two grams each. Several cloves of raw garlic eaten in a salad or other food often produces good results quickly.
Honey Honey has mild laxative properties. Start by taking a tablespoon three times a day or add to foods or drinks.
Licorice Licorice is a laxative. Make a tea of licorice and drink before meals to enhance production of stools. Not recommended for use by pregnant women as it may increase the risk of premature delivery.
Molasses Add 1 to 2 tablespoons a day to hot cereal or mix with warm water and drink it.
Olive oil Take one tablespoonful of olive oil in the morning and one tablespoonful an hour after dinner.
Pepper Make a massage oil of black pepper, marjoram and rosemary (one drop of each in a light carrier oil) and rub into the abdominal area.
Persimmon Eat a persimmon if they are available.
Psyllium Mix one or two rounded teaspoons of psyllium seed husks in a glass of water and take after meals. This is a safe laxative.
Rhubarb helps with regularity because it is a good source of water and fiber. Adding bulk to your stool will keep your bowels moving. Use it stewed or in pies, but only the stalks. Or, take 2-3 capsules of Chinese rhubarb root at one time. Another way is to make a tea by bringing a cup of water to a boil then adding 1 2/3 teaspoons of cut dried rootstock; simmer for 3 minutes; remove to steep, covered for half an hour; drink only 1/4 to 1/2 cup. If you continue to have constipation, increase the dosage, as too little rhubarb can cause constipation. This may seem odd, but rhubarb is used for constipation and diarrhea, but in different doses.
Sauerkraut Drink an 8 ounce glass of warm sauerkraut juice followed immediately by an 8 ounce glass of grapefruit juice(unsweetened).
Senna Drink an infusion of senna once daily, as needed. Not recommended for use by pregnant women. Senna contains anthraquinone which may increase the risk of uterine contractions.
Spinach Drinking a pint of spinach juice daily has often corrected constipation in a short period of time.
Sunflower seeds Sunflower seeds promote regularity. Take a handful of raw shelled, unsalted seeds every day.
Triphala, or "three fruits" in Ayurvedic, has been used for centuries as a mild laxative, digestive tract toner and bowel cleanser. It also stimulates the liver which helps eliminate toxins from the body. Compounds in the fruits that make up triphala, known as anthraquinones, stimulate intestinal contractions which speeds the digestive process. Due to its mildness, it can be used over long periods without fear of overuse as is the case with most laxatives. If you experience diarrhea, stomach pain or nausea after taking this remedy, stop using it. Use one teaspoon of powder in 1/4 cup of water two to three times daily, or take 1,500 mg at night. Once your constipation problem has ended, either stop using triphala or cut the dose in half to maintain a healthy digestive system.