Constipation is the infrequent or incomplete bowel movements often characterized by stools that are hard, dry and difficult to pass. This is often accompanied by abdominal discomfort/fullness, rectal discomfort, bloating, nausea, loss of appetite, headache, lower back pain, a general feeling of malaise, and experience of one or fewer bowel movements per day.
Signs and symptoms of constipation include:
- abdominal discomfort/fullness
- rectal discomfort
- loss of appetite
- lower back pain
- general feeling of malaise
- dry, hard stool
- long bowel transit time
Excessive bowel transit time leads to a state of chronic constipation. This means increased exposure to waste and toxins from bowel bacteria and undigested fermented food particles, which can lead to other symptoms and disorders, such as:
- anxiety, depression, fatigue, insomnia
- meningitis, migraines
- bad breath, coated tongue, body odor
- digestive problems, indigestion, gas, allergies, skin conditions, candidiasis
- appendicitis, diverticulitis and diverticulosis, hemorrhoids, Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), colitis, ulcerative colitis, and bowel cancer
- nutrient deficiencies, malabsorption syndrome
- obesity, diabetes mellitus
- thyroid disease
- female disorders
- varicose veins
- Myasthenia gravis
- slower healing times
In conventional medical circles, it is considered ‘normal’ when you have a bowel movement as infrequently as three times a week or less often. In contrast, most holistic practitioners would consider the normal range of bowel movements to be one to three times per day, depending on your ayurvedic constitution.
What causes it:
There are many possible causes of constipation, ranging from simple to complex. Possible causes of your constipation are:
- insufficient fiber in your diet
- too much unhealthy fat in your diet and too many refined foods
- side effects of some medications you may be taking (antidepressants; tranquilizers; painkillers that contain codeine, morphine, or opium; some blood pressure and heart medications; diuretics; synthetic iron supplements; calcium-containing and aluminum-containing antacids; antispasmodic drugs; anesthetics; bismuth salts; anticholinergics; some antihistamines; cough syrups; calcium supplements; drugs for Parkinson’s disease)
- lack of exercise
- travel (changing time zones especially)
- pregnancy (hormonal and mechanical problems presented)
- excessive use of laxatives or enemas (can damage nerve cells in the bowel, interfering with its ability to contract)
- ignoring the urge to defecate
- surgery (such as hysterectomy or back surgery that may result in severance of nerves in the bowel)
- dehydration (water needed to provide bulk to stools)
- extreme stress/depression
- magnesium deficiency
- deficiency of perastalsis-including nutrients (vitamin B5, vitamin C, choline and arginine)
- prolonged bed rest
- advanced age
- spinal cord injury
- sedentary lifestyle
- growths, scarring or inflammation in colon or rectum, scarring from C-section or endometriosis
- loss of body salts through vomiting or diarrhea (for from taking diuretics)
- insufficient levels of digestive enzymes (hydrochloric acid, pancreatic enzymes, bile salts)
What can I do about it:
Alternative practitioners take the approach of determining the cause of your constipation which can include your diet, stress levels, hormone function, what drugs and environmental toxins you’ve been exposed to. Here are some diet and lifestyle options for you:
Steps to immediate relief are:
(1) Make water your beverage of choice. Water is one of nature’s natural cleansers. Drinking optimal levels of purified water benefits your overall health by supporting your ability to digest your food, supporting your liver in its ability to detoxify your body, and providing fluid for optimal elimination of toxins.
Commit to drinking 1/2 your weight in fluid ounces of water each day. Drinking sips of warmed water (not microwaved) can help support you with detoxifying the congestion in your intestinal tract and lymphatic system throughout your entire body. Eliminating all other caffeinated, sugary, mucus-producing, carbonated beverages (such as coffee, tea, dairy, and soda pop) is essential as they support digestive dysfunction, parasitic and yeast overgrowth, insulin resistance, and weight gain.
(2) Choose your team of healthcare practitioners wisely. Your health condition and experience of discomfort may be the result of many imbalances in your body, requiring proper testing and an accurate diagnosis. Choosing practitioners with additional training in the areas nutrition, hormone testing/balancing, and detoxification processes will help you take a multi-faceted approach.
Taking ownership of your health equation can be one of the most empowering steps you can take and you can do this by: becoming more informed, listening to your inner wisdom, focusing on your “ideal experience” of health, and partnering with your healthcare and wellness practitioners to effect the best possible outcome. Essential Wellness would be honored to be a part of your wellness team.
(3) Determine whether your symptoms of constipation are related to an overgrowth of Candida, Parasites, and/or Leaky Gut Syndrome, as they often show up with constipation. With this information, you will be better informed to ask questions of your wellness team of practitioner. At Essential Wellness, we can teach you how to improve your diet, eliminate candida and parasites, and repair leaky gut by incorporating an elimination diet as your next step.
