Constipation is a very common digestive disorder that affects people of all ages.
Constipation is medically defined as having three or fewer bowel movements in a week. In case of severe constipation, it reduces to less than one bowel movement in a week.
It is caused by difficulty in passing stools mostly because the colon has absorbed more water from the food in the colon, making the stools very dry and hard. This may even lead a person to strain too much to empty the excessively hard stools.
Some of the main causes of constipation are a poor diet with low fiber intake, insufficient water intake, irregular defecation habit, lack of physical activity, pregnancy, aging, changes in routine, weakness of abdominal muscles, hemorrhoids, stress, intake of certain medications, laxative abuse, and certain disease conditions.
This problem can be very frustrating aside from causing discomfort. There are many home remedies to enhance the functionality of your digestive system and treat constipation. These remedies are very easy to follow and very powerful.
Here are the top 10 home remedies for constipation.
Lemons are always handy at home not just to make food tangy or lemonade, but also for many emergency medicinal purposes like weight loss, skin care, proper digestion, eye care, peptic ulcers, respiratory disorders, etc.
Lemons, or more specifically the juice from lemons, can treat constipation. This is one of the simplest and most effective treatments that you can try at home.
The flavonoids present in lemon oil stimulate the digestive system and increase the secretion of digestive juices, bile, and acids, and gets things moving. The surplus acids from lemon help clear the excretory system by washing and cleaning the digestive tract. The fiber content of lemon helps ease constipation (1).
- Extract the juice of half a lemon and add it to a glass of warm water. You can also add a pinch of rock salt or one-half teaspoon of table salt and a little honey to it. Drink this nutritious lemon water first thing in the morning on an empty stomach. You can also drink a glass of this tasty drink in the evening. Follow this remedy daily to treat constipation within a few days.
- Alternatively, take 1 or 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice along with a pinch of salt daily for a few days to get relief from constipation and cleanse your system.
Figs are very high in fiber and act as a natural laxative. Figs are rich in anthocyanins and polyphenols (2).
It is used in traditional medicine for gastrointestinal and inflammatory disorders. Those suffering from chronic constipation should include figs in their diet. For the treatment of constipation, both fresh and dried figs can be used.
When fresh figs are available, eat them with their skin on. The skin contains most of the fiber and calcium. Fig paste has been demonstrated to be an effective treatment against constipation in animal models (3, 4).
- Take two to three almonds and dried figs.
- Soak them in water for a few hours.
- Peel the almonds and grind the ingredients.
- Take this paste with one tablespoon of honey at night.
3. Castor Oil
Being a stimulant laxative, castor oil stimulates the small and large intestines and improves the bowel movement.
The chemical constituents of castor oil are flavonoids, fatty acids, amino acids, terpenoids, phenolic compounds, phytosterols, etc. These compounds are responsible for its anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and hepatoprotective effects.
Different parts of the castor plant are used for medicinal applications like abdominal disorders, arthritis, muscle pain, constipation etc (5). Castor oil should be taken only for severe cases of constipation. In fact, castor oil also benefits skin and hair care and is used in the cosmetic industry.
Simply swallow one to two teaspoons of this beneficial castor oil on an empty stomach. To improve the taste, you can take it with a fruit juice like orange juice. Within a few hours, you will notice a huge improvement in your condition.
Note: Castor oil can be toxic when taken in large doses. It can cause abdominal cramping when stimulating a bowel movement. You must not repeat this remedy for a prolonged period as it can cause side effects.
Honey is highly beneficial in relieving constipation as it acts as a mild laxative.
The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition in 1995 has reported that the laxative effect of honey observed in healthy volunteers is due to the incomplete absorption of fructose in the body (6).
You can have it daily to prevent as well as treat constipation. Raw, organic, local honey is the most preferred honey.
- Consume two teaspoons of honey three times a day.
- You can also mix one tablespoon each of honey and lemon juice in a glass of warm water. Drink it every morning on an empty stomach.
- Mix 1 tablespoon of honey with ½ or 1 tablespoon of raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar. Take it 15 to 30 minutes before meals in order to prepare the digestive system for digestion.
Flaxseeds have many medicinal properties and are one of the richest plant sources of fiber and omega-3 fatty acids.
They are also high in phenols, vitamins including vitamin E and K, minerals like magnesium and potassium. Flaxseeds have both anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and also act as demulcents.
A paper published in 2015 revealed the dual action of flaxseeds as an effective treatment for constipation and diarrhea (7). The laxative property of flaxseeds can be very useful in curing mild to very serious cases of constipation.
- Grind 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds in a coffee grinder. Mix the powdered flax seed with 1-2 cups of water and allow it to rest for 15 minutes before drinking. Drink the water daily before going to bed. In the morning, your bowel movement will be much better.
- Alternatively, you can simply eat two to three tablespoons of ground flaxseeds with a glass of water.
Note: When you eat flaxseeds, please drink a lot of water as it can cause abdominal discomfort.
Prunes or dried plums are widely accepted as a remedy for constipation in traditional medicine.
This is assumed to be due to the high fiber content of 6 gram/100 gram. The insoluble and soluble fibers present in prunes increase the bulk and water content of stools induce digestive secretions and bowel movement.
The sugar alcohol sorbitol and other phenols which are present in prunes are poorly absorbed by the small intestine and have a laxative effect (8). So eat prunes regularly if you suffer from a tendency of constipation.
A random trial study done and published in 2011 concluded that prunes were safe, palatable, and more effective than the current standard psyllium therapy (9).
- Have 1-2 plums daily if you don’t have prunes or have 3 to 4 prunes daily.
- Blend 2-3 prunes in some warm flax or almond milk and drink at night for extra fiber and relief from constipation.
- Take 3-4 chopped prunes and have it with a cup whipped yogurt daily.