Natural Therapies 10 Natural Remedies for Constipation

Published on May 20th, 2014 | by Zion Lights

10 Natural Remedies for Constipation

Constipation is one of those topics that we don’t like to talk about, but it is actually a very common problem. In fact, constipation is the most common digestive complaint in the U.S. As well as problems with bowel movement, it can also cause symptoms like feeling bloated, irritated, and getting headaches. The good news is that constipation can easily be treated with natural remedies and lifestyle changes, so you don’t need to suffer in silence.

10 Natural Remedies  for  Constipation

1. Eat More Fiber

Telling you to increase your fiber intake is generally the first remedy that most health professionals prescribe. If you’ve bought or been prescribed laxatives, it may be worth putting them on hold to increase your fiber intake first, or doing both side by side. A study found that a 25 gram intake of fiber per day significantly helped to reduce chronic constipation in sufferers after only two months. When the participants also increased their daily water intake as well as fiber intake, by 1.5 to 2 litres, they experienced further relief from the symptoms of constipation.

Fiber is only found in plant foods, so to ensure you get enough fiber you have to eat enough plant foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes such as kidney beans, lentils and chickpeas. Consider making small changes at first, adding a high fiber to your evening meal for example, by replacing meat with lentils or beans and white bread with wholemeal. There are also high-fiber cereals available that can be added to your usual morning breakfast routine, or replace it altogether. Adding whole grains like brown rice and oats into your diet help boost your fiber intake quickly, and will help get things moving.

If increasing your intake of natural fiber does not relieve constipation-related symptoms as soon as you would like it to, consider adding a natural fiber supplement to your diet as well. Here is a list of fiber rich foods and other natural remedies for constipation that will help for those of you who need to get your bowels back on track pronto, while also looking at increasing your fiber intake through food on a long-term basis.

2. Corn Bran

Wheat bran is often called the ‘gold standard’ of natural fiber sources. While it does increase bowel movements and help to reduce other symptoms of constipation, a study found that corn bran is actually more effective than wheat bran at relieving symptoms of constipation. For an easy way of adding corn bran to your diet, take the cereal route. If you don’t like the taste, add it to your usual cereal and increase the amount you add over time. As with any fiber supplement, be sure to start off slow at first, and be sure to drink plenty of water to flush the fiber through your system.

psyllium husk3. Psyllium Husk

Research has found that people with serious constipation were helped by taking psyllium for just four weeks. The treatment increased how often people had bowel movements and also improved the quality of their excreted matter.

Many health food stores stock psyllium seed husks, which can be used in cooking or taken as a drink. Psyllium should be mixed with water or another juice and ingested immediately, as it gels quickly. Psyllium expands in your body when you take it, so if you don’t take it with a good amount of fluid then it can actually make constipation worse. It’s an effective natural remedy for constipation, or just when you feel like you’re not getting enough fiber. For most people, it should be gentle enough to take everyday if needed. Start with a teaspoon per day and increase the amount if needed.

4. Senna

The herb senna has been found to be effective for short-term treatment of constipation, and combined with psyllium it has been found to be more effective than a prescribed laxative. But, long-term use is not recommended, so only use senna if the other remedies have not worked for you, and while looking at other methods of treating constipation long-term.

As with all natural remedies, do not take senna if you are taking any prescribed medication or have serious health problems, at least not before discussing it with your doctor. In this case senna can interact with other medications including herbal remedies such as horsetail and licorice.

5. Apple Cider Vinegar

bragg's apple cider vinegarApple cider vinegar has long been used as a natural remedy to treat a number of health problems including constipation. Although no studies have been done to determine this, it makes sense because apple cider vinegar is high in pectin, which many people vouch for in terms of helping with digestive problems. There is no harm in a couple of teaspoons to your cooking or taking it off a spoon two or three times a week, and doing so may help to improve your overall health. It may also help to ease the symptoms of constipation, if not relieve constipation itself. You can add a tablespoon of apple cider vinegar to water, to juice to mask the flavour, and also use it in place of normal vinegar on foods like chips.

{Related: How to Build a Better Poo}

6. Probiotics

Probiotics have been found to help a number of problems relating to the stomach and the gut. In particular, Lactobacillus and Bifidobacterium are types of bacteria that have been found to be lacking in patients with chronic constipation. So, it’s possible that these probiotic bacteria can also help to treat constipation and other inflammatory bowel conditions. Another study found that Lactobacillus, also known as lactic acid bacteria, helped to reduce the effects of constipation in nursing home residents.

Probiotics are available in capsule form but if you don’t like to swallow them you can open them up and add the bacteria to a drink, or to a cold food like yoghurt. It’s important to take the bacteria that are specific to your health problem. So in this case look out for the two mentioned here that may help with constipation. Learn more about how you can eat your probiotics.

7. Eat Fewer Meals

As well as changing your diet. you can also change the way you eat to prevent constipation. For people aged over 60, a small study found that eating fewer meals per day reduced bouts of constipation. This was due to the lower calorie intake rather than anything to do with fiber or fluid intake. Keep a food diary to see if this works for you.

8. Exercise

We know that health professionals recommend regular exercise, but sometimes when we get sick we forget that this is the simplest natural therapy of all. A survey of 62,036 women found that moderate daily physical activity meant lower instances of constipation.When combined with a high fiber diet, constipation was successfully prevented altogether.

9. Cut Out Aspirin

Interestingly, the same research found that taking aspirin increased symptoms of constipation, and since headaches can be a symptom of constipation, this might be creating a vicious cycle for you. Instead, focus on preventing constipation altogether, and the headaches should stop alongside it.

10. Drink More Fluids

Since constipation is made worse by dehydration, drinking more fluids may help to ease your symptoms. Try to aim for the recommended 8 glasses of water a day. Juice is good too, as it will add to your fiber intake, but try to avoid dehydrating drinks like black tea and coffee. Herbal teas provide an excellent alternative.

{Related: How to Relieve Constipation Naturally}

A good way to keep up your hydration levels is to start the day with a pint of water, with a little lemon in it if you prefer, to kick your body into action. Taking laxatives in particular can make you dehydrated, so if you’re on them you need to drink even more. When you increase your fiber intake, you need to up your fluid intake as well. A study has shown that elderly people in particular can benefit from adding more fluids to their diet, as a way of remedying the constipation, although the same effect was not found in young people.

Disclaimer: We’re bloggers, not doctors. Please consult a doctor or medical provider for medical issues and before self-remedying, especially if you are taking prescription medication.

10 Natural Remedies  for  Constipation(1)

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About the Author

Zion Lights lives in the south of England in the green county of Devonshire. Zion is the Contributing Editor of JUNO magazine, blogs for The Huffington Post, and freelance writes here and there. Favourite topics include science, the environment, green and gentle parenting. Zion aims to love a low impact lifestyle. You can follow her work at and tweet her @ziontree.

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