(4) When you are experiencing constipation, you most likely a digestive terrain problem like leaky gut with candida overgrowth and you need to get to the root which is usually your diet. Eliminating the most common highly-reactive, inflammatory foods (dairy, soy, wheat/gluten, eggs, peanuts, sugar and artificial sweeteners, and corn) can help you eliminate the food sources that are contributing to your constipation, while you complete the required repair work. Upgrading your building materials will help you to unburden your digestive system, remove the foods that feed unfriendly microorganisms, stabilize your blood sugar levels and reduce cravings, and support your body’s detoxification and elimination processes.
Replace inflammatory foods with satisfying balanced meals (healthy, lean and clean proteins; low-glycemic and high fiber carbohydrates; lots and lots of dark leafy greens; and healthy fats (nuts, seeds, oils). Reintroducing each reactive food group separately will allow you to determine what foods are still a problem for you.
Increase your dietary fiber from sources like vegetables, low-sugar fruits like granny smith apples and berries, gluten-free oat bran, guar gum, and legumes (beans and peas) to encourage persistalsis. Avoid fruit with small seeds. Be sure to increase fiber consumption gradually so as not to cause irritation. Be careful not to use wheat bran as wheat is a grain that is often a trigger food, especially for those with wheat/gluten intolerances.
Other steps include learning to read food labels, knowing how to choose meals when eating out, and how to create a stress-free environment when eating for optimal digestion. At Essential Wellness, we have a specific coaching program that will teach you all these things and more. It is designed to help you formulate a diet that will work best for you.
(5) Elimination problems such as constipation can be related to your digestive health, especially bile flow. When you do not have proper levels of stomach acid, you do not digestive your food optimally because the liver and pancreas do not receive optimal signals to release bile and enzymes. Anytime a food is eaten and not completely digested, it will only feed inflammation, gut dysbiosis, candida/parasites, and leaky gut. Low stomach acid interferes with the first step of digestion and can be a factor in your health equation.
The HCI Challenge Test can help you determine if you have low stomach acid. If your HCl Challenge Test causes you to experience immediate reflux symptoms, confer with your doctor to rule out a possible H. pylori infection, ulcer, or other stomach issues. Repairing your stomach lining is essential.
(6) Make movement a daily habit. This means implementing an exercise program, even if it’s just going for a daily walk or jumping on a mini trampoline. Movement through exercise encourages rhythmic movement in the large intestine (called peristalsis) and stimulates the lymphatic system to pull toxins from the tissue and move it to elimination channels. High Intensity Interval Training or Burst Training is an optimal form of exercise and will give you the best results for your effort.
(7) Answer nature’s call promptly. Make sure you allow time each morning to have a healthy bowel movement. An ideal bowel movement should look like a banana, sausage or snake and be smooth and soft. Anything more firm means you are constipated; take steps 1-5 consistently. Get in the habit of drinking at least 2 cups of warm water each morning upon rising will send the message to your colon to eliminate.
(8) The use of essential oils can be beneficial to you. For immediate pain relief of digestive discomfort, apply 1-3 drops of essential oil (such as DiGize, Peppermint, Ginger, Purification, and/or Release) to 1 tsp of carrier oil (V6 or olive oil) and apply through self massage of area(s) where your discomfort lies. You can also massage the neurolymphatic points and foot reflex points that correlate to areas of the body that are troubling you (such as your large intestine). Layering multiple oils can create a synergistic effect. For constipation, look at oils that will support your digestive, immune, and elimination systems.
Young Living Essential Oils are safe, effective, and known for their pureness and therapeutic-grade qualities. For more help with choosing the right oils and application of specific points or meridians on your body, schedule an appointment with us at Essential Wellness.
(9) Reduce your stress levels. A little stress can prompt you into action and that’s good thing. Too much stress can put you in fight-flight mode, and will shut down your digestive and elimination processes. Emotionally, constipation is connected to holding and not letting go.
Stress-reduction can be as simple as going for a walk out in nature, exercising, or taking some time to quiet your internal chatter. Stress reduction techniques might include relaxation therapy, biofeedback, hypnosis, Eden Energy Medicine exercises, EFT, Mental-Emotional Stress Release, counseling or stress management training. We can teach techniques to help you diffuse your stress.
Steps to long-term, permanent relief:
If you are not eliminating every day, you are constipated. If you are experiencing chronic constipation, your inner ecosystem has been out of balance some quite some time. It’s time for you to implement these additional steps:
(10) Making your dietary improvements permanent might be exactly what you need to feel better. When you do not provide your body with key nutrients all aspects of digestion, absorption, detoxification and elimination become impaired. Your body can only mirror the quality of the building materials you provide it through your diet.
The place where most people fail is falling back into old habits that slowly recreate their imbalances and symptoms. Eating healthy 95% of the time and indulging only 5% of the time supports your optimal well-being. If you are struggling with how to integrate these changes on your own, an Essential Wellness practitioner skilled in the areas of nutrition, digestion and detoxification can help you.
(11) ALCAT allergy testing can easily determine what allergens are triggering you. Your test results will tell you what foods, chemicals, and other environmental triggers (like pet dander, mold, fungi, grasses) are triggers for you. This testing determines the severity of your intolerance and gives you recommendations of how long to remove it from your environment while you repair your digestive system.
