Constipation is a common digestive problem characterized by infrequent bowel movements, difficulty passing stools, and a feeling of incomplete evacuation. While there are various over-the-counter remedies available, many people prefer to try natural home remedies first. Here’s an introduction to some effective home remedies for constipation:
Increase Fiber Intake: Consuming a high-fiber diet can help add bulk to the stool and promote regular bowel movements. Include fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes in your diet.
Stay Hydrated: Drinking an adequate amount of water is crucial for maintaining healthy bowel movements. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day to keep your stools soft and prevent dehydration.
Exercise Regularly: Engaging in physical activity on a regular basis can stimulate the muscles in your intestines and promote bowel movements. Incorporate exercises like walking, jogging, or yoga into your daily routine.
Natural Laxatives: Certain foods act as natural laxatives and can help relieve constipation. Prunes, figs, flaxseeds, chia seeds, and aloe vera are known for their mild laxative properties.
Herbal Teas: Some herbal teas, such as chamomile tea, ginger tea, and peppermint tea, have natural soothing and digestive properties that can aid in relieving constipation.
Magnesium-Rich Foods: Magnesium helps relax the muscles in the digestive tract, making it easier to pass stools. Include magnesium-rich foods in your diet, such as leafy greens, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
Probiotics: Probiotics are beneficial bacteria that promote a healthy gut and aid in digestion. They can be found in fermented foods like yogurt, sauerkraut, and kefir. Adding probiotic-rich foods to your diet may help alleviate constipation.
Oil or Lubricants: Consuming certain types of oils, such as olive oil or coconut oil, can lubricate the intestines and make it easier to pass stools. Start with a teaspoon of oil and gradually increase the amount if needed.
Remember, if your constipation persists or is accompanied by severe pain, bleeding, or other concerning symptoms, it’s important to consult a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance.
Please note that these home remedies are suggestions and may not work for everyone. It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional before trying any new remedies, especially if you have any pre-existing medical conditions or are taking medications that could interact with these remedies.
1. Drink more water
Yes, drinking an adequate amount of water is crucial for maintaining healthy bowel movements. When you are dehydrated, your body absorbs more water from the colon, resulting in harder stools that are difficult to pass. By increasing your water intake, you can help soften the stool, making it easier to have regular bowel movements. Aim to drink at least eight glasses of water per day, or more if you are physically active or in a hot climate. It’s important to note that other fluids like herbal teas, fruit juices, and clear soups can also contribute to your overall hydration. However, it’s best to avoid or limit the consumption of caffeine and alcohol, as they can have a dehydrating effect.
2. Eat more fiber, especially soluble, non-fermentable fiber
Yes, increasing your fiber intake, especially soluble and non-fermentable fiber, can help alleviate constipation. Fiber adds bulk to the stool, making it easier to pass through the digestive tract. Soluble fiber absorbs water and forms a gel-like consistency, which can help soften the stool. Non-fermentable fiber, also known as insoluble fiber, adds bulk to the stool and promotes regular bowel movements.
Good sources of soluble fiber include oats, barley, psyllium husk, flaxseeds, chia seeds, fruits like apples and oranges, and vegetables like carrots and Brussels sprouts. Non-fermentable fiber can be found in foods like whole grains, wheat bran, nuts, and most vegetables.
When increasing your fiber intake, it’s important to do so gradually and drink plenty of water to help the fiber move smoothly through the digestive tract. Rapidly increasing fiber intake without adequate hydration can actually worsen constipation.
However, it’s worth noting that in some cases, increasing fiber intake may not be suitable, particularly if you have a digestive disorder or certain medical conditions. It’s always a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional for personalized advice on dietary changes, especially if you have any underlying health concerns.
3. Exercise more
Yes, regular exercise can be beneficial for relieving constipation. Physical activity helps stimulate the muscles in your intestines, promoting bowel movements. It can also help improve overall digestion and prevent constipation from occurring in the first place.
Engaging in aerobic exercises like walking, jogging, swimming, or cycling can be particularly helpful. These activities increase blood flow to the intestines and stimulate the natural contractions of the digestive muscles, known as peristalsis. Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise most days of the week.
In addition to aerobic exercises, specific yoga poses can also help stimulate bowel movements and relieve constipation. Poses such as Pawanmuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose), Malasana (Garland Pose), and Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) can aid in promoting healthy digestion and relieving constipation.
Remember to listen to your body and choose exercises that you enjoy and feel comfortable with. If you have any underlying health conditions or concerns, it’s best to consult with a healthcare professional before starting a new exercise routine.
It’s important to note that while exercise can be helpful for constipation, it’s not a quick fix. Consistency is key, and it may take some time for regular exercise to have a noticeable effect on your bowel movements. It’s also important to combine exercise with other lifestyle changes, such as adequate hydration and a balanced diet high in fiber, for optimal results.
4. Drink coffee, especially caffeinated coffee
Drinking coffee may help relieve constipation.
Drinking coffee, particularly caffeinated coffee, is often reported to have a laxative effect and can provide temporary relief from constipation for some individuals. The reason behind this is believed to be the stimulatory effect of caffeine on the muscles of the digestive system, including the colon, which can help promote bowel movements.
Caffeine is a natural stimulant that can increase muscle contractions in the intestines and accelerate the transit of stool. This can lead to more frequent bowel movements and potentially alleviate constipation symptoms. However, it’s important to note that the effectiveness of coffee as a laxative can vary from person to person, and not everyone may experience the same results.
It’s worth mentioning that while coffee may provide short-term relief, relying solely on coffee for long-term constipation management is not recommended. Excessive consumption of coffee or caffeine can lead to dehydration, which can worsen constipation. Additionally, some individuals may be more sensitive to the effects of caffeine and experience digestive issues or even increased stool frequency that can be uncomfortable.
If you decide to use coffee as a remedy for constipation, it’s important to drink it in moderation and ensure you maintain a balanced and hydrating diet. It’s also essential to pay attention to your body’s response and make adjustments accordingly. If constipation persists or becomes a chronic issue, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance.
5. Take Senna, an herbal laxative
Senna is an herbal laxative commonly used to relieve constipation. It contains compounds called anthraquinones that stimulate the muscles in the intestines, promoting bowel movements. Senna is available in various forms, including tea, tablets, and capsules, and it is typically used on a short-term basis for occasional constipation relief.
While senna can be effective in providing short-term relief, it’s important to exercise caution and follow the recommended dosage instructions. Prolonged or excessive use of senna can lead to dependence on laxatives and may cause electrolyte imbalances or damage to the colon. It’s crucial to use senna as directed and not exceed the recommended duration of use.
It’s worth noting that if you have a history of gastrointestinal disorders, such as inflammatory bowel disease or intestinal blockage, or if you’re taking certain medications, senna may not be suitable for you. It’s always best to consult with a healthcare professional before using any herbal laxative, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.
Additionally, relying solely on laxatives, including herbal ones, without addressing the underlying causes of constipation, such as poor diet, lack of physical activity, or certain medical conditions, may not provide a long-term solution. It’s important to consider lifestyle modifications, such as increasing fiber intake, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy diet, as these measures can help promote regular bowel movements and prevent constipation.
6. Eat probiotic foods or take probiotic supplements
Eating probiotic-rich foods or taking probiotic supplements can potentially aid in relieving constipation. Probiotics are live bacteria and yeasts that are beneficial to the digestive system. They help maintain a healthy balance of gut bacteria and promote proper digestion.
Probiotic foods include yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut, kimchi, and other fermented foods. These foods contain strains of beneficial bacteria that can support gut health. When consuming probiotics, it’s essential to choose products that contain live and active cultures.
Probiotic supplements are another option and are available in various forms, including capsules, tablets, and powders. These supplements contain specific strains of bacteria that have been studied for their potential benefits in promoting digestive health.
While some studies suggest that probiotics may help relieve constipation, the results can vary from person to person. The effectiveness of probiotics in alleviating constipation depends on the specific strain and the individual’s gut microbiota composition.
If you’re considering probiotics for constipation relief, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional, particularly if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications. They can provide guidance on choosing the right probiotic strain and dosage for your specific situation.
It’s important to note that probiotics should be used as part of a comprehensive approach to managing constipation. Combining probiotic consumption with a high-fiber diet, sufficient hydration, regular exercise, and other lifestyle modifications can contribute to more effective and holistic relief from constipation.
7. Over-the-counter or prescription laxatives
Over-the-counter (OTC) and prescription laxatives are options for managing constipation when other measures haven’t provided sufficient relief. These medications can help promote bowel movements by increasing stool bulk, softening the stool, or stimulating intestinal contractions. However, it’s important to use them judiciously and under the guidance of a healthcare professional, as they may have side effects and should not be relied upon for long-term use without medical supervision.
There are different types of laxatives available, including:
Bulk-forming laxatives: These laxatives contain fiber that adds bulk to the stool, helping it retain water and facilitating easier passage. They are considered one of the safest types of laxatives and are often recommended as a first-line treatment for constipation. Examples include psyllium husk, methylcellulose, and polycarbophil.
Osmotic laxatives: These laxatives work by drawing water into the colon, softening the stool and promoting bowel movements. They are divided into two categories: saline laxatives (e.g., magnesium citrate) and non-absorbable sugars (e.g., lactulose, polyethylene glycol).
Stimulant laxatives: These laxatives stimulate the intestinal muscles, increasing the contractions and speeding up bowel movements. Examples include senna, bisacodyl, and castor oil. Stimulant laxatives are generally recommended for short-term use and may cause dependence or side effects if used excessively.
Stool softeners: These laxatives help soften the stool by increasing the amount of water it contains. Docusate sodium is a common stool softener available over the counter.
It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before using any laxatives, especially prescription ones, as they may interact with other medications or be contraindicated in certain medical conditions. They can provide guidance on the appropriate type of laxative and dosage for your specific situation.
It’s worth noting that while laxatives can provide temporary relief from constipation, it’s essential to address the underlying causes of constipation and consider lifestyle modifications for long-term management. This includes adopting a high-fiber diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and managing stress levels.
8. Try a low FODMAP diet
A low FODMAP diet is an approach that may be helpful for managing symptoms related to irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), including constipation. FODMAP stands for Fermentable Oligosaccharides, Disaccharides, Monosaccharides, and Polyols, which are types of carbohydrates that can trigger digestive symptoms in some individuals.
The low FODMAP diet involves avoiding or minimizing the intake of certain foods that are high in FODMAPs and can potentially worsen symptoms like bloating, gas, and constipation. Examples of high-FODMAP foods include certain fruits (such as apples, cherries, and peaches), dairy products containing lactose, wheat-based products, legumes, and some vegetables (like onions and garlic).
The primary goal of the low FODMAP diet is to identify specific trigger foods and then gradually reintroduce them to determine individual tolerance levels. It is typically recommended to work with a registered dietitian or healthcare professional who specializes in the low FODMAP diet to ensure proper implementation and monitoring.
It’s important to note that the low FODMAP diet is not intended as a long-term solution but rather as a temporary elimination and reintroduction plan. It’s crucial to maintain a balanced and varied diet to ensure you’re getting all the necessary nutrients.
If you suspect that FODMAPs may be contributing to your constipation or other digestive symptoms, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian experienced in the low FODMAP diet. They can guide you through the process and help create a personalized plan that suits your specific needs and dietary preferences.
9. Eat shirataki noodles or take a glucomannan supplement
Shirataki noodles are a type of noodles made from the konjac plant, which is high in glucomannan, a type of soluble fiber. Glucomannan is known for its water-absorbing properties, and it can form a gel-like substance in the digestive tract, which may help soften the stool and promote bowel movements.
Including shirataki noodles in your diet or taking glucomannan supplements may potentially provide some relief from constipation. However, it’s important to note that individual responses can vary, and more research is needed to determine the specific effectiveness of glucomannan for constipation.
When using glucomannan supplements, it’s crucial to follow the recommended dosage instructions provided on the product packaging or as advised by a healthcare professional. It’s also important to consume an adequate amount of water along with glucomannan to prevent the risk of choking or intestinal blockage.
While shirataki noodles and glucomannan supplements may be worth considering as part of a broader approach to managing constipation, it’s important to address the underlying causes of constipation and incorporate other lifestyle modifications. These can include increasing fiber intake, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and addressing any potential dietary triggers or imbalances.
If you’re considering adding glucomannan or shirataki noodles to your diet to manage constipation, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or registered dietitian to ensure it’s suitable for your specific situation and to get guidance on the appropriate dosage or incorporation into your diet.
10. Eat prebiotic foods
Eating prebiotic foods can be beneficial for promoting a healthy gut microbiota, which in turn can contribute to better digestive health and potentially alleviate constipation. Prebiotics are non-digestible fibers that serve as a food source for beneficial bacteria in the gut.
When these beneficial bacteria digest prebiotic fibers, they produce short-chain fatty acids, which help nourish the cells lining the colon and support regular bowel movements. By including prebiotic-rich foods in your diet, you can provide a favorable environment for the growth and activity of beneficial gut bacteria.
Examples of prebiotic foods include:
- Garlic and onions: These foods are rich in inulin and fructooligosaccharides (FOS), which are prebiotic fibers.
- Bananas: Ripe bananas contain resistant starch, a type of prebiotic fiber.
- Asparagus: Asparagus is a good source of inulin, a prebiotic fiber.
- Jerusalem artichokes: Jerusalem artichokes are high in inulin, making them an excellent prebiotic food.
- Chicory root: Chicory root contains inulin and can be consumed as a tea or added to recipes.
- Whole grains: Certain whole grains like oats, barley, and wheat bran contain prebiotic fibers.
- Legumes: Beans, lentils, and chickpeas are rich in prebiotic fibers.
It’s important to note that while prebiotic foods can contribute to overall gut health, the response to prebiotics can vary among individuals. Some people may experience increased gas or bloating when consuming prebiotic fibers. Gradually incorporating prebiotic foods into your diet and monitoring your individual response can help determine the optimal amount and types of prebiotics that work best for you.
Remember to also consider other aspects of a healthy diet, such as consuming adequate fiber, staying hydrated, and incorporating a variety of nutrient-rich foods, to support overall digestive health and manage constipation effectively.
11. Try magnesium citrate
Magnesium citrate is a laxative commonly used to relieve constipation. It works by drawing water into the intestines, softening the stool, and promoting bowel movements. Magnesium citrate is available over the counter in liquid or tablet form.
If you’re considering using magnesium citrate for constipation relief, it’s important to follow the recommended dosage instructions provided on the packaging or as advised by a healthcare professional. It’s typically recommended to start with a lower dose and increase gradually as needed.
However, it’s crucial to exercise caution when using magnesium citrate. Taking excessive amounts or using it for an extended period can lead to dependency, electrolyte imbalances, dehydration, and other potential complications. It’s always best to use laxatives, including magnesium citrate, under the guidance of a healthcare professional.
Additionally, if you have certain medical conditions, such as kidney disease or a history of gastrointestinal disorders, or if you’re taking certain medications, magnesium citrate may not be suitable for you. It’s important to consult with a healthcare professional before using magnesium citrate or any other laxative, especially if you have underlying health conditions or are taking other medications.
While magnesium citrate can provide short-term relief from constipation, it’s essential to address the underlying causes of constipation and consider lifestyle modifications for long-term management. This includes adopting a high-fiber diet, staying hydrated, exercising regularly, and managing stress levels.
If constipation persists or becomes chronic, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance. They can help determine the underlying cause of constipation and recommend appropriate treatment options.
12. Eat prunes
Prunes are a natural laxative
Eating prunes or drinking prune juice is a well-known and natural remedy for constipation. Prunes are dried plums that are high in fiber, particularly insoluble fiber, as well as sorbitol, a natural sugar alcohol with laxative properties.
The fiber in prunes adds bulk to the stool and helps promote regular bowel movements. Additionally, sorbitol acts as an osmotic laxative, drawing water into the intestines and softening the stool.
To use prunes for constipation relief, you can include them in your diet by eating a few prunes as a snack or incorporating them into recipes, such as oatmeal, smoothies, or baked goods. Alternatively, drinking prune juice can also provide similar benefits.
It’s important to note that while prunes can be effective for relieving constipation, individual responses may vary. Some people may find prunes to be more effective than others. It’s recommended to start with a small amount and gradually increase your intake to assess how your body responds.
It’s also important to maintain adequate hydration when consuming prunes or prune juice, as fiber needs water to function properly. Make sure to drink enough water throughout the day to help facilitate the movement of stool through the intestines.
If constipation persists or becomes chronic, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional for further evaluation and guidance. They can help determine the underlying cause of constipation and provide appropriate recommendations for your specific situation.
13. Try avoiding dairy
Avoiding dairy products, particularly those that contain lactose, is a dietary strategy that some individuals find helpful in managing constipation. Lactose is a sugar found in dairy products that can be difficult for some people to digest, leading to digestive discomfort and potential constipation.
For individuals who are lactose intolerant or have a sensitivity to lactose, reducing or eliminating dairy products from their diet may help alleviate constipation symptoms. This can include milk, cheese, yogurt, and other dairy-based products.
It’s important to note that not everyone with constipation needs to avoid dairy, and lactose intolerance is just one potential cause among many. If you suspect that dairy may be contributing to your constipation, it’s advisable to keep a food diary and monitor your symptoms to identify any patterns or triggers.
If you suspect lactose intolerance or have other underlying digestive issues, it’s recommended to consult with a healthcare professional or a registered dietitian. They can help assess your specific situation, provide guidance on dietary modifications, and ensure that you’re still obtaining adequate nutrients from alternative sources.
If dairy is identified as a trigger for your constipation, it’s important to ensure you’re getting sufficient nutrients like calcium and vitamin D from other food sources or supplements to support overall bone health and nutritional needs. There are many non-dairy alternatives available, such as fortified plant-based milks, tofu, leafy greens, and calcium-fortified products.
Remember that constipation can have various causes, and dietary modifications may only be one aspect of managing it. Lifestyle changes, such as increasing fiber intake, staying hydrated, regular physical activity, and addressing any underlying health conditions, are also important factors to consider for long-term relief from constipation.