Constipation is an acute or chronic condition in which bowel movements occur less often than usual or consist of hard, dry stools that are painful or difficult to pass.
Generally speaking, humans should have at least one bowel movement daily, in the AM shortly after arising. Some humans have bowel movements within a short time frame from each meal.
For others, things do not work so smoothly. Having bowel movements every 2 to 3 days is not normal. What is happening is the solid waste material is compacting and backing up just above the level of the anus, in the rectal and descending colon. See picture above.
Solid food waste moves from your small intestine, into the ascending colon where you see the appendix. Solid waste then moves up the ascending, across the transverse (part of colon going straight across the lower abdomen), and down the descending colon. When solid waste moves into the rectum, it stimulates nerves that tell us it is time to head to the bathroom. Solid waste then leaves the body through the anal opening.
When this does not work so smoothly, meaning things get backed up, constipation is the result.
Some Common Contributors to Constipation: (there are plenty more)
Stress: causes the body to tighten up, in the colon this makes it difficult for things to move smoothly,
Refined foods: degenerate the body cells weakening every body cell and every organ system. A weak colon does not do it's job well. Refined foods lack fiber. Fiber helps keep things moving along the digestive tract. I can not stress enough...100% whole food diets heal the whole body.
Water and hydration: lack of fluids in the body makes the stool hard and compact,
Improper chewing of food from rushing to eat quickly and get to the next to do item (food that is not chewed well does not digest well, this causes constipation),
Lack of movement / exercise: moving the body keeps the colon toned and working like it should,
Lack of sleep: lack of sleep slows the body down, including the colon,
Lack of fresh air and unfiltered sunshine: makes every body system function at optimal levels,
Excess body weight: slows things down, puts compression / pressure on the digestive tract.
Hormone shifts in the female's body. This is a normal result of the ups and downs of hormones during the course of a normal, healthy menstrual cycle and changes with the waxing and waning of the cycle. This is normal and will correct itself as hormones shift. As hormone levels change with our growth into our wise woman years, our body may also shift in regards to colon function. A hormone related issue to consider is estrogen dominance over progesterone.
Position of the female uterus. When the fundus, top of the uterus, tips back in the pelvic cavity, it can rest on the colon. This position can interfere with the colon's function. Women who have a forward tipping uterine fundus can experience bladder symptoms (esp. late in the cycle, just before bleed time). Pregnant women know this bladder symptom feeling.
Prescription and over the counter medications can cause constipation as a side effect.
Disrupted gut microbiome.
Position during the pooping action. Sitting is not a healthy poop position. See below suggestion.
Pooping hygiene: making time daily to have a bowel movement in a time frame that works for your body. Are you a power pooper or a sitter?
Holding your bowel movments in because you do not want to use public bath rooms. This dulls the nerve endings in the rectal area. Your body does not pick up on messages well because you ignore and suppress them.
Action to take:
Eat whole foods every day, every meal,
Include bitters in your diet, think arugula and other bitter greens,
Chew, Chew, Chew your food VERY well, even soft and liquid like foods,
Move your body,every day,outside in the fresh air and natural light, (May I suggest Yoga?),
Drink water and herb teas,
Sleep and sleep well (If sleeping well is an issue, address the causes),
Move stress out of your life or change the way you perceive "stressful" situations... breathe, let it all go! Yoga, meditation, mindfulness activities are a key to good health and happy pooping action.
Pay attention to your menstrual cycle. If you are at the point in your beloved cycle, when constipation bothers you, take extra measure to assist your colon in its function. Your colon and you will be grateful!
Herbal medicinal infusions: these are longer steeped, medicinal strength herb teas. #1 choice is Nettles (surprise, surprise!), red raspberry leaf, alfalfa, oat straw, and red clover blossoms are all good herbs to make into an herbal infusion to add nourishment to body cells and keep the colon humming along. See information below on making herbal infusions.
Drink lemon water daily. I know, I know, lemons do not grow locally in our Northern NY state BUT they help alkalize the body, stimulate the liver, and cleanse the colon. If you are constipated, a little lemon love is a blessing.
Keep chlorine & fluoride out of your drinking, eating, cooking, bathing water. They disrupt your gut's microflora and your whole body's health.
Take some high quality magnesium citrate. Pure Encapsulations brand. Take 300-450 mg at bedtime. See how it affects you over a week’s time. If you need to add in more, take another capsule in the AM. You could divide doses equally at this point: 300 in Am & 300 in PM. Do not waste money on cheap supplements, invest well in your body. It does matter.
Grind organic golden flax seed or chia seed and take a heaping tsp. to tbsp. daily.
Use a stool for better pooping position. Putting your feet up on a stool, or any stable object that raises the knees higher than the hips (think squatting in the woods to poop) helps to straighten out the rectum for straight shooting poop right out of the anus. Yes, you want this! The link back there has a fun video explaining this squat vs. sit pooping as an advertisement for a Squatty Potty stool. I just use the wooden stool my kids had to reach the sink when they were toddlers. Works just fine, repurposes something I already had, and saves on plastic purchases.
Take a green food supplement. As you know, I am not big on "products" and truly prefer to nudge you in the direction of whole foods and whole health lifestyle choices. However, this green food supplement is 100% whole; simply dried and ground herbs and nourishing foods. Nothing added, nothing taken away. I recommend the SuperFood Plus in powder or tablet form.
