While it may be more common in modern times to use an over the counter, or prescription, laxative to relieve your constipation, natural alternatives – historically called physicks or colon cleanses – have been used successfully for thousands of years.
There are a wide range of laxatives available to you at pharmacies; however, the majority of these laxatives are a chemical composition. Chemical laxatives are not designed to be taken long-term, and can pose a danger to your health when not taken correctly.
In point of fact, laxatives are by people looking for a ‘quick fix’ to lose weight, or rid their bodies of unwanted calories that were consumed.
Innumerable health risks are associated with laxative abuse. Most notably, an overuse of laxatives can lead to a dependency. Consequently, over time the colon stops reacting to the stimulation that is produced by the laxative. Increasingly larger doses are then needed in order for a bowel movement to occur.
Overuse can also lead to dehydration. Being dehydrated is extremely dangerous, and can be tremendously detrimental to your health. Watch for symptoms of fainting, weakness and fatigue, tremors, or blurred vision when taking a chemical laxative for constipation.
Furthermore, being dehydrated for an extended period can also cause damage to the kidneys.
A conducted by Barry M. Popkin et. Al for the Department of Nutrition at the University of North Carolina states that kidney’s function most optimally when there is an ample supply of water within the body.
It is therefore logical to conclude that an absence of water will cause decreased kidney function; as the kidneys are responsible for riding toxins from your body, decreased function is not ideal.
Despite the possible health risks associated with long-term use, short-term usage of prescription and over the counter laxatives are still recommended in cases where there are intense constipation symptoms; however, for regular or prolonged usage, natural laxatives are a much healthier and safer option.
Natural alternatives pose no risk of physical dependencies, cause no irritation to your intestines, do not cause weight gain, and will not cause any adverse side effects.
The following are a list of fifteen natural laxatives alternatives to the chemical laxative:
15 Natural laxatives for constipation
1. Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar has long been peddled as a natural remedy for almost any ailment; from whitening teeth, and soothing sunburn to lowering blood sugar levels and helping you lose weight, apple cider vinegar is the antidote.
Apple cider vinegar is made by pressing, or crushing, the apples in order to squeeze the liquid out of them. Once the liquid has been released from the apple, yeast and bacteria are added to it in order to encourage the beginning of the alcoholic fermentation process.
When turning to apple cider vinegar as a natural remedy, you want to make sure you purchase organic, raw, and unpasteurised vinegar.
For relief of constipation, combine one tablespoon of the apple cider vinegar with warm water, and drink it approximately thirty minutes before each meal.
The acetic acid found in the vinegar helps to increase your body’s absorption of vitamins and minerals, and thus alleviates your constipation.
Prunes are plums that have been dried for preservation; they are an excellent mild laxative.
Sorbitol is a sugar alcohol that gets metabolised very slowly within the body. It helps to draw water into the large intestine, which causes the stimulation of a bowel movement.
Additionally, the sorbitol in prunes helps to soften the stool.
Prunes are also filled with soluble fibers, and insoluble fibers. Foods that contain soluble fibers help to slow down the digestion of the food you consume; foods that contain insoluble fibers help to move foods through your intestines much more quickly.
3. Salt Water
Salt water works well as a laxative because the body is unable to absorb salt water; consequently, it travels right through your system and acts as a cleanse for the small intestine and the stomach.
To use salt water as your laxative, combine two teaspoons of sea salt with four cups of warm water, and drink the resultant mixture slowly.
In addition to salt water, plain filtered water acts as an excellent laxative. Your body cannot function properly when it is not properly hydrated.
Drinking the recommended eight glasses of eight ounces of water per day will ensure that your stomach, intestines, bowel, and colon are all functioning optimally.
4. Coconut Water
Tropical civilizations have been using coconut water as a natural laxative for centuries.
While drinking too much coconut water will not harm you, in some individuals it can cause watery bowel movements, or diarrhea.
If this occurs, begin cutting back on your consumption of the coconut water, until you find the dose that works best for you, and for your body.
5. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is the powdered form of a hot chili pepper, and is touted as have many health benefits.
One such benefit is that cayenne pepper acts as a natural laxative. It helps to stimulate the digestive tract, which in turn increases the speed of digestion.
In addition, cayenne pepper contains alkaloids and glucose, which help to increase blood flow and thus help to relieve you of your indigestion, or constipation.
Coffee has long been known to have laxative-like properties. That is because, similarly to other natural laxatives, coffee is a stimulant.
Like other stimulants coffee encourages the , or the earth-worm-like movements of the muscles, in the intestinal tract. A quickening of the pace at which food is moved through your system is what sends coffee drinkers to the bathroom after having too much coffee.
However, if you limit yourself to one or two cups of coffee, the peristalsis that is stimulated will be just enough to stimulate a bowel movement.
