You feel gloomy when you think of the number of days you have gone through since your stomach bloated. But, we hope that you would cure constipation in a natural way without relying to medicines as much as possible.
There are four different types of constipation. The methods to be taken are suitable with each lifestyle and could be enough for curing the ailment.
We will introduce the ways of curing constipation for those who are suffering from it.
1. Type of constipation and causes
Constipation is divided into two types according to symptoms and causes: functional constipation and organic constipation. Functional constipation is then further divided into three types: flaccid constipation, spastic constipation and rectal constipation.
Curing methods differ by type of constipation, so take measures that match with the type of constipation you are having.
1-1. Functional constipation
Symptoms: belly always bloats, sense of incomplete evacuation even after excreting feces
Since there are no loosening in the intestines and peristaltic movement that carries feces towards the rectum by constricting intestinal muscles, feces remain in the large intestine, therefore its water is absorbed and become dry. This type of constipation has a characteristic of being prevalent among the elderly and women in particular.
Its symptoms include a bloated stomach, loss of appetite, chapped skin, irritation, shoulder stiffness and sense of incomplete evacuation.
Lack of movement in the large intestine = lack of exercise, lack of water, dietary fiber shortage, extreme diets and others.
Symptoms: rabbit-shaped feces, stomach pain after eating and sense of incomplete evacuation even after excreting feces.
This occurs when the parasympathetic nerves get excited, therefore making the intestinal tract tensed leading to the inability to properly carry the feces towards the anus. In addition there are many cases in which persons suffer from alternate bouts of diarrhea and constipation.
Tensed large intestine is caused by stress, environmental changes and irritable bowel syndrome.
Symptoms: does not feel the urge to defecate, hard feces, defecating takes some time, couldn’t defecate properly
Even if the feces reaches the rectum, defecation reflex (a function provided with the body for excreting feces) won’t occur, therefore the feces gets stuck in the rectum.
Bed-ridden people such as the elderly, those who hold their bowel movement and others
1-2. Organic constipation
Symptoms: blood in the stool, severe abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and others
This type occurs when there is an obstruction in the digestive tract (small and large intestines) due to organic causes such as cancer in the ileus and large intestine, and intestinal adhesion. Consult your doctor immediately if you notice symptoms such as blood in your stool, severe abdominal pain and vomiting.
2. How to cure constipation by symptoms
We will introduce here the methods of curing constipation that match with each symptom.
2-1. Functional constipation
The reduction of muscle strength such as abdominal muscles is hugely related with flaccid constipation, so those who are suffering from it should strengthen their abdominal muscles to achieve the effects of relieving constipation.
We will introduce exercises for you to relieve constipation. One of the cause of constipation is the weakening of abdominal muscles.
Women are more prone to constipation as their abdominal muscles are weaker than men’s. Please do these exercises because strengthening abdominal muscles improves your bowel movement.
(1) Lie down on your stomach and roll over left and right for around 5 times.
This exercise is done for 10 minutes as a set. Do this once a day.
Massaging your small intestines allows you to have a moderate weight and expect an effective massage.
Massaging stimulates the small intestines, therefore making them active.
*Other abdominal exercises 1
(1) Lie on your back
(2) As you feel your navel, rise both of your feet by around 5cm.
Keep them risen within one minute.
You can do this exercise while lying down on your back, so try to do it once you have made up your mind.
*Other abdominal exercises 2
(1)Lie on your back, open wide your legs across the shoulders and raise up both knees.
(2)Place your hand on your belly and slowly raise your shoulder and head. You should be able to see your belly when doing it.
(3)Once you feel that abdominal muscles gain strength, breathe normally while doing this position within 10 to 15 seconds.
(1)Lie on your back, raise up both of your knees and spread both of arms and hands horizontally.
(2)While exhaling, bring down both of your knees to the right.
(3)While inhaling, return both of your knees to their original position.
Do this exercise 10 times alternately left and right each. Doing this exercise is effective before you sleep.
We will introduce you massages to promote the functions of your large and small intestines.
*Massaging the navel area
(1) Raise up properly, push the center of your navel with your hand and massage it in clockwise direction. Do it for around 10 times.
You don’t have to push your navel strongly.
This massage goes along with the bowel movement of your body, so it is effective in promoting the natural excretion of stools.
*When massaging using a hand, warm hand is more effective than a chilled hand.
In case of spastic constipation, the most likely cause is stress. Getting rid of stress is one shortcut to relieve constipation, so let’s try not to build up stress daily.
*Relaxing with aromatic oils
Giving yourself time for a break within a day is also important. Sniffing the relaxing fragrance of aromatic oils (ylang-ylang, lavander, melissa, marjoram, etc.), or using them in your bath will surely make you relax.
*Relaxing by pressing pressure points
Even so, naturally making your body relaxed is difficult. We will introduce you pressure points, which pressing them can make you relaxed.
