Constipation in patients is one of the most frequent digestive problems we treat. The goal of a healthy digestive system is to have a daily bowel movement shaped like a sausage, easily leaves the body when you sit down on the toilet and feels like enough in that you feel empty afterward. There is also no pain associated with a healthy digestive tract.
Two of the most chronic constipation cases we have ever treated were two independent ladies who had not pooped for three weeks and barely had any regular bowel movements for three months. In one case, her digestive system revolted after a lifetime of laxatives had made it lazy. The other simply stopped pooping. Both were pretty desperate as their Western Medicine specialists had no solution. Finally, after acupuncture, Chinese herbal medicine, a change in diet, and some lifestyle changes, they both poop daily. And the best part is that we reset their digestive system so that they no longer need to receive acupuncture or take herbs in order to poop. And we did this without the use of herbal laxatives or fiber supplements. We focused on what was causing constipation.
Symptoms of Constipation
- Not pooping every day
- Stool is shaped like rabbit pellets or pieces
- Dry stool
- It is difficult to poop. It takes a while for the action to happen
- You have hemorrhoids or anal fissures (tears)
- You don’t poop enough. Although you may go every day, you don’t feel empty afterward
In general, start by favoring eating a healthy diet with a focus on foods that contain an abundance of natural dietary fiber and fresh fruits, and drink plenty of room temperature water. Avoid a poor diet consisting of processed or prepared food, fried foods, white bread, and other foods that worsen constipation.
Rather than turning to harsh OTC medications that can leave you bedridden with stomach cramps while your gut works everything out, why not try a natural, home-based solution? Some of the best foods to ease and prevent constipation are:
1. Hemp Seeds
Ground or chopped hemp seeds help to lubricate a dry stool. According to Chinese medicine food therapy, they moisten the Intestines and unblock Food Stagnation caused by Dryness.
They also cool heat and aid in the healing of sores which may be helpful in cases of inflammatory bowel disease.
Add them to your food or to unsweetened coconut yogurt and blueberries as a healthy treat. You should not be drinking smoothies when constipated, as you need to chew your food to enhance peristalsis, which is the natural action of pushing your food through your intestines.
2. Oranges, Peaches, Apples, Cherries
We have observed that these fiber-rich fruits work the best from working with thousands of patients.
The insoluble fiber within them helps to add bulk to your stool, which helps move waste through the body more efficiently.
They also contain pectin, which reduces the symptoms of constipation by decreasing the transit time of stools—speeding up elimination.
Additionally, citrus fruits have the flavonoid naringenin, which may exert a laxative effect.
The result? Fewer intestinal traffic jams.
3. Prune Tea
The Chinese Medicine way of preparing prune tea is to start with one prune. Place it in a pot on the stove and cover it with water. Take it to a boil, and then let it simmer. It is ready once the skin starts disintegrating into the water. The medicine is in the water. Drink it like a tea. You can eat the prune if you wish as a tasty treat.
Prune juice contains a lot of sorbitol, which may explain its laxative effects. Sorbitol passes through a person’s body undigested. It draws water into the gut to bulk up the stool and stimulate a bowel movement.
Start with one, increase to two, and then three until you get the desired effect. If you do not have improvement after three for a few days, the prunes won’t help your flavor of constipation, and you may consider talking with one of our physicians.
Our favorite is Georges Aloe. It has no taste. The bitter flavor of aloe has been filtered out of it. Start with 2 ounces 30 min before every meal. You can increase it to 4 ounces if needed. Do not take this forever.
The outer portion of the plant contains compounds called anthraquinones, and these have a laxative effect.
5. Broccoli Sprouts
I like to think of broccoli as upside-down scrubbing brushes for your gut. The sprouts from Broccoli contain sulforaphane, a substance that may protect the gut and ease digestion. Sulforaphane may also help to prevent the overgrowth of some intestinal microorganisms that can interfere with healthy digestion.
6. Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV)
Many believe that the high level of acidity acts as a natural laxative by stimulating the colon into peristalsis (muscle contractions that move waste through the colon).
Because a lack of fiber brings on most cases of constipation in the diet, apple cider vinegar’s high concentration of pectin, a water-soluble dietary fiber, is believed to help improve digestion. Once the constipation has passed, pectin from ACV will help ensure the digestive system and colon are running smoothly.
Lastly, apple cider vinegar also contains small amounts of magnesium, an essential mineral that helps promote regular bowel movements. Among all three factors, many have experienced success using apple cider vinegar to alleviate constipation.
Try using it in your salad dressing, or you can drink it in warm water first thing in the morning. But start slow; if you have any inflammation in your stomach, it may burn. Start with half a teaspoon and slowly work up to a tablespoon over time. Then, stop and seek help if it triggers acid reflux as this may be a diagnostic clue that we need to resolve a stomach issue first.
Sauerkraut is a fermented cabbage dish containing probiotic bacteria that may help to boost gut health and alleviate constipation. Eat only a tablespoon or two a day, so you don’t overwhelm your body with too many organisms at once. More is not necessarily better.
A 2016 study found that two tablespoons of homemade sauerkraut contain around the same amount of bacteria as probiotic supplements.
If you are doing these and you are still constipated, or these foods only made mild improvements, you need more help. Improving digestion is one of our favorite medical problems to treat. Please consider contacting us in person or online for help.