Constipation can be an acute or a chronic condition where bowel movements are infrequent or difficult to pass because of hard, dry stools. This can be disruptive to daily life and it reflects an imbalance in our health, both physically and mentally. So, what’s the best treatment for constipation?
I’ve come to realize over the years that the best treatment for constipation is to have a holistic plan. Your digestive tract is not separate from the rest of your body. Our whole body is a complete system that we can’t piece out and treat as distinct parts that have no effect on the other parts and the whole itself.
You are a whole human being and if you have problems with constipation, it is also likely that you are experiencing other issues as well that you may not realize are connected: skin issues, chronic UTIs, indigestion, stomach pains, anxiety, inflammation, depression, dehydration, dandruff, or even diabetes. Or something else that hasn’t yet surfaced.
This is why the best treatment for constipation is a holistic lifestyle to address the whole of your mind, body, and spirit. Use the following as an outline to create your own custom-made treatment for constipation and you will see your health (and your life) improve on all fronts.
Let’s cure constipation for good!
Before we get into it, I’m sure you’ve heard before that there is a gut-brain connection. Science is beginning to see that mental health has a huge impact on our body systems, and our gut health also has an effect on our mental health and cognition.
Did you know that over 90% of the neurotransmitter serotonin is synthesized in the gut, as well as half of our dopamine? These neurotransmitters are responsible for our mood. So when we say “I just have a gut feeling,” there’s really a lot of truth to that.
The existence of the gut-brain axis is scientifically accepted and researchers have found that anxiety, depression, and autism spectrum disorders are connected to gastrointestinal problems.
So gut health is extremely important for our mental health as well as our physical health. We need to ask ourselves if what we are putting in our gut will send the best message out into our body systems – including the digestive system.
So any treatment for constipation must include improving gut health.
Emotional Health – Let It Go
It may not be expected to read about mental and emotional health in an article about constipation, but your emotional state has an enormous effect on your bodily functions. Emotionally speaking, constipation is a blockage. It’s the inability to let go. It’s stagnation.
Is coping with your emotions as they come up something that comes easily to you? Do you have a daily practice that unblocks you and centers you in your body?
If we work on letting go of the past, moving on, taking action, feeling and processing our emotions, and practicing anxiety-relieving and mood-boosting tools, this will help ease chronic constipation.
Your emotional health routine is just as important as your physical health routine. And while committing to your physical health is important and will have a positive outcome for your emotional health, it’s beneficial to also focus more directly and concretely on your mental/emotional health because these are often overlooked in the day-to-day.
To combat all the negative effects – such as constipation – that result in the body from stress and anxiety, there are some things we can do.
- create a morning ritual
- create an evening ritual
- let out all your thoughts and emotions in a daily journal
- have a cathartic practice like singing, dancing, or kickboxing
Create time to reflect on yourself, your emotions, your goals and dreams, and your gratitude for the good in your life.
If we make a conscious effort to work toward emotional health goals, this will have very positive results.
Meditation & Breathwork
To help yourself recognize emotional blocks and repeating thought patterns, I suggest starting a meditation practice. If you have a hard time sticking to meditation every day, there are countless apps to help you with this. Starting with a commitment of just 2 minutes every morning is very doable. Set your timer for 2 minutes and just focus on your breath. Every time your mind wanders just pull your attention back to your breath.
When you are able to do this and as you start adding time to your 2 minutes, you can start doing a body scan meditation. This is very helpful for bringing your awareness into your body and checking in on everything that’s going on in different areas.
If you have trouble meditating or feel that it isn’t for you, there is something I’ve found that I’ve had a much more potent experience with: breathwork.
I’ve found breathwork to be one of the most transformative tools in my life. Its application reaches so many areas and is not limited to just easing anxiety. People can experience the release of emotional baggage they’ve carried for far too long. It seems to me that it would be fitting that it affects the problem of constipation in the same way.
As I mentioned before, emotional health is an important factor in our physical health. All systems are connected. Your body is an entire ecosystem in a delicate balance and it just takes our gentle but focused awareness on it to know what to do.
I will definitely dive deeper into breathwork in a future post, but for now, there are several apps you can choose from and you can also check out Wim Hoff’s YouTube channel to get started.
I know, I know. Everyone knows that increasing your consumption of fiber in your diet is supposed to help with constipation. But how much are you actually getting? Have you ever tallied it up? That may be an exercise worth doing.
But we also need to make sure we are increasing our water intake along with that, otherwise, we can make constipation worse. If you are eating a high fiber diet you also need to make sure that you’re drinking around a half-ounce to one ounce for every pound you weigh. So if you weigh 150 pounds divide that by 2 and that gets you the minimum requirement: 75 ounces. That means you should drink between 75 to 150 of water a day depending on where you live (people at higher altitudes need more water).
This may be significantly more than you’re used to! To help yourself keep track I recommend picking up one of these.
I’ve found a water tracking app can be very helpful also. I didn’t realize how little water I was getting throughout the day until I started using one and it was nice to have a reminder every couple of hours and a visual representation of how much more I had to drink.
Besides those tips, all you really need to focus on is eating a whole foods diet with as little processed food as possible and a balance of macros. Remember that you need fat, protein, and carbs in your diet. None of them are evil.
If you are eating a lot of processed and prepackaged food take small steps toward changing your diet. Add in more dark leafy greens, vegetables, and fruit. After a while, start cutting back on things that really aren’t good for you. I will write a post about this transition in the future!
We’ve become a very sedentary species in the modern age and our bodies crave and need more exercise.
Regular body movement creates regular bowel movements!
It seems that many people tend to ignore this advice when given and just want to focus on changing their diet, or even worse, just using laxatives.
This is a mistake.
But I get it! I hate going to the gym and thought that I should force myself to go. I didn’t relate to people who had rock-hard abs or who had bodybuilding or triathlete ambitions. I was never a sporty or athletic person. I was content to stay home and read and write all day and thought exercise just wasn’t for me.
I’m glad that instead of just seeing exercise in this narrow way I opened myself up to hiking and dancing. These are so much fun for me that they don’t feel like have to’s and more like I can’t wait to’s!
They’ve become part of my identity because I’ve built them into my life slowly.
Try adding in just 15 minutes a day of body movement. If you can’t do a full half-hour or an hour-long workout today, you can do 15 minutes. Show up for yourself. Even if the promise is as small as “every day I will roll out my yoga mat.”
Staying active needs to be fun. If you aren’t having fun, you aren’t going to stick to it. This needs to be a long-term habit change. So pick something that you like doing. Walking, the trampoline, swimming, running, kayaking, or putting on your favorite exercising YouTuber!
If constipation is a chronic issue for you and you are also pretty sedentary, do your body a favor and move it 😉
Herbs & Supplements
All of these lifestyle changes can take a while for your body to respond in the way that you are hoping for so I’ve included a few things that can help things along in the short term. These are not things you should be relying on every day. They are a crutch until you heal your body and it comes back into balance.
- magnesium citrate
- psyllium husks
- LaxiNon herbal laxative
- Biovy Thruve herbal laxative and probiotic
- Oxy-Powder Colon Cleanser
Listen To Your Body
Curing constipation is a holistic process. Remember to treat your body with care. It does a lot for you!
Keep some awareness of what your body is feeling and give it what it needs so that it can take you wherever you want to go.
Take small steps at first. We want to build up these habits and stick to them for the long haul. Constipation doesn’t need to be part of your life.
So take control of your holistic treatment plan for constipation and tell us in the comments what you plan to do first to make a change!