Constipation: Causes and Natural Remedies

Constipation is a big problem nowadays and definitely we need to learn the causes and some natural remedies that one can use to cure constipation.

WHAT IS A NORMAL bowel pattern—or is there a norm that fits everybody? Every farmer has observed that when cows come up for milking and feeding, the stanchions have to be cleaned afterward. And as for birds, if you ever had a fruit tree in your yard you must have decided that no bird was ever constipated!

Some have taught that people, like animals, should have a bowel movement after each meal.

Patterns of bowel emptying do vary from person to person. But those who are functioning normally are free from discomfort and sense of fullness, they move their bowels with a fairly predictable regularity, their stools are not hard or dry, and the stools are easily eliminated. Departure from this established routine, with painfully hard, difficult, or delayed bowel movements is constipation. What causes constipation? What can be done about it?


The principle cause of constipation is a life-style that either prevents formation of stools or interferes with their elimination. Sounds simple, but what does it mean? Sometimes stools are hard simply because the person does not drink enough water to soften them! The body has to grab every precious drop of water it can to make enough urine to keep the kidneys working properly. For most people an absolute minimum of six glasses a day is essential to keep the kidneys solvent, let alone help remove wastes from other parts of the body. Some physicians insist on a full half liter of water for every seven kilos you weigh! But don’t drink it with meals—that make for other troubles. You will get plenty of water if you drink two glasses on arising and two or three glasses during the forenoon, beginning an hour or two after eating, with a similar drinking pattern after lunch.

Insufficient fiber in the food is one of the most common causes of constipation in our civilization. Inclusion of whole-grain cereals, legumes, fruits and vegetables in liberal amounts will take care of this problem. Infact, these foods, with plenty of water between meals, will cure most people of constipation. Another culprit is—you guessed it—just plain inactivity. Physical activity is a splendid stimulant to movements of the digestive tract, and failure to get enough of it is a disaster for the bowels as well as for the heart and brain and other vital organs of the body.

Then, there are the nervous states which slow down the intestines, and the many drugs taken for various ills, which have as a side effect a constipating action. Sometimes the single expedient of taking a person off all medication has made a hero of a perceptive physician.

Few people realize how tied to habit our bodies are. Those who attend to their need for elimination at regular times and play fair with this function are repaid many fold, whereas those who neglect or repress the urge to empty their bowels because of pressures of time or convenience are laying the foundation for later constipation.

These, then, are the best home remedies for constipation:

1. Liberal water drinking between meals.

2. Plenty of whole-grain cereals, fruits, vegetables, in the diet.

3. Generous, frequent, regular periods of physical activity.

4. Regular times of elimination and heeding “nature’s call” without delay.

5. Avoid all unnecessary drugs.

Drugs are not the solution for constipation. You could become tied up to some drug, an unnatural irritant, for a long time to come.

There are other special measures for those few who are not relieved by the methods we have already mentioned. Substances that produce bulk without food value assist in formation of soft stools. These are of many varieties.


There is also the matter of simply not overloading the bowels, thus making it easier for them to function. While practicing in Canada I was treating a storekeeper from the town of Sidney, British Columbia. I recommended

Every kind of diet for this man’s problem, with so little benefit that he finally stopped coming to my office. Later, while shopping in his store, I inquired as to his digestive problem. “Oh,” he said, “I am getting along Fine.” Hoping to add something to my store of knowledge regarding bad digestion, I said, “What did the trick?” He replied “I just found that I could not handle three meals a day so dropped the third meal, and since that time have had no trouble at all.”

I find myself wondering what would happen if we would drop off one third in quantity and improve the quality of our foods. We might find our present supply of both doctors and hospitals quite ample, and cease to clamor for more of both! The famous English centenarian, Thomas (“Old Parr”), who died in 1653 at the age of 152, was invited by the king to visit him at Buckingham Palace shortly before his death. There he ate the king’s food, but passed away shortly afterward, apparently killed by the royal food given in misapplied kindness.

Certain foods, such as refined cereals, milk, eggs, and processed and hard cheeses (but not cottage and cream cheeses) tend toward constipation. These are not constipating in themselves, but because they have little or no residue they provide little for the stool. You see, about 85 per cent of the normal stool is bacteria. Your diet should leave behind some no digestible residue, which provides something for these bacteria to work on.

Many people, even of the elderly, obtain great relief by the use of a glass or two of hot prune juice (canned is preferable to homemade) one-half to one hour before breakfast. And for those who have hard, dry, difficult stools, introducing an ounce or two of warm olive oil or salad oil into the rectum with a rubber ear syringe at bedtime will usually produce a soft, painless stool in the morning. Words of caution, however—protect the bedding with a cloth or a soft towel, for a little oil may leak out, and soil the bed. Mineral oil taken by mouth has been widely used as a lubricant. However, its use presented some problems. Its tendency to leak is, to say the least, very annoying, and it can pick up and carry away certain oil-soluble vitamins. It is commonly used as an emulsion with other combinations, such as milk of magnesia, but it should not be taken for any extended period of time.

Perhaps farmers know something we need to know, after all! If we were to make our diet simple and sensible, as appropriate to our needs as is the diet of farming animals to their needs, and pursue a life-style more consistent with our physiology, then constipation would, as a rule, be unknown among us, and we would enjoy good health and freedom from the expense, suffering, and sorrow that come from illness.

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