While coffee is not recommended for cases of severe constipation, it can be extremely effective if you are experiencing only mild to moderate discomfort.
7. Lemon Juice
Lemon juice, similar to apple cider vinegar, is touted as a remedy for many bodily ailments and discomforts.
Proponents of natural medicine and alternative health claim that lemon juice can help you achieve healthier looking skin, help to control your blood pressure, help to lessen your menstrual cramps, and even help you lose weight.
The citric acid in lemon juice is a stimulant. As such, consuming lemon juice helps to move the food along your digestive tract. It also acts as a detoxifier, cleansing out the bowel, alleviating constipation and the bloating and gassiness that often accompany it.
To take lemon juice as a laxative, simply mix lemon juice in either cold or warm water, to taste.
8. Flaxseeds or Flaxseed
Flaxseeds come from the flax plant, which is one of the most ancient fiber crops.
Flaxseed can be used as a laxative in seed form, as well as in oil form. Flaxseed oil works well as a laxative because it coats the insides of your intestines, as well as the stool.
This acts as a sort of lubricant, and consequently you will begin to have more frequent bowel movements.
Furthermore, it contains alpha-linolenic acid, which helps to relieve inflammation, which can be a chief cause of constipation.
They recommend consulting your physician in order to determine the proper dosage, but they give an example of ground one teaspoon of flaxseed (or one teaspoon of flaxseed oil) as a treatment for constipation.
Ideally, when choosing the oil as your laxative, you want to take it in conjunction with a juice that contains lots of fiber; for example, pulpy orange juice.
Mix together one tablespoon of flaxseed oil, with one eight ounce glass of pulpy orange juice, and drink it slowly.
The laxative can take up to five hours before it takes effect, so be sure not to ingest more than one glass of the orange juice-flaxseed oi mixture in that time frame, until you can determine how it will affect you.
Consumed in their original form, or as a juice, tomatoes contain a large amount of fiber which is great for preventing constipation.
Having a diet that is rich in fiber will help to ensure a normal stool texture. This is important, because the main way of easing constipation is to soften the stools.
In fact, a conducted by K. Shankardass, M.D. et. Al for the Chedoke-McMaster Hospitals in Hamilton, Ontario demonstrated that adding fiber to a diet helped to improve the bowel function of the participants.
10. Blackstrap Molasses
Blackstrap molasses differs from normal molasses because the sugar cane juice gets boiled down not once, not twice, but three times. In addition, blackstrap molasses contains magnesium, which acts as a stimulant.
To use blackstrap molasses as your laxative, mix one teaspoon of the molasses with warm water, adjusting the amount of water to taste.
The mixture takes approximately one to four hours to begin working.
11. Castor Oil
Castor oil is a vegetable oil that is made from the extract of the castor bean. It has long been used as a natural laxative, and is effective for the same reason that many natural laxatives are – castor oil is a stimulant.
12. Abdominal Massage
Abdominal massage, while never having reached the same level of popularity as other natural laxatives, is an incredibly effective option.
The idea behind abdominal massage is it will help to stimulate peristalsis by massaging the abdominal area, and the intestinal area, with differing pressures and in varying motions.
Once peristalsis has been stimulated, it will help to increase the frequency of your bowel movements.
In fact, a conducted at the Dong-eui Medical Center in Korea, by S.Y. Jeon and H.M. Jung concluded that abdominal massage did lessen the severity of constipation and help to increase the frequency of bowel movements.
13. Aloe Vera
Caution is to be taken when using Aloe Vera as a laxative, however. You want to use the gel, and not the latex that can be found underneath the leaves.
When drinking aloe juice, for example, to alleviate your constipation, it is to be taken twice daily in a dose of two cups each time; one dose in the morning when you wake up, and once in the evening before you go to sleep for the night.
Dates have also long been recognized as a laxative food. Dates, like prunes, are high in soluble fiber which helps to slow down the digestion of the food you consume.
Dates are also high in magnesium, similar to blackstrap molasses. Therefore, dates, like many other natural laxatives, act as a stimulant for your digestive tract.
In order for dates to be an effective laxative, they need to be soaked overnight in water, and eaten the next morning.
Garlic is another natural remedy that has been used for hundreds of years. Among its many touted health benefits, garlic is an effective laxative.
Garlic contains selenium and allicin which are two compounds that can help to trigger liver enzymes, which will in turn detoxify your system. Furthermore, garlic contains potassium.
This is important because your food is moved through your intestines by muscles. If they are deprived of the proper nutrients to keep them performing optimally, this is when constipation can occur.
Natural alternatives to laxatives have overwhelmingly demonstrated themselves to be a much healthier and safer option for relieving your constipation symptoms.
Which natural alternatives do you use? Are there options that you feel work better for you than others?
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