- Personal Health Information & Self-Help
Five Home Remedies for Constipation
Uh oh -- you've been eating badly, loading up on fast food burgers, ice cream and snack cakes -- with nary a vegetable in sight anywhere on your plate -- and now you're paying for it. Big time.
You feel bloated. You feel like you need to go to the bathroom. But you can't. No matter how long you sit on the toilet flipping through stacks of magazines, even reading full articles, you just can't go.
You are constipated.
Natural remedies for constipation
First of all, you know that your poor diet is likely the cause of your unfortunate stopped-up situation. Fiber helps the body work properly, and you haven't been eating any of it. You don't really want to take any of the common over-the-counter constipation remedies. You're more of a natural remedy type of person.
Well, you're in luck. Constipation is one of the easier problems to fix using natural remedies. It usually is caused by poor diet and/or lack of exercise, so fixing these two problems will put you on a great start toward getting regular again.
But, if you're looking for a home remedy for constipation to help speed the process along, there are plenty of those too. And many of them are tried and true. So, here are five home remedies for constipation:
Home remedy for constipation #1: stewed prunes
Prunes are famous for helping to prevent and treat constipation. Prunes act as a gentle natural laxative to help get your body moving again after a bout of constipation.
Prunes are loaded with fiber -- both soluble fiber, which helps to soften your stools and get them moving and insoluble fiber, which helps to clean out your digestive tract. In addition, prunes have vitamin A and potassium, and they mildly stimulate the muscles in your digestive tract to help get them moving -- and help you have a bowel movement. (According to Medicinenet.com, there is no evidence that using prunes harms the digestive tract as some herbal and non-herbal stimulant laxatives have been shown to do if abused.)
To make stewed prunes, put five to 10 prunes in a bowl and pour some hot water over them and let them sit for at least a half an hour. Eat a few of the prunes at a time throughout the day, and drink a little bit of the juice too.
Home remedy for constipation #2: psyllium seed husks
Psyllium seed husks are sold at health food stores, often in powdered form. They are an excellent source of indigestible fiber, so they are often mixed with water and used as a laxative.
To make a natural psyllium husk laxative, you mix about 1 tsp. psyllium husk powder with 8 oz. of warm water in a glass. (Make sure to follow the instructions on the package.) It will become thick after you mix it, so it's important to drink it quickly. It will not taste particularly pleasant, and the texture is kind of gooey, but it works.
There are some very important precautions to be aware of with psyllium husk powder:
- Make sure you mix it with plenty of water as directed on the package. It can be a choking hazard if you do not mix with enough water or if you have an esophageal blockage.
- Do not take it at the same time as or within hours of taking other medications because it can hamper the effectiveness of some medications. WebMD has more information.
- Know that psyllium husk powder can cause severe allergic reactions in some people.
- Do not take more than directed on the package.
Home remedy for constipation #3: warm green tea
One way to get your bowels moving again is to drink a warm beverage, according to WebMD. Also, green tea has been used for many years as a folk remedy for constipation. (Though it has been incorrectly blamed for causing constipation, it is actually a remedy.)
Warm beverages can work especially well on an empty stomach, so try drinking a mug of green tea (if it is piping hot, let it cool until it's warm) with a squeeze of lemon in it. (Forego sugar or milk and drink the green tea either plain or with just the squirt of lemon.)
Wait for a half hour or so after drinking your green tea before you eat breakfast. When you do eat breakfast, make sure it's something with lots of fiber, such as oatmeal with berries or apples.
Home remedy for constipation #4: a pumpkin flaxseed smoothie
Pumpkin is rather famous as a home remedy for constipation in pets, but it can be used for people too.
If you are constipated, try this high-fiber pumpkin and flaxseed smoothie for breakfast. In a blender, mix:
- 1 frozen banana
- 1/2 cup canned pumpkin (not pumpkin pie filling, but plain pumpkin)
- 2 ice cubes and up to 1 cup of water (adjust quantity for desired thickness)
- 2 T of ground flaxseed
- a shake of cinnamon
- a drizzle of honey
Blend on high until the mixture is smooth and creamy. Sip and enjoy.
Home remedy for constipation #5: anti-constipation custard
The University of Michigan Health System has a recipe for what I call anti-constipation custard. It's kind of gross, but it gets the job done. Here's the recipe:
In a plastic container, mix 1 cup applesauce with 1 cup oat bran or unprocessed wheat bran and 3/4 cup prune juice. Store in the fridge.
Warning: do not eat this all at once. You should start out with one or two Tablespoons in the evening. After you eat it, drink a glass of lukewarm water. This should solve your problem. (If it doesn't work after a few weeks, you can increase to three to four Tablespoons.)
Using natural remedies for constipation
How you use these remedies is important and will determine your success with using natural cures for constipation.
What you probably don't want to do is to try everything at once, because you don't want to shock your body. Gentle is good. Pick the remedy that makes the most sense for you and try it. Don't expect instant results -- it can take several days to a week or more to get over constipation.
Photo credit --
Prunes photo by Son of Groucho on Flickr Creative Commons