DISCLAIMER: The information provided in this article is not a suggestion to start taking any of the noted supplements or to implement second or third line interventions on your own. It is important to work with a qualified health professional in order to safely and effectively address your health issues.
What is constipation?
Chronic constipation is actually common. Around the world, about 2 to 20% of people experience it on a regular and ongoing basis.
The clinical definition of chronic constipation is difficult, infrequent, or incomplete defecation.
Symptoms of chronic constipation are unrelenting, and if you deal with it, you know too well that it can adversely affect your physical and mental health, and your quality of life.
You need to poop daily, at least once. If you don’t, you’re constipated.
Even if you are pooping daily, if you feel like it’s incomplete, that too is constipation.
I can’t tell you how often I hear from clients that their doctor said it’s normal not to poop everyday. This is not normal and it certainly isn’t healthy.
Pooping is a major route of detoxification and if you aren’t going, those toxins get reabsorbed into your bloodstream. It’s self-poisoning.
Symptoms of constipation can include:
Fewer than 3 bowel movements per week (arguably if you aren’t going 1-3 times each day you are constipated)
Hard, dry or lumpy stools
Stools that are hard to pass and/or painful
Straining when trying to go to the bathroom
Feeling like your stool hasn’t completely passed (incomplete evacuation)
What causes constipation?
There is a wide range of factors that can cause, and contribute to constipation, including:
Low intake of water (dehydration)
Low intake of fiber (soluble and insoluble)
Poor diet (diet of processed foods)
Lack of sleep
Calcium channel blockers
Narcotic and opioid pain medications
Holding your stool when you have to go
Low gastric motility
Delayed emptying of the colon
Functional GI disorders like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)
Gut infections and imbalances
Small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO)
Other infections and imbalances
What can you do about constipation?
First line interventions (this is where we start):
Increase your intake of both soluble and insoluble fiber from food sources
Soluble fiber (absorbs water and creates bulk)
Steel cut oats
Insoluble fiber (moves bulk through the intestines)
Drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day
Increase levels of physical activity, and address sleep issues and stress
Determine if medications are causing the issue
When you have to go, go (don’t hold it)
Second line interventions (when diet isn’t enough):
Explore gut health and address root cause issues with natural means (diet, supplements, lifestyle)
Explore digestion and absorption
Bicarb test for adequate stomach acid
Explore gut microbime imbalances and infections like candida, SIBO, parasites, and others
Prebiotic fiber (soluble and insoluble dietary fiber)
Antimicrobials, antifungals, antiparasitics
·Nutrients to heal the gut
Address issues with motility
Castor oil pack
High dose vitamin C
Targeted motility supplements
Third line interventions (when medical attention is necessary):
Prescription motility agents
Discuss with your physician
Try diet and lifestyle interventions first, and see if they bring you relief. If that doesn‘t solve the problem a deeper look at your gut health is in order.Remember that everyone is different, and what works for you is likely to be different than what works for anyone else.
Often it is a combination of interventions that works to resolve the problem.
For assistance developing your unique protocol, contact me.
I have to share with you too, I’m really excited about this, I’m a published author! You can click here to read the abstract of the case study of my client who was suffering from chronic constipation for over 40 years (no joke, more than 40 years).
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Attaluri A, Jackson M, Valestin J, Rao SS. Methanogenic flora is associated with altered colonic transit but not stool characteristics in constipation without IBS. Am J Gastroenterol. 2010;105:1407–1411. doi: 10.1038/ajg.2009.655.
Rao SS, Rattanakovit K, Patcharatrakul T. Diagnosis and management of chronic constipation in adults. Nat Rev Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2016;13:295–305. doi: 10.1038/nrgastro.2016.53.
Park KS, et al. Practical treatments for constipation in Korea. Korean J Intern Med. 2012;27:262–270. doi: 10.3904/kjim.2012.27.3.262.
Ge X, et al. Potential role of fecal microbiota from patients with slow transit constipation in the regulation of gastrointestinal motility. Sci Rep. 2017;7. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-00612-y.
Brand JC, Minich DM. Challenging Case in Clinical Practice: Relief from Reported Severe, Chronic Constipation After Implementation of an Elimination Diet. Alternative and Complementary Therapies. 2018;24(6). https://doi.org/10.1089/act.2018.29190.jcb.