Most alternative doctors have stopped asking their patients if they are regular because they always say “yes” – regardless of whether they have a bowel movement once a day or once a week. North Americans spend almost one billion dollars per year on laxatives. Each of us has been constipated at one time or another but 20 percent of us are chronically constipated. Few discuss the problem and what little knowledge they have usually comes from advertisements and laxative packaging.
Constipation occurs when it becomes necessary to strain in order to remove hard feces, or when waste is not eliminated from the body in an appropriate amount of time. You should have at least one large bowel movement a day, or two to three smaller ones (about 12 inches of waste should be excreted in total). The feces should be soft, bulky and easy to pass.
Infrequent, small, hard and dry bowel movements that are difficult to pass are the main symptom. Constipation often results in hemorrhoids, skin problems, headaches, body odor and fatigue as well as irritability, depression, obesity, insomnia and diverticulitis. Waste that is left in the colon too long causes toxins to build up and can lead to more serious bowel disease.
When disease is not present, constipation usually arises when we don’t drink enough water or eat enough fiber, eat too much protein and highly processed food, or when we don’t make enough time to have a bowel movement. A change in routine, business travel and restaurant eating can all promote constipation. The typical Western diet does not include enough whole, natural food and relies far too much on what is convenient, either fast foods or store-bought packaged foods that are processed to ensure a long shelf life and are devoid of fiber. Packaged food is also high in sugar, sodium, artificial flavors and chemical colorants that can lead to constipation. Other factors that can contribute to constipation are a lack of exercise, prolonged use of laxatives or antacids, nutritional deficiency, pregnancy, parasitic infection and yeast overgrowth. Constipation is also seen in people with low thyroid function or food allergies, or who take prescription medications or iron supplements.
||1 scoop or packet daily
||Promotes healthy elimination; treats IBS
Magnesium bisglycinate; MAGsmart
|Up to 1000 mg taken in divided doses throughout the day until stools are softened
2 capsules daily containing at least five billion live bacteria
|Improves intestinal flora and reduces harmful bacteria
3 capsules daily
Improves peristaltic action of the colon
||2 packets or 6 capsules daily
||Aids metabolism, improves digestion
||Take vitamin C to bowel tolerance, meaning start taking powdered C in gram doses mixed in juice or water every hour until loose stools occur; then cut back until stool is no longer loose; then as a preventative, take 500 mg twice daily
||Softens stools, promotes elimination and strengthens intestinal capillaries
|Flax seed and flax oil; Omega Nutrition Hi-Lignan Nutri-Flax and Hi-Lignan Flax Oil
1-2 tbsp of the oil and powder daily
Make sure to drink water when taking ground flax seed
|Soothes intestinal lining and promotes elimination
Health Tips To Enhance Healing
- Take time each day to have a bowel movement. Preferably the same time every day. Do not be rushed, eventually the body will respond at the same time each day.
- Drink water – eight to ten glasses of pure, filtered water a day, but do not drink during meals or else you will dilute your digestive enzymes. For every juice, alcoholic or caffeinated beverage you drink, add another eight to ten ounces. A study in Italy found that drinking eight glasses of water daily, along with a high-fiber diet, was more beneficial than eating a high-fiber diet alone.
- Do not use commercial laxatives because they promote dependence and chronic constipation. High-fiber foods such as prunes or other dried fruit, whole grains or seeds (especially ground flax seed or psyllium seed), and sauerkraut (or sauerkraut juice) are far more effective in alleviating constipation and support the body’s functions naturally.
- Eat vegetables or fruits at every meal; you want seven to ten half-cup servings per day. If you haven’t been eating raw veggies regularly, start with steamed; they are easier on the digestive system. And remember – if your food comes from a box, it’s bad for your bowels.
- Get plenty of exercise. Yoga or tai chi are great for improving circulation, reducing tension and promoting healthy digestion and elimination. Stretching exercises where you must touch your toes or draw your knees up to your chest are also good to get the bowels moving.
- Avoid deep-fried food, food that is high in sugar and other refined carbohydrates (like white bread), caffeine, alcohol and dairy (except yogurt).
- If you suspect you have low stomach acid, take one capsule (600 mg) of hydrochloric acid before a large meal. If symptoms worsen, stop – you do not have low stomach acid. If you feel the same or better, increase your dosage by one at your next meal. Keep increasing dosage up to a maximum of seven capsules or until you feel warmth in your stomach. If you feel the warmth, cut back to your dosage prior to the feeling. Use fewer capsules for smaller meals.
- Get tested for food allergies or low thyroid function.
- When eating, ensure that the atmosphere is relaxed and pleasant. Don’t work through lunch or dinners or eat hunched over the coffee table or standing over the sink. The benefits of spending 15 to 20 minutes sitting and enjoying your meal far outweigh the time saved eating on the run.
- For quick relief, magnesium oxide taken before bedtime will flush out your system the next morning. It turns stools to liquid and cleans trapped waste out of the small pockets in the intestines.
- If you need to take additional iron, try a liquid iron supplement like IRONsmart; it is non-constipating.
Before you say, “It’s just easier to use a laxative”, consider this: not only do over-the-counter laxatives not address the problem of why you are constipated, they actually make the problem worse. Regular use of laxatives disturbs the body’s natural rhythm. In essence the body forgets how it is supposed to eliminate waste. Also, laxatives are drugs that can cause nutritional deficiencies. The unnatural increase in gut motility can prevent calcium and vitamin D absorption. Some products can prevent the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins and folic acid.