How to Beat Constipation Naturally: 6 Tips That Don’t Involve Laxatives

constipation treatment

Consumers spend over $1.5 billion dollars a year on laxatives. As alarming as that sounds, even more alarming is the inability to go to the bathroom. Does this sound like you? Well this article will arm you with natural remedies to support your constipation treatment regimen.

The information provided is for general informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended as medical advice, and it should not be used to diagnose or treat any health condition or illness. Always seek the advice of a qualified healthcare provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or your individual health.

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natural constipation treatment without laxatives
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Why am I constipated all the time?

Constipation can be defined as having less than 3 bowel movements per week.

Diet and a sedentary lifestyle can cause chronic constipation. The Standard American Diet, also known as the SAD diet provides little fiber-rich foods. Instead, processed foods are high in fat, sugar, and salt. 

Too much salt can reduce the water content of stool. This can cause difficult bowel movements because hard dry stool is hard to push out. Speaking of fluids, insufficient fluid is another cause of constipation. 

Certain medications, irritable bowel syndrome, pregnancy and Crohn’s Disease can also contribute to constipation.

The problem with laxatives

Laxatives can be helpful for the occasional bout of constipation that we all get from time to time. However they’re not intended to be used for extended periods.

Long term use of laxatives can cause a dependency where you’re unable to have a bowel movement without them. They can also cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and damage to the nerves and muscles in the colon.

I suffered from chronic constipation for many years. I’ve been to several doctors for constipation treatment. Some have suggested stool softeners like Miralax. Others suggested Metamucil or Citrucel. None of those treatments worked.

The only thing that worked for me was Senokot, made from the senna plant. I took them for several weeks on and off. Without them I was unable to go to the bathroom at all.

Finally, one day I had enough. Desperate, I went to a gastroenterologist. The medication he prescribed caused diarrhea and other symptoms. 

I decided to take matters into my own hands. The constipation remedies below are the ones I found most effective for me.  

Natural Constipation Remedies Without Laxatives

Relieving chronic constipation naturally involves changing lifestyle habits. And as we all know, change is not always easy. Start small and aim for gradual change over time.

Increase dietary fiber

Fiber helps ease constipation by increasing bulk, drawing moisture into the intestines, and softening stool. Fiber can be found in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and legumes. 

If you have food sensitivities like I do, you may find it challenging to get enough dietary fiber. Grains are an excellent source of fiber but many contain gluten. 

For me, green leafy vegetables, beans and oatmeal have been my saving grace. 

Not all oatmeal is created equal though. I like Bob’s Red Mill Organic Oatmeal because it contains 4 grams of fiber.

Helpful Tip: Check out Free Constipation Printable List of High Fiber Foods for other helpful suggestions.


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Drink more water

drink water to relieve constipation
Proper hydration is needed for constipation relief

When increasing dietary fiber, It’s important to drink enough water. Water helps the fiber to bulk up and soften stools, making it easier to eliminate.

Dehydration can cause constipation. Not drinking enough water while exercising, ill or living in a warm climate can cause dehydration. 

Eating a high fiber diet without drinking enough water can also cause dehydration.

Drinking 8-10 glasses of water daily is ideal, but listen to your body and adjust fluid intake accordingly.

Helpful Tip: Drinking water on an empty stomach first thing in the morning can help stimulate the bowels.

Exercise

Walking, jogging, cycling and other aerobic exercise helps by stimulating muscles in the intestines. This encourages bowel movements by reducing the time it takes for waste to pass through the digestive system and get eliminated.

Personally, I try to set a goal to walk 4 days each week. 

While medical experts recommend 30 minutes of moderate intensity walking, even shorter walks are beneficial. Adjust time and intensity to your fitness level.  Consistency is what’s important. 

Helpful Tip: Studies show walking after eating helps with digestion. As a result food passes more quickly through the digestive system.

Practice yoga

Certain yoga positions that involve twisting and bending help to stimulate digestion by gently massaging abdominal organs. 

Another benefit of yoga is it relieves stress. Stress activates the “fight or flight” response which causes blood flow to increase to the heart and extremities while reducing blood flow to the digestive system. 

Hormones released during the stress response slows down digestion. Subsequently, the time it takes for waste to pass through the intestines increases. 

Deep breathing and yoga activate the “rest and digest” response.

The Himalayan Yoga Institute recommends practicing yoga for an hour  

3 times a week. However, even practicing for 20 minutes a few times a week is beneficial. 

Helpful Tip: The following yoga poses can benefit those with constipation: Supine spinal twist, wind relieving pose, child’s pose, cat-cow, and the seated forward bend.

Use a potty squatty

If you ask me, the invention of the potty squatty is revolutionary. I can’t recommend it enough.

The potty squatty is basically a stool for you to rest your feet on while seated on the toilet. It simulates a squatting position and aligns the colon with the rectum. This encourages easy, complete and rapid elimination.

With the colon and rectum aligned, the need for straining is reduced. Pressure on the rectum is also minimized, which may help prevent hemorrhoids from forming. 

Helpful Tip: Keep your potty squatty right in front of your toilet so it’s available whenever you need it.

Retrain your bowels

Some of us don’t make time to go to the bathroom. We’re busy, busy, busy all the time. 

Or maybe we’ve even ignored the signals to go to the bathroom at inopportune times. Over time, constantly holding your poop can make you lose the urge to poop altogether. Really. 

It’s possible to retrain your bowels and restore your urge to “go”. The idea is to sit on the toilet around the same time each day, preferably 20 minutes after eating. Even better if you drink coffee with your meal. Bending forward is also helpful. 

Try to relax. Slow down. Breathe. I know I mentioned the impact of stress already, but it’s worth stressing that there is a gut-brain connection. Stress interferes with this connection and can lead to changes in gut function. This can cause constipation. 

I find listening to soft music helps me to relax on the potty. Others may relax by reading a book or magazine.

Helpful Tip: Over time, when the sensation to poop returns, avoid ignoring the urge to poop at all costs. Yup. That means you may need to poop at some inconvenient times and places. Just do a few courtesy flushes and keep it moving. Pun intended.

How long should you sit on the toilet to poop

Experts recommend sitting on the toilet for 10-15 minutes. You may need to repeat this during the day. Sitting too long on the toilet can set you up for hemorrhoids. 

Try stomach massage to relieve constipation

Abdominal massage help move waste

Massaging the abdomen can help by increasing blood circulation to that area. It can also help to reduce abdominal tension and stiffness, which can contribute to poor bowel movements. 

One method of abdominal massage is to place your palm on your abdomen. Massage a few drops of peppermint oil on the abdomen. Then starting at the belly button, use your fingers to make small, circular motions. Move clockwise around the naval. 

Think of your naval as the sun, and your fingers as imaginary planets orbiting around the sun. Continue around the naval, widening the circle with each revolution until you massage your entire abdomen.

Helpful Tip: Kickstart your digestive system with a morning massage.

The secret to success of any constipation treatment regimen

If you’re anything like me, you may read an article like this and make 1 or 2 changes for a limited time.  Then you get frustrated because there’s no improvement. 

As I mentioned before, consistency is key. 

But here’s the real kicker. Whether you follow my suggestions or someone else’s, consider a constipation treatment that approaches the problem from all angles. 

  • From a dietary perspective by creating more bulk.
  • From a transit time perspective by reducing the time it takes for food to travel through your digestive system.
  • From a structural perspective by facilitating the passage of stool.

Because guess what? I always drank a lot of water. And when I could eat fruit, I ate lots of it. But I was still just as constipated as ever. 

When I dealt with my constipation on all fronts, I saw lasting change. That’s not to say I never get constipated anymore. Life happens. Sometimes I get too busy and fall off the bandwagon.

But when I do, I know how to reverse my constipation. Quickly. No more going weeks at a time passing an occasional pellet or 2 with no substantial movement.

Putting all the pieces together

Up until now, I’ve provided you with pieces to the puzzle. Now we’re going to connect them all into a beautiful picture. One with you smiling because you’ve finally experienced relief.

You see, increasing fiber and liquids will give you the bulk you need to move things along. And it will help to soften your stool. But what good is increasing bulk if:

  • Your body no longer provides signals like, “Hey, it’s time to go potty”.
  • You’re unable to empty out completely.
  • You have a sluggish digestive system that takes forever to eliminate waste.

Do you wanna know what happens to poop that sits in your colon for a long time? Your body starts to reabsorb the moisture. Now you have dry, hard poop that you can’t push out. 

Some of us may just have slow transit time. It takes our digestive system a long time to process waste and move things out.

That’s where walking and yoga and fluids help to speed things along. Abdominal massage helps with this process too.

Massage helps to loosen up those abdominal muscles. Stress reduction helps to restore a healthy gut-brain connection.

Retraining the bowels by making time to sit on the toilet gets your body into a normal rhythm.

Elevating your feet helps to align your colon and anus so your waste can expel easier. 

Ready, aim, fire!

The bottom line? Do as much as you can, as consistently as you can, for as long as you can.

Summary

A constipation treatment that approaches your condition from all angles, can help you  experience lasting relief. Increasing fiber intake, hydration and exercise are fundamentals of any constipation treatment regimen. Managing stress, making time to go potty, elevating your feet and abdominal massage all help to move wastes along. And oh, what a relief that is.