Home remedies for Constipation work better than popping in chemicals disguised as laxatives… Constipation is a condition which is characterized by passing less than three stools per week, passing stools with straining, passing hard stools, a feeling of incomplete evacuation and using manual maneuvers to facilitate evacuation (According to criteria Rome III).
A recent “gut health survey” conducted by global marketing research company has found that chronic constipation is prevalent in 14% of India’s urban population.
Constipation can have multiple etiologies, which includes laxative abuse, certain medications, hormonal disorders, inadequate hydration & dietary fiber intake, sedentary life style and sudden change in diet.
The common symptoms of constipation, besides having difficulty in defecation are mood swings, irritability, abdominal bloating, pain, anxiety and general sense of overall irritability. People suffering from constipation can also have nausea, weight loss, and in chronic conditions can have anal fissures and piles as well.
A few Home remedies for Constipation
Depending on the severity of condition you can opt for certain home remedies for constipation or can seek medical advice. Generally constipation is checked by using laxatives, but they should not be considered as first line of treatment, as many laxatives are habit-forming in nature. Some laxatives can damage your colon while others can interact with medication you take in an adverse manner and there are laxatives that can cause inflammation of intestinal mucosa.
These problems sound scary enough and just to prevent this dreadful experience, we have got some tried and tested home remedies for constipation that will pull your system back to the normal in no time.
1. Water is the BEST home remedy for constipation
Maintaining adequate hydration in a key to maintain healthy bowel motility and is counted as the best Home remedy for constipation. Body is 70+% water and any lack of it can increase risk of fecal impaction and constipation.
Although high fiber diet and hydration can help prevent constipation, but consuming more than 50 g of fiber per day can interfere with absorption of certain nutrients like calcium, zinc, iron and magnesium, as stated by university of Arizona extension.
2. Regular Bowel pattern
This is one of the most important home remedies for constipation affecting people of any age group, as defecation may be partly a conditioned reflex. Most people with normal bowel pattern defecate at the same time every day. So patients should be encouraged to attempt evacuation first thing in the morning when the peristaltic movements in your bowel is maximum and then half an hour after meals, to take assistance of gastrocolic reflex.
3. Up the intake of dietary fibre
Most of us consume inadequate fiber, which is the most common reason for constipation. A study published in European journal of clinical nutrition 2007, has shown that with increase in dietary fiber intake, stools get bulkier and colonic transit time decreases.
According to Institute of Medicine, females (19-50 years) should take 25 grams of fiber every day, and men of same age group should take around 38 grams. If your fiber intake is less than this, you should increase intake of fiber rich fruits and vegetables.
It is advisable to increase fiber gradually, generally 5 grams each week until you reach the recommended intake to prevent excessive gas, bloating and discomfort.
A few Fiber rich fruits…
1 :: Kiwi. Kiwi is loaded with lots of vitamins and nutrients important for good health. One medium kiwi contains 2.2 grams of fiber. A 2013 study published in advances in food and nutrition suggested that consuming two kiwis a day could increase bowel movements in adults suffering from constipation.
2 :: Pear. Pear fruit is good for curing constipation for people of all ages. A medium pear with skin gives 5-6 grams of fiber. According to American Academy of Pediatrics pear juice can be safely given to infant above 1 month of age. Recommended dose is 1 ounce of juice per month i.e. for a 4-month old infant not more than 4 ounces of juice per day should be given
3 :: Berries. All berries are full of fiber; a half a cup of berries contains 4 grams of fiber. You can pick from raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and blueberries. You can consume them as it is or can try mixing it with your breakfast cereal or salads.
4 :: Raisins. It is a good choice if you are constipated; it contains more fiber than grapes per serving. One cup of raisins gives 7 grams of fiber while grapes give only 1 gram. you can add raisins to cereals or bran muffins.
5 :: Prunes. These pitted, dried plums are grandma’s remedy for constipation. Prunes are rich in insoluble fiber and sorbitol, which is an indigestible sugar that attracts water and makes stools softer, and can alleviate pain associated with constipation. A study conducted at the University of Iowa, compared prunes and psyllium husk (Isabagol) in 40 constipated adults and found prunes can help in spontaneous bowel movements in a better way than psyllium. Prune juice can also be given to babies for relieving constipation.
6 :: Apple juice. It can be used to treat temporary bouts of constipation in infants and can also relieve occasional constipation in adults. It contains Sorbitol (natural laxative), and as a liquid it facilitates bowel movement
According to Baylor College of Medicine, 8-ounce of apple juice contains 1 gram of sorbitol, peach juice contains twice that amount, pear juice provides four times and prune juice supplies 25 times more sorbitol than apple juice.
7 :: Oranges. Flavanone naringenin is a natural compound present in oranges and other citrus fruits that have laxative effects – As stated by a study published in the journal “PLOS ONE”.
Along with Flavanone naringenin (Natural Laxative) oranges provide both fiber and water, which helps you to “go”. To get more fiber from the fruit you should eat the white segment membranes also. One large orange with membranes gives 4.4 g of fiber, according to USDA national nutrient database.
8 :: Figs. Figs are loaded with pectin, which is an insoluble fiber helping in promoting healthy and regular bowel movements. Three fig servings supplies 5 grams of fiber and provides bulk to the stool. Along with stimulating healthy bowel movements it mops excess cholesterol from gut and helps in its excretion.
It is recommended to eat 2-3 fresh figs with skin as the skin provides most of the fiber and calcium.
9 :: Lemon juice. Lemon contains citric acid, which stimulates digestive system and also act as an antioxidant. It helps to remove undigested food particles that have built up along the gut lining. Mixing juice with water provides the fluid needed to get things moving.
Instead of sugar you can add honey and salt. Honey is believed to have mild laxative effect as it contains fructose, which is a natural indigestible sugar that adds bulk to the stools. Salt contains magnesium, which is supposed to stimulate contraction of bowel muscles.
10 :: Papaya. Both the fruit as well as juice has great laxative effects. Papaya contains an enzyme papain, which helps in digestion of proteins in large intestine. Also, it contains high level of soluble fiber, water vitamin A, C and E.
A few of Vegetables rich in fiber…
1 :: Broccoli. Brocolli is also rich in dietary fiber. 1 cup serving of cooked broccoli supplies about 5-6 grams of fiber whereas raw broccoli gives only 2.4 grams of fiber.
2 :: Cabbage. Different types of cabbages provide different amount of fiber. 1 cup of green cabbage provides 2.8 grams of fiber; 1 cup of red cabbage supplies 3.9 grams of fiber, whereas savoy cabbage provides maximum amount of fiber, 1 cup of it gives 4.1 grams of fiber. Like broccoli cooked cabbage provides more fiber than raw cabbage does.
3 :: Celery. Celery is a good source of fiber as well as water; nearly 90% of its weight is made up of water. One cup serving of raw celery gives 2.2 grams of fiber. Insoluble fiber in celery absorbs water from gut and helps to maintain soft stool, which is easy to void.
Other than this Celery helps in protecting stomach lining from Ulcers (report published in Journal Pharmaceutical Biology 2010). Celery contains flavonoids and tannins, which may prevent bacterial growth responsible for inflammation of stomach lining.
4 :: Baked Sweet Potato. I medium serving of baked sweet potato contains 3.9 grams of fiber. It is better to eat Baked Sweet Potato with skin as skin contains most of the fiber.
5 :: Okra. The slimy component of okra possesses excellent laxative property, which helps to maintain regular bowel movements. Okra contains mucilage, which helps in lubrication of hard stools. It also contains good amount of fiber, which further helps in painless elimination of waste products.
One cup of oatmeal cooked in water gives 4 g of fiber. It contains both soluble fiber (required to lower cholesterol) and insoluble fiber (prevents constipation).
5. Flax seeds
Flex seeds are one of the oldest remedies known for constipation. According to the study published in journal of ethnopharmacology, 2015 it contains high amount of mucilage, which is a gum like compound that helps to provide soothing and protective covering along the gut lining. Fiber in flaxseeds provides both bulk and softness to the waste products. It is advisable to drink plenty of water along with flaxseeds, as it can aggravate constipation without adequate consumption of water.
As flaxseeds contains oily component also, some researchers speculate that this oily component helps to lubricate the stools.
You can choose from all types of beans, as all of them possess laxative properties. 1 cup serving of baked beans is loaded with 10 grams of fiber. According to U.S. department of agriculture I cup of boiled chickpeas contains 12.5 grams of fiber. I cup of boiled black beans contains 15 grams of dietary fiber.
Senna is a FDA – approved non-prescription herbal laxative. It contains a chemical sennosides, which by irritating intestinal lining produces laxative effect. According to Medline plus, it should be used for short term constipation, as it causes severe electrolyte imbalance, muscle weakness and dependency if used for a prolonged period of time.
8. Ginger tea
Many Herbalists recommend Ginger tea for people suffering from Constipation. According to the memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, along with mild laxative effects it acts as an appetite stimulant, prevents stomach inflammation and promotes digestion.
Ginger tea should not be given to diabetics as it may interfere with absorption of diabetic medications. Care should be taken while using for people on blood thinning medications like asprin as it also possesses blood-thinning properties.
9. Chamomile tea
Chamomile tea is used in treating many digestive issues like abdominal bloating, pain, gas and constipation as it has anti-spasmodic and stomach soothing properties. It helps to make intestinal smooth muscles relax, and allows easier passage of stools.
Avoid consuming Chamomile tea if you are using sedatives, birth control pills, anti-fungal drugs or statins.
10. Epsom salts
Epsom is an oral hyperosmotic laxative, which by pulling water into intestines makes stools softer. Epsom contains magnesium, which stimulates contraction of intestinal musculature and makes stool easier to pass. It generally works in less than 6 hours time.
Being a strong laxative Epsom salts carry potential side effects like cramping, bloating, nausea and diarrhea. As it can cause dependency amongst users it is prescribed for infrequent use only.
11. Aloe vera is also a home remedy for constipation
The yellow, bitter liquid comes from Aloe leaf is a powerful stimulant laxative; it irritates intestinal lining and stimulates muscle contractions to propel stools along the intestines. University of Maryland Medical Center recommends one should try some other gentler laxative before trying aloe as it can cause painful cramping of abdomen as a side effect.
12. Castor Oil is one of the most effective home remedy for constipation
Castor Oil may taste bad but is an excellent laxative. A study conducted in Nigeria found castor oil to be effective in children suffering from constipation. Avoid taking it at bedtime as it gives quick results.
13. Probiotics is one of the simples home remedy for constipation
Probiotics improves intestinal barrier function, increase mucus production, secrete antimicrobial peptides, modulates immune system and alter fermentation. A review published in American journal of gastroenterology 2009, showed that probiotics containing bifidobacterium infantis reduces intestinal inflammation and significant improvement in bowel movement.
Irregular exercise can increases Constipation risk by two fold
According to a survey conducted by National Health and Nutrition, low physical activity is linked with a twofold increased risk of constipation. It decreases colonic transit time, thus limits water absorption from stools. Also, aerobic exercises by accelerating respiratory rate and heart rate, stimulates contraction of intestinal musculature, which aids in easy defecation. Exercise in any form can help with bowel movements.