Herbs To Treat Constipation
Herbs To Treat Constipation
In the clinic we use many different herbs to treat constipation. Contrary to common belief, constipation is not a disease but a symptom of some underlying problem. This could be an inappropriate diet, liver problem or even a physical blockage in the system. In any case, the cause must be identified and treated as the long term use of laxatives in chronic constipation can eventually lead to other symptoms such as headaches, colic or even jaundice. Most constipation would not occur if the body were given a well-balanced diet with adequate levels of roughage (fibre).
In cases of chronic constipation, the muscles of the intestines have to be re-trained to move the bowel content. The movement of the intestinal wall is a complex and highly integrated example of muscle control, designed to push the content outwards at the right time with the right force. This natural peristaltic movement can be blocked by the long use of laxatives. Two things should be done to re-train the intestines: care should be taken that meals are eaten regularly (same time each day) and small amounts of appropriate herbs should be used to re-stimulate the peristalsis, for instance the herb Cascara Sagrada.
A further factor that should not be under-estimated is the attitude and state of mind of the person who is constipated. Somebody who is tight and tense, who wants to hold on to everything and everyone, who can’t relax and let go, will often be constipated. In such cases, relaxation exercise or meditation can be the best laxatives.
When constipation is the result of a disease process, it is important to relieve the symptoms whilst treating the cause, otherwise the body might absorb some of the stagnant material from the intestines.
Of all the evacuant herbs available perhaps the most widely applicable is Turkey Rhubarb Root, as it is a prime example of a normalising herb. While in large doses it is purgative, taken in small doses it tones and astringes the intestinal wall, promoting appetite and can disperse any gas that develops.
Any of the evacuant herbs will work well on their own, but the following mixture combines a number of valuable actions. Barberry aids the liver and the gall-bladder, Dandelion stimulates the digestive process, Cascara Sagrada acts on the peristaltic movement, Licorice is mainly included to mask the bitter taste of some of the herbs, Turkey Rhubarb as mentioned above, and Ginger to guard against any colic.
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Source: The New Holistic Herbal. David Hoffmann.