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Causes and Solutions for Constipaton
- Categorized in: Specific Health Problems
The major causes of constipation are as follows. The first is dehydration. One of the functions of the colon is to remove water from the digestive tract to recycle it through the body. The more dehydrated you are, the more water the colon absorbs. This causes the stool to dry out and become hard, causing constipation. Stimulant laxatives work by helping the colon hold onto fluid, but this just means you become more dehydrated because you lose more water. So the first thing you should try if you are constipated is drinking more water.
The second major cause of constipation is a lack of fiber in the diet. Fiber naturally holds onto water in the stool, causing it to swell and bulk up. This puts pressure on the colon wall, which stimulates peristalsis naturally. So, the second thing you should try if you are constipated is adding fiber to your diet. Of course, you have to take fiber with plenty of water. If you don't, the fiber can actually make your constipation worse, so we're back to water, aren't we.
(And speaking of water, I have been finding that the Kangen water does actually hydrate you better than reverse-osmosis water. I've been trying out a unit my friend Dave Carpenter in Idaho and it seems to really work. I feel more hydrated on less water.)
The next major cause of constipation is intestinal inflammation. When the intestines become irritated, fluid accumulates in the tissues and intestinal function is compromised. This can cause both constipation and diarrhea. Fiber helps reduce intestinal irritation, so it helps counteract this cause of constipation, too. However, substances that reduce intestinal irritation and inflammation, such as Jeanne Burgess' formula Intestinal Soothe and Build and antioxidants like Thai-Go will also help reduce constipation from this cause.
Closely behind inflammation is stress. Stress contributes to inflammation, but it also causes the colon to spasm. I readily get constipated from stress, a sign of a spastic bowel. The antidote for this is magnesium. Magnesium relaxes muscle cramps and taking large doses of magnesium will both relax the colon and help hydrate it. I have used 800-1,000 mg. of magnesium (with no calcium) to help relax the colon and overcome the addiction to stimulant laxatives. Vitamin C and citrus bioflavinoids also help here. They reduce intestinal inflammation and also contribute to energy production to help tone up the colon muscle.
For many years I used a product called OxyCleanse to help people restore normal peristalsis. The formula contained magnesium oxide, Vitamin C and citrus bioflavinoids. It really helped me with occasional constipation and it was particularly effective with people who couldn't “go” without using stimulant laxatives. After several years of pushing for it, NSP finally came out with a magnesium-based laxative product called Gentle Move, which I helped formulate. I'll tell you more about it in a moment, but first I want to cover the last three underlying cause of constipation.
Lack of exercise causes a loss of muscle tone and will contribute to constipation. So, regular exercise helps one stay regular (as long as one stays hydrated, of course).
Digestive enzymes are needed to properly break down food to keep the colon healthy. If digestion is poor, then intestinal function will be poor. It is possible to get the colon moving just by taking enzymes. Try two capsules of Proactazyme or some other plant enzyme supplement every hour until the colon moves. It works (again, if you also drink plenty of water).
Finally disturbances of the friendly flora will also contribute to constipation, so making sure one has a good supply of probiotics (along with enzymes) will help maintain colon regularity. This is partly because probiotics protect the colon and reduce intestinal inflammation.
Now, I'd like to tell you about that new product from NSP that I helped formulate. Christine Hughes came up with the name for it—Gentle Move—and it's very appropriately named. Here's what's in this blend and how it works.
Like the magnesium oxide in the OxyCleanse product I used to use, magnesium hydroxide is a salt of magnesium that attracts and retains fluid in the bowel. Magnesium also relaxes muscle spasms and increases cellular energy production to energize the colon.
This is a very ancient Ayurvedic formula containing three fruits—haritaki, bibhitaki and amalaki. This blend has been used in India for thousands of years. It is a gentle laxative and a blood purifier that has tonic effects on the colon. This means that the formula not only helps the colon move, it actually tones the colon muscle and helps restore normal bowel function.
Haritaki is a laxative with antispasmodic (muscle relaxing) properties. It has an astringent action, which helps with leaky gut and is a nervine. It is used in India for chronic constipation, nervousness, anxiety and feelings of heaviness.
Amalaki is a mild laxative which has a small amount of anthraquinones that is also cooling and anti-inflammatory. It reduces fevers, burning sensations and alternating diarrhea and constipation. It is used to cool ulcers and helps to heal infections.
Finally bidhitaki is a pungent herb that removes excess mucus. It is also antispasmodic and has been used for asthma, bronchial problems and allergies.
In summary, this formula is a mild laxative and a great tonic for the colon, but it is much more. It is both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. It enhances circulation, lowers blood pressure and protects the heart. It also supports adrenal function, helps expel mucus, and has antiviral, antibacterial and anti-allergenic properties. It also improves liver function and digestion, including having hepatoprotective effects.
Triphala is indicated for constipation, indigestion, flatulence, poor appetite, digestive headaches, sinus congestion, joint pain, lethargy and intestinal gas. Triphala is such a useful formula that there is a saying in India, “No mother? Do not worry if you have triphala.”
This formula would be good enough with just the magnesium hydroxide and triphala, but it also contains several other herbs. The first, and most important is yellow dock. Yellow dock also contains a very small amount of anthraquinones, but it is also anti-inflammatory and reduces intestinal irritation. My good friend Matthew wood uses it to cool intestinal irritation in cases of geographic tongue. It is one of those remedies that corrects both diarrhea and constipation.
This pungent herb is a digestive stimulant. It also enhances abdominal circulation and treats nausea, indigestion and intestinal inflammation.
Slippery Elm and Marshmallow
These cooling mucilaginous herbs reduce intestinal inflammation and are helpful for diarrhea and constipation. In large quantities they would act as bulk laxatives, but in this formula they simply contribute a cooling and soothing anti-inflammatory effect.
Benefits of Gentle Move
Putting all of this together, Gentle Move provides a mild laxative action while tonifying and improving colon health. It reduces intestinal inflammation and helps to normalize bowel function with people who have become dependent on stimulant laxatives. It's a great formula.
I was able to sample it before NSP released it and I've been very pleased with how it works. However, I do have some suggestions for getting the most benefit from it. For a mild dose (where you don't really have a serious constipation problem), you can take 2 capsules once or twice daily as an intestinal tonic. If you have a more serious constipation problem, you will probably need to take 6-9 capsules per day (2-3 capsules three times daily) until the formula starts working. Once the colon starts working you can reduce the dose to the mild dose.
Be sure to take this product with plenty of water to keep the colon hydrated. Also consider using a fiber supplement like Psyllium Hulls Combination, Nature's Three, etc. Gentle move is also very complimentary with products for intestinal inflammation and leaky gut such as Intestinal Soothe and Build, Everybody's Fiber, Una D'Gato Combination and Kudzu/St. John's wort.
By working on the underlying causes of constipation it is possible to normalize bowel function without having to constantly take anthraquinone laxatives. Try some of the suggestions in this article, including the new formula Gentle Move and you can restore normal bowel function and stay regular without laxatives.