Natural laxatives that come in the form of certain herbs, foods, beverages, minerals, and so on, have been used to help relieve constipation for centuries.
In recent years that simple act seems to have gotten a bit more challenging for many people, thanks to unhealthy diets, stress, and go-go-go lifestyles. More and more people are turning to over-the-counter laxatives at the drugstore to manage the problem, and most often stimulant laxatives which can actually make things worse in the long run. Over time, these medications can start to weaken the natural ability to go to the bathroom, posing a risk for dependency.
The next time you start to feel that bloated, constipated feeling, don’t turn to a drug. Consider using a natural laxative to resolve the problem so things can flow smoothly again. These are some of the best that nature has to offer.
In Native American and Chinese medicine, dandelion greens have been used to relieve constipation for thousands of years, as certain components of this common plant contains high levels of dietary fiber that benefit digestive health. Consuming this fiber encourages healthier bowel movements by adding bulk to stools, and it also reduces the chances of becoming constipated in the first place. By regulating healthier bowel movements, dandelions can even prevent more serious gastrointestinal issues too.
One of the best ways to use dandelions for this purpose is to make a dandelion tea. To do so, pour a cup of near-boiling water over one to two teaspoons of dried dandelion leaves. As the tea serves as a natural laxative, you may want to sip it at home to avoid having to rush to a bathroom while you’re out, at least until you know how it will affect you.
Flaxseeds are considered to be one of the best cleansers nature has to offer. They offer a good balance of both insoluble and soluble fiber which work together to serve as a natural detoxifier. Consuming them regularly can help prevent constipation and other digestive issues. In fact, a diet that includes flaxseeds has also been found to help heal a series of digestive problems like colitis, Crohn’s disease, and irritable bowel syndrome. They’ve long been used as a natural laxative as they expand in the digestive system when they come in contact with fluids, which adds bulk to stools in order to ensure they’re able to smoothly pass through the intestinal tract.
The University of Maryland Medical Center, reports that a study involving people with chronic constipation that was the result of irritable bowel syndrome discovered that flaxseed was able to significantly decrease symptoms, including constipation as well as bloating and abdominal pain.
Just keep in mind that flaxseeds should always be consumed ground – whole flaxseeds aren’t fully digested, so the body doesn’t get their powerful nutrients. Try this Viva Naturals Organic Ground Flaxseed.
3. French Sorrel
French sorrel is commonly used around the world as both a vegetable and a salad plant. It offers a wealth of important nutrients, including vitamins A and C, and is an especially rich source of antioxidants. The leaves are frequently utilized for medicinal purposes, which includes resolving constipation. You can eat it raw as part of a salad, in a sandwich or pureed into a soup. You can grow your own French sorrel at home.
4. Rooibos Tea
Those who follow the typical Western diet often suffer from a variety of digestive ailments that aren’t even heard of in other parts of the world. The digestive system is especially susceptible to problems that are made worse due to high-sugar, junk food, processed foods in one’s diet. Sipping Rooibos tea can help ease those issues, including constipation, as its very rich in flavonoids, particularly quercetin. Quercetin helps to improve digestion and support the digestive system in multiple ways. It’s also known to relieve cramping, general stomach upset and indigestion, lower inflammation and reduce allergy symptoms.
5. Peppermint Oil
Numerous studies have found that peppermint essential oil is a highly-effective natural alternative to medications that work to reduce colon spasms as well as ease bloat and indigestion as it helps to relax the intestinal muscles. Its antispasmodic properties actually work to calm the stomach muscles and help improve the flow of bile, something that’s used to aid the body in digesting fats. This allows food to pass through the stomach easier and more quickly, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.
Peppermint oil is also believed to treat those painful symptoms of IBS, including constipation, gas and bloating. The renowned medical facility also noted that when researching people who were suffering from IBS, participants who took peppermint experienced a significant 75% reduction in their symptoms.
If you’re already suffering from constipation, mix two drops of 100% pure peppermint essential oil (such as this bottle from Plant Therapy) with a teaspoon of warmed coconut or grapeseed oil. Massage it gently, directly onto the abdomen while inhaling the aroma. Massaging this area helps to increase movement of the bowel while inhaling aids in relaxing the muscles. Repeat two to three times each day, until constipation has resolved.
6. Peppermint Tea
Similar to peppermint essential oil, peppermint tea can help digestive problems, offering an excellent alternative if you don’t happen to have the oil lying around. The tea not only tastes delicious, it’s one of the most helpful beverages to sip when battling nausea, stomach upset, that painful rumbling in the gastrointestinal tract, or constipation. Its menthol content can help the muscles in the digestive tract relax and helps to prevent digestive muscles from tensing erratically, while it can also help you feel less-stressed too. Menthol is known for instilling a sense of calm by relaxing the mind, relieving stress that can put your body and the digestive system all out of whack.
Of course, peppermint tea is pleasant to enjoy any time of the day, but sipping it before a meal, and again, just before you’re ready to go to sleep, is known to be highly beneficial. But don’t add milk or sugar, either can counter the tea’s soothing effects.
Ginger is an excellent detox ingredient. It’s believed to help cleanse the body by stimulating digestion, encouraging sweating and boosting circulation. Gingers action on the digestive system may serve to cleanse waste and toxins that build up in the colon, liver and other organs.
A detox serves to enhance the natural cleansing process, which allows it to build a better defence against illness and disease in addition to stimulating blood circulation, preventing clotting and making things flow smoother too. The healing and detoxifying properties of ginger are likely the results of its high concentration of shoga and gingerol, compounds that offer antispasmodic and anti-inflammatory effects on the gastrointestinal system. These agents serve to sustain digestive enzymes that neutralize acids, which supports the entire digestive process to relieve all types of stomach discomforts, including constipation, bloating and gas.
There’s a reason so many athletes choose bananas as their ideal go-to snack. Not only are they famous for helping one to sustain energy thanks to their high level of potassium, but that potassium also aids in regulating fluid balance, which flattens belly bloat and helps to ease problems like constipation.
In addition to their many nutrients, bananas are jam-packed with pectin, a substance that contains soluble fiber. As mentioned, soluble fiber helps to soothe the digestive tract by absorbing excess water in the colon, creating a gel type consistency. It helps to push any impacted fecal matter and also stabilizes contractions in the intestine, such as cramps and gas.
9. Brown Rice
You’ve probably heard that rice is good for relieving diarrhea, but if you consume brown rice it can help keep things moving like it should. It’s white rice, which is relatively low in fiber that can cause a backup. Brown rice contains many important nutrients, like iron and B vitamins, and it’s also an easily digestible, complete protein. Like bananas, brown rice is high in soluble fiber, helping to balance the digestive system and prevent problems like constipation, as it softens and pushes impacted fecal matter out to encourage movements to pass while eliminating bloat.
10. Hot Water
If you’re in need of resolving constipation ASAP but you don’t have any of these foods or any of the other items in hand, one thing you probably have access to is hot water. It may be basic, but it’s actually quite effective. Hot water aids in breaking down foods so that they’ll be able to move smoothly through the digestive tract. Cold water has the opposite effect, hardening the oil in foods and leaving fat deposits in the inner wall of the intestine that can slow digestion.
Sip warm, or as hot as you can tolerate comfortably, water, as often as you’re able to support better digestion, prevent bloat and relieve constipation – for this purpose it’s best when sipped during or after a meal. If you don’t like the taste, add a squeeze or two of lemon juice. Lemon can also help get things moving as it aids digestion and boosts the metabolism too. If your belly is really bloated, you might want to use hot water on the outside of your stomach, in a hot water bottle. Place it onto your abdomen to help get rid of bloating and cramps while boosting blood circulation throughout the digestive system.
11. Magnesium Supplements
Many people find relief from taking magnesium supplements which help to relax the bowels and provide a natural laxative effect. This supplement is a natural osmotic laxative, which means it relaxes the bowels and pulls water into the intestines. The water helps soften and bulk up your stool, which makes it easier to pass. It’s gentle and doesn’t typically result in emergency trips to the bathroom.
Constipation is actually one of the signs of a lack of magnesium in the body, so you’ll be getting to the root of the problem as this is the very mineral that offers a relaxing effect to the digestive tract. When your body doesn’t get enough magnesium, the intestines contract more than they usually would, making it more difficult to pass waste.
Natural Calm from Natural Vitality is one of the most popular magnesium supplements available.
The importance of diet
Of course, in addition to using these natural laxatives to address constipation options, it’s best to follow a diet that avoids processed, “junk” foods and focus on consuming lots of whole foods that come directly from the Earth. If you can do both, you’re likely to find constipation, and other digestive woes, become a thing of the past.