Herbs To Treat Constipation

Herbs To Treat Constipation

Constipation refers to bowel movements that are infrequent or hard to pass. Constipation is a common cause of painful defecation. Severe constipation includes obstipation (failure to pass stools or gas) and faecal impaction, which can progress to bowel obstruction and become life-threatening.

Constipation is a symptom, not a disease with many potential causes which can either cause the colon to become physically blocked, or can cause peristalsis to slowdown. Causes of colonic slow transit constipation include diet, hormonal disorders such as hypothyroidism, side effects of medications, and rarely heavy metal toxicity. Because constipation is a symptom, not a disease, effective treatment of constipation must require first determining the root cause which could be either physical and/or emotional. Unfortunately due to the common Western style diets, which lack a lot of fibre, constipation is becoming more common.

Some of the underlying issues causing failure of the bowel to evacuate maybe due to inactivity, chemical laxatives, ignoring body signals, piles, diverticulosis, lack of exercise, low fibre diet, poor eating habits, nervous stress, changes in your friendly intestinal flora and emotional holding.

The number of bowel movements per day varies greatly from person to person, it may be normal for a person to have one bowel movement a day, while in others two or three times a day maybe normal. Foods should be digested readily and the waste matter be eliminated from the body without undue delay to prevent reabsorption of toxins.
Therefore in treating constipation effectively it is important find the root cause and treat the cause as well. There are many different herbs which can be used to treat constipation.

Laxative herbs are obviously relevant like Cascara Sagrada, Turkey Rhubarb, Liquorice, Barberry and Yellow Dock. Anti-spasmodic herbs like Cramp Bark and Wild Yam may be used if there is pain and cramping or if stress is a factor. Bulk forming herbs like Psyllium Husks maybe used in cases of IBS and chronic diverticulitis. Mucilaginous and demulcent herbs like Slippery Elm and Marshmallow can be used so toxins can stick to it and be drawing from the body; they also help to speed up transit time by lubricating the mucous membrane. In some cases bitter herbs like Wormwood might be used in an herbal remedy to cause general stimulation of the digestive process.

If there is a fungal infection in the digestive tract, Black Walnut and Pau D’Arco are good herbs to use. Plantain is also used as it has a drawing action to help draw out old faecal matter. To help calm things down if there is flatulence, carminative herbs like Ginger and Fennel may also be included in a herbal remedy.

Remember constipation is only a symptom to a deeper underlying root cause and the aim of the herbalist is to identify and treat the root cause.

These are just a selection of the many herbs available to a herbalist in dealing with constipation.

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