Treatments and home remedies for constipation include Ayurvedic medicine, proper intake of water, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grain products, figs or anjeer, castor oil, flax seed, regular exercise, and natural laxatives, if necessary. The prime causes of constipation include dehydration, an improper diet, certain medications, medical conditions, and stress.
Constipation is a digestive disorder when your bowel movements become hardened or happen fewer times per week than normal. Specifically, having less than 3 bowel movements per week is considered outside the normal range. A sense of an incomplete bowel movement is also a sign of being constipated. The cause of this condition is the stiffening of stool near the rectum, obstructing the smooth passage of stool.
Treatments for Constipation
There are many treatments available for constipation, this range from medical and Ayurvedic to home remedies. Let us discuss these treatments and home remedies in detail below.
If certain dietary and lifestyle changes don’t improve your condition, then you need to go for treatment. This includes the use of OTC laxatives, lactulose, and other over the counter medicines. While using the laxatives, you need to undertake some precautions, as over-use of them can worsen the condition and lead to other complications.
To treat constipation, Ayurveda suggests drinking lots and lots of water, increasing the consumption of herbal tea and organic oils like ghee and olive oil in your diet. It also suggests adding fibrous and hydrating fruits like bananas, apples, and prunes in your diet. Some Vata pacifying herbs from Ayurveda include Triphala tablets or trifala powder can also be used to treat constipation.
Home Remedies for Constipation
Constipation can be cured by following certain home remedies that are very easy to implement. With the implementation of these home remedies for constipation, one can experience free and smooth bowel movements, without the need to apply pressure. Besides these also help to fade away any feelings of an incomplete bowel movement.
Water, as already mentioned, is one of the major components of our body that helps in most metabolic activities, especially digestion. Drinking good amounts of water every day (at least 6 to 8 glasses) will help not only in maintaining an optimum water level in the body but will also help in smooth bowel movements. Drinking water throughout the day is helpful. It is suggested that people who suffer from constipation must drink at least one liter of water early in the morning at one time (not bottoms up, but gradually) and then have a vigorous walk of at least 10 minutes. As water suddenly rushes through the digestive system, it will wash away any undigested food in the stomach and small intestines, moving it into the large intestine. Here, the rushing water dilutes the hard stool and makes it softer and easier to move. The water in your stomach also puts pressure on the lower part of the digestive system. (Chhajer, B. (2005))
Fruits are highly recommended for controlling constipation. Fruits contain dietary fiber that fights constipation. There are many varieties of fruits and vegetables that can be consumed on a daily basis to avoid constipation. Fruits such as apples, papayas, oranges, apricots, guavas, strawberries, dates, raisins, and pears have all been associated with reduced constipation. (Wisten. A Messner. T. (2005))
Vegetables are also high in fiber. Vegetables can be eaten either cooked or half-cooked. In the case of constipation, the best way to consume them is by consuming them half-cooked or raw. Vegetables such as cabbages, carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and all types of gourds such as bottle gourd, snake gourd, bitter gourd, and ridged gourd contain good fiber amounts to help clean out bowels. (Chhajer, B. (2005))
Food is the first and often the best source for identifying the problem of constipation. People whose diet consists of less fiber or no fiber at all are more prone to problems of constipation. The best source of dietary fiber is through the intake of vegetarian food. It is recommended to eat whole grains such as whole wheat and whole rice, vegetables, herbs and various fruits. Fiber is the undigested food that soaks up water in the process of digestion. When moving into the colon, undigested fiber is converted into a stool. As it contains more water, the stool then easily moves through the colon and out of the body. (Cummings J.H. (1984))
Whole Grain Products
Consuming whole grain products is recommended in place of polished grain products, which includes whole wheat, whole or brown rice, rather than white rice and polished wheat flour. Whole grains contain a layer of fiber. This fiber contains essential B complex vitamins. Polished grain lacks this type of fiber. (Cummings J.H. (1984))
A fig is a sweet and chewable fruit. Figs have large amounts of fiber, which helps in easy digestion and in producing bulky stools that are easier to pass. (Lee HY, Kim JH, Jeung HW (2012))
Make a paste from a half cup of dates. Mix this paste with milk and consume it every night before going to sleep. The fiber in dates will reduce constipation.
Psyllium or ispaghula has large amounts of dietary fiber. The fiber inside it is ideally suited for constipation because it is not absorbed by the small intestine and on its way to the colon, it absorbs a lot of water and pushes out stool, thereby relieving you of constipation. (McRorie, Daggy, Morel, Diersing, Miner and Robinson (1998))
Bishop’s seed or ajowan has been traditionally used in India to treat constipation. A spoonful of ajowan seeds mixed with lukewarm water can relieve constipation.
Regular exercise is an effective remedy for constipation. Exercising regularly not only stimulates the external muscles but also the muscles in internal organs to expand and contract. This is especially true in the case of the digestive system, which moves food through peristaltic movements. Exercise helps in maintaining optimum peristaltic movements to move food through the digestive system. Yoga can be another good choice to deal with constipation. There are exercises that specifically deal with constipation. These include Surya Namaskara, Pavanamukta Asana, Trikona Asana, Hala Asana, Tada Asana, Matsya Asana, and Ardha Matsyendra Asana.
The flax plant has been used historically in a variety of ways, including cooking, medicine, and clothing. Flaxseed has specifically been used in constipation as it is rich in soluble fiber. A four-week trial research study on healthy people with flax seed intake found that their bowel movements increased by about one-third. Research has also shown that the use of flaxseed in patients suffering from Constipation with Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS-C) showed a significant improvement in their condition with a reduction in constipation and pain. (Basch E, Bent S, Collins J, Dacey C, Hammerness P, Harrison M, Smith M, Szapary P, Ulbricht C, Vora M, Weissner W; Natural Standard Resource Collaboration (2007))
Castor oil has been traditionally used as a laxative. It is a stimulant laxative that stimulates not only the large intestine, but also small intestine, and it helps in washing away fecal matter. Castor oil prevents water absorption in the intestine, thus making feces softer and easier to move. (T. S. Gaginella and S. F. Phillips (1975))
An enema is another approach to treating constipation. It is useful when water intake does not yield the expected result. Administering a plain enema with or without any medication helps in constipation by loosening hard stool.
DiMarco, D. (1999). ‘Natural Relief From Constipation’ Chicago, McGraw-Hill Professional
Chhajer, B. (2005). ‘Constipation’, New Delhi, Diamond Pocket Books (P) Ltd