Also known as costiveness, or irregularity, this is a condition of the digestive system in which a person experiences hard feces (faeces) that are difficult to expel. It often occurs as a result of food taking too long to pass through the gastro-intestinal tract because the colon absorbs too much water from the food, making faeces dry and hard.
When experiencing constipation, defecation may be extremely painful and in severe cases (faecal impaction) lead to symptoms of bowel obstruction. The term obstipation is used for severe constipation that prevents passage of both stools and gas.
Psychological factors play a strong part in constipation. Many people experience constipation as a result of unfamiliarity with surroundings, long- or short-term anxiety, grief or similar emotions. Constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome is characterised by a combination of constipation and abdominal discomfort and/or pain. For more information on IBS, please see our separate article.
Constipation can also be caused by dietary factors such as insufficient intake of dietary fiber, dehydration from any cause or inadequate fluid intake, or too much or too little of a particular nutrient. Other causes include hormonal, anatomical, side effects of medications (e.g. some opiates), or an illness or disorder.
Consideration of psychological factors is a key step. Methods of treatment vary greatly, but can include psychotherapy, EFT, meditation or direct steps taken as a result of awareness of the issues.
The first physical intervention is to increase the intake of fluids (preferably water) and dietary fiber. The latter may be achieved by consuming more vegetables and fruit and whole meal bread, and pulses such as beans and chick peas and by adding linseeds to one’s diet. Taking exercise is often found to be useful.
A number of natural herbs and supplements can be used to relieve physical – and in some cases, psychological – factors. We do not recommend the routine use of laxatives, as bowel action can become dependant on them. Enemas can be used to provide a form of mechanical stimulation but do not reach stools in the intestinal tract and are not a long-term solution.
There follows a list of products that clients have reported success against this health challenge with. For personalised advice, please email or call 01730 233 414.
Acidophilus is renowned to be of use for the balance of good and bad
bacteria in the bowel. It can be used to return the intestinal flora to
normal, healthy levels (natural flora levels may be affected by fungus
or antibiotics). Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifidobacterium bifidum
form part of the body’s normal micro-flora and encourage a healthy
intestinal environment, promoting proper digestion and immune
function and supporting the body’s natural defences against infection,
inflammation, and disease.
The addition of FOS (fructooligosaccharides - short chain fatty acids),
which act as fuel for the growth and maintenance of beneficial gut
flora, makes this formula especially useful in cases of dysbiosis due to
pathogentic bacteria, fungal overgrowth, or following antibiotic use.
FOS have been shown to help improve calcium and magnesium
absorption, balance gut Ph, improve lipid profiles, and strengthen the
MSM is a naturally occurring, easily-absorbed, source of dietary
sulphur, without the distinctive smell normally associated with
Sulphur has long been known to help maintain the condition of
skin, hair, and nails. It is a key component of chondroitin sulphate, an
essential building block for the connective tissues, such as blood vessels,
eyes, and cartilage, which acts as shock absorbers in the joints. Sulphur
maintains flexibility and elasticity in the soft tissues and is a precursor to
glucosamine, which helps to rebuild cartilage and ligament tissue.
Sulphur is needed for proper liver function and is essential for
the production of glutathione, an important detoxifiying enzyme.
Sulphur supports the detoxification and elimination of heavy metals
from the body. Sulphur is required for hormone synthesis and enzyme
production, and has a healing influence on the mucous membranes
lining the gastro-intestinal tract. It also alkalises the body, helping keep
the immune system strong.
Paragon is a broad spectrum parasite cleansing programme. This is a
potent formulation of 10 herbs including black walnut, cloves, thyme,
peppermint, and wormwood, which are considered to support in the
elimination of a wide range of parasites.
Cramp bark aids in elimination
and expulsion of parasites due to its muscle relaxing properties. This
potent and unique preparation is essential for anyone who has been
outside of their normal environment, is suffering symptoms of parasites;
or anyone on detox.
For cleansing the lymph and liver. Milk thistle, boldo and yellow dock all
stimulate liver function and aid in elimination of toxins. Yellow dock
also helps with congestive states in the digestive system and acts as a
Galium and marigold cleanse and tone the lymphatic
system by mobilizing toxins from the body with tonic and diuretic
actions. In addition marigold is a wide spectrum antimicrobial. Sweet
violet and nettle both have persistent but gentle cleansing actions. Nettle
is a useful tonic cleanser.