Constipation is the uncomfortable state of not being able to have a bowel movement, having to strain to have a bowel movement, or evacuating only a small amount of hard feces during a bowel movement. Generally, constipation can cause an unpleasant, gassy, bloated sensation. Natural constipation remedies include eating plenty of fiber, drinking enough fluids to stay hydrated, exercising every day, practicing relaxation, and possibly using herbal laxatives for a limited time.
It usually is better for the body to use natural constipation remedies than it is to use chemical laxatives. Pharmaceuticals may bring quick relief, but over time they actually weaken the bowel muscles and make constipation more likely to occur. In fact, if laxatives are used regularly, a person may soon find that he or she is unable to have a bowel movement without a laxative. Natural constipation remedies can work just as well, and carry less risk of dependency.
Eating plenty of fiber is one of the more easy natural constipation remedies. There are two kinds of fiber: insoluble fiber, which is difficult to digest, and soluble fiber, which acts as a stool softener by absorbing water from the bowel. Fresh fruits with the skins left on, leafy and root vegetables, and whole grains are all excellent sources of soluble fiber. If a person doesn't like fruits and vegetables, he or she can try using a fiber supplement to relieve constipation.
Another of the easy home constipation remedies is staying hydrated. Most doctors recommend that people drink between six and eight glasses of water every day. A person can substitute fruit juice or herbal teas for water, but if he or she becomes constipated, it is better to avoid caffeinated beverages and milk. Another tip: some people with constipation find they get relief quicker from warm fluids than from cold ones.
The discomfort of constipation can make a person feel like moving as little as possible. Daily exercise, however, is one of nature's best constipation cures, even if it is only a brisk walk or a few minutes of yoga. It is generally recommended that a person try to set aside at least thirty minutes a day for some form of exercise.
Stress can be a culprit in causing constipation. Sometimes just taking a few minutes to practice deep relaxation can get things moving again. Sitting or lying down in a comfortable position and imagining the tension flowing out of the body can help. Trying to clear one's head and putting any upsetting thoughts out of the mind can help, as well.
If a person has tried changing diets, exercising, or relaxing and is still feeling constipated, he or she may want to consider one of the herbal remedies for constipation. Several herbs such as buckthorn, senna, and aloe can provide relief. While the herbs are technically natural constipation remedies, they carry the same risk of dependency as chemical laxatives — they should be used sparingly and only when all else fails. Constipation can also make people feel miserable, but they can quickly put themselves right by increasing the soluble fiber in their diet, drinking plenty of fluids, and making time in their busy schedule to exercise and relax.