10 Natural Constipation Remedies That Work
Try a Natural Home Remedy for Constipation to Relieve Discomfort
Natural constipation remedies can take on many forms: you can use gentle herbs and herbal teas, lifestyle changes, diet changes, and gentle exercise to relieve constipation. While most people don’t feel comfortable talking about constipation and natural constipation remedies, this is something we discuss freely around my house. Since my husband works in a wastewater treatment facility, there’s never any shortage of jokes about poop at our house. And since I study holistic and natural medicine, we also know plenty of natural constipation remedies that really work.
Chronic constipation is defined as having less than three bowel movements per week over the span of several weeks. There are many causes of chronic constipation: medical conditions like diabetes and thyroid disorders can cause bowel movements to slow or stop, and some common prescription medications and over-the-counter medications can also cause constipation. However, it is now believed that stress, unhealthy lifestyle habits, and an unhealthy diet are the leading causes of this uncomfortable and sometimes painful condition.
Note: Many pregnant women also experience constipation during their pregnancies, beginning in the first trimester. If you’re pregnant and looking for natural constipation remedies, always check with your doctor before taking any herbal remedies for constipation.
Natural Constipation Remedies: Herbal Remedies for Constipation
Herbal tea tops my list of natural constipation remedies because most herbal teas are gentle on the stomach and the entire digestive tract and work quickly to relieve constipation. Almost any hot drink will be stimulating enough to a backed-up digestive tract to get things moving. It’s worth noting that you should avoid drinking coffee while constipated because caffeine is a diuretic and can worsen dehydration if that’s one of the causes of your symptoms.
A simple ginger tea made with fresh ginger root can help relieve constipation. When taken regularly, ginger tea benefits include an overall improvement in digestion and a healthier immune system. To make a simple ginger tea, take a thumb-sized piece of fresh, peeled ginger and add it to two or three cups of boiling water. Allow it to steep for at least 20 minutes before drinking. You can add a teaspoon of honey to enhance the laxative effects of the ginger and to sweeten the ginger tea.
If you suffer from chronic constipation that lasts for several weeks, a morning drink of hot lemon water with honey can help. Boil two or three cups of water and allow it to cool slightly before adding the juice of ½ fresh lemon, along with a teaspoon of honey if desired. Drink a cup every morning for at least three weeks to help relieve and prevent chronic constipation.
Another effective herbal tea for relieving constipation is an Ayurvedic spice water. An added bonus of drinking this spice water is that it helps balance women’s hormones and can actually be part of a healthy digestive cleanse. To make Ayurvedic spice water, boil six cups of fresh spring water for about five minutes. Allow to cool slightly, and then add ¼ teaspoon each of whole, organic coriander, cumin, and fennel seeds. Allow the whole seeds to steep for at least 15 minutes before drinking. Spice water can be taken warm (not hot), or at room temperature. While Ayurvedic spice water is effective, it’s something of an “acquired taste” and might take a few days to get used to. DO NOT sweeten spice water with honey or other sweeteners!
Senna is another popular herbal remedy that pops up on many lists of natural constipation remedies. I generally don’t recommend using senna unless the constipation is severe because it can also cause painful stomach cramps in some people. If you choose to use senna as part of your natural remedies for constipation, always do so under the care of a qualified health practitioner. Pregnant women should NOT use senna unless under the care of a qualified health practitioner.
Natural Constipation Remedies: Diet
What you eat can play a big role in preventing and relieving the symptoms of constipation. The vast majority of the American diet consists of highly processed foods that have little nutritional value and are difficult to digest. One of the best natural constipation remedies for chronic constipation is simply a change in diet.
The first change you can make to your diet is to eat plenty of warm, well-cooked foods, and that includes your vegetables. Choosing ingredients for your meals from a garden vegetables list and avoiding highly processed foods like store-bought pasta and bread for a few weeks can certainly make a difference in your symptoms. Remember that anything warm or hot will help stimulate the muscles affected by constipation, so eating warm foods with plenty of liquid in them will help relieve your symptoms.
Eating foods high in fiber is also important when thinking about natural constipation remedies. But remember that some foods like beans, broccoli, and apples can be hard to digest when undercooked or eaten raw. To help make these foods more digestible, cook these foods in plenty of good olive oil or even ghee (clarified butter) and add a teaspoon of your favorite spices: cumin, fennel, and cardamom are all effective natural constipation remedies when added to food on a daily basis.
Soaking fruit overnight to be eaten with breakfast in the morning is also another effective home remedy for constipation. Take two tablespoons of raisins, or four or five prunes or figs and soak them in just enough water to cover. Eat with breakfast.
Yogurt is one of my favorite natural remedies for constipation, mainly because it tastes so good. As long as your digestion is strong enough and you’re not lactose intolerant, you can eat three cups of yogurt a day starting with one cup in the morning with breakfast. You can also take a wonderful Indian yogurt drink called lassi to help relieve the symptoms of constipation using one of the following recipes:
Plain lassi: Mix one cup yogurt with three to five cups of fresh spring water, as you prefer. More water makes the lassi easier to digest. Blend well and drink throughout the day.
Digestive lassi: Mix together ½ cup yogurt with two cups room temperature water. Add a ¼ teaspoon each of ground cumin and salt. Blend for one to two minutes, and skim the foam off the top before drinking.
Sweet lassi: Mix together ½ cup yogurt with 2 cups room temperature water. Add ½ teaspoon Turbinado sugar, four drops rose water and ¼ teaspoon cardamom. Blend for one to two minutes, and skim the foam off the top before drinking.
Natural Constipation Remedies: Castor Oil and Olive Oil
If chronic constipation is severe and is not accompanied by dehydration and/or upset stomach, a quick tablespoonful of either castor oil or olive oil can do the trick to help get things moving! This particular remedy for constipation can work quickly in some people, so make sure that you have easy access to a bathroom for a couple of hours after taking the oil.
To use castor oil, take 1 – 1 ½ tablespoons of castor oil mixed with ¼ cup orange juice (to hide the taste). Hold your nose while swallowing to avoid smelling the castor oil.
To use olive oil, take one tablespoon of olive oil mixed with one tablespoon fresh lemon juice (not bottled). Just like with the castor oil, you can hold your nose while swallowing to avoid smelling the olive oil.
Natural Constipation Remedies: Gentle Exercise and Movement
Maybe I’m biased because I’m a yoga teacher, but a lifestyle routine that includes some kind of daily gentle exercise and movement is a great way to prevent chronic constipation. In particular, the yoga pose called Malasana (which sounds a lot better than the English name – squat) can help relieve tension in the muscles that cause constipation. Squatting is a more natural position for bowel movements.
To practice malasana, stand with your feet a little wider than hip distance with your toes pointing out at about a 45-degree angle. If you are tight in the hips, place a thick blanket under your heels to give you some lift. Gently bend your knees and sink your hips down toward the floor – your body will tell you when to stop! Hold this pose for five or six full cycles of breath, and then release. You can repeat this as often as you need to throughout the day, but like I tell all my yoga students, if the pose causes you pain anywhere in your body, don’t do it. There are lots of other natural constipation remedies in this list that you can try!
What’s on your list of natural remedies for constipation? Leave a comment below and share your tips and home remedies with us!