By Karen Appold
Constipation is—literally—a pain in the butt. Not being able “to go” can be both frustrating and uncomfortable. Medically, constipation is defined as fewer than three bowel movements per week, while severe constipation is classified as less than one bowel movement per week.
In addition to infrequent stools, symptoms include lower abdominal discomfort, straining to defecate, small or hard stools, rectal bleeding, and/or anal fissures caused by hard stools.
If you’re looking to find relief naturally, consult your doctor about the following supplements, vitamins, and minerals.
This oil is a yellowish liquid with laxative properties. It works quickly, so use it cautiously. To avoid its bad taste, chill it and mix it with a sweetener.
Fish oil supplements are typically made from certain kinds of fish, including salmon, tuna, mackerel, herring, halibut, cod liver, seal blubber, or whale blubber. Many of its benefits come from its omega-3 fatty acids. These acids lubricate intestines so food can easily move through the colon. Fish oil is a great source of omega-3s, but flax oil and hemp oil work well also.
If you’re choosing this constipation remedy, be sure to consume it with plenty of water so it moves through the digestive system. Otherwise, you may worsen the condition. Look specifically for psyllium, methylcellulose, or glucomannan supplements.
Probiotics are naturally-occurring good bacteria in the intestines that aid digestion. You can purchase probiotics—such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacterium, and Sacchromyces boulardi—in supplement form. They can also be found in certain foods, such as yogurt, pickles, dark chocolate, and sauerkraut.
This mineral relaxes muscles in the large intestine, resulting in a laxative effect. Combine with vitamin C for even better effects.
This vitamin is a common ingredient in many laxatives. When consumed in large amounts on an empty stomach, it softens stools.
Also known as folic acid, this vitamin works to both treat and prevent severe constipation because it acts as a stool softener. This allows more liquid to remain in your stool.
Regardless of which supplements you decide to take, always be sure to consult with your primary care physician before adding them to your daily routine.
Karen Appold is a freelance medical writer in Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania.