Constipation is when you haven’t been able to have a bowel movement in a day or more. Sometimes, you’ll feel bloating or cramping, strain, and a feeling of incomplete evacuation. With prices for medications on the rise, let’s look into constipation preparedness in terms of available medications, possible home remedies, and changing up one’s diet.
Why Does Constipation Occur?
Infrequent bowel movements (less than three times per week), hard stools, straining during an evacuation, or a feeling of incomplete emptying are all signs of constipation. If you’re used to having at least one bowel movement per day, missing just one can make you extremely uncomfortable.
- Constipation also can occur because of problems of immobility or dehydration.
- Deficiencies in fiber make for difficult evacuations.
- Medications and their side effects can also impede bowel movements.
In cancer patients and those suffering from pain management, opioids can cause constipation. Pain medications, like morphine, hydromorphone, and hydrocodone, slow down the movement of stool through the bowel, resulting in opioid-induced constipation.
Finding the Best Remedies for You
Lifestyle modifications typically take time to work.
Combined with a therapeutic regimen, they can offer quick and lasting improvement.
A good place to start is with what you have found works. Do a brief yoga session using poses for constipation relief, have fewer cups of coffee, and limit the amount of dairy in your daily diet. To help ease yourself back into regularity, getting out and doing light exercise can help your body loosen up and get going.
There are many solutions for constipation, including prescription drugs, over-the-counter, and home remedies. They act as stimulants, lubricants, and softeners, all in an attempt to make it easier to have a bowel movement.
But there are also solutions in your kitchen or medicine cabinet. Some of these homemade laxative recipes use similar methods, including increasing your fiber intake with fiber-rich foods and lubricating your digestive system with oil. On the plus side, home remedies can be gentler on your digestive tract and easier on your budget.
Two medications are approved in the United States for constipation caused by irritable bowel syndrome and idiopathic constipation: linaclotide and lubiprostone.
Methylnatrexone is indicated for opioid-induced constipation when laxative therapy has been unsuccessful.
Methylnatrexone binds to mu-receptors in the gut but does not cross the blood-brain barrier, so the constipating effects of the opioid are reduced without affecting pain control.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov
Constipation medication bought over the counter generally take 12–72 hours to start working.
Unwanted side effects such as cramping, diarrhea, bloating, and gas can happen prior to constipation relief.
Common OTC Medications
- Use an osmotic laxative to soften your stool.
- Stool softeners work by drawing water into the stool to help reduce the need for straining.
- Fiber/bulk-forming agents hold water in the stool making it easier to move down the system.
- Osmotic agents stimulate peristalsis by promoting the secretion of water into the colon wall.
- Stimulant laxatives such as senna also promote water secretion into the colon and increase intestinal motility (movement in the intestines).
- Saline laxatives such as magnesium citrate increase motility through the absorption of water into the colon.
Home Remedies for Constipation
There is a wide range of home remedies for constipation.
You can combine these remedies with diet changes and your lifestyle.
Take it slow and find what adjustments work best for you.
Lots and Lots of Water
Water in the colon is vital for successful elimination.
Constipation largely happens because the colon has absorbed too much fluid from the waste in your intestines, leaving dry and hard stools behind.
Staying hydrated (1.5–2 liters per day) can both prevent constipation and get things moving again.
The simplest dietary solution for constipation is to increase your fiber intake.
Eating a fiber-rich breakfast can regulate your bowel movements within days. However, be sure to increase your water intake as you increase your fiber intake, or you could worsen the problem. Fiber needs water to help it move through the digestive tract.
Try a combination of oatmeal and flax meal. Flax meal is ground flax seeds, which are extremely rich in fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. You can further increase the fiber factor by stirring in fiber-rich fruit: prunes, apples, raisins, nuts, and raspberries.
Castor Oil and Juice
Castor oil works fast. You can expect relief from constipation within two to six hours of taking it, so it’s best to take it when you have some time to spend at home.
Note: pregnant women shouldn’t take castor oil.
To help with the taste, keep your castor oil in the refrigerator and add your dose to a glass of orange juice.
Indian Home Remedies for Constipation
Some Indian remedies are more effective for treating constipation than others. Some of the most effective Indian remedies are key ingredients in over-the-counter medications for constipation relief.
At 100mg per day, ginger extract increases movement in the bowels. Ginger can also help you manage other symptoms such as nausea, cramping, and bloating.
Ginger is generally considered safe for children as well as people who are pregnant or nursing.
In fact, ginger is even recommended for people who experience nausea and constipation during pregnancy.
To use ginger for constipation, you can brew some ginger tea or simply steep the ginger in hot water.
Triphala is an herbal remedy that combines Indian gooseberry, black myrobalan, and belleric myrobalan. In addition to its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, Triphala works as a mild laxative. Triphala can even be taken orally in small doses to help promote weight loss and prevent digestive cancers.
A 2017 research review showed that there’s a significant body of clinical research to back the use of Triphala to alleviate occasional constipation. However, children and people who are pregnant or breastfeeding are advised to avoid taking Triphala.
Triphala is purchased as an herbal mixture of berries in the form of a liquid, powder, or pill. Then, steep into a tea and consume in small doses (1 tablespoon/day). Consult an expert in any more consumption.
Senna tea is an herbal blend made of flowers from plants in the legume family. Senna plants are grown all over the world, but a particular type of senna is cultivated in India for its health properties.
Senna leaves contain compounds called sennosides, which can irritate your digestive tract just enough to stimulate a bowel movement. Remember, too much of anything isn’t good. Too much senna can be destructive to your digestive tract.
Senna isn’t recommended if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or if you are currently taking blood thinners or steroid medications. Senna should only be used for occasional constipation relief, as using it too much can cause damage to your digestive tract. See your local pharmacist for over-the-counter medications with recommended dosages of senna.
Senna can be purchased in tea bags, or you can purchase the leaves to brew up using a tea ball.
Lemon (and other citrus fruits) contain high doses of vitamin C, as well as water-soluble fiber. Lemon water is as safe a remedy as recommending a child, pregnant lady, or elderly person to drink lemonade.
To try this remedy, simply squeeze some fresh lemon juice into water that’s warm to the touch and sip it slowly, preferably in the morning. In addition, try to stay hydrated with regular water throughout the day to try to relieve your constipation.
How To Make Coconut Oil Rectal Suppositories with Therapeutic Essential Oils
As the colon is a highly absorptive organ, suppositories have several advantages over other delivery methods.
- Increased bioavailability to absorbable tissue
- bypasses the first stages of metabolism from oral ingestion
- delivers higher doses of medication or therapeutic essential oils
- avoids irritation to the gastric mucosa.
Furthermore, suppositories can deliver treatments and drugs to produce both local and systemic impacts.
Because it can be both a liquid and a solid, coconut oil is an ideal carrier oil for do-it-yourself (DIY) suppositories, facilitating the absorption of other oils.
- Respiratory support
- Yeast balance support
- Diverticulitis support
- Irritable bowel (IBS) support
- Leaky gut support
- Prostate support
Ingredients and Supplies
- Rounded 21-cube Suppository Tray
- Organic Virgin Coconut Oil
- Essential oils
*Note to research your essential oils in detail before preparing any DIY suppositories.
How To Make Essential Oil Suppositories
Step 1. In a rounded 21-cube suppository tray, fill each cube of the tray 1/3 to 1/2 full of coconut oil.
At cooler temperatures, coconut oil is solid, so you may need to first set your coconut oil in hot water to melt it.
After you’ve filled each cube, put the tray in the freezer for 1 to 2 hours.
Step 2. Remove the suppository tray from the freezer.
Step 3. Carefully dispense your essential oil drops onto the top of the frozen coconut oil in each cube.
The amount of essential oil needed depends on which oils or oil blends you are using and what issue you are working on within the body.
Generally, we recommend 2 to 3 drops per essential oil.
Step 4. Put the tray back into the freezer, and in a couple of hours, you will be ready to use your first therapeutic suppository.
How to Use the Coconut Oil Suppository
Step 1. Pop one coconut oil suppository out of the tray by pushing it up on the bottom of the individual cube.
Step 2. Place the suppository on a small plate. You will see that it has a rounded edge that allows for easy insertion into the rectum.
Step 3. Leave the suppository on the plate for 5 to 10 minutes to allow it to soften slightly before you insert it into your rectum.
Step 4. With your fingers, gently insert the suppository into the rectum, rounded edge forward. The suppository is self-lubricating: as soon as it touches a warm part of your body, it begins to melt.
Old-Time Recipe: Yakima Fruit Paste
The Old-Time Yakima Fruit Paste recipe is an age-old classic. By combining simple components, Yakima Fruit Paste is a remedy that hits every aspect of why constipation could be an issue.
Dose: 1–2 tablespoons per day
1 pound prunes
4 ounces of senna tea leaves
1 pound raisins, pitted
1 cup brown sugar
1 pound figs 1 cup lemon juice
- Prepare tea. Use about 2 1/2 cups boiled water added to tea and steep for five minutes.
- Strain tea to remove tea leaves, add only one pint of tea to a large pot, and then add fruit.
- Boil fruit and tea for five minutes.
- Remove from heat and add sugar and lemon juice. Allow to cool.
- Use a hand mixer or food processor to stir the fruit mixture into a smooth paste.
- Place in plastic container and place in freezer.
- Spoon out what you require each day.
Enjoy eating fruit paste straight off the spoon. Spread it on toast, or add hot water and make a drink.
If the fruit paste is not working (no bowel movements), then increase the amount of fruit paste each day.
If the fruit paste induces very loose stools, cut down on the amount of fruit paste intake. Consider taking it every other day in some cases.
*The recipe specifically states using tea leaves and it is best to follow it exactly as directed, but one tea bag is equivalent to about 1 ounce of tea.
The Takeaway Points
Constipation is a common condition that can cause extreme discomfort. When your bowels won’t move waste out of your intestines, the pressure can be intense — and the desire for relief can make you feel pretty desperate.
For centuries, people from all over the world have relied on Ayurvedic remedies to relieve constipation without causing additional pain. In fact, clinical studies are starting to catch up to what the Indian culture has understood for generations about traditional herbal ingredients and other Indian cures for constipation. There are home remedies from Ayurvedic medicine that really do work for constipation.
But there is no one-size-fits-all, “instant” home remedy for symptoms of constipation and digestive upset. Natural remedies can work wonders, but that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t approach them with the same carefulness and considerations that you would use for any other type of medicine.
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