By J. Paul Roe
Constipation natural remedies. Constipation issues can be painful. Constipation is actually responsible for a very large percentage of emergency room visits. However, you may be surprised to learn that doctors recommend that strong laxatives only be used as a last resort.
Proper diet, hydration and exercise are the recommended preventative measures, and natural remedies are the preferred early treatment for symptoms.
There are a number of natural herbal options for treating constipation. Of course, most of the herbal remedies are laxatives of one form or another.
As with any medical intervention, it's important that you know exactly how each of these work before you choose to use one.
Constipation natural remedies are divided into a number of categories depending on how they perform their task.
In this article, we'll review different types of constipation natural remedies. We'll address each of them in order, starting with the harshest and moving along to the most gentle and safe.
Keep in mind that the gentle and safe ones may actually be quite effective!
Stimulant laxatives, also known as irritant laxatives or purgatives, are the most common natural laxatives used on the market.
They are also the most harsh, as the name would imply. This class of laxatives causes the colon muscle to contract, thus pushing stool from the colon.
Herbal remedies in this class include senna, Cascara Segrada and Aloe Vera. Rhubarb root is also a stimulant laxative recommended by herbalists, but only for very occasional use.
Stimulant laxatives are the most dangerous, and it is recommended that they only be used sparingly, and as a last resort. Prolonged use can lead to “lazy bowel syndrome,” which causes the digestive system to become sluggish.
Over time the colon muscle requires more and more outside stimulation just to maintain normal function. Pregnant or nursing mothers should not use stimulant laxatives, nor should anyone with gastrointestinal problems such as ulcers or irritable bowel syndrome.
These constipation natural remedies make stools slippery through the use of oils. The oil creates a slick layer on the intestinal walls.
Lubricant laxatives help keep water in the colon by blocking receptor ports that where water is extracted. This keeps stool from drying out and aids in the passing of waste. Mineral oil, or liquid petrolatum, is the most commonly used lubricant laxative.
This laxative can be effective, but should only be used short-term.
Without adequate fiber, stool tends to be too small for proper movement through the colon. Without fiber to hold moisture, stool also dries out.
Bulk forming, or bulk laxatives, are among the gentlest herbs for constipation for relieving occasional constipation. Known also as bulking agents or roughage, they generally take 24-72 hours to be effective.
They work by bulking up the stool in 2 ways:
Flaxseed, Psyllium husk, barley and dietary fiber are the primary bulk laxatives. Psyllium husk is also available as the main ingredient of Metamucil. Psyllium husk should be avoided by individuals with asthma, as adverse reactions have been recorded.
While flax seeds contain fiber and are an effective way of adding bulk to stool, flaxseed oil doesn't contain fiber. It functions as a lubricant laxative.
Soluble dietary fiber from fruits and vegetables and non-soluble fiber from whole grains are a natural way to bulk up stool.
All bulk forming laxatives should be taken with large amounts of water, as proper hydration is necessary for stools to be 75% or more of water. If bulk forming laxatives are not taken with sufficient water, they can lead to further constipation.
These constipation natural remedies work by drawing water into the intestines, thus softening the stool and bulking it up. Plus, when stool is properly hydrated it is slick, helping it to move more easily through the colon.
Sodium citrate, sodium phosphate and sodium bicarbonate all have sodium as their active ingredient. Because of their high sodium content, these can negatively impact a person’s electrolytes.
Other saline laxatives like magnesium citrate, Epson Salt (magnesium sulfate) and Milk of Magnesia have magnesium as their active ingredient. Since most Americans don’t get enough magnesium in their diet, I prefer the magnesium based saline laxatives.
Magnesium based saline laxatives have up to 10 times the recommended daily allowance of magnesium per dose. They should only be used for occasional relief.
A magnesium supplement may offer a long-term solution for constipation. It supplies magnesium needed by the body, plus may prove very effective constipation relief.
A concentrated sea mineral supplement contains:
It also contains valuable trace minerals. It is recommended that large amounts of water be consumed when taking these laxatives, as doing so will promote intestinal hydration and increase the effectiveness of the product.
The recommendation: use gentle, safe, constipation natural remedies.
When combined with movement, proper hydration and a fiber-rich diet, this course of treatment is capable of maintaining digestive health without resorting to harsh irritants or dangerous oils.
As with any treatment, always speak to a qualified professional before taking any constipation remedies to minimize interactions with medications and to avoid other complications.
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