If it’s determined that you have food, chemical or environmental sensitivities, receiving NAET Desensitization Therapy might be part of your allergies answer. This desensitization therapy works in combination with cleaning up your diet, strengthening your ability to digest your food, absorbing nutrients, and eliminating toxins. It helps reduce the over-triggering of your immune system.
(12) Often your thyroid’s function can be a factor causing your constipation. Work with an integrative health practitioner who will test your thyroid thoroughly as you may be an individual with ‘sub-clinical hypothyroidism’ whose depressed thyroid activity does not show up on standard tests.
(13) Heavy Metals can be present in your silver amalgam dental fillings. These fillings are over 50% mercury, a toxic heavy metal that has the effect of binding with selenium and thereby interfering with thyroid hormone production. Mercury is a highly toxic substance and may be a factor in your chronic constipation. There is a connection between candida overgrowth, leaky gut, mercury poisoning and dental amalgams that is often given minimal attention for constipation problems.
Request a heavy metal profile test from your health professional. If it is determined that you have mercury poisoning, partner with a naturopathic dentist to remove silver amalgam fillings and a health professional skilled in heavy metal removal therapies to assist you in chelating the heavy metals toxins from your body.
(14) When you are suffering from constipation, it’s important to re-establish healthy gut bacteria and remove any mucus congestion in the gut lining. Doing so will improve your digestion and assimilation of nutrients and improve your body’s elimination process. Herbal supplements like a Biocult probiotic, a combo of Slippery Elm Bark, Marshmallow root and Licorice root, L-glutamine powder, NAC, Alpha Lipoic Acid, digestive enzymes, and Glutathione spray all have their place in supporting the rebuilding of your gut ecosystem, but they will not make up the difference if you eat a “crappy” diet.
You can also introduce organic, home-made probiotic foods like sauerkraut, yogurt, kefir, etc., to continue feeding and rebuilding your gut ecosystem. The healthier your gut ecosystem is, the more able your immune system is to chelate toxins from your body. There are many ayuredic herbs that benefit the repair of your digestive system. Young Living has many nutritional supplements that can help you balance your digestive terrain. We can help teach you about these supportive supplements and live foods at Essential Wellness.
(15) Detoxifying your body through dietary improvements, an herbal cleanse program, and/or detoxification therapies can be an effective way to improve your overall experience of well-being. Before beginning any detox protocol, check in with your healthcare practitioner, to determine if there is a reason you should not complete a cleanse at this time. (When your body is in an extreme state of stress and toxicity, it’s important to replenish your nutrient reserves before beginning any detoxification protocol.)
It is also very important for your elimination channels to be open before beginning and during any detoxification program, otherwise you may suffer from a Herxheimer Reaction. At Essential Wellness, we know the ins and outs of the cleansing and detoxification process and we can help you minimize your discomfort as you detoxify your body.
How can Essential Wellness help:
At Essential Wellness, we believe repair and recovery is based on many factors. Although we cannot diagnose, prescribe, treat or claim to cure any medical condition you may have, our focus is on helping you reduce the many levels of stress that are playing into your current health experience.
When you are experiencing constipation symptoms and the therapies you’ve tried are not giving you relief, Essential Wellness can help you. We do this by sharing our knowledge and experience, tools, techniques, and these therapies:
- Nutrition & Wellness Plan is one of our coaching programs that will help you get clear about what your wellness goals are (based on your individual needs), teach you how to decipher and make sense of all the dietary information available to you, and help you formulate your own wellness plan with accountability. The foundation of your wellness plan will be structured around habits that only you have the power to control and change.
- Based on our knowledge and experience, most health disorders including constipation are connected to some physiological dysfunction that causes accumulated toxicity in the body and vice versa. With constipation there is a definite toxicity issue in your body. We offer the detoxification therapies of Colonics, Core Lymphatic, and IonCleanse Foot Detox to help reduce stress on your digestive, detoxification and elimination channels. Colonics can specifically help remove the build up of waste in the large intestine and tone the musculature of the large intestine. Combined with herbal support, colonics will compliment your dietary foundation and can be especially helpful to you when you are not eliminating at least once per day.
- For structural imbalances, pain relief, congestion and discomfort associated with constipation, we offer Core Synchronism, Eden Energy Medicine exercises, and Vibrational Raindrop Technique therapies to assist you in balancing your physical body by reducing your stress. When your body feels out of balance and you feel stress, it is usually due to blocked or congested energy that has settled in your physical body. We can add Essential Oils to compliment the therapy you receive.
- Toxic emotions can block the flow of your energy channels and become stuck in your physical body. The emotional component of constipation can be connected to: not being able to release old ideas, emotional hurts, and being stuck in the past. If any of these descriptions match what you are experiencing, Mental-Emotional Stress Release techniques may help you understand and integrate these experiences and diffuse the stress they cause you. Flower Remedies can compliment the therapy you receive.
- With constipation comes multiple symptoms you are most likely experiencing multiple symptoms. We offer RAE Radionics Hair Analysis as another tool to help you understand any stress that is present in your energy system.