Q. I’ve had 20 years of trial and error in fighting constipation. I am lean and fit and have a very healthy lifestyle.
I was disappointed to see your suggestions for a constipated reader were more of the same–just fiber-related solutions. Two potential remedies were omitted. First, drinking lots of water is critical in conjunction with fiber. Second, the importance of probiotics was overlooked.
I hate to promote a brand, but honestly, Activia yogurt (several servings a day) is the ONLY thing that has allowed me to be regular for the first time since childhood. The commercials may seem silly, but I suggest your reader try it. I still eat high fiber foods and drink lots of water too, but Activia is great.

A. Americans have been obsessed for decades with killing germs, but we are finally catching up to Europe in recognizing the value of beneficial bacteria (probiotics). They can often be helpful in treating diarrhea as well as constipation. Here’s what one visitor reports:
“I had diarrhea for 9 months, went to gastro people and had many tests all of which were negative. I kept food diaries of everything eaten for months on end… in the end they just said my stomach was not functioning right. I was on several very expensive drugs that drug plans would not cover.
“Long story short: I got a substitute doctor at my primary care doctor’s office and he put me on Florastor at 8 times the normal dosage. IT WORKED! I had been taking probiotics; however, this is both a bacterial and yeast probiotic, I don’t know if this made the difference. It is expensive to take this quantity (it’s not covered by insurance) but it was not as expensive as the other drugs I tried that did not work. It has been several years now and have not had a recurrence of the problems.”
We have discussed the details of probiotic treatment and achieving a beneficial balance of