Pressure point 1: Roukyuu
This pressure point is located on the center of your palm. Press it for around 5 seconds and slowly relax the finger pressure.
Do this repeatedly for around 5 times.
Pressure point 2: Naikan
Strongly press this pressure point with your thumb and stimulate it by massaging it.
*Make a habit of going to the bathroom
Setting up an environment that allows to assist you whenever nature calls you is very important. Even if nature is not calling you, making a habit of going to the toilet after breakfast naturally relieves your constipation.
*Do not use laxatives
Your rectum barely feels any sensation and your large intestine works normally, so if you continue using laxatives, the nerves in your rectum would become more weakened than ever. Except in unpleasant cases, you should not use laxatives as possible.
This type of constipation is caused by abnormalities in the intestines themselves, so the best way to relieve it is to consult your doctor.
Before the symptoms become severe, get a medical help as soon as possible.
3. Effective ways of relieving non-organic constipation types
We will introduce the ways of relieving spastic constipation, flaccid constipation and rectal constipation that share something in common.
(1) Having a well-balanced diet
You should mainly have a well-balanced diet instead of having an unbalanced way of taking in nutrients. There many cases wherein having an unbalanced nutrition while going on a diet usually leads to constipation.
There two reasons behind it.
The first one is, as you restrict your diet, the amount of food you take in decreases, so as the amount of stool that you create, therefore weakening your bowel movement.
The second one is, having an unbalanced nutrition such as lessening the amount of dietary fibers and fats you take in weakens your bowel movement, and therefore your stool hardens.
While going on a diet, we usually think that it would better for us to cut off the fat in particular. However, fat plays an important role of softening your stool, so completely avoiding foods with fat is not recommended at all.
(2)Take in fluids
Stool requires much fluids very well 80 percent of a healthy stool is composed of water. If your body is hydrated enough, your stool hardens and excreting it would become difficult.
*Required amount per day
We are often told to drink at least 2 liters of water a day, but the foods we eat also contain water.
So as far as the amount of water to be taken in is concerned, drinking around 1.5 liters is fine.
*Drink water if you are going to drink
In that case, the best recommended thing to drink which is good for constipation is water instead of tea, sports drinks, juices and others. We don’t recommend you to drink caffeinated drinks such as coffee and tea, as well as sugary drink such as juices.
Caffeine has diuretic properties, so when it is remained absorbed into your large intestine, it is only flushed out from your body, so it has no effect against constipation.
In addition, soft drinks contain lots of sugar, so drinking everyday them does not only lowers your bowel movement, but it will surely lead to obesity.
*Drink water with normal temperatures
Let’s drink water with normal temperatures. Taking caution when drinking cold water or hot water is necessary as it gives burden to your body or cool your organs. If you cool your organs, your bowel movement becomes slower, so let’s drink water with normal temperatures.
(3) Always eat breakfast
Morning is when your bowel actively move the most. In other words, the natural bowel movement time is in the morning. Eating breakfast during hours when your bowels actively function causes an easy bowel movement.
(4) Create a morning rhythm
Let’s make a rhythm of drinking one cup of water after waking up in the morning and going to the toilet after eating breakfast. In that way, instead of your bowel movement to almost occur when you leave, it would be better to make it occur at least 1 to 1 1/2 hours before you leave home.
Since you could afford even a little time after breakfast, your mental tension relaxes, therefore making you less prone to constipation.
(5) Eat yogurt
Yogurt is rich in probiotic bacteria, lactic acid bacteria and bifidus bacteria, so it eating one is very effective against constipation as the bacteria create a proper intestinal environment. These bacteria don’t get killed by gastric acids, so it is recommended to bring them to your intestines.
[Tips when eating yogurt]
*Always eat one after meals
The correct time when eating yogurts is at the end of your breakfast. The time when the benefits that good bacteria such as lactobacillus bring can be easily obtained is after meals, when the stomach acid and gastric juices are weak. If your stomach acids are concentrated when you are hungry, expected results from yogurt wouldn’t easily come out even if you eat one.
*Oligosaccharide in yogurt is a plus
If you are adding sugar to yogurt, we recommend you to eat yogurt added with oligosaccharides. Oligosaccharide serves as a food for bifidobacteria. When the bacteria break it down, they produce lactic acid and therefore stimulates your intestines. Stimulated intestines cause bowel movement, therefore naturally promoting natural inclination for a stool.
*The effects differ by individual, so if no effects appear after one to two weeks of trying to relieve constipation, try to at least change the food that you eat.
(6)Prevent the lack of exercise
Lack of exercise weakens your muscles and their pushing force. Other than these, it also lowers the position of your large intestine, therefore weakening the your intestinal functions. As a result, your bowel movement weakens, leading to constipation.
You don’t have to take strenuous exercises, but try to make moving your body frequently an everyday habit.
