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Try These Oils to Relieve Constipation

Try These Oils to Relieve Constipation

Did you know when it started in 1919, the comic strip Popeye was called Thimble Theatre and there was no muscle-bound, spinach-eating sailor in sight? Quick-witted Castor Oyl and his sister, Olive Oyl, were the main characters who made the comic go week after week.

Funny thing about that—although we doubt creator E.C. Segar realized it—both castor and olive oil are natural remedies for constipation! That’s something more than 35 million U.S. adults suffer from on an (ir)regular basis.

What is constipation? Well, even if you go once a day, if your stools are hard to pass and dry, that’s a sign. And if you have trouble eliminating more than a couple times a week—that signals your bowels are moving slowly.

To get things going, try taking one tablespoon of olive oil on an empty stomach in the morning. The healthy fat helps soften intestine walls, making things slide along more easily, and it keeps stools softer by helping them retain more water. If that doesn’t work, with your doc’s guidance, try castor oil. It’s a stimulant laxative that’s tougher on the gut than olive oil. It works by increasing intestinal contractions and can only be used for a couple of days. Overuse damages intestinal muscles and can cause vitamin deficiencies!

Then, for sustained regularity, up your fiber intake: Eat 2 to 3 servings of 100 percent whole grains and 5-9 servings of fruits and veggies daily. Like Popeye, you’ll be able to say; “I’m strong to the finich … ‘cause I eat my spinach!”

Medically reviewed in July 2018.

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