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  • Writer's pictureAnna Rathbun, NC

5 Supplements for Constipation

Do you have a good full bowel movement every single day?

If constipated, then toxins and excess cholesterol are reabsorbing into the bloodstream. The holistic health view is that you should have a bowel movement every single day without difficulty or straining. If this isn't happening, then you're constipated.

There are 6 different ways you can alleviate constipation and get bowels moving- You can intentionally add more water to the intestines by drinking water; increasing fiber or taking magnesium; add probiotics for colon health; increase bile flow for bulk; and you can increase peristalsis, the massaging action of the bowel muscles.

#1 - Make sure you're drinking enough water in the day. The general recommendation is 8 - 8 oz glasses of water per day. When bowels are constipated you can drink an 8 ounce cup of water every 20 minutes for 2 hours and frequently that will help things to move.

#2 - Osmosis is the action of drawing water into the bowels. Magnesium draws water into the bowels and helps to relax muscles. It's common to be extremely deficient in magnesium, which can cause constipation. When you first take magnesium, suddenly all the muscles of the body feel extremely relaxed. Don't drive a car on your first dose of magnesium, just to be safe.

There are a dozen different forms of magnesium and each form determines where the magnesium will go in the body. Magnesium citrate is usually easy to find and helps relax muscles and draw water into the bowels. Simply begin with 1 capsule per day and slowly increase by 1 pill each day, until your bowels become loose. Reduce the dosage to 1 pill below that which causes loose stools. It takes some time and adjusting to get this right. Some people have some cramping and gas as the magnesium does it's job of loosening things up. Eventually your body will absorb some magnesium and you will begin reducing the dosage of magnesium citrate.

If you don't have other signs of magnesium deficiency, like muscle cramping or twitching, you can use the food based osmotic - prunes or prune juice. Again, begin with just 1 prune or 1/4 cup juice and increase slowly, each day. Too many prunes will cause diarrhea.

#3 - Fiber absorbs water in the bowel to make larger softer stools that can move the toxins and cholesterol out. Simply eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grain foods increases fiber. Fibers help to clean out the gut, improve bowels and remove excess cholesterol as well. Make sure to drink those 6 glasses of water and extra water for each fiber supplement. The fiber needs the water to create bulk with. Psyllium is the most common fiber supplement, it can be helpful or scratchy and irritating to a sensitive gut. A cellulose based fiber and can usually be tolerated by people with a sensitive gut.

#4 - Probiotics are the good bacteria that normally resides in a healthy colon. Frequently constipation is caused by an imbalance of gut bacteria. Food sources of probiotics include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut and fermented beverages. The most common probiotic supplement is acidophilus and can be purchased anywhere, or here.

#5 - Bile is created in the liver from excess cholesterol and other toxins then stored in the gallbladder. When you consume fats and oils, the gallbladder squeezes out a batch of bile to break down the fats in your food so they can be digested. When constipated, those toxins and excess cholesterol get recirculated again and again instead of going out. Chronic low bile flow causes gallbladder stones to build up and can be dangerous. You can increase bile flow with lemon liver drink. Herbal supplements that help are turmeric, artichoke, dandelion and Phyllanthus etc.

#6 - Peristalsis is the massaging motion that intestines make to move bowels through. The bowel muscles can get weak from age, stress or pain medications. Each time the stomach empties then fills up again, this stimulates that massaging movement. When you snack all day long, the system doesn't get a rest so it moves more slowly overall. There may be other health reasons that snacking is good for you - so don't skip snacks if you're underweight or hypoglycemic. Herbs can help peristalsis as well. Triphala is an ayurvedic herbal blend that is very helpful without causing dependance. Senna is a very strong herbal bowel stimulant that can be used only in emergencies. It's easy to become dependent on Senna.

Yes, your doctor may have said it's ok to have a bowel movement once a week. That's not optimal or holistic, even if it's ok. If you want to improve health, allow the body to detox and allow excess cholesterol to move out then work on having a bowel movement daily without strain or effort. There are a lot of suggestions here - I would never recommend anyone do everything at one time. In a personalized plan we can evaluate which part of your bowels is stuck and work only on the part that's easiest and most effective for you personally. Imagine the joy of a good large clean bm every morning!


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