Suddenly, it may be difficult for you to go to a train station by foot whenever you commute in the morning, so let’s try to refrain from using the escalator or elevator first.
(7) Avoid building up stress
Building up stress creates an imbalance in your autonomic nerves, which then reduces functions in your organs such as intestines and stomach. If your organs’ functions reduce, your bowel movement becomes no longer active, therefore causing constipation.
(8) Eat fiber-rich foods
We are often told to eat dietary fiber-rich foods to prevent or cure constipation.
Dietary fiber has two types: soluble dietary fiber and insoluble dietary fiber. The type of dietary fiber you should take in depends on the type of constipation you are having.
Actively take in dietary fibers that match with the type of constipation you are having.
Soluble dietary fiber: This type of fiber is water-soluble and turns into gel after absorbing water inside your intestines.
Effective against: spastic constipation and rectal constipation
Food examples: shallots, garlic, barley, kanpyou (dried gourd strips), burdock root, ashitaba leaves, etc.
Insoluble fibers: This type of is water-insoluble and expands after absorbing water, therefore promoting bowel movement.
Effective against: flaccid constipation
Food examples: beans, corn, chickpeas, kinako flour, azuki beans, cloud ear mushrooms, dried shiitake mushrooms, etc.
(9)Avoid eating foods that worsen constipation
Foods or drinks containing tannin
Persimmon, red wine, coffee, tea, green tea and others contain tannin.
Tannin is one type of polyphenol and acts as an anti-diarrhea drug, therefore hardening your stool.
Eating ice cream or anything that chills your body may cause diarrhea, as well as constipation.
Chilling your internal organs such as your intestines lowers their functions.
Many cases of constipation among people who tend to feel cold are linked to chilling of organs.
Even there are many fiber-rich vegetables that chill down your body, so it would be better try to boil them once and eat them. In addition, refrain from eating cold foods such as ice cream.
Eat many vegetables if eating meat
Compared to vegetables, it takes time for meat to be digested, so giving a burden to your intestines.
If you don’t eat eat many vegetables or drink enough fluids, meat easily accumulates inside your intestines leading to worsening intestinal environment caused by the increase of bad bacteria.
Meat contains nutrients that create muscles and may soften your stool, so there is no need for you to refrain from eating it, but try to take enough dietary fibers and fluids when eating meat.
4.Correct use of laxatives
There are different types of laxatives such as suppositories and tablets, but their ways of promoting bowel movements and therapeutic effect strength differ.
If you know about laxatives yet used them in a wrong way, it could worsen your constipation.
4-1. I should not use a laxative?!
We cannot recommend you to habitually use laxatives. The frequently you use laxatives, the lesser their effects you will feel. You will no longer feel being called by nature as frequent use of laxatives weakens your bowel movement.
In contrast, not using laxatives increases your risk of not being able to pass stool.
However, it is okay to use one if your situation becomes more difficult. However, you should observe the correct dosage of using laxatives.
4-2. How to choose a laxative
Choose a laxative that basically matches with the constipation symptoms you are having. We will introduce some types of laxatives and their respective features.
Laxatives differ by their active ingredients such as anthraquinone and diphenylmethane. Compared to anthraquinone, diphenylmethane is slower when it comes to bringing effects.
This type of laxative stimulates your large intestines, promoting bowel movement. Furthermore, it also softens your stool. There are laxatives that contain respective ingredients such as anthraquinone and diphenylmethane. If you are going to choose a gentle yet effective kind of laxative, using the ones that contain diphenylmethane is recommended.
Laxative (wet laxative): This kind of laxative increases the amount of stool by absorbing water.
Saline laxative: It promotes bowel movement by increasing the amount of water in the intestines. This type of laxative has less risk of side effects on women. It also has low addictive nature. There are over-the-counter drugs available on drugstores such as Milk of Magnesia, 3A Magnesia and Slaria, though over-the-counter laxatives are less available.
The drugs prescribed in hospitals are magnesium oxide and magnesium sulfate.
*If you are having rectal constipation, it would be better to refrain from using laxatives, though we recommend you to consult a doctor if you really want to use one.
*Avoid using laxatives if you are having an organic constipation.
5. If your constipation won’t get cured no matter how you do
If your constipation won’t get cured no matter how you change your lifestyle and dietary habits, it may be caused by several factors such as having a intestinal malposition (in which the intestines have not been in proper position since birth) and intestinal malrotation.
If leave your constipation untreated, it may lead to severe diseases such as cancer of the large intestine. If your constipation still remain persistent no matter how much effort you exert, it would be better for you to see a doctor.
Causes of constipation come in a lot of varieties, but doing the right lifestyle and paying attention to the foods you eat lead to you to having a natural and constipation-free lifestyle.
*The information in this article is provided on April 18, 2016.
Be aware that the effects and results provided in this article vary by individual.