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Even though you may eat regularly, you may not ‘go’ regularly or easily. Constipation is problematic when you think of it as the inefficient removal of bodily wastes and toxins, that is, the less regular you go, the more toxic you are inside your body and from a naturopathic perspective; this can be a problem over time. It’s important to have regular daily movements preferably more than one each day. In this article, I will give some recommendations of how to resolve constipation.

The Basics

The three basic ways to encourage regular movements is to regularly consume fibre, water and do regular exercise. Fibre and water help provide the bulk that actually triggers your intestines to contract and move your stool along inside your digestive tract. Most of your fibre comes from grains, legumes, vegetables and fruit. Make sure you consume multiple servings of these daily as a start. Next, up your water consumption, gradually. If you are accustomed to having two glasses a day, then increase it to three, then to four in a few weeks. Over time, you will know what works for your own system. Exercise is one of the basic factors that help promote regular bowel movements. Whether it is jogging, brisk walking, swimming, biking or sit-ups, they all help. Try to do at least 10-20 minutes of exercise daily to see the benefits in your digestive functions.

De-stress

A common cause of uncomplicated constipation is stress. When you are stressed, your muscles tighten up and this can reduce the chances of having your bowel movement. Related to stress is the high work load we carry, whether as a student or an employee – often we suppress the urge to go to the washroom due to high work loads and short deadlines. One strategy is to develop a good routine: about 60 minutes after eating every meal, attempt to have a bowel movement; it’s important not to strain, but to try. Basic calming exercises can also be very helpful. The easiest habit to learn is calm, easy breathing exercises. Try doing five easy breaths every time you finish a work-call, or after each meeting or before meals. Other options are to learn meditation, visualization techniques, or other approaches like Tai Chi or gentle yoga.

Probiotics

Probiotics are healthy bacteria that are typically found in your intestinal tract. You may be more familiar with antibiotics, but probiotics are a generally healthy supplement that improves a variety of aspects of digestion and nutrition. A review study published in the October 2014 issue of the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found that probiotics can make a significant improvement in those with constipation. The study examined the conclusions from 14 other research studies and overall found that probiotics helped to improve the consistency, frequency and effective movement of stool. There are trillions of naturally occurring bacteria in your intestines and a probiotic supplement can help to restore a better balance of these bacteria for better digestive functions overall.

Herbal Support

One of the most commonly used herbs to reduce constipation is high-fibre containing plants. These include psyllium husks, ground flaxseeds, chia seeds, oat bran, etc. Other herbs have laxative properties that can be helpful in short term situations include senna leaf and rhubarb root. Other herbs may also improve constipation indirectly by supporting associated organs such as the liver; these herbs may include yellow dock and dandelion root.

Acupuncture

This is a therapy that can help to resolve or significantly improve severe chronic constipation. Sterile, very thin needles are inserted into specific points on the body which can promote the proper functioning of the bowel. Many research studies have been published on the effectiveness of acupuncture for chronic constipation.

 

Dr. Rahim Habib ND
About the Author

Rahim Habib is a registered naturopathic doctor with over 15 years of experience in general family practice. He has a special interest in helping patients comprehensively detoxifying their bodies for preventative and therapeutic benefit. He also has a special interest in children’s health, assisting kids in their learning and behavioural health with conditions such as ADHD, Autism spectrum, asthma, allergies and childhood obesity. He also helps adults with chronic conditions, such as thyroid disorders, infertility, inflammation, obesity, autoimmunity, dementia and cancer care. He is the director of the Four Seasons Naturopathic Clinic for Detoxification and Healing and can be reached at 905-597-7201 or www.FamilyNaturopath.ca.