Natural remedies for constipation can include seeds, probiotics, vitamins and minerals, and avoid over-the-counter laxatives that can cause harm to patients
For patients dealing with constipation, a family wellness and chiropractic pediatric expert shares natural remedies for constipation and how to address this common and not-so-pleasant experience.
So what can you do to keep things moving, so to speak? Eric Nazarenko, DC, CACCP, owner of Old Mill Chiropractic & Family Wellness in Lexington, Ken., and author of the international best-seller “When Food Hurts,”cautions if you’re reaching for over-the-counter laxatives.
“Although laxatives are commonly used for constipation relief, these are not harmless substances — especially synthetic ones,” says Nazarenko. “Taking too many laxatives, or for more than approximately two weeks can lead to a version of dependence, altering the normal functioning of the colon. Abuse of laxatives can actually cause constipation!”
Nazarenko answered our questions on the top natural remedies for constipation to take.
What would you consider the best natural remedies for constipation?
There are many approaches to addressing constipation, depending on the reasons for an individual’s particular reasons for constipation.
Suggested supplements include:
- Sprouted flaxseeds: Flaxseeds are a great source of fiber (one cup of flaxseeds can contain 46 g of dietary fiber!). In addition to the seeds themselves, flaxseed oil can be a very lubricating substance, helping stool pass through the digestive tract. For immediate relief for acute pain, try soaking two tablespoons of flaxseeds and drink with water daily.
- Probiotics: Since constipation is often related to an unhealthy gut, and balancing the gut through probiotics can often help. Probiotics with the following strains have research supporting use for stool consistency:
- Magnesium: Magnesium can provide temporary relief for certain case of constipation. It works by softening the stool and relaxing muscles surrounding the digestive tract, thereby allowing your stool to pass through easier.
- Aloe Vera Juice: Aloe vera contains natural laxatives, which can be supportive of relieving constipation. This strategy can have side effects and should be used with caution.
- B vitamins: These can help ease the symptoms of constipation. Although you can get sufficient B vitamins through diet, many people have deficiencies that require supplementation.
- Vitamin C: This is a water-soluble vitamin. When unabsorbed, vitamin C can pull water into your intestines, which can help with stool softening and relieve constipation.
Making changes in eating and activity
In addition to these supplements, individuals with constipation are encouraged to make lifestyle changes:
- remove the causes of the constipation (e.g., medications that may be underlying the constipation in the first place, such as processed foods, alcohol);
- eat more high-fiber foods;
- increase leafy greens;
- drink more water;
- increase physical activity (try for 30 min. of physical activity minimum a day);
- decrease stress or engage in stress management activities (yoga, meditation);
- optimize the nervous system through chiropractic care.
Constipation and lifestyle
Constipation is a lifestyle issue, and changing the lifestyle is the most effective way to relieve and prevent constipation. There is no one “best” supplement. Certain supplements are good for digestive health, which help relieve constipation and prevent future episodes. Examples include addressing any vitamin deficiencies (vitamin Bs, C).
The goal is to match the remedy with the underlying reason for constipation in the first place. It’s always best to start conservatively with natural remedies for constipation — using the supplements with the least number of side effects, and moving to more aggressive. If symptoms do not relieve within a few weeks or become chronic and reoccurring, seek professional help by a holistic health care practitioner.
Chiropractors are a good portal of entry for constipation relief. Chiropractors can support patients in lifestyle factors as well as optimize the nervous system to improve digestive health and function.