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.
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).
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.
2 glasses of prune juice
Doing this for a day will give immediate relief from constipation.
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).
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.
Drinking magnesium citrate once should help relieve constipation stool. For the milk of magnesia remedy, drink it before bedtime for a few days.
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).
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.
A one-time enema administration works well to treat constipation.
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).
Medical assistance is suggested in cases where the process seems difficult for self-administration.
2 cups of fiber-rich foods
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.
Do this every day for long-lasting relief from constipation.
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 ]
1 teaspoon castor oil
Do this every day for a few days.
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).
Do not take castor oil for more than seven days without a doctor’s consent.
Do this for three to five days and observe your stool movement. If there is still no relief, consult a doctor.
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 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).
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).
Drink three to four cups a day.
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:
Children who suffer from constipation can also be given herbal teas.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Take olive oil on an empty stomach in the morning.
Do this for a few days till the problem is solved.
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.
Do this for two to three days for fast relief from constipation.
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).
Do not exceed more than four tablespoons per day, as high doses of coconut oil can cause diarrhea-like symptoms.
Doing this on an empty stomach works best.
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.
Do this for a few days before going to bed.
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).
Do this daily for a few days.
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.
20-25 gms of wheat bran.
Add the wheat bran to pancakes, bread, soups, and stews in order to consume about 25 gms in a day.
Include this in your daily diet and get relief from constipation.
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).
Every problem has a solution, and this problem is no exception. Before you begin, consider these:
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.
Here are some common causes that can lead to constipation.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Apart from not being able to pass stools, here are some other symptoms of constipation:
Apart from the difficulty to pass stools and infrequent bowel movements, constipation can have some painful side effects like:
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.