Constipation is defined by many people as moving their bowels a certain number of times in a week. In fact, frequency is of less importance than the degree of discomfort associated with the passage of stools or the total absence of an urge to have a bowel movement. When a person is constipated, intestinal contractions slow down, allowing more time for fluids to be absorbed. This results in dry, hard stools that are difficult to pass.
- PSYLLIUM POWDER, GROUND FLAXSEED, OAT BRAN, OR GROUND FENUGREEK SEEDS can be mixed into water or juice and used daily. All provide the fiber necessary to soften stools and make them easier to pass. Be sure to take these supplements with plenty of water.
- PRUNE JUICE (as well as dried prunes, figs, and raisins) is a good source of fiber, gentle enough to use with other supplements daily.
- SENNA, a mildly stimulating herbal laxative, can be used occasionally when prunes or other fruit are not strong enough.
- DANDELION ROOT TEA stimulates natural bile production and has a mild laxative effect.
- VITAMIN C in doses of 3,000 mg a day (more or less), serves as a gentle laxative. In fact, as doses of vitamin C are slowly increased, almost everyone will eventually develop loose stools.
- A deficiency of this mineral can lead to constipation. If you have other conditions that suggest you may be low in magnesium (such as muscle cramps, severe menstrual cramps, panic attacks, depression or chronic muscle pain), consider adding supplemental magnesium in almost any form.
- CASCARA SAGRADA. Consider this herb as an option only if no other remedies provide relief in a day or two. Cascara should be taken only occasionally, as repeated use can lead to dependency just as chemical laxatives do. This herbal laxative should not be used by pregnant or nursing women.