This past year has brought a number of new and interesting conditions through my office doors, but there is one classic symptom that seems to be dominating over the rest. Constipation – many of us have had our experiences with this difficult symptom before. Constipation can be acute, or can be a long term symptom. Bowel movements are essential for removing unwanted toxins and waste from the body. If one is constipated, it’s usually an indication that the organs of detoxification are not functioning optimally.
Optimal frequency for bowel movements:
With the types of food and drinks that tend to frequent the tables at holiday parties, it’s no wonder that many of us tend to have trouble with constipation after major holidays. Here are some basic at-home tips that you can try in order to keep your detoxification centres smooth and functional.
First and foremost I must warn that signs of constipation should always be first assessed by a medical professional (naturopathic doctor or medical doctor). Here are some warning signs you need to consider before trying these natural treatments:
1. Constipation in an infant should ALWAYS be checked out by a medical professional. Please do not try natural remedies for constipation in an infant until a full medical examination and proper imaging has been done to rule out any serious condition.
2. If constipation is associated with severe pain, then please follow up with your medical physician before trying any natural remedies.
3. If constipation has lasted for more than 2 weeks and you have tried home remedies, then consult with your medical practitioner.
4. Cases of chronic constipation (long-term) should always be assessed by a medical practitioner.
5. If you are someone who suffers from long-term (chronic) constipation and all of a sudden experience watery diarrhea, bloating and pain, rectal bleeding, and/or low back pain, please see your doctor.
6. Any signs of blood, or mucus in the stool should be followed up by a medical practitioner before trying these natural treatments.
1. Lots and lots of wonderful water will help move those stubborn bowel movements along. Constipation can be a sign of dehydration so making sure you get your 8-12 cups of water daily can help with this stubborn symptom.
2. Insoluble fibre help keep the stools loose and fluid by decreasing the time it takes for stool to pass through the intestines. Sources of insoluble fibre include lots and lots of veggies (especially dark leafy greens), fruit skins (apples, pears), nuts (avoid if there are nut allergies!) and seeds.
3. Constipation can be a reflection of a poor-functioning liver. During the weekends and holidays many of us indulge in more fatty foods and alcohol, rendering the liver weaker than usual. Liver supporting treatments such as castor oil packs helps keep the liver functioning optimally, allowing our detoxification centres to run efficiently and smoothly. For children try castor oil belly rubs
4. Prune juice is an age-old remedy used to help treat constipation. The reason why prune juice is so good is that it contains sorbitol, a natural sugar which acts as a laxative. Just like any laxative, this should not be used long term as your body will become dependent on it. It is recommended to drink 8 ounces of prune juice twice daily before meals to help treat constipation. Once your constipation improves, you can cut this down to 1x/day. If the prune juice does not work within 1 week, discontinue this approach.
5. Healthy Flora! Like I’ve pretty much said in all my articles, probiotics are wonderful for regulating the gastrointestinal tract and great for alleviating symptoms of constipation. Healthy flora is essential for proper bowel movements and exposure to not-so-healthy food, and antibiotics can disrupt your natural intestinal flora.
If the constipation does not seem to improve with these home remedies, stronger treatments are needed to heal the gut. Naturopathic doctors are highly trained in assessing constipation to determine what therapy is needed. Vitamins, herbs, homeopathics and acupuncture, all have been very effective in treating symptoms of constipation. Please be aware that a healthy diet is the best cure for any digestive concern.