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Published on August 1, 2018

How to Relieve Constipation: 17 Natural Home Remedies for Quick Relief

How to Relieve Constipation: 17 Natural Home Remedies for Quick Relief

Did you know that there isn’t an exact number of bowel movements to have in a day? While two BMs per day maybe normal for one person, one BM maybe normal for you.

But if you’re finding yourself going to the bathroom less and less all of a sudden, often backed up for days, that’s when you should listen up and take action.

Constipation can be due to a number of factors, from stress to poor ability to digest food (causing it to sit stagnant in the intestines) to infections and even heavy metal toxicity.

It’s important to get regular stool testing done to understand what may be causing your constipation, but in the meantime, there are many at home remedies you can implement to help support digestion and help move things along.

1. Give yourself an abdominal massage

Giving yourself a gentle abdominal massage can help move things along and relieve any blockages.

With your forefinger and middle finger, massage your abdominal area in a clockwise motion to stimulate muscle contractions and break up matter that may be stuck in the intestines.

You can also do this when you feel a stomachache or bloating; you should feel relief pretty quickly.

It also helps to take a few deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth during this process. Implement this routine regularly for the greatest benefits.

2. Consume more high-fiber foods

Do you know if you’re getting enough fiber in your diet? Just like fat, it used to be that fiber was looked down on as something we should minimize, but especially for those suffering from constipation, fiber can be incredibly helpful!

Not only does it act to sweep out stagnant matter, it can also regulate bacteria and detox the colon.

An easy way to address it is to simply add in more fiber. Foods like leafy greens, almonds, pumpkin or sunflower seeds, chia and flax seeds are all high in fiber.

Try adding ground flax or chia seeds to your smoothies or salads and use flaxseed oil as a salad dressing. These are all great and easy ways to up your fiber intake.

As you get started, increase your fiber intake slowly to get your system accustomed to this food group, especially if it’s not a regular part of your diet right now.

If you’re looking for some more high fiber foods, here’re some ideas:

20 Ultimate High Fiber Foods To Add To Your Diet

3. Consume probiotic- and prebiotic-rich foods

Probiotics are the good bacteria that support your body’s ability to absorb nutrients and fight disease by lining and protecting your digestive tract. The benefits of probiotics are many. Humans are actually made up of 10 times more probiotic cells than human cells!

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And prebiotics are like the fertilizer to your probiotics, giving them the food and energy they need to grow and thrive.

We need both in certain amounts in order to have regular bowel movements and keep things moving along in the intestines.

They go hand in hand and can be found in many common foods. Probiotic-rich foods include sauerkraut, kombucha, kefir, kimchi, and other cultured vegetables. Prebiotic-rich foods include jerusalem artichokes, raw asparagus, onions, raw garlic, bananas, and raw jicama.

Take a look at this list of natural probiotics you can try:

Top 10 Natural Probiotics for a Healthy Gut and Strong Immunity

If you can make these foods a part of your regular diet, you’ll not only help normalize bowel movement frequency, you’ll also help ward off bad bacteria and increase nutrient absorption.

4. Make magnesium your friend

Supplementing with magnesium citrate can be a good way to stimulate bowel movements naturally too.

If you don’t find that abdominal massages are working or you don’t do well with fiber, try magnesium citrate. This supplement is what’s called an an osmotic laxative, which means it relaxes your bowels and pulls water into your intestines. Water helps soften and bulk up your stool, which makes it easier to pass.

Since everyone reacts differently to different levels of magnesium, I recommend starting off low and slow. Start with a small dose and if you don’t feel any movement after several hours, try upping it the next day until you find an amount you feel good with.

5. Take digestive enzymes to break up stagnant food

We all require enzymes to break down the food in our digestive tract. If our natural production of enzymes is impaired, it can be helpful to supplement with them short-term to stimulate the body to produce more.

Sometimes this alone can be a big improvement for patients with poor digestion capacity, as it not only improves the breakdown of new food, but helps breakdown stagnant food in the intestines too. Especially if you feel food sitting in your body long after a meal, digestive enzymes just might do the trick.

6. Do a gentle yogic twist

Moving the body can be an incredibly easy way to release the intestines and move food along.

Performing a yogic twist is as simple as laying on the floor, pulling your knees towards your chest, twisting the knees to the right side and turning your head to the left. Sit in that position for as long as feels good and then reverse:

This helps to unblock areas of your digestive tract that may be stagnant, stimulating muscle contractions and loosening up the bowel walls.

While in this position, focus on your breath by taking several deep breaths in through your nose and out through your mouth to further promote relaxation. The more you relax your mind and body, the more your digestive tract will relax and release too.

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7. Use a squatty potty

Another favorite tool of mine to help with constipation is what’s called a “Squatty Potty”. You can either buy one online or at a store, or simply stack some books or yoga blocks under your feet by the toilet.

Either way, what this does is it helps you mimic a natural squat to properly align your colon for release. Sitting on the toilet the way we do in the modern world actually causes kinks and pressure in the colon, blocking waste from releasing.

By lifting your feet up a few inches, it releases these kinks, allowing waste to flow out normally. Watch this video to find out more about it:

So if you find that when you go to the bathroom that nothing comes out but it feels like it’s ready to, you just might have a kink that could be easily released by doing this.

8. Try a yogic squat

Similar to a yogic twist or Squatty Potty is doing a yogic squat. This, too, mimics a natural squat, getting the body ready for elimination.

Follow the instructions on the video below, and feel free to use the support of a chair or sit on a block if needed:

9. Consider what you’re holding onto or not releasing emotionally

The mind-gut connection is real, my friends, so if there are emotions, anger or negative thoughts that you’re holding in, chances are that’s manifesting itself physically by causing constipation.

Is there something you need to communicate to someone that you’ve held in for awhile? Is there a negative situation in life (work, a relationship) that is toxic and causing you anger or frustration that you should move on from? All of these factors, believe it or not, can impact your digestion.

Try writing out on a piece of paper all of the negative thoughts, worries and things you want to release. Then, take a deep, cleansing breath to release them from your mind. Consider even ripping up or burning that piece of paper to solidify the removal of those from your mind and life.

Picking up a daily meditation practice (even if only for 5 minutes), or learning how to breathe deeper, can help you become more in tune with your thoughts and how your body is feeling.

Find one of these activities that resonates with you and commit to it. Over the course of a few days, weeks or months, notice how releasing these thoughts or things improves your digestion.

10. Increase exercise

As mentioned earlier, movement (especially exercise) has a lot to do with how healthy our digestion is.

When you move your body, it helps to stimulate your lymphatic system, the system that helps your body to remove toxins and maintain a healthy circulation. This directly benefits the digestive tract, keeping it moving.

Exercise also helps with increasing oxygen levels, which can help boost the energy in your colon, believe it or not!

Aim to get 30 minutes of light movement in each day, whether it’s a brisk walk around the neighborhood, a vinyasa yoga class, running, or even a HIIT workout at the gym.

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Don’t give yourself any more excuses on not having time to exercise, take a look at this article first:

5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise

11. Stay hydrated

A big contributor to constipation is dehydration. So many people today are dehydrated, and this not only can make your mouth feel dry, but it can cause the colon to dry up too!

Picture trying to slide down a dry water slide. You won’t get too far and it’ll be pretty painful along the way, right? The same happens in the colon.

Water not only helps hydrate the colon and speed up elimination, it’s also a key nutrient for the mucosal lining, which supports the small intestine bacteria for proper digestion and absorption of nutrients.

Be sure to take in about 70oz of water per day (about 8 glasses) to stay fully hydrated. To remind yourself to drink enough water, try one of these free water drinking apps. They make it fun and easy to remember to drink enough water each day.

12. Eat or drink figs or prunes for relief

Both figs and prunes are rich in fiber which, as we discussed earlier, is great for digestion!

Figs and prunes, like most fruits and vegetables, have insoluble fiber, which forms a bulky stool that is able to move more quickly through the digestive tract.

You can either eat them in their dried form (10-15 of them), drink prune or fig juice, or soak them in water overnight and drink the water. It may take upwards of 8 hours for prunes or figs to produce a bowel movement, so be patient, but if they do have an effect overtime, that’s a good sign!

If, for whatever reason, you cannot tolerate the taste of prunes or figs, consider mixing the juices with orange juice to boost the flavor. Orange juice is loaded with vitamin C which is another constipation treatment that I’ll cover later.

13. Befriend aloe vera juice

Aloe is beneficial for more than just soothing a sunburn, it also plays an important role in digestion.

Just as it can calm your skin, it can calm the cells in your digestive tract, especially if they’re irritated or inflamed from a poor diet, medication or other damage.

Damage and inflammation can all contribute to constipation as it restricts the pathway for stool to pass through and reduces muscular contractions or even enzyme secretions.

Drink 1/3 cup (2-4 oz) of pure aloe juice (be sure there is no sugar added as these kinds have minimal nutritional value) daily, ideally before a meal.

Good news is, aloe juice is also great if you happen to suffer from diarrhea or general inflammation in the digestive tract.

14. Load up on vitamin C

You may most closely associate vitamin C with immune health, but it can actually help address constipation because of it’s laxative effect.

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If you’ve had to take high doses of vitamin C for any other reason, you may have noticed this as a “side effect”. High doses can produce a bowel movement, often in under an hour, so if you really need to get things moving, this can be a quick remedy.

It’s important, however, to speak with your healthcare provider about which type of vitamin C and dosage is appropriate for you.

15. Make probiotics supplements your friends

Did you know that the good bacteria inside of us regulate a lot of the digestion process? So, it would make sense that if your beneficial bacteria are damaged, perhaps due to antibiotic use, that motility will be compromised.

Like probiotic-rich foods, which we talked about earlier, supplementing with probiotics in pill form can be another way to consume them. Look for a probiotic that has several billion probiotics and a wide variety of strains.

Not only can probiotics re-regulate your system to alleviate constipation, it can also stimulate normal enzyme and acid production, both of which can help break down food so it’s not sitting stagnant in the system to putrefy.

16. Soothe your system with slippery elm

Slippery elm has been a digestive remedy for thousands of years, used both to treat constipation and diarrhea. Some go so far as to call it “nature’s laxative”.

Essentially, slippery elm helps to stimulate the nerve endings in the digestive tract, which helps to either speed up or slow down motility.

It’s recommended to pour two cups of boiling water over 2 tbsp of powdered slippery elm bark and steep for three to five minutes. Sip on it and you should soon feel relief.

If you don’t right away, give it another shot for the next few days, as your system may need time to acclimate to its effects.

17. Eat more papaya

Papayas are a great source of the natural enzyme papain, which helps the body to break down protein.

Unripe papaya, in particular, contains the most papain and can be helpful for breaking down protein in the intestines that the body may not be able to fully break down, thus preventing the accumulation of waste resulting in constipation.

Even more, papaya is a great source of insoluble fiber, which figs and prunes also have, and can help bulk up the stool and allow it to move easier in the digestive tract.

Smooth sailing: What’s your constipation remedy plan?

Implementing any one of these tips will begin to aid your body in naturally relieving constipation. Implementing a few of them together can be even more beneficial.

For example, increasing how much water you drink and fiber you consume, along with doing regular abdominal massages and releasing of negative thoughts can be a great combo treatment.

For even faster relief, drinking fig or prune juice or taking high doses of magnesium or vitamin C can be beneficial.

I recommend only doing one of these, not in combination, as they can be potent on their own.

With normal bowel movements, you should experience less bloating, cramping, inflammation, feelings of heaviness, toxicity and low energy, and will improve your long-term health.

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

More by this author

Kristin Thomas

Functional Nutrition Practitioner and Health Coach

How to Relieve Constipation: 17 Natural Home Remedies for Quick Relief 17 Acid Reflux Remedies That Are Natural and Super Effective natural diarrhea remedies 10 Natural Diarrhea Remedies to Make You Feel Better Instantly 13 Home Remedies for Stomach Ache (Simple and Effective)

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Last Updated on October 15, 2018

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

Why Am I So Tired? 10 Reasons You’re Extremely Tired And How to Fix It

“Why am I so tired?” is a question that people ask themselves pretty frequently. Everyone gets tired at one point or another, particularly after something like an illness, a long night up with a sick child, or a busy week at work. When tiredness is persistent, however — when you feel tired as soon as you wake up in morning or when sleep doesn’t seem to help, no matter how much rest you get— it may often indicate a deeper, underlying problem.

While there are a lot of possible reasons for tiredness, here’re some of the most common causes of fatigue:

1. Dehydration

If you want to boost your energy levels, first check whether you are dehydrated. The human brain is 85% water, and needs to maintain this level in order to perform its essential functions.

If you fail to drink enough water, the brain extracts fluids from your blood to compensate for the deficit. As a result, the oxygen levels in your blood drop, reducing the amount of energising oxygen available to your organs and tissues. Fatigue and sleepiness set in rapidly, leaving you more vulnerable to the 2 pm post-lunch crash that many of us experience.

You cannot cure this crash with caffeine – the only long-term, effective solution is to drink hydrating fluids throughout the day.

2. Lack Of Exercise

A workout will surely leave you feeling even more tired, right? Wrong! As counterintuitive as it may sound, physical activities have an energizing effect. Moving your body releases endorphins, increases your heart rate, and boosts your concentration.

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Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of medium-intensity exercise every day. It’s easiest if you can make this part of our everyday routine, either as soon as you wake up or right after work.

3. A Poor Diet

The food you eat has a direct impact on sleep quality and the amount of rest you get every night. For maximum energy, stick to protein, slow-release carbohydrates, and a moderate amount of healthy (unsaturated) fats. The majority of your food should be plant-based, high in fiber, and low in sugar. These choices will prevent blood sugar fluctuations, which can leave you feeling exhausted.

An easy way to make sure you stick to a good diet is through meal preparation. It’s easy to just get take-out when you’re tired after work, but if you have a meal ready for you in the fridge, you’ll be less tempted by pizza or cheese.

Find out more about healthy meal prep here: 10 Meal Planning Apps You Need To Have To Get Healthier Easily

4. Skipping Breakfast

Physician Dr. Nerina Ramlakhan advises that eating breakfast is key to maintaining a good level of energy throughout the day. When you eat breakfast, you are sending calming signals to the areas of the brain responsible for avoiding danger, along with those that instruct the body to conserve as much energy as possible.

Ingesting food signals to your brain that there is enough food available to ensure our survival. This encourages it to stay relaxed, which in turn, promotes restful sleep.

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Some great ideas for a healthy, filling, and make-ahead breakfasts include overnight oats, smoothies, and freezer-friendly breakfast burritos.

Or if meal-prepping isn’t your think, stock up on easy but healthy breakfast foods like multigrain cereal, yogurt, and fruit: 20 Healthy Breakfast Choices That Will Save You Time

5. Poor Quality Of Sleep

We all know that it’s important to wind down a couple of hours before bed. But did you know that it’s what you do throughout the day that promotes good-quality sleep? It’s not just about the number of hours you sleep, but how restful and deep that sleep is.

TO feel rested, try to regulate your everyday routine to make your sleep deeper and better. Get up at a regular time in the morning to ensure that you get regular sunlight.

Eat nutritious foods in moderate amounts, and make sure you stay hydrated. Go to bed at the same time. And before bedtime, avoid screens that can give off harmful blue light and also keep you stimulated when you need to prepare for a restful night.

Read more about how to develop a routine that will get you better sleep: Poor Sleep Quality Comes from All the Things You Do Since Morning

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6. Sleep Apnea (A Person’s Airways Get Blocked off While They Are Asleep)

Sleep apnea is a common sleep disorder where a person’s airways get blocked off while they are asleep, causing their oxygen levels to drop while they are asleep. This often causes people to stop breathing at night and then to jerk themselves awake (this can happen over 30 times an hour).

Because of this, people with sleep apnea can feel short of breath and have low energy levels. Mouthpieces and other devices to aid in breathing as well as the use of a special breathing machine to keep oxygen levels in a safe zone.

If you feel tired all the time and think you might have sleep apnea, consulting with a doctor is important. Do a sleep study, as this can often reveal if there is an underlying problem causing your tiredness — and once a diagnosis is made, treatment to help you get your energy back begins.

7. Depression

Depression is the most common mental health disorder in the United States (and in many other countries of the world as well). It is marked by persistent feelings of sadness or unhappiness but has physical symptoms, too. Apart from fatigue, people may also experience changes in sleeping and eating habits and difficulty concentrating.

Treatment can often center on anti-depressants, counselling and lifestyle changes like stress management to help manage this condition. You can take a look at these 15 Ways To Overcome Depression And Sadness.

Many people also benefit from activities like yoga and meditation, which help regulate both the body and mind.

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8. Hypothyroidism

If a person has hypothyroidism, their thyroid gland does not produce adequate levels of these important hormones— and the result can be a persistent and unrelenting fatigue, even if someone is getting enough sleep. Other common symptoms of this disorder include mood swings, weight gain and feeling cold all the time.

Fortunately, simple blood work can reveal if there is a problem and it can be treated with artificial thyroid hormone pills like Synthroid. Check here for signs of having a thyroid problem. If you suspect that you might have hypothyroidism, talk to your doctor.

9. Anemia

People with anemia are not able to make enough red blood cells to transport oxygen throughout the their bodies. This is often due to a lack of nutrients like iron or B-12 and can be caused by problems such as heavy periods, bleeding in the digestive tract or pregnancy (due to the increased demands of the growing baby).

However, in most cases, this can be resolved with treatments like changes in diet, iron supplements or B-12 shots.

While here are some drinks you can try to relieve symptoms of Anemia, it’s best to do a blood test and consult your doctor in case of any hidden medical conditions.

10. Cancer

While you shouldn’t be freaking out about cancer just because you are tired, it is a fact that fatigue is one of the symptoms of cancer. Other common symptoms can include unexplained weight loss and the presence of palpable lumps or growths. This disease is marked by the abnormal and uncontrolled growth of cells that can do damage to surround tissues and possibly spread to other parts of the body.

Diagnosis is usually by biopsy and treatment often focusses on radiation, chemotherapy or surgery— and generally when a diagnosis is made early, the outcomes for the patient are better.

Featured photo credit: Lily Banse via unsplash.com

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