Herbs For Constipation

Constipation is a problem that most everyone suffers from at some time or another, whether they know it or not. Indeed, most of us are not as bowel-conscious as we ought to be. But how could we be constipated without knowing it?

Well, the bowel is a tube that can stretch to many times its normal size. We can harbor old fecal matter, undigested foods, parasites, and other things that are compacted on the sides of the colon walls. I consider this condition of the bowel to be constipated because the feces is still compacted in the bowel, even though there may be a tunnel of space through the middle allowing the person to pass some waste material through.

This means that a person can still be eliminating daily wastes through the bowel, however, not all the waste is being dislodged. To illustrate, when a client comes to me and they don't believe that they are constipated, although my assesment shows that they are, I will discuss with them a cleansing diet and herbs designed to eliminate the backed-up wastes.

Some will even take colonics or enemas to speed the process. When they follow the program and see that they are actually eating less than normal, and avacuating up to six times their normal amount of waste, they are absolutely amazed. Not to mention, usually lighter! The point is that bowel can store up material on the sides of the colon walls and in bowel pockets, although you might be eliminating daily.

So what is the profile for the ideal bowel function? Ideally, you should eliminate once for every meal eaten. (That's thrice daily for you three meal-a-day people!) The stool should be approximately 2" in diameter, a light brown color, soft in consistency (but formed), usually remaining in one piece from 6"-12" in length, and should come out without strain.

The total evacuation time should require no longer than one minute, and should not leave a foul odor (really!). So how do you match up? If you are one of those who needs to take a novel to the pot with you, then you are probably constipated! (Note: As a general rule, while on a cleansing program, you will eliminate more than once for each meal eaten.)

Some factors that contribute to constipation include these:

  • Lack of water.
  • Ignoring the call of nature (not going when you feel the need)
  • Nevous tension that keeps the bowel tense
  • Lack of exercise can help the bowel get lazy
  • Side effect of many medications that make constipation a problem
  • The five white enemies: white flour, sugar, milk, salt, and rice.

It's best to learn the cause of your constipation and correct that first. For cleansing purposes and to stimulate things into actions,though, herbs make a great remedy. Cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana) is Spanish meaning "sacred bark." Its medicinal value comes from the dried and aged bark of the herb rhamnus purshiana.

This bitter herb has been used for centuries and is one of the best and safest herbs to stimulate a laxative effect for chronic constipation (bitter-tasting herbs are notorious for their bowel-stimulating properties). Cascara is so bitter, in fact, that some have used a cascara sagrada tincture applied to their fingernails to help break the habit of chewing on their nails!

Cascara has also been used to restore tone to a relaxed bowel. Remember that the bowel is a mucle and needs strength for proper function; a lazy bowel is a constipated bowel. Cascara is also useful for the stomach, liver, galbladder, and pancreas, and can be used to help expel worms from the bowel. It stimulates bile flow, which in turn stimulates bowel peristalsis.

A few capsules given to an herbal non-believer before bed will make a true believer out of him by the next morning! For some, cascara is too harsh. Other wonderful herbs with laxative effects on the bowel include flax seed, psyllium hulls, chlorophyll, and aloe vera juice.

A wonderful combination to cleanse the bowel, blood, and entire digestive tract includes cascara sagrada bark, barberry bark, backthorn bark, turkey rhubarb root. licorice root, couch grass herb, capsicum fruit, red clover tops, and ginger root. Of course, we already mentioned that a lack of certain things can cause constipation, such as lack of water, fiber, and exercise.

Other things besides herbs that can get things moving for you include reflexology treatments, acupuncture, figs, and prune juice. Go lightly on the prune juice, as some can have explosions of relief! But it is always something to consider in an emergency if you cannot obtain herbs.