Our gut takes a beating over a lifetime, and while it’s not my favorite subject (because it reminds me of my brother’s colon cancer), I feel that the intestines are the place to focus if you ever want to truly regain your health. Today’s article focuses on constipation because if you are not eliminating toxins properly, they will build up in your body and increase your risk for many diseases. Some people reading this today think that constipation means they cannot have a bowel movement, but that’s not true. If you have small ‘rocks and pebbles’ coming out, that is also constipation and should be treated.
The causes of constipation vary, but if it hurts when you go, or you’re not regular, the end outcome is the same: Disease. The type of illness that occurs varies from person to person, but it is frequently an autoimmune condition. Migraines also top the list because unfiltered toxins in the body go back into your bloodstream and can spark a headache.
First and foremost, start drinking more because hydration will soften stools. Consider food intolerances because some foods will cause you to be constipated. For example, a diet high in dairy and rice for example is not good for you. Chronic unrelenting stress will cause some people to become constipated, and likewise, it could trigger bought of diarrhea or alternating bouts of each. I know a person who suffered from IBS for the last 3 years, and now that she’s made a new life decision, she is completely cured! Amazing to me, and yet not really! We all know that unchecked stress leads to illness over time.
You may be wondering about medications you take, and if those can contribute to your problem. The answer is yes, and there are many drugs that cause or exacerbate a person’s constipation. The most common ones include allergy pills, muscle relaxants, opiate analgesics, antihypertensive, and iron supplements. This is many because they are drying in nature, or just plain irritating to the gut lining. Either way, if you take any of the above, ask your physician or pharmacist for an alternative.
You may also consider some of the remedies I recommend below. I mentioned opiate analgesics above, and I should not gloss over that one because it is a major cause of chronic, unrelenting constipation. People who require these medications often rely on OTC laxatives or glycerin suppositories to regain some comfort and regularity. That’s okay, but do consider some of the options below. You may also want to read this article I wrote about OPIATES.
And now here are some of the best things you can do to help yourself. Of course, ask your doctor if it’s right for you:
1. Probiotics – This help replenish lost flora in the gastrointestinal tract, and that is important to healing. Probiotics also improve thyroid hormone production by about 25 to 30%. Do you know if you have hypothyroidism, which is a major overlooked cause of constipation? Probiotics do so much more than improve immune function and thyroid hormone (T3) conversion. They make for beautiful skin! I recently wrote a fascinating article on the connection between the GI tract and your skin, including acne. Take 5 minutes to read this ARTICLE entitled, Save Your Skin with Probiotics.
2. Ginger – This herb is calming to digestion and helps with nausea. It has an antimicrobial effect on pathogens in the gut. You can cook with this easily if you grate some fresh ginger into your recipes, or use a dash of the dried powder.
3. Fennel – This relaxes the muscles in the intestinal tract and may help relieve constipation and flatulence. The major component in fennel is called “anethole” and gives the fennel seeds its most beneficial impact.
4. Lemon zest – Get an organic lemon and grate some fresh lemon peel into your recipes. This was done to mice in a recent animal MODEL and they concluded that “supplemental feeding of LP powder reduced the intestinal inflammation and damage in colitic mice.” This little tip can help with the inflammatory response in animals (and likely people) who have intestinal damage such as those with Crohn’s, IBS, and colitis. If you’d like more information, this study was published in Foods 2021.
5. Digestive enzymes – These supplements vary, and some of them can help your constipation by the sheer fact that they break down fats, carbs, and protein. This gives you optimal nutrient absorption and helps with bloating and gas production. It can also help with stomach cramps. Speaking of that, if you’d like to read my other article about an herb called “cramp bark,” CLICK HERE.
6. Prunes – Eating prunes can help with constipation, and possibly reduce the risk for colon cancer according to some animal studies. The prune itself is better than the juice. According to one small human STUDY, eating prunes is “more than psyllium for the treatment of mild to moderate constipation, and should be considered as a first-line therapy.” The fruit increased the frequency of bowel movements and served as a natural stool softener. Traditionally, we use drugs like docusate as a stool softener so this is an option for those of you who prefer natural alternatives.
7. Triphala – This herb is widely available in American health food stores and online. It’s a combination of three different herbs (Terminalia bellirica, Emblica Officinalis, and Terminalia Chebula), that’s why we call it “Triphala.” It has been used for various GI ailments, including stomach pain, constipation, and flatulence. Check with your doctor about Triphala if you are taking medications for diabetes and hypertension because it may not be right for you.
I wrote an article entirely devoted to peppermint in case you’d like to read about that natural solution. CLICK HERE to read, Peppermint is a Cool Solution for IBS.
In summary, when your gut is given some TLC from herbs and enzymes, your whole body responds. Your skin wounds heal faster, your acne clears up, your autoimmune antibodies go down, infections become less frequent, immunity goes up, and best of all your regularity improves. This is important because if your body is holding on to poisons, and not eliminating them properly, the constitution of your whole body changes and you carry more toxins is healthy. That’s why getting it out is good for getting you well!
Suzy Cohen, has been a licensed pharmacist for over 30 years and believes the best approach to chronic illness is a combination of natural medicine and conventional. She founded her own dietary supplement company specializing in custom-formulas, some of which have patents. With a special focus on functional medicine, thyroid health and drug nutrient depletion, Suzy is the author of several related books including Thyroid Healthy, Drug Muggers, Diabetes Without Drugs, and a nationally syndicated column.