Americans love laxatives, but they’re not alone. The medical traditions of many cultures focus on regularity as essential to good health. We can’t prove that claim one way or the other, but constipation can be uncomfortable. Of course, a regular pattern may be a bowel movement twice a day for one person and three times a week for another. We are more enthusiastic about natural ways to deal with the problem than constant use of laxatives. Abuse of laxatives—especially the “natural” laxatives, like senna or cascara sagrada—can compound the problem. Fortunately, many home remedies can help ease constipation.
I fought constipation for years until I discovered blackstrap molasses. I take two or three spoonfuls of it three times a week in the morning. It has kept me regular for 40 years.
What a record! Blackstrap molasses is a thick, dark syrup that is a by-product of sugar refining. Cooks use it for gingerbread and baked beans. Blackstrap molasses contains minerals and other nutrients, but we don’t know why it might work for constipation.
I was troubled with irregularity most of my life until I discovered Fiber One cereal. I take it with me everywhere—on cruises, to Europe, even to the hospital. Fiber One bars come in handy when milk is unavailable. It’s the only remedy that’s ever worked for me. I can’t stand liquid Metamucil, so I tried the capsules with no success. Benefiber also did nothing for me, so I’m a Fiber One fan forever.
Thanks for sharing your solution. Others may also benefit from psyllium (Metamucil and other brands), wheat dextrin (Benefiber), or cellulose (Citrucel).
Over the years I’ve had issues with constipation, and I recently discovered a wonderful aid. In an attempt to increase the fresh vegetables I eat each day, I have been roasting various veggies—eggplant, squash, zucchini, carrots, and thick slices of onions. I toss the cut-up veggies with garlic and pepper seasoning and olive oil and roast them in a 425-degree oven for about 30 minutes. This solved my problem.
Thanks for the suggestion on a tasty way to get more fiber into the diet. Eating lots of vegetables is likely to be good for anyone, whether or not it banishes constipation. Fluid and fiber are the first line against this common problem.
I suffer from constipation when I travel. The minute I get on a plane, things stop. I go to Europe two or three times a year, and the misery is beyond words. Since I suffer from this problem at no other time, I can’t try remedies at home, and I have shied away from laxatives. I am going to London soon, and believe me, it is on my mind already!
No gastroenterologist has explained to us why traveling creates constipation in so many people. We suggest you take along Metamucil cookies. They contain soluble fiber and are a lot more convenient than powdered psyllium seed. Sugarless gum can also help. Flying dehydrates the body, so drink lots of water on the flight.
I have found a remedy that has worked well for inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), which caused constipation that put me in the hospital about twice a year in excruciating pain. They would load me up on pain meds, run tests, and eventually release me, only to have it happen again and again without any warning. Then I started taking flaxseed oil capsules at least once a day. This has virtually cured my constipation, and I have had no IBS problems since.
Ground flaxseeds, such as those found in Uncle Sam Original bran cereal, are also quite helpful in preventing constipation. Another reader reports that two tablespoons of flaxseed simmered for 15 minutes in three quarts of water produces an anticonstipation tonic. She strains and refrigerates the liquid and takes two ounces in juice every morning for regularity.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic