Constipation is a condition of the bowels that don't move frequently, resulting in dry, hard stools. Moving the bowels can be difficult and uncomfortable and turning it around is harder after the pattern of constipation has been established.
Let's look first at all the different symptoms that might be considered constipation and then we'll look at the causes.
Understanding what causes constipation is paramount in learning how to change it.
Symptoms of Constipation
Symptoms of constipation may vary from person to person and also from time to time. I have had patients think they are not constipated because they moved their bowels regularly, even though the frequency was every 7 days. A healthy digestive system moves the bowels at least once daily and the longer food stays in the colon, the drier and harder it becomes. There are differing opinions on this but most people find they feel better the more regular they are.
The most common symptoms of constipation are:
- difficulty passing stool
- hard, dry stools
- infrequent stool
- pain with passage of stool
- abdominal bloating and/or pain
- abdominal distention
- feeling of incomplete evacuation after bowel movement
Relying on stool softeners, laxatives, colonics or enemas is not addressing the root of the problem, nor is this dependency good for the colon. Any of them are fine for an occasional short-term aid, but know that constipation is not normal and it is worth it to the health of your whole system to figure out the underlying cause and fix it.
Causes of Constipation
- lack of hydrochloric acid from antacids, PPIs, stress, overeating, etc.
- deficiency of bile
- lack of bile flow
- infections such as H. pylori
- lack of digestive enzymes
- deficiency of good bowel flora
- food allergies
- gluten intolerance
- dairy intolerance
- lack of water
- lack of fiber, soluble and insoluble
- lack of exercise
- side-effects of drugs- pain killers, antidepressants, antihistamines, high blood pressure meds and many more
- some vitamin supplements such as those containing iron
- nerve degeneration
- regularly not taking the time to evacuate
Treatment For Occasional Constipation
- Take ¼ to 1 tsp of olive oil 4x a day for 4 days. Take 3 days off. Repeat.
- Pre- and probiotics
- Soluble and insoluble fiber
- Relaxation and massage
- Castor oil packs over the lower abdomen
- Eliminating food allergens like dairy, wheat and other glutinous grains
- Digestive supplements to improve bile flow, HCl, enzymes and bile salts with taurine, and bitters designed for bile and gallbladder
One of my favorite travel constipation remedies is to take whole flax seeds with me and take 1 tsp, pour it into my mouth and down it with a glass of water, 1 or 2 times a day. Simple and very effective. I don’t grind them; I don’t chew them. I just get them down the hatch.
Enemas – Instant Constipation Relief
Enemas? Wait! Before you discount the idea, know that enemas have been used for centuries for a reason - they work! And they’re not difficult to do. All the suggestions above can help, but every one of them does take some time. Sometimes what we need is fast constipation relief. In other words, NOW. What works instantly and faster than a laxative is an enema.
While we recommend ordering an enema bucket online for regular use with the coffee enema (which flushes the bile as well as the bowel), you can get a fleet enema kit or an enema bag in your local drug store today.
Gallstones And Constipation
According to studies, there is a definite correlation between constipation and gallstones. Constipation or "slow intestinal transit" time is associated with the formation of gallstones. A slow metabolism, such as caused by a hypothyroid, simply slows down all bodily processes from the movement of bile to the movement of bowels. It can even slow down thinking processes. A diet of refined foods (such as flour, bread, pasta and white sugar) has been shown to contribute to both of these conditions as has a sedentary lifestyle.