More Natural Constipation Support
Yoga for constipation:
Daily yoga is a blessing for any health symptoms. You will sleep better, feel better, and naturally want to eat and take better care of yourself. Have I convinced you to sign up for a local yoga class? Get a book and start learning yoga at home? I cannot recommend this healing tool enough!
Great video on yoga and relieving constipation! And only 4 minutes and 42 seconds of your time invested!
Acupuncture: Try Acupuncture for constipation relief. I can not recommend this enough. Shelby's needles get things moving fast and help re-balance the health of your body to prevent constipation. Fits right in with whole food eating and healing!
Whole Foods from the kitchen: For those occasions when a 'lil extra help is needed, try this poop promotingprune - flax seed pudding:
Soak 3-4 organic, dried prunes in 1/2 cup water for 1-2 hours.
Grind 2 Tbsp. organic, golden flax seeds in your blender.
Pour prunes into blender and grind, blend in with the ground flax seeds.
Pour into a bowl and eat or let set for a bit and it will jell up.
Optional: add in 1 tbsp. dark, organic molasses. Add in ground chia and/or hemp seeds.
Caution: If you are diabetic, pre-diabetic, or have any metabolic disorder involving blood sugar control, do not use this poop pudding. Dried fruit and molasses are very high in sugar. Healing diabetes and blood sugar related diseases requires abstinence from sugar and blood sugar spiking foods.
Herbs: Need a little more help on occasion, perhaps fortravel induced constipation? Try this Nature's Secret product but do not rely on it daily.
Breathe: Practice deep breathing from the belly to relieve stress in the whole body. This will help release the strangle hold on your colon muscle so wastes can flow more freely. See information below on breathing for health.
Liver nourish and cleanse: The specific actions to nourish the liver have profound impacts on colon health and regularity.
Sending love, Paula
PS: I am going to start adding additional information at the bottom of my posts. This is in lieu of having you email me for further information. Hope this makes the process of getting healthy easier for all!
Where I put these high lighted links in articles, click the link to go to other posts on my blog that help to reinforce the information here in this article.
Breathing for Health
Simple calming breath: Consciously make your breath deeper, slower, quieter and more regular. If you notice, when you are angry or stressed, your breathing is rapid, shallow, noisy and irregular. Slow down and calm your breath. You will calm you body, mind & spirit.
Just consciously making your exhalation deeper will make involuntary inhalations deeper. This automatically calms the body.
Use this technique: to take a break at your desk, sitting in traffic, before reacting to a negative or stressful situation, when having a craving for something that is not whole food, to relax to go to sleep
Healing Breath technique: To start, exhale very deeply.
inhale slowly & quietly, through the nose, to the count of 4
hold breath to a slow count of 7
exhale slowly and somewhat noisily through the mouth, counting to 8 as you exhale.
when exhaling, purse lips and press your tongue to the roof of your mouth, just behind the front teeth.
Repeat this for 4 inhale-exhale cycles 2 times a day. After a month increase to 6-8 inhale-exhale cycles 2 times a day. Never more than 8 cycles, 2 times a day.
Remember: Whole foods help your cells regenerate as healthy cells, not degenerate. Better breathing brings more oxygen to every cell, again helping to regenerate healthier cells. Breath deeply today to gain better cellular health for life!
I recommend making infusions, not herbal teas. Herbal teas are when you steep the herbs for 3-5 minutes to enjoy the flavors of wonderful herbal plants. Infusions are when you steep the herbs for at least 3-4 hours, covered in a quart canning jar. I recommend steeping them overnight in the canning jar or the pot you boiled the water in, covered. You can strain the herbs in the AM and reheat the infusion, oh so very gently to preserve the nutrients, or enjoy at room temperature.
Making Infusions: Boil water. Measure leaf and flower herbs while water is heating. Use approximately 2 tsp. of dried herbs per cup of water. To make a stronger medicinal infusion, use more herbs. When water is boiling shut off and add dried herbs. Cover and let steep for at least 15 minutes. I make medicinal infusions at night, let steep – covered – overnight, and stain to use in AM.
If making infusions with seeds, roots or barks: chop pieces as small as you can (roots & bark, seeds stay whole or you can gently crush). When water is boiling, reduce heat to very gentle simmer. Add herb pieces, cover, and simmer very gently for 15-20 minutes. Again, I let them sit, covered, overnight and strain in the AM. Do not let this boil as it ruins the medicinal properties and nutrients in the herbal infusions medicine.
If making mixed infusions with parts that need to simmer and the leaves & flowers that do not, simmer parts first then turn off heat and add leaves / flowers and let steep, covered, overnight.
I recommend making a quart each night and sipping 1 cup, 4 times throughout the day, each day. I usually make ½ gallon to 1 gallon at a time so I do not have to make medicinal infusions every night. You can drink it cold (keep in the refrigerator) or you can gently warm. Do not over heat tea , do not boil tea, do not every make tea or re-heat tea in a microwave. Microwaves are toxic.
High Mineral tea: restores minerals to the body cells that have been depleted from refined foods, toxins, stress, and life as we know it! Stinging nettles, oat straw, alfalfa leaf, red raspberry leaf are all good for helping with constipation (extra fluid from drinking the infusion is dandy as well!)
If tea bags are glued shut, do not use them in bag form. To avoid steeping the glue into your tea, I suggest you open the tea bags and steep the lose herbs in a jar for 3-4 hours or overnight. Follow the infusion instructions above.