Effective Natural Strategies For Constipation
The normal frequency of bowel actions varies greatly between people. Ideally, you should have from one to three bowel actions daily. They should be a brownish color, be soft and grainy and passed without undue straining.
Many of my patients have told me that their stools have changed significantly after commencing the Liver Cleansing Diet and once they incorporated FiberTone powder into their diet. In particular, they find that they are softer, easier to pass and longer in size. They may contain obvious pieces of undigested vegetables such as small parts of plant skins and small parts of leaves. This is a good sign because this increased fiber acts like a broom to cleanse the bowel walls.
Signs to worry about are red blood or a black color in the stools, or an obvious change in bowel habits from your normal pattern. It is good to look at each bowel action after you pass it to check for general appearance and color.
Effects of Chronic Constipation
If constipation becomes chronic and the bowel is not emptied effectively, waste products and feces will accumulate in loops, pockets, nooks and crannies in the bowel. In such places unfriendly bacteria and parasites may grow and this can cause a build up of toxins, which can affect general health. Toxins from the bowel may recirculate back to the liver. An overworked liver causes fatigue and poor general health.
The bowel may become inflated, causing abdominal bloating, cramps and unpleasant gas and this is embarrassing for many people. If you have these problems, it is wise to have a colonoscopy by a specialist doctor to exclude serious disease such as bowel polyps or cancer.
Chronic constipation can lead to hemorrhoids and anal fissures, which are painful and can bleed, producing bright red blood. Constipation can lead to pockets in the bowel which may become inflamed – this is known as diverticulitis. Repetitive straining to pass hard feces can lead to a prolapsed rectum and/or fecal incontinence.
If you are trying to lose weight, ensuring you have regular bowel habits will help. Constipated people do not lose weight easily. If you are constipated it is a sign of a slow metabolism. Improving the health of your intestines and liver will help with stool regularity, and should help you achieve a healthy body weight.
Laxatives are used to induce a bowel action and/or to prevent constipation.
Some laxatives are very strong and may overstimulate the muscles of the bowel leading to irritation, colonic spasm and in the long-term, enlargement and permanent damage of the colon. For this reason they should not be used on a regular basis.
Osmotic laxatives such as magnesium sulphate (Epsom’s salts), magnesium oxide and lactulose are a much safer alternative to cathartics, and I prefer to use them in cases of chronic constipation. Osmotic laxatives draw water into the colon and make the bowel actions soft and more liquid. They do not generally irritate the bowels.
A slightly stronger and very effective result is obtained from an osmotic laxative combining magnesium oxide with senna leaf extract, peppermint leaf and cape aloe leaf. This product is known as Colon Cleanse and is available in capsule form. The usual dose is one to two capsules when constipated.
Suppositories and Enemas
Suppositories and enemas are effective for sudden severe constipation of the lower bowel or fecal impaction. Some bowel therapists add herbs such as catnip or coffee to enemas to improve their cleansing effect. Fecal impaction means that hard feces get stuck in the rectum and lower colon, and obstruct the passage of softer feces higher up. This can lead to “spurious diarrhea” where the softer feces above the hard impacted feces liquefy and are then able to pass around the hard feces and it appears as though the patient has diarrhea when in reality they have severe constipation. This can occur in the very elderly, immobilized persons, over medicated patients or those with neurological diseases. This is why a doctor should perform a rectal examination in severely constipated patients. Fecal impaction may require manual extraction of the feces if an enema does not work. Thereafter regular enemas or colonic irrigations need to be given to prevent a recurrence.
Many people find that colonic irrigations are very beneficial in removing waste products from the bowel, and in experienced hands this is safe to do. If you have severe constipation, colonic irrigations from a registered practitioner every 2 to 4 weeks can be of great benefit.
However, even if you have regular enemas or colonic irrigations, you still need a high fibre diet and plenty of water, and if possible regular exercise. Enemas and/or colonic irrigations should not be performed in cases of inflammatory bowel disease, severe diverticulitis, or where there is a structural defect of the bowel. This is to avoid mechanical damage to the bowel in these cases.
A high fibre diet is best obtained from eating plentiful vegetables and fruits. Grinding linseeds (flaxseeds), sunflower seeds and almonds into a fine powder can help stubborn constipation and can be eaten instead of bran. This powder mixture is known as LSA and can be purchased from supermarkets and health food stores or make it yourself in a grinder and store it in the freezer. Chia seeds are excellent for constipation and reduce bowel inflammation. Add chia seeds to smoothies or gluten free muesli.
Hemp seeds can be eaten regularly in salads and homemade muffins and smoothies and are excellent for constipation as they are high in fibre. You do not need to grind hemp seeds.
Fiber products can help constipation and the best known one is psyllium husks. An excellent gluten free fiber product is called FiberTone and is available from health food stores or online. FiberTone contains psyllium combined with glycine and taurine for healthy bile, as well as the liver herbs St Mary’s Thistle and dandelion. FiberTone is a super food for the bowels; the dose is 1 or more teaspoons of FiberTone powder daily on cereal or in juice or water. FiberTone is suitable for all types of constipation as it acts like an “intestinal broom,” sweeping the walls of the colon clean. Make sure that you drink plenty of pure water (2 liters daily) to help this powder do its work.
FiberTone can reduce irritable bowel syndrome and chronic constipation. It can also reduce bowel toxicity caused by fecal stagnation. FiberTone is also suitable for those who are allergic to gluten (found in bran containing wheat, oat, barley or rye). There are many types of fiber powders on the market that can increase the bulk of the feces and reduce constipation. These are safe to use in the long term and confer general health benefits.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.