Constipation is defined as having infrequent bowel movements, to the tune of less than 3 per week. Sensations of incomplete evacuation as well as hard, difficult to pass stools, are also experienced. In the absence of structural abnormalities of the intestines, hypothyroidism and low stomach acid, other causes include lack of dietary fiber, dehydration, opioid-like activity of wheat and cow’s milk proteins (which slow down intestinal transit and motility just like morphine and codeine) and nutritional deficiencies such as probiotic, Vitamin B12, C and Magnesium.
That brings us to the interventions. Firstly, a good start in dealing with constipation would be to ensure that adequate amounts of fiber and fluids are present in the diet. Eating more green leafy vegetables (especially the fermented ones like kimchee and sourkraut) or several prunes, and drinking an extra 2 cups of water per day and 2-3 ounces of prune juice are usually enough in many cases. However, stubborn cases require bigger guns.
The first of those guns would be flax seed oil in the amount of 1-2 tablespoons per day, or 2-3 tablespoons per day of flax meal along with 10-20mg of vitamin B6.
Adding probiotic supplements to one’s diet also ensures smoother moving bowels.
Then there is Magnesium and Vitamin C, which both function as osmotic laxatives in higher doses. 3-400 mg of either magnesium citrate, magnesium sulfate (aka Epsom salts) or magnesium hydroxide (aka milk of magnesia) before bed will not only help sleep, but also reward you with a good morning movement. Vitamin C (ascorbic acid form) in doses of up to 5 grams per day in divided doses will not only help your immunity to colds and flus, but also will soften your stools.
Finally, vitamin B12 (1000mcg/day) also tends to stimulate the intestines and relieve constipation.
Join us next week where we’ll talk about Omega 3 fatty acids.
Be Well and Be Zen
- Gaby., Constipation., Nutritional Medicine (2011)., ps.393-97., Ch. 102., ISBN13: 978-0-9828850-0-0. Fritz Perlberg Publishing, Concord, NH.
- Willette R.E., Thomas B.L.,Barnett G., Inhibition of morphine analgesia by ascorbate., Res Commun Chem Pathol Pharmacol 1983;42: 485-91.