Constipation is one of the most common digestive complaints in the United States. The normal frequency of bowel movements varies widely from person to person, from once or more a day to three times a week. In general, however, you are likely constipated if you pass a hard, dry stool less than three times a week. Constipation can also make you feel bloated and uncomfortable and you may find yourself straining during bowel movements.
Although constipation can affect anyone, it’s more common in women and in people over age 65. It also tends to occur during pregnancy, after childbirth or surgery, with certain medications such as opioid pain relievers, and with some conditions such as multiple sclerosis.
Natural Remedies for Constipation
Fiber A diet low in fiber may play a role in constipation. Insoluble fiber, which passes through the body almost unchanged, gives stools bulk and a soft texture, making them easier to pass. Foods that are high in insoluble fiber include whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Try wheat bran, brown rice, or whole grain bread. Soluble fiber dissolves in water and forms a gel-like substance in the intestines. Prunes and figs can be added to breakfast or eaten as a snack.
Another option is to sprinkle one teaspoon of ground flaxseeds over any meal. They can be found in packages at the health food store or some grocery stores. They have a mild, nutty taste. Fiber supplements are also available, the most popular being psyllium husk supplements such as Metamucil. Add fiber to your diet gradually to avoid bloating and gas. Also, be sure to drink enough water otherwise fiber can have the opposite effect and be constipating.
Making sure you drink enough fluids such as water may help some people with constipation. Fluids make bowel movements softer and easier to pass. Watch your consumption of alcoholic beverages and caffeinated beverages such as coffee and cola drinks, which can be dehydrating.
Many herbal laxatives and “dieter’s teas” are called stimulant laxatives, or anthranoid laxatives. They include herbs such as:
- Cascara sagrada
Some of these herbs, such as senna, are approved as over-the-counter treatments for constipation. Although they are meant to be short-term treatments, in reality, people can become dependent on them and use them for weeks, months, or even years at a time in order to have a daily bowel movement.
They should not be used for longer than a week unless under medical supervision. Prolonged use may cause the bowels to lose the ability to move on their own, and has been linked to chronic diarrhea, potassium depletion leading to muscle weakness and potentially dangerous irregular heart rhythms, and kidney or liver impairment.
Natural Remedies for Constipation are available at Al-shifa natural herbal pharma.
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