What Is Constipation?
When the human body is unable to pass bowels normally, it is known as constipation. Any discomfort experienced during defecation can be a sign of constipation. It usually involves strained bowel movements, hard and dry stools or pain while discharging faeces. This occurs when the stools move slowly through the colon and as a result, a lot of water is absorbed by the colon leading to hard and dry stools.
Bowel movements usually decrease with age, but that doesn’t mean that the individual will suffer from constipation. Often younger people, who eat a lot of processed food, bread and meat or do not drink enough liquids, can also feel constipated. At times pregnant women can also feel constipated due to the pressure of the heavy womb, hormonal changes or iron in prenatal vitamins that are prescribed. In other words, constipation can have multiple causes and can manifest in any age group or gender.
Constipation Symptoms and Risk Factors
Constipation takes place when there is difficulty in passing stools along with pain or discomfort. Passing very few stools can also be a sign. In medical terms, constipation happens when the human body discharges less than three stools in a week and it is very severe if the discharge is less than one stool per week. Most normal adults pass stool between 21 to 3 times in a week.
Symptoms Of Constipation Can Be
- Hard, dry or lumpy stools
- Strained bowel movements
- Feeling of a blocked rectum
- Rectal bleeding or pain
Constipation can be short-term/Acute or chronic. In case of chronic constipation, if simple measures bring relief, then there may not be much to worry. But in case of short-term discomfort that causes a lot of stress, it may be a symptom of an underlying problem requires immediate medical assessment. In such cases, it is best to consult a medical professional.
Home Remedies For Constipation
Constipation may not be a grave medical problem and is quite common among the older population. However, there are a few home remedies that can help with easing the bodily distress.
Read more on Constipation – Causes, Symptoms, Treatment, Relief
1. Fibrous Food and Bulking Agents
By including fibrous food or bulking agents in your diet, you can manage constipation without any serious side effects.
- You can introduce 18 – 30 grams of fibre in your diet on a daily basis. Fresh fruits and vegetables are high in fibre.
- At least 2 cups of fibrous foods must be consumed in a day, in the long term.
- Bulking agents like wheat bran also manage constipation, but it must be taken with ample water. It speeds the process of stools moving through the colon and avoids constipation.
- Fibrous food items like chia seeds or berries can reduce discomfort.
2. Hydration and Exercise
Drinking enough water with regular exercise can reduce chances of constipation.
- Regular exercise that affects the stomach area, like the knee to chest position is known to activate bowel movements.
- Proper water consumption is necessary so that the water absorbed by the colon does not desiccate the stools.
3. Legumes and Flaxseeds
Legumes can increase the production of butyric acid in the body – a fatty acid that acts as a laxative. Butyric acid also increases movement in the digestive tract. Chickpeas, lentils, kidney beans, peanuts etc. are legumes. It acts as an anti-inflammatory agent that helps in digestive disorders.
- One cup of boiled lentils or chickpeas provides 12 – 15 grams of fibre, that can stimulate bowel movements. A cup of sprouted legumes will also do the trick.
Flaxseeds are natural laxatives and can treat both diarrhoea and constipation. It reduces the stool time in intestines and adds bulk to it.
- A cup of sprouted flaxseeds or ground flaxseeds can be taken with plenty of water for aided digestion. It can be added to smoothies, baked goods or can be eaten raw with yogurt.
Kefir is a type of milk product that is fermented. It contains probiotics that are friendly gut bacteria. Probiotics can check the regularity of stools, along with the time in intestinal tracts.
- 500 ml of Kefir per day can bring relief in constipation within 4 weeks or less.
5. Castor Oil and Olive Oil
Consumption of castor oil releases ricinoleic acid in the human body that acts as a laxative. This acid activates receptor in the digestive tract to increase the movement of the bowels.
- Consume 1 teaspoon of castor oil in the morning on an empty stomach. It can be mixed with lemon juice or a glass of milk.
- It is important to consult a doctor if you need to consume this for more than 7 days.
Olive oil functions as a lubricant laxative that coats the rectum and intestines, allowing easier exit. It can be used as a colon cleanser with other additives to relieve discomfort.
- Take 2 tablespoons of olive oil in the morning on an empty stomach for quick relief.
6. Epsom Salts
Epsom salts help in relaxing the body and in turn the gut, that can facilitate the bowel movements.
- These salts contain magnesium that when absorbed into muscles, relaxes them and also draws water into the gut to soften the bowels.
- It is recommended that adding five cups of salt in the bath water and then soaking in it for 10 minutes is effective.
7. Prune Juice
Prunes are rich in fibre and have antioxidant properties that help the body in bowel movements.
- One glass of prune juice in the morning and one glass at night should be consumed. Eating a few prunes should also do the trick.
- This must be done for only twice in a day. Excessive juice can also cause diarrhoea.
Magnesium is a good stimulant for the bowels. While passing through the digestive tract it pulls water with it.
- 2 tablespoons of milk of magnesia or 240 ml of magnesium citrate liquid can be taken with juice or water. Once inside the body, it provides relief within a few hours.
- This treatment must be done in consultation with a doctor. Also, magnesium can cause dehydration too and plenty of liquids must be consumed.
Read more on 13 Natural Home Remedies For Constipation
9. Herbal Tea
Herbal teas act as natural laxatives and retain water in the colon.
- Add herbal tea granules to hot water and let it steep for maximum of 30 minutes, then strain and drink the tea.
- Do this three to four times in a day. Some popular herbal teas for this purpose are green tea, peppermint tea and black tea.
10. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil has fatty acid that helps in bowel movements.
- Consume half a tablespoon of oil in the morning and then again at night for 2-3 days.
- Do not consume more than 4 spoons a day.
11. Baking Soda
Baking soda reduces acidity and bloating, and releases gas.
- For relief, add 1 teaspoon of baking soda to a glass of water and drink it quickly. It is best to consume this mixture on an empty stomach.
Made from haritaki, amalaka and bibhitak, this powder acts as a natural laxative.
- Mix 2 teaspoons of triphala powder in a glass of warm water and drink before going to bed. Do not eat or drink anything else after this. After 30 minutes water can be consumed.
Stop From Coming Back In Future
Constipation is a quite frequent and non-threatening disorder. However, if it’s a cause of some underlying medical problem, then it may be an issue. There are ways to prevent Constipation from coming back.
- Reduce intake of tea, coffee or cola drinks. These stop thirst and aid in dehydration. Without thirst, the human body cannot take in water and dehydration reduces the water in the body, both leading to constipation.
- Eat enough fibre in your meals, along with water to aid digestion and movement.
- Exercise regularly and create a routine for relieving yourself. Go to the toilet at the same time daily and give enough time for bowels to pass. Also, do not hold back your stool for long.
- Eat lesser processed foods and manage stress effectively.
In most cases, constipation can be managed at home through diet and exercise. However, in extreme cases, medical intervention is needed. For that, the doctors may prescribe medicinal laxatives, enemas or surgery in certain cases. Constipation is relatively common and the maximum population has suffered from this at one point or another. This disorder can be avoided by simple lifestyle changes and by making healthy choices.