13 Best Home Remedies To Cure Constipation(Causes,Symptoms & Side Effects) August 3, 2016

Most people won’t admit it, but the fact is that about 90% people are affected by constipation at some point in their lives. Of these, at least 60% are chronically constipated.

What Is Constipation

Constipation is when your bowel becomes difficult to pass, and the normal interval between passing stools increases noticeably. Infrequent bowel movements are characterized by less than three bowels per week. Diagnosis of this gastrointestinal problem involves a physical exam and certain tests such as blood test and colonoscopy (1).

Home Remedies For Constipation

Medicines and treatments can have side effects on the body. It is best to follow natural remedies to cure and prevent constipation. If you have gastric disorders or irritable bowel syndrome, you should be careful and disciplined. Listen to your body and try to find out if you have constipation symptoms. If yes, then follow these simple home remedies to relieve constipation.

Treat Constipation Easily With These Remedies

1. Prune Juice
2. Magnesium
3. Enema
4. Fiber
5. Castor Oil
6. Lactulose
7. Herbal Teas
8. Olive Oil
9. Coconut Oil
10. Baking Soda
11. Triphala
12. Vitamins
13. Wheat Bran

1. Prune Juice

prune juice

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

2 glasses of prune juice

What You Have To Do

  1. Drink one glass in the morning and one at night.
  2. You can also eat a couple of prunes instead of drinking the juice.

When You Need To Do This

Doing this for a day will give immediate relief from constipation.

How This Works

Prunes are rich in fiber that makes the stool bulky and easy to pass. They also contain dihydroxyphenyl isatin that accelerates colon functioning (2). Important vitamins and minerals are also present, and it also has antioxidant properties (3).

Caution

Make sure to let the first glass of juice pass through your digestive system before the other one. One in the morning and one at night works well. If enough gap is not given, excessive prune juice in the system can cause diarrhea.

[ Read: Is Prune Juice An Effective Remedy For Constipation ]

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2. Magnesium

 

Magnesium

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • 240 ml magnesium citrate liquid or 2 tablespoons milk of magnesia
  • Water or juice

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the magnesium citrate in a glass of water or juice, and drink it. You will get relief from constipation within a few hours.
  2. If you cannot find magnesium citrate, you can also use milk of magnesia to treat constipation. Mix two tablespoons with a glass of water, and drink it before going to bed.

When You Need To Do This

Drinking magnesium citrate once should help relieve constipation stool. For the milk of magnesia remedy, drink it before bedtime for a few days.

How This Works

Magnesium citrate and milk of magnesia have the same mechanism for relieving constipation. While passing through your digestive system, these compounds pull water into the intestines. The excess water softens the dried out stool, and also creates pressure, resulting in muscle contractions pushing the fecal matter out (4, 5). Milk of magnesia has been proven to be safe for use in children (6).

Caution

Magnesium compounds can cause dehydration. Make sure you drink plenty of water after you consume it. Also, diarrhea is seen in some individuals. If you have a sensitive digestive system, please consult your doctor before using this home remedy.

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3. Enema

Enema

Image: iStock

You Will Need

  • 1/3rd cup lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 liter warm water
  • Fountain syringe
  • Enema apparatus (enema bag, enema tube, clamp)

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the lemon juice and salt in the water. Fill the syringe with this water and gently insert into the rectum to relax it.
  2. The enema bag with the remaining solution should be 20 inches higher than the rectum. Slowly, open the clamp and fill the tube with the solution, and remove the air in it.
  3. Lie down sideways facing your left side, and slowly insert the nozzle into the rectum (or anus).
  4. Release the clamp so that the enema solution flows into the colon. Continue this till most or the entire solution has flowed in.
  5. Hold the solution in for eight to 10 minutes. Immediately visit the toilet as you will experience a pressing urge to excrete your stool.

When You Need To Do This

A one-time enema administration works well to treat constipation.

How This Works

Administering enema softens the stool and builds pressure inside the intestine, thus helping you excrete easily. The lemon juice and salt help cleanse the colon of excess feces and balance the pH (7, 8).

Caution

Medical assistance is suggested in cases where the process seems difficult for self-administration.

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4. Fiber

Fiber

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

2 cups of fiber-rich foods

What You Have To Do

Eat at least two cups of foods rich in fiber in a day. A few examples of such foods are whole grains, brown rice, oats, broccoli, apricots, nuts, apples, potatoes, and beans.

When You Need To Do This

Do this every day for long-lasting relief from constipation.

How This Works

Having optimum fiber content in your daily diet is very important. Concentrate on simple forms of fiber as opposed to complex carbohydrates. Eat a varied diet that includes high fiber content in each meal. Fiber retains water and adds bulk to your stool, making it softer and easier to pass (9). Also, improve your snacking habits by eliminating complex carbohydrates and fried foods. Instead, opt for salads, whole grain sandwiches, and oatmeal cookies.

[ Read: Healthy Diet To Fight Constipation ]

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5. Castor Oil

Castor Oil

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

1 teaspoon castor oil

What You Have To Do

  1. Take the castor oil on an empty stomach in the morning.
  2. If you find it difficult to swallow the oil, you may mix it with lemon juice or with a glass of warm milk.

When You Need To Do This

Do this every day for a few days.

How This Works

Castor oil works amazingly well in treating constipation. When taken on an empty stomach, this oil will soften your stool and relieve constipation within a couple of hours (10).

Caution

Do not take castor oil for more than seven days without a doctor’s consent.

[ Read: Does Castor Oil Actually Cure Constipation? ]

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6. Lactulose

Lactulose

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

Lactulose syrup

What You Have To Do

  1. Take 15ml of the syrup with water or juice twice a day.
  2. Maintain a gap of 10-12 hours between doses.

When You Need To Do This

Do this for three to five days and observe your stool movement. If there is still no relief, consult a doctor.

How This Works

Lactulose is a laxative that is commonly used to get relief from constipation in people of all ages. It softens the stool by pulling water from the colon (11).

Lactulose For Constipation In Babies

Lactulose is safe for use in babies and children. The same twice a day dosage as in adults is recommended. However, the quantity of syrup to be given differs. Please consult your doctor for dosage (12).

Lactulose For Constipation During Pregnancy

As lactulose is not absorbed in the small intestines, it is not a threat to the fetus and can be used by pregnant women to treat constipation (13).

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7. Herbal Teas

Herbal Teas

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • Herbal tea leaves or granules
  • Water

What You Have To Do

  1. Boil water and remove from stove. Add herbal tea leaves or granules to it.
  2. Let it sit for a couple of minutes (30 minutes maximum). Strain and drink the tea.

When You Need To Do This

Drink three to four cups a day.

How This Works

Herbal teas are natural laxatives and help in the easier passing of stools (14). They cause a certain amount of water retention in the colon, leading to smoother stools that can pass easily. Honey or molasses can be added to further help the tea’s laxative properties. Some of the best kinds of herbal teas for quick relief from constipation are as follows:

  • Green tea
  • Peppermint tea
  • Black tea

Children who suffer from constipation can also be given herbal teas.

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8. Olive Oil

Olive Oil

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

2 tablespoons olive oil

What You Have To Do

Take olive oil on an empty stomach in the morning.

When You Need To Do This

 

Do this for a few days till the problem is solved.

How This Works

Natural oils are also a good way to cure constipation. Olive oil acts as a laxative by smoothening the stool movement and excretion. It can used for adults and children too. It has a natural tendency to cover the intestinal walls, and this makes it much easier for the stool to pass (15, 16). You can also use olive oil in food preparations, apart from consuming it on an empty stomach.

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9. Coconut Oil

Coconut Oil

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

Coconut oil

What You Have To Do

  1. Take half a tablespoon of coconut oil in the morning and half a tablespoon in the night. You can simply mix it in your food.
  2. You can add in half tablespoon increments each day for chronic constipation.

When You Need To Do This

Do this for two to three days for fast relief from constipation.

How This Works

Coconut oil contains high amounts of medium-chain fatty acids, which help in getting relief from infrequent bowel movements. This oil, if consumed regularly, works well for people who suffer from chronic constipation as well (17).

Caution

Do not exceed more than four tablespoons per day, as high doses of coconut oil can cause diarrhea-like symptoms.

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10. Baking Soda

Baking Soda

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • A glass of tepid water

What You Have To Do

  1. Add the baking soda to the water and drink this mixture quickly.
  2. You will notice faster bowel movements in a short period of time.

When You Need To Do This

Doing this on an empty stomach works best.

How This Works

Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) is an excellent, affordable, and inconspicuous way to be constipation free. It releases gas, reduces the acidity in the alimentary canal, and removes bloating and that feeling of fullness (18). It is equally effective for children, adults, and seniors as it has no side effects.

11. Triphala

Triphala

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • 2 teaspoons triphala powder
  • A glass of warm water

What You Have To Do

  1. Mix the powder well with water and drink this before going to bed.
  2. Do not eat anything after drinking this. However, you can drink water, but after a 30-minute gap.

When You Need To Do This

Do this for a few days before going to bed.

How This Works

This brown-colored powder is made from three plants, namely amalaki, haritaki, and bibhitak. It is an ancient Ayurveda remedy to improve digestion by stimulating the release of digestive enzymes and improving muscle contractions. It acts as a natural laxative and helps in constipation relief (19).

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12. Vitamins

Vitamins

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

  • Vitamin C tablet
  • Vitamin B complex capsule

What You Have To Do

  1. Dissolve a tablet of vitamin C in a glass of water, and drink this.
  2. Take a vitamin B complex capsule along with it.

When You Need To Do This

Do this daily for a few days.

How This Works

Vitamin C has been shown to reduce the effects of constipation and acts as a detoxifying gastric stimulant. It not only encourages the alimentary canal to do its job to the end, but also removes unhealthy toxins and built up undigested material from the intestinesVitamin B complex components, mainly B1, B5, B9, and B12 act as natural laxatives and give relief from hard stools and constipation (20). Eat a diet that is rich in these vitamins for a healthy digestive system.

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13. Wheat Bran

Wheat Bran

Image: Shutterstock

You Will Need

20-25 gms of wheat bran.

What You Have To Do

Add the wheat bran to pancakes, bread, soups, and stews in order to consume about 25 gms in a day.

When You Need To Do This

Include this in your daily diet and get relief from constipation.

How This Works

It is an insoluble fiber that adds bulk to your stool and helps it pass smoothly through the colon. It speeds up the colon and increases bowel frequency (21).

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Tips To Follow To Control Constipation

Every problem has a solution, and this problem is no exception. Before you begin, consider these:

  1. Personal Schedule: Your sleep pattern and the time interval between meals must be straightened out. The circadian clock also rules your bowel movements.
  2. Traveling: In case you travel a lot, you must maintain a regular eating schedule as much as possible. Don’t immediately delve into the local cuisine if you are already constipated.
  3. Regularity: Holding back the urge to pass stools may lead to severe and chronic constipation.
  4. Food Items To Include: Eat whole grains, oats, brown rice, and vegetables and fruits rich in fiber like broccoli, sweet potato, beans, apple, peaches, pears, and berries. Dried fruits and nuts are also rich in fiber and help in constipation relief. Some other healthy food items are rhubarb, artichokes, and legumes.
  5. Food Items To Avoid: Dairy products like milk and cheese should be avoided by people who find them difficult to digest. Also, avoid red meat, packaged frozen dinners, fried food and bananas when trying to get relief from constipation.
  6. Exercise Regularly: A sedentary lifestyle with little or no exercise tends to make one constipated over time. Take up any physical activity like running, walking, lawn tennis, going to the gym, aerobics, cardio drills, or cycling. Intense physical activity will also make you take more fluids, which also goes a long way in treating constipation.
  7. Yoga: If heading out and jogging is not your thing, then there are multiple yoga poses like pavanmuktasana, uthhanpadasana, sukhasana, and vajrasana that can be practiced to get relief from gastrointestinal problems like constipation.

What Causes Constipation

A number of health and lifestyle factors can cause constipation in both children and adults. Even babies are not spared by this ‘motion menace’. The causes may be so simple that you’ll wonder why you didn’t realize them before, or so indirect that you’ll keep wondering where the connection lies.

Click here to view an enlarged version of this infographic.

Here are some common causes that can lead to constipation.

1. Low Intake Of Roughage Or Fiber

Fiber or roughage is a part of the food that is not digested. It stays in the gut and is passed in the stools. Fiber adds bulk to the stools and enables the bowel system to work well. A diet with plenty of fiber helps to prevent and treat constipation.

2. Low Intake Of Fluids

Fiber needs fluid to work. So, you need to drink a lot of water if you have a high fiber diet. Drink at least two liters of water daily. This will prevent a rare complication called blockage of the gut, which happens if you don’t drink adequate fluids with a lot of fiber.

3. Medication

Various medications that are taken to treat deficiencies or other health issues might have constipation as one of their side effects. Antihistamines, antidepressants, pain medication (codeine), antacids, and iron supplements have been shown to cause constipation.

4. Pregnancy And Childbirth

During pregnancy, the muscle contractions that move food through the intestines slow down due to the secretion of progesterone (22). Also, the extra iron that pregnant women are taking can add to constipation. It happens mostly during the first trimester, but if it continues, medical assistance is required.

5. Hypothyroidism

The signs and symptoms of hypothyroidism vary depending on the severity of the hormone deficiency. It develops slowly over a number of years. As the metabolism slows down, you may develop more obvious signs and symptoms. Hyperthyroidism symptoms may include fatigue, unexplained weight gain, and constipation (23).

6. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome)

Irritable Bowel Syndrome or IBS is a common disorder that affects the large intestine or colon. IBS mainly causes cramps, bloating, gas, diarrhea, and constipation. IBS can be controlled by managing diet, lifestyle, and stress (24). Medication and counseling are also helpful.

7. Lack Of Physical Activity

If there is a lack of physical activity, the metabolism process slows down. This can cause constipation and other health problems. Exercise keeps a person fit and positive.

8. Chocolate

We all love chocolates, but too much of anything is not good. People with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) should avoid chocolate totally. The link between chocolate and constipation is still under research, but it is said that the fat concentration in chocolates slows down the digestion process.

9. Health Supplements

Over the counter nutritional supplements can cause constipation. Iron and calcium supplements are the two main culprits. You need to refrain from taking supplements and correct this deficiency problem by having proper food. Eating balanced and healthy meals helps you get all the vitamins and minerals needed for proper functioning of the body.

10. Excessive Use Of Laxatives

Using stimulant laxatives every day can cause the colon to lose its ability to move things through. Also, overusing enemas can have the same effect. Avoid using them on a regular basis as this will cause complete dependency, and it will become very hard to treat constipation.

11. Dairy Products

If you happen to be lactose intolerant, and you are still consuming dairy products, then you are bound to have constipation. Don’t introduce cow’s milk to infants aged below one year, nor should you give them any dairy products without a doctor’s consent. Having milk and dairy products is undoubtedly good for health, but if you are allergic to them, you must avoid them totally.

12. Depression

Depression and mental stress are directly linked to constipation. One should practice relaxation techniques daily to avoid depression and constipation. Stress of any kind can affect the body’s normal functioning and cause irregular bowel movements.

13. Frequent Urination

Holding back the urge to visit the washroom can have a negative effect. Don’t hesitate to use the office bathroom or public restrooms, since your health is more important. Also, make it a habit of using the restroom at the same time everyday as it eases the problem of constipation.

Symptoms & Signs Of Constipation

Apart from not being able to pass stools, here are some other symptoms of constipation:

  • Gas
  • Bloating
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Cramps in the lower abdomen
  • Headache

Side Effects Of Constipation

Apart from the difficulty to pass stools and infrequent bowel movements, constipation can have some painful side effects like:

  • Extreme discomfort
  • Feeling bloated
  • Abdominal pain
  • Swollen abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Back pain (complete back or just on one side, especially during pregnancy)
  • Chest pain
  • Pain in the legs

To be vexed with constipation in the long run is indeed uncomfortable, and it may produce other long-term health issues like anal fissures and hemorrhoids, which in themselves are painful and difficult to treat. Constipation is also linked to the build-up of toxins in the body. It is necessary to nip the problem in the bud before it starts affecting all other areas of your life.

All the fast home remedies listed for constipation are time-tested and are mostly safe from side effects. Apart from them, maintain a healthy lifestyle. Eating right, sleeping just enough, and visiting the loo at the same time every day are healthy practices. As is with adults, children and infants may also be affected by constipation. Yet, it is necessary to consult a doctor before trying any of these constipation home remedies on children and infants as their digestive system has not matured fully and might respond very differently to these remedies.

We hope the above home remedies for constipation will bring you much relief. Do let us know your experience in the comments section below.

Watch this video to cure constipation

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