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Are there any alternative treatments for constipation?

Diana Meeks
Diana Meeks on behalf of Sigma Nursing
Family Practitioner

Alternative treatments for chronic constipation include tissue massage, acupuncture, and natural herbs. Massaging certain areas of the body as well as performing acupuncture (or accupressure, using pressure instead of needles) on mapped areas is thought to relax the colon and surrounding muscles, making it easier to move stool through the intestine. Plant-based laxatives compounds such as flaxseed, flaxseed oil, bitter orange, or aloe latex are used to soften stool and aid movement in the colon. Other recommendations for constipation in general include exercise and adequate intake of fluids, especially water. But before using any alternative treatments for chronic constipation, it is important to see your doctor. If constipation is truly chronic, it is important to find out the underlying cause.

Dr. Lawrence S. Friedman, MD
Gastroenterologist

A variety of alternative, herbal and other approaches are available to help treat constipation. Solid scientific evidence is limited, but some people find flaxseed or sesame seed useful. Others have reported success using massage or acupressure.

Yogi Cameron Alborzian
Alternative & Complementary Medicine Specialist

Ayurveda teaches us that constipation is often an indication of there being excessive dryness in the body. A common misconception is that the dryness in a person's body is reversed by hydration, when actually it is reversed by the moisturizing qualities of oils and other substances that lubricate the body. A diet rich in moisturizing foods like olive oil, sesame oil, and ghee (clarified butter) can help to keep you regular.

However, there are of course times—be it because of travel or other exceptional circumstances—when things are just backed up completely. A useful herbal remedy is a powder known as triphaladi churnam. This can be taken before going to bed as a tea; movement should happen the next morning. Castor oil is also a useful remedy, but it is a particularly strong one. Castor oil is powerful to the point that it is likely best only taken under the guidance of a trained practitioner.

Dr. Peter Bongiorno, ND
Naturopathic Medicine Specialist

Watch as Naturopathic Doctor and Licensed Acupuncturist Dr. Peter Bongiorno suggests some natural treatments for chronic constipation.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.