This week a client visited because, as a long term sufferer, he was wondering what to do for constipation. After reading more about the health implications of this condition, he was determined to resolve it. Initially he came for allergy therapy – this is a great place to start, so that we can rule out any food intolerances – but it soon became apparent we needed to address this on an emotional level too.
Have you noticed how some people are great at moving through life’s ups and downs? What’s done is done and they move on. Other people, like our client, found it hard to ‘let things go’ – both metaphorically and literally! He was, in many ways, ‘holding onto the past’ , and he found it hard to express himself, after growing up in a military background where ‘real men’ didn’t express their feelings or ‘let things out’. He was trained to ‘hold it all together’.
You can see how our words can become our habits, right?!
At the Health and Wellness Grid, we treat everybody as an individual, but there are some common sense approaches to constipation that can help. Here are some ideas:
What to do for Constipation
There are many possible reasons for constipation, ranging from something simple like side-effects from iron supplements, antidepressants or antacids through to IBS, food sensitivities, pregnancy, depression / stress or physical trauma. If you have had medical testing done and nothing has shown up, then you can incorporate some of the following into your daily regime to help relieve your discomfort:
Move your body
Ensure you are getting plenty of exercise – a sluggish lifestyle can lead to a sluggish bowel. Pay attention to your posture too; if you sit or stand in positions where you may ‘trap’ or squash any part of your colon, (this often happens as a short term effect towards the end of pregnancy) then difficulties can arise. If stress is a contributory factor then yoga or tai chi can be helpful. Also be aware of any times throughout the day you might squash your abdomen. For instance, I realised that, due to the way my kitchen is designed, I’m often leaning against the edge of my cooker hob when cooking or worksurface when washing up at the sink. I also had a habit of lying with my laptop pushed into my abdomen and propped up on my knees when watching webinars or videos!
In this video, an acupuncturist describes the “Blood Vessel Sweeper Exercise” to introduce a set of methods that can treat constipation, even for stubborn cases. He talks about the importance of addressing blood, nerves and lubrication when dealing with constipation:
Take time to eat
Make sure you sit comfortably and upright when eating and chew well. Digestion begins in the mouth, so its important to chew in order to stimulate the enzymes needed to start the process. Do not eat on the run – take time to enjoy and appreciate your food. You could sign up for a mindfulness class and learn to eat mindfully; you might be surprised what you learn!
Ensure you are not dehydrated – aim to drink 1 1/2 – 2 litres of water a day, at least room temperature, preferably warmer.
Bach Flower Remedies
Try the Bach flower remedy of Crab Apple – place 2 drops of the remedy into 30ml spring water and take 4 drops of this mixture, 4 times daily – either straight into the mouth or dropped into a glass of water and sipped.
Eat this compote!
Make the following compote and eat a bowl daily with some live yogurt:
- 6 dried figs
- 6 prunes
- 2 eating apples
- 1 large pear
- 3 cloves
- small stick or a pinch dried cinnamon
- 10floz water
- Soak the figs and prunes overnight in some water. Drain the next day
- Wash, core and dice all the fruit and combine all the ingredients in a saucepan
- Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 40 minutes, until the mixture is thick and glossy.
Watch what you eat
A good intake of fibre is needed to help foods move through the digestive system. Reduce processed food, tea, coffee, sugar, red meat, dairy, refined foods and replace with fresh fruits and vegetables, nuts, seeds, pulses, fish and white lean meat. Eat warm foods as much as you can – even if you have fruit and yogurt for breakfast, at least poach the fruit in a little water and eat it warm, with the yogurt at room temperature. Another thing you can try is to take a desertspoon of olive oil on an empty stomach. If you don’t like the taste, chase it down with a cup of fresh apple juice that you have warmed. If you have any at home, you could also add in a teaspoon of crushed sesame seeds to the apple juice.
Listen to your urges!
We’re busy people with hectic lifestyles and stopping to go to the toilet often gets resisted, especially when there are work deadlines or the children need our attention. But if you ignore signals for too long, your body can stop giving you the urge, so make time to ‘sit on the throne’ each day! It can help to raise your feet up off the floor, so that you’re in more of a squatting position.
Don’t be afraid of fat
Use beneficial fats in your diet – include cold-pressed Olive oil or sesame oil; pour this over steamed or stir-fried vegetables with a dash of lemon juice or use a product such as ‘Udo’s Choice’ Ultimate Oil Blend, available from health food stores.
Take a daily probiotics supplement to re-establish healthy bacteria in the gut. Other supplements that can help are vitamin C and magnesium \(start with 1 gm vitamin C and 200 mg magnesium). Chronic constipation, caused by, or exacerbated by stress, often responds well to a B-complex supplement. You can add fermented foods such as sauerkraut to your diet too – like probiotics, these help re-establish beneficial gut flora.
Incorporate the following herbs in your cooking to help with digestion: fennel, ginger, garlic, mint, cayenne, cinnamon.
Combine 1 drop of sweet fennel essential oil, 1 drop grapefruit essential oil, 1 drop sweet orange essential oil with 20ml carrier oil. Massage the abdomen with this blend twice daily in a clockwise direction.
Ditch raw foods
While raw foods can be really healthy for many people, they can cause problems for people with constipation. So consider eating all fruits and vegetables cooked for a while. If you eat salad for lunch, then replace with stir-fry. If you eat raw vegetables then consider steaming them and dressing with olive oil.