- Why you must end constipation fast
- How constipation can make you sick
- Discover 12 simple, natural and low-cost home remedies to end constipation
- 6 steps you should take to prevent constipation
- Why you should take probiotics when you take antibiotics
- When you should see a doctor
If you’re constipated, you need to get things moving again fast. In this article, we share how to get rid of constipation at home with 12 natural and easy-to-get remedies.
We’ll also give some tips on how to prevent constipation and when you absolutely should call a doctor.
It’s best to get started now. Here’s why…
Constipation is more than a bathroom or gut discomfort
We know constipation feels terrible. That feeling of needing to go and then the strain of nothing coming wears on your body. As the Mayo Clinic notes, frequent constipation can create severe complications such as:
- Anal fissures (skin tears)
- Hardened stool you can’t get out, also called fecal impaction
- Stretching of your rectum due to straining that causes it to protrude from your anus
You want to avoid all of these. In truth, you want to prevent constipation even if it is not chronic.
Waste sitting in your colon disrupts your entire digestive tract. Aside from possibly affecting your appetite, constipation creates an imbalance in your gut flora or your probiotic microbiome of good bacteria that support digestion and your overall health. [probiotics article] It also increases the risk that toxins or excess chemicals that your body sought to remove via your waste will leak back into your blood.
To relieve constipation, you can try any of the following 12 home remedies. Depending on your own personal situation, you may find one brings relief or that a couple together achieves the result you seek.
#1. Eat Prunes
We figured we’d just address this one upfront. They work. Prunes provide a lot of fiber and sorbitol, a sugar alcohol with laxative properties. Sorbitol works by absorbing water as it moves through your digestive tract, adding moisture and loosening it up for easier passing.
In fact, research shows prunes are safer and more effective than common laxatives.
You don’t need to eat a lot (and you probably don’t want to!) to get an effect either. Eat six or seven and you may find it’s not long before your constipation is gone.
Plus, prunes are nutrient-dense, so they’re good for you too. Of course, if you do not like their taste, you do have other options.
#2. Go for a run
Exercise has long been considered an excellent way to get things moving again. Studies indicate aerobic exercise produces positive results, although the research is far from settled on the subject.
Movement and activity do help the body relax, which can assist in passing difficult stool. Exercise also increases blood flow, which may offer some help too. Even the deep breaths you take when exercising can exert a massage-like effect on your digestive tract and may support bowel emptying.
Run, go for a jog, or take a brisk walk, one of those walks that really gets the blood flowing. Activities that require movement like Tai Chi may also be of benefit.
#3. Drink water
Water keeps your stool soft as your colon (aka large intestine) is responsible for regulating your body’s water balance. If you aren’t getting enough water, you can dehydrate, leading to drier stools that your body may struggle to move.
Drinking water can restore the hydration your body needs. If you can tolerate it, warm water has been a traditional constipation reliever. Some people prefer popular detox water. Mineral water infused with sulfate has also been shown to help with short term issues.
You can think of it this way…many of the laxatives and foods that work to relieve constipation like prunes and the sorbitol it provides work because they absorb water, softening stool and making it easier to release.
If you struggle to go, a glass of water might just do the trick.
#4. Drink one or two cups of coffee
If you like coffee, you’re in luck. The caffeine in coffee stimulates your digestive tract, increasing the urge to go to the bathroom. Coffee also contains some soluble fiber and plant oils that help too.
Coffee, however, may not be ideal if you need to avoid acidic foods or struggle to stay hydrated. Its high acidity can be hard on your adrenal system. Coffee also may have negative effects on the health of aging skin.
#5. Consume high fiber foods that are also high in magnesium
Your muscles need magnesium to work. It helps muscles relax, an integral part of the contraction-relaxation motion of muscular action.
Magnesium is also involved in more than 300 biochemical reactions in your body.
Many natural sources of magnesium are also excellent sources of fiber. According to the National Institute of Health, some of the best sources of magnesium include:
- Shredded wheat cereal
- Black beans
- Peanut butter
#6. Get probiotics in your diet, or take a probiotic
Probiotics play such an essential role in gut health – and that includes regularity. Studies show probiotics improve stool consistency, how often you go, and even the length of time it takes food to pass through your system.
You can get probiotics from foods like miso, tempeh, and sauerkraut. If you don’t find a probiotic food you like, you can also take a probiotic supplement.
Stress disrupts your metabolism, and that includes digestion too.
If you think about it, when you are feeling intense stress, you often lose your appetite. Research shows constant stress and tension wreak havoc on your digestive tract, including reduction of blood flow to the intestines, disruption of probiotic activity, and the slowing of bowel movement.
Finding a way to unplug, unwind, and otherwise let it all go for a while can go a long way to getting all systems right again, including your ability to go.
#8. Increase intake of digestive enzymes
Undigested food can be hard for your digestive tract to keep moving. Poorly digested food also irritates the lining of the intestines, which can lead to a disrupted system, upset stomach, and irritable bowels that do not digest, absorb, and move food through efficiently.
By increasing digestive enzymes in your diet, you improve the breakdown of food, reducing the stress and disruption to your entire digestive tract.
Eat fresh, raw fruits, sprouts and sprouted foods, and vegetables – right from your garden if you can – for the best enzymatic content. The enzymes natural to these foods help them break down. When you eat them, they support digestion by assisting in the breakdown of the food.
Pineapple and papaya each offer powerful digestive enzymes called bromelain and papain, respectively. You can also take a digestive enzyme supplement with meals.
#9. Try lemon “tea”
Lemon supplies fiber and citric acid (vitamin C), both natural laxatives. Citric acid also acts as a stimulant, getting your muscles moving. Plus, as an antioxidant, vitamin C helps remove toxins.
In fact, loose bowels are a side effect of getting too much vitamin C.
To make lemon tea, heat water. When ready, fill a mug with 8 ounces of water and add half a lemon or about a tablespoon of lemon juice.
Add this to your daily routine with a cup in the morning or mid-morning to tone and stimulate your digestive tract for overall better digestion.
#10. Take a tablespoon of blackstrap molasses before you go to bed
Maybe you have heard of this popular folk remedy, and maybe you have not. In 2019, it went from a traditional way to end constipation to a research-backed approach.
The study compared the effect of blackstrap molasses against polyethylene glycol, a common over-the-counter laxative. The molasses performed as well with the added bonus that it also supplied a host of other valuable nutrients, including potassium, iron, and calcium.
Molasses is high in sugar, so if you do use it, you should limit its use to the relief of constipation. It is not recommended for someone who struggles with blood sugar or other metabolic issues.
#11. Eat a bowl of oatmeal
Oats are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibers, studies finding them comparable to several natural herbs used strictly as laxatives. Soluble fiber absorbs water. Insoluble fiber adds bulk to stool. Together, they aid digestion and the passage of stool.
Oats are also an excellent source of magnesium.
Eating a small bowl of oatmeal every so often can be an excellent way to stay regular.
#12. Try olive oil or flaxseed oil
Natural oils also support bowel movement, especially in people with frequent constipation. The oils stimulate digestive enzymes and add lubrication, making it easier to pass the stool.
In one study, researchers determined both olive and flaxseed oils worked as well as mineral oil to resolve constipation.
You don’t need a lot either. Just take one tablespoon of either oil or, if you prefer, use the tablespoon of oil as a salad dressing, to make it easier to consume.
How to prevent constipation
While any of the 12 remedies can help relieve constipation, you’d likely prefer never to have it in the first place.
For most of us, preventing constipation requires a few minor lifestyle changes. Some may be as simple as drinking more water, lowering your stress, or exercising every day – or both. Other ways to prevent constipation include:
- Eliminate, or at least significantly reduce, processed, refined foods from your diet.
- Increase your consumption of natural, raw foods high in fiber.
- Cut out dairy, or again reduce how much of it you eat.
- When you feel the urge to go – go! Don’t hold it in unless you must.
- Add probiotics to your diet, especially if you need to take antibiotics, as these can disrupt normal bowel function and cause loose bowels – or constipation
- Get yourself on a regular schedule for sleep, eating, and even bowel movements
When to call a doctor
Occasional constipation will pass, especially if you try one of the remedies above. If you experience frequent constipation and nothing seems to work, see a doctor.
Sudden, unexplained changes in your bowels, such as the appearance of blood or black-colored stool would be good reasons to see a doctor as well.
Generally, if something doesn’t look right, you don’t feel right, or you have questions, you should always consult with your doctor.