Sorry this post is late, our Internet server has gone down and I’ve had to sneak into my husband’s office to use the Internet there! Plus I’ve had the flu too so I’ve had an unlucky week!
Anyways this post today is about how to ease constipation the natural way. Many of us take for granted the amount of work our bowels and intestines have to do and how frequently they let us empty our waste, that is until they stop working efficiently and then we really know about it and boy is it uncomfortable. I don’t know about you but being able to empty one’s bowels completely is so satisfying that it makes my mood and day a whole lot better! Our bowels and intestines are really important, not only do they do the obvious work, but they act as our second brain giving us those ‘gut feelings’ to make certain decisions, they react to stress and anxiety. So have a little respect for your intestines next time you’re constipated and instead of reaching for the laxatives try one of these natural more gentle home remedies for constipation.
I tend to veer towards the constipation side of things myself so I’ve used all of these tips and tricks at some point and I guess you have to find out which ones work for you and which don’t by trial and error. Everyone is different so our bodies will respond differently. I was put onto laxatives; mostly Movicol, Ducolax and Lactulose during 2007-2009 to help my chronic constipation (which was a side effect of an advanced under active thyroid and I was also majorly stressed at the time as I was job hunting and trying to find a new flat to rent) but if there is one vital piece of advice I would share, above all the tips below, it would be to steer clear of laxatives! They will make your bowel lazy and cease to work and will make you dependant on laxatives, you will loose vital minerals and vitamins as your food will pass too quickly through the gut wall, too quick for minerals to be extracted, you will make your intestines so sterile and clean that even good bacteria will be eradicated and your immune system will be greatly weakened (we need the bacteria / gut flora to help our defenses against viruses etc.) and generally it will make you miserable. Use laxatives only as a last resort, under the advice of your doctor and then halve the laxative tablet or solution they prescribe you. You don’t need to be taking whole tablets or solutions as this will wipe you completely out taking all the good bacteria with it and I find half the amount is a lot kinder and a more gentle way to get things moving.
Before I was diagnosed with an under active thyroid I was hospitalised for 3 weeks as my entire digestive system shut down, I had a colon transit time of 72hrs and was bloating out to the size of a 3-4 month pregnant woman. I had severe pains and had chronic constipation and major vitamin deficiencies. I had colonoscopies, endoscopies, I was starved for a week, was put on a baby food puree diet, I was given 6 litres of strong industrial-cleaning laxatives a day and daily water enemas as treatment for constipation. Not to mention daily pregnancy tests as the nurses were convinced I was ‘just pregnant.’ I have to say it was the worst time of my life to date. I’d never heard of enemas before 2007. I learnt the German word first for enema. The nurses told me they wanted to give me an “Einlauf” … reaching for my dictionary and about 5 seconds later my confused face turned to one of horror, I was mortified! My dignity was lost to three nurses standing by me on a towel covered bed pouring water into a place that I consider an exit not an entrance! Being a proud, stiff upper lip English gal I felt violated! And my husband (boyfriend at the time) had to help me do them at home under doctors orders. Not exactly a romantic affair 5 months into dating! I was in Germany and away from home and he was the only person who could help me and he did! My hero! But I have to say the only thing that worked were the enemas. It might sound icky but they do work immediately, efficiently and are gentle. If you want a super quick cure then this is it! And since my hospital experience I have since researched enemas and they are actually used by lots of people and so I feel much better. They are not pleasant but certainly not painful!
So here are my natural home remedies for constipation:
- Exercise! Get moving! Walking and light jogging help massage the intestines and help move and jiggle (literally) the waste through. Zumba, aerobics, any cardiovascular activity will help get those bowels moving. Exercise also burns up stress and anxiety! I do a mix of yoga, Zumba, Spinning, swimming, salsa dancing and jogging to de-stress and help keep me regular.
- Suck in those buttocks- that got your attention didn’t it! By strengthening pelvic floor muscles and toning up bottoms we strengthen our backs and bladders and this in turn will help us avoid constipation in the long run. Just contract your buttocks 20 times and repeat 3 times. Do once daily-even whilst sitting on your office chair or sofa at home!
- Tone that tummy! Do some sit ups or exercises to tone your tummy. Just 10-15 mins a couple of times a week will help your tummy strengthen and massages the intestines at the same time to push the waste through the bowel.
- Massage your tummy in a clockwise circular motion to help the intestines push the waste through. Softly kneading your tummy can help with painful constipation cramps.
- Get into squats! Not only in exercise but also on the toilet. Elevate your feet on a small step or sit with your feet on tip toes. Squatting helps eliminate straining and years ago before Sir John Harrington in 1596 invented the toilet people would squat outside and this position helps align your colon ready to eliminate waste. Toilets have made us lazy so take up the squat position. It really helps! Here is a cool squat step you can buy to help you: Click here to visit www.squattypotty.com
- Eat papaya, prunes in juice, figs, apples, raw or stewed / steam baked, lettuce and salads for digestive enzymes. Avoid dried fruits, these will bung you up more and are full of sulphates, sugars and other chemicals!
- Get a fibre supplement to bulk out stools and help them pass through. The best gluten free fibres are: linseed, pysllium husks, rice bran and slippery elm bark but be careful with fibre. They might not work for everyone and may cause more constipation.
- Drink lots of fluids. Sometimes constipation is caused by dehydration. Drink 2 litres water a day and try vegetable juices instead of fruit juices. Avoid alcohol. Some people find a little caffeine can help get things moving; I usually find green tea helps me.
- Drink cabbage or sour kraut juice at breakfast.
- Drink probiotics drinks and plain natural probiotic or live yogurts to help gut flora. Keywords to look for are: acidophilus, bifidus and bulgaricus.
- Sometimes milk can help make you go, particularly if you are lactose intolerant but are constipated. A very small glass of milk can help ease constipation. Generally eating small amounts of saturated fats everyday will help keep you regular.
- Drink Aloe Vera Juice, it heals, soothes, cools and calms and is a little gem! It is a mild and gentle natural laxative. You can buy it from most health food shops, drink 5ml a day on its own or mixed in lukewarm herbal teas or fruit / vegetable juices.
- Avoid all shop bought / pharmaceutical laxatives if possible. They are filled with lots of chemicals and substances that will throw off your gut flora balance and they are too harsh. They will literally clear your intestines out including all the good bacteria. Stripping and sterilising the bowel completely is not good for your immune system! It makes bowels lazy and lethargic and that can cause lots more problems in the long run.
- Check your diet-are you eating too much sugar? Do you think you have Candida?
- Are you pregnant? Often pregnancy causes constipation.
- Look at your lifestyle. Are you stressed, anxious, in a bad relationship, unhappy or depressed, abusing drugs and alcohol? etc. If you can find ways to cut the stress out of your life you will probably find your intestines will improve and thank you for it.
- Try Melissa tea aka. Lemon balm or sweet balm tea infusion. Melissa / lemon balm is a relaxant and calms the nerves and relaxes the bowel. If you’re often stressed and experience constipation or diarrhoea Melissa / lemon balm tea will help calm you and bring your bowel into balance. Ginger, peppermint and chamomile are also other good choices for herbal teas to relax you and your intestines.
- Take a magnesium supplement to help strengthen mucous membranes and give you good stools.
- Water Enemas. You can buy enema kits from pharmacies or on Amazon here: enema kit and you just need to fill them with lukewarm water. Here is a good website for how to do an enema at home.
I’d be happy to answer or discuss any questions you might have in the comments section below. 🙂 These herbal remedies are to help ease temporary constipation. If your condition is chronic and lasts longer than a couple of days then you must see your doctor for other underlying problems.