Constipation is a common problem that can affect anyone but is more common in older people. It occurs in around 20 out of every 100 Americans.
You suffer from constipation when you have
- Less than three bowel movements in a week (ideally you should have bowel movements daily)
- Hard or lumpy stools (stools should normally be soft, semisolid inconsistency)
- Difficulty while passing stools (passing of stools should be an easy process)
- A feeling of incomplete evacuation of bowels (you should normally feel that you have emptied your bowels)
What causes constipation?
A variety of factors can cause constipation. The most common causes are:
- Not drinking enough water
- Lack of fiber in the diet
- Lack of physical activity
- Poor bowel habits (ignoring or delaying the urge to defecate)
- Pelvic floor dysfunction (weakness of the pelvic floor muscles)
- Medications (such as antidepressants, blood pressure medicines, iron supplements)
- Overuse of laxatives
What are the seven home remedies for constipation?
Constipation is usually an easily treatable problem. A few changes in diet, lifestyle, and making use of certain over the counter products can help relieve it.
Here are seven natural home remedies to relieve constipation.
Fiber, also known as roughage, is a plant-based nutrient. It promotes easy passage of stools in the bowel and adds bulk to the stools for easy expulsion.
It is recommended to have a daily intake of 25 grams. You can obtain the fiber from a variety of fruits and vegetables. Some of the rich sources of fibers are:
- Brussels sprouts
- Bran cereal
- Black beans
- Black raisins
If you are no able to eat the fresh veggies and fruits, you can consider taking a fiber supplement such as psyllium (Metamucil) and methylcellulose (Citrucel). In general, these fiber supplements are safe and effective. They need to be taken in a glass of water one to three times daily.
Exercise helps in making the stool softer by decreasing the time it takes food to move through the large intestine. This limits the amount of water absorbed from the stool into the body.
Exercising most times of the week is essential in maintaining bowel health. Exercises involving a knee to chest position may stimulate bowel movements.
Drink an adequate quantity of fluids, especially water and fruit juices. Drink 6- to 8-ounce glasses of water daily increases water content inside the gut. This helps soften stools and enhances bowel movements.
Drink warm water can increase bowel movements and relieve constipation.
Probiotics are live microbes that increase the growth of beneficial bacteria in the gut and improve digestive health. These are available in the form of food (as in yogurt) and supplements.
Prebiotics act as a food source for your gut’s healthy bacteria. Natural sources of prebiotics include:
- Dandelion greens
- Green vegetables
- Legumes (peas and beans)
Examples of probiotics found in supplements are:
- Chicory fiber
6. Maintain bowel hygiene
Go to the toilet whenever you feel the urge. Avoid delaying because keeping the stools for long in the bowel can make it hard and dry and cause difficulty in bowel movements.
Maintaining a regular eating schedule often stimulates bowel movements.
7. Avoid straining at stools.
Avoid using laxatives frequently
Taking over the counter laxatives once in a while is OK. However, some strong laxatives make you habituated to it. One such example is Senna whose long-term use may damage the nerves that stimulate bowel movements.
All the measures above are generally suitable for everyone. However, ask your doctor if you can take probiotics or prebiotics and if yes, for how long.
Many people use alternative and complementary medicine to treat constipation. An Ayurvedic formulation, Triphala, is effective in treating constipation in various studies. Even castor oil is effective in relieving constipation. Another home remedy is taking carrom seeds daily. There are many such herbs and herbal formulations that have shown promising results in animal studies as well as in humans. However, it is advisable to always discuss with your doctor before you try any of them.
Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Mayoclinic. Constipation. https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/diagnosis-treatment/drc-20354259
Brenner DM, Shah M. Chronic Constipation. Gastroenterol Clin North Am. June 2016;45(2):205-16. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27261894/
Naseer M, Poola S, Uraz S, et al. Therapeutic Effects of Prebiotics in Constipation: A Review. Curr Clin Pharmacol. Published online February 12, 2020. doi: 10.2174/1574884715666200212125035
Peterson CT, Denniston K, Chopra D. Therapeutic Uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic Medicine. J Altern Complement Med. August 2017;23(8):607-614. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28696777/
Top Home Remedies for Constipation Related Articles
Boost Digestive HealthUpset stomach? Some foods may be the culprits, and bad habits may be to blame. Treat your body right with these simple nutrition tips on how to deal with with diarrhea, gas, reflux, and more digestive ailments.
ConstipationConstipation is defined medically as fewer than three stools per week and severe constipation as less than one stool per week. Constipation usually is caused by the slow movement of stool through the colon. There are many causes of constipation including medications, poor bowel habits, low-fiber diets, laxative abuse, and hormonal disorders, and diseases primarily of other parts of the body that also affect the colon.
Constipation Myths and FactsConstipation results in fewer bowel movements. Laxatives, home remedies, and diet changes may bring constipation relief. Change habits that constipate you and adopt lifestyle changes to benefit your intestines and bowel. Bloating and chronic constipation are relieved with the right medical treatments.
Constipation: Foods to Eat, Foods to Avoid QuizTake this quiz to find out what foods to eat, and what foods to avoid to prevent or relieve constipation.
What Is the Difference Between Fecal Impaction and Constipation?Constipation and fecal impaction are similar since fecal impaction is a severe form of constipation.
How Do You Relieve Constipation During Pregnancy?Learn what medical treatments can help ease constipation during pregnancy and speed up your recovery.
How Do You Treat Rectal Prolapse in Kids?Learn what medical treatments can help ease symptoms of rectal prolapse in kids and speed up recovery.
Is Impacted Stool an Emergency?Impacted stool caused by chronic constipation can cause emergency complications, but treatment for mild cases is straightforward.
Laxatives for ConstipationLaxatives types for treatment of constipation include over-the-counter (OTC) preparations, for example, bulk-forming laxatives, stool softeners, lubricant laxatives, stimulant or saline laxatives, enemas, and suppositories. Some OTC laxatives are not recommended for people with specific diseases or conditions (for example, people with diabetes). Some laxatives may have negative side effects if taken over a long time. Laxatives are not recommended for weight loss.
What Are Some Home Remedies I Can Give My Child for Constipation?What are some home remedies for children with constipation? Learn what causes constipation and how to relieve your child’s symptoms.
12 Foods to Eat to Relieve ConstipationConstipation is a common problem, and almost everyone has been constipated at one time or another. There are foods that can help prevent constipation and also provide relief, for example, kiwi, prunes, beans (your choice of type), berries, certain seeds, potatoes, and popcorn.
15 Foods That Cause ConstipationConstipation or the decrease in frequency and/or difficulty in passing stools (bowel movements) can be caused by a variety problems. Check out these top 15 foods to avoid because they cause constipation. Some foods to avoid include, white rice and breads, caffeine, bananas, alcohol, processed foods, and frozen dinners.
Is it Normal to Bloat Every Day?What is bloating in the stomach is it normal to have it daily? Learn the signs and causes of stomach bloating and what to do if your abdomen is distended.