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Constipation

Almost everyone has different timings and habits as far as moving the bowels is concerned, however certain people who fail to pass their stools less than thrice a week, are regarded by doctors as being constipated, this may be due to a variety of reasons and constipation is an uncomfortable issue. Besides these genuine sufferers from constipation, there are many others who have to strain to defecate every time they move their bowels, needless to say such persons may also benefit greatly from some of the therapies and remedies that are aimed at the people who suffer constipation, as the causes may be similar.

The nature of the diet that people eat seems to play a part in a vast number of cases, in fact it is seen, and a lack of fiber and scarcity of fluids in the diet is the reason constipation occurs. There may be other reasons as well, include those that are purely physical, these include a lack of exercise and movement and sedentary habits over a long period of time, psychological causes such as the presence of a severe depression in some people may trigger constipation; there may also be other underlying medical disorders problems such as irritable bowel syndrome, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, a high blood calcium level in the afflicted person, a underperforming thyroid gland, constipation may even be a sign of cancer of the colon. Additionally the abuse of drugs such as antacids and laxatives can hamper and impair bowel activity and function giving rise to the symptoms of constipation, certain types of medications and drugs can also bring on constipation, including drugs used for the treatment of a high blood pressure, certain classes of antidepressants, and some types of narcotic pain relief drugs. All these factors can contribute and cause constipation to appear in a person.

Supplements and herbs

The supplements that have been suggested below are to be used in cases of constipation, that are not regular but are occasional in occurrence, in such cases these natural substances may go a great distance in alleviating the symptoms of the affliction, however it should be remembered that any sudden or abrupt changes in a person's bowel movements especially in the frequency, may have other underlying causes which could be signs serious medical disorders, for example cancer or a bowel obstruction, if that is the case then a qualified medical practitioner should be consulted immediately to rule out the possibility of serious disease. On the occasional occurrence of constipation and discomfort in the bowel movement, these supplements can help, and some even have a prophylactic basis and could be used if so desired even over a long period of time.

The multi purpose vitamin, ascorbic acid or vitamin C can prove to be an effective remedy for constipation, as one of its functions and proven capability is in its role as a mild laxative, in addition to its property of boosting immune system function and its effectiveness as an antioxidant. Most people who use this vitamin at a dosage level of about 3,000 mg daily experience a loosening of the stool and the alleviation of other symptoms. There may be cases of this not occurring in certain people, in such eventualities it is recommended that along with the 3,000 mg dose, the mineral magnesium can be taken, the combination of the vitamin and the mineral will prove effective, this mineral has mild laxative properties besides its other functions within the body.

There are other herbal based remedies and substances that can be tried out aside from these two substances, these include herbs such as psyllium husks, flaxseed in grounded form, or grounded fenugreek seeds are rich in fiber and provide a lot of fiber which goes a long way in inducing the formation of larger and softer stools, which are easier to pass, these natural herbs can be used daily, and as an added component to the normal diet. Liquids especially water must be an important element of the diet, besides lessening the chances of dehydration water is essential to the production of soft stools, therefore it is advisable to have these herbs with plenty of water to ease the passage of the extra bulk contributed by the fiber along the digestive tract when defecating. Another option and one that can be used in combination with other supplements is prune juice or dried prunes, these have a lot of fiber in them and are a safe and natural choice. Another mildly laxative herbal based remedy is tea made from dandelion root.

It may so happen that relief from constipation will not come even after using a combination of the aforementioned herbs for the duration of two days, in such cases which are rare, recourse may be taken to the herb cascara sagrada as a last resort. This herb is a very powerful laxative, and has properties of stimulating the muscles in the bowels to contract, however its use must be limited to two weeks at the longest and it cannot be used by pregnant or nursing mothers.

Homeopathy

Besides a necessary and adequate supply of fiber and liquids in the diet, the following naturopathic remedies can be an important component and support for the bowels in the attempt to cure oneself of the constipation. The natural balance of bacteria in the bowels is an important key to health; in this case the good bacteria such as those of the acidophilus and bifidus bacteria are helpful in restoring a healthy intestinal flora and the balance, the natural component of pathogens in the bowels. Other substance such as natural plant-based digestive enzymes can help towards the elimination of toxic substances and useless dietary factors, including many intestinal parasites, and yeasts, etc. all of these can help alleviate and even prevent the occurrence of constipation in an otherwise healthy individual. The recommended dosages for these homeopathic remedies are about 30c once or twice daily, the results however can only be seen over a couple of days, it must be understood that these substances are not laxatives and do not have a laxative function, and their effect is slow and gradual, effective over some time period.

  • Alumina
    Alumina is to be suggested as a homeopathic remedy to people with constipation who seem to have lost the desire to defecate, unless and until a large enough volume has brought on the urge, needless to say, this behavior in itself increases the chance of constipation coming on. Some of them may have problems and strain hard to pass even soft stools, and the urges that come on may be quite painful. The stools are knotty, hard and dry and often have to be removed manually. The sensations and unpleasant pains that are felt in the anal region during defecation include a cutting pain while defecating and bleeding seems to occur in many cases. This substance can be used with all manners of people to treat constipation, including pregnant women, old people and even bottle-fed infants. Some of the psychological symptoms that are seen in patients include fogginess and mental dullness, patients who need treatment using alumina seem to worsen under a warm ambience, react badly to starch in food, including potatoes, and seem worse on waking up. There condition improves when they are standing up or are upright. Alumina is used in all such cases.
  • Bryonia
    Bryonia is to be used with people who must strain very hard to pass stool as the urge and the desire is not there besides the action has become painful. The feces that are eventually passed are hard and dry and have a dark coloration as if it was burnt, the stools passed are also very large and this causes pain. Other physical symptoms in such patients include feeling thirsty all the time, coupled with a very dry mouth, the tongue may feel thick and coated, and there is a bitter taste in the mouth. The patient is very easily irritated and this is associated with the headache that comes on. Sometimes especially in the early mornings after midnight, diarrhea may come on suddenly. This homeopathic remedy can be used with old people, with pregnant women, with infants, and those teething; it is safe for women during their menstrual cycle and after childbirth. Typically patients usually worsen when they have to move about, then they eat too much, after midnight, when they drink a lot of cold and chilled drinks and are irritated when they are touched, the condition of patients improves when they are resting in a quiet room and are left alone.
  • Dioscorea
  • Lycopodium
    Lycopodium can be used as a homeopathic remedy in all patients who have constipation and in whom the muscles of the anal region have undergone painful constrictions, the urge to defecate may be ineffectual and there may be too little desire to do so. The reason the anus constricts is that typically the hard and large mass of the fecal matter is not easy to eject. There are other physical problems such as an aching in the rectum and the rectal region, the patient feels full and bloated. Internally he may experience a rumbling gut and distension, and the symptoms of flatulence. The patient is quickly sated even though he is very often hungry. Other manifestations of the patient which will suggest the need to use lycopodium are that there is often bleeding present, the patient may have a craving for sweets and sugary stuff, the bleeding in itself is a result of the problems with piles or hemorrhoids, which is often a concurrent problem, psychologically the patient has a very low self esteem and is irritable after midnight. The hepatic and liver functions are very weak. The patient can worsen in the time periods from 4-8 pm, after arising from bed, from excessive heat, in prone and reclining positions including sitting and if wrapped in a lot of heavy clothes and sheets when lying down.
  • Nat mur.
    Nat mur. is to be used in all cases of constipation where there is a sensation of something tearing the rectum accompanied by bleeding as the stools that are produced are often dry and hard, and have a crumby feel to them, the region of the anus undergoes a lot contractions. And the sensations that are felt just after passing stools include a burning and smarting sensation from rectal fissures that are often bleeding. Surprisingly this particular form of constipation may alternate with a watery diarrhea that comes on suddenly. Other physical manifestations and symptoms are that the patient is always thirsty and greatly craves salty things. There may appear red patches all over the tongue, other physical manifestations include migraines. The patient may feel depressed, is given to weeping very easily, and is easily hurt; on the whole the patient wants to be left alone and craves solitude. The patient worsens in the time periods from 9 - 11 a.m., when he is lying down, when exposed to heat, to rough touching, to a lot of pressure. The condition of the patient generally improves and he or she feels better when he is left out in the open air, and able to undergo a lot of sweating.
  • Nux vomica
    Nux vomica is to be prescribed as a homeopathic supplement in those patients who are constipated but who have a frequent and uncontrollable desire to pass stool, the urges felt are strong, and even for passing out very little stool there is a tremendous straining and heaving. After all this there is a sensation of unfinished business and an uncomfortable and unsatisfying sensation. Other signs that the patient displays include feeling better after defecating, this problem usually arises because the patient has had a long history of abuse of laxatives. The stools that are expelled out are dark and hard and there may be a lot of spasmodic movement in the anus including severe constriction, this condition often alternates with diarrhea and is also often present in people with piles or hemorrhoids, other physical manifestations include a raging headache, a lot of irritability, there may be stomach problems. The patient may feel cold and their may be other signs such as a tendency to overeat, the other causes of this type of constipation can arise due to overindulgence with alcohol, the abuse of drugs and other medications, drinking too much coffee, a sedentary lifestyle with little exercise.
  • Sepia
    Sepia, though the desire for defecating and the urge is often great, the patient passes only jelly like mucus instead of the stools and there could also be much gas and general flatulence. The symptoms that may persist in the person include a feeling of heaviness and pressure and a feeling that the stools inside is constant dragging on the bowels, heaviness, the patient feels as if he has nothing in his or her stomach, this feeling of emptiness does not disappear even after eating. There may be an uncomfortable sensation felt by patients even after the stool has just been passed that some of the fecal matter is still stuck in the rectal region, other symptoms that can run concurrently with this constipation include a low back pain, a general weakness in the body, the patient may have a craving for pungent and very spicy foods. In general the patient is apathetic and depressed and shows signs of exhaustion and overwork. The patient may worsen toward the evening, and in damp and cold weather or rooms, and if the constipation occurs while a woman is either in her menstrual cycle or is pregnant, the patient improves after taking intense exercise and physical training. In all such cases sepia must be used as a homeopathic cure to constipation.

Additional things you may do

There are two types of simple steps and lifestyle decisions that can be followed, the first one concerns diet and here it is important to eat and consume foods that are rich or abundant in fiber, this means that the normal diet must include a lot of raw fruits and raw vegetables, other fiber rich foods such as whole grains, bran, and dried beans. It is also very important to drink a lot of fluids, water ideally should be drunk in amounts that range from at least 7 to 8-glasses a day, natural and fruit juices can make up some of this amount but pure water is the best option. Physical exercise is another important component to the minimization of the risk of constipation, especially, regular physical exercise, it is also important to maintain proper bathroom hygiene and timings and to pass stool as soon as the urge comes on.

Usual dosage

  • Cascara sagrada, 100 mg evening. Standardized to contain 25% hydroxyanthracene derivatives.
  • Dandelion root, one cup tea three times daily. 1 tsp of dried root for a cup of hot water.
  • Psyllium, one to three tbsp psyllium powder dissolved in juice or water daily. Or take two tsp ground fenugreek seeds or one to three tbsp ground flaxseeds. To make it work drink 8 glasses of water daily.
  • Vitamin C, 1,000 mg three times daily. The dose can be increased to 4,000 mg daily (do not exceed a total of 5,000 mg daily) until bowel movements become regular.
  • Magnesium, 400 to 800 mg daily as needed. If diarrhea develops, reduce dose. Take with food.
  • Prune, eat three or four prunes or drink half a cup of juice every morning. You can use it on a daily basis.

For kids

See age-appropriate dosages of herbal remedies

If children are having the dual case of constipation alternating with diarrhea during their illness, some homemade solutions like oatmeal cooked in flaxseed tea can be effective. As this is rich in fiber, it relieves the constipation felt and at the same time has a soothing effect of the irritated intestines. The tea can be made from flaxseeds if about 1 tsp of flaxseed is mixed in about a quart of spring water, this has to be simmered for about fifteen minutes until the tea is made, the resulting liquid is the flaxseed tea and this is what has to be used to cook and prepare the oatmeal. As an alternative to this you can also try other options, like adding 1/4 to 1/2 cup of the flaxseed tea to about 4 ounces of juice and giving your child a daily dose. Under this treatment forty eight hours is the maximum time you will have to wait, as the symptoms of the constipation will have disappeared in that time. Chronic constipation and irritated intestinal walls can also be relieved and greatly soother by drinking licorice tea or tincture. Children can be put on a dosage regimen of this for a total of about 4 days, with a dose taken one or two times daily.
For your attention: children with high blood pressure cannot be given this herbal remedy. As an alternate aloe vera juice which is of liquid food grade quality can be quite effective against constipation in such children. The edible form of the aloe vera juice can be purchased. This juice can be given to the child once or twice a day in combination with fruit juice or applesauce to make it more palatable. Children's bowel movements can also be greatly eased using one to 10 drops of organic flaxseed oil, twice daily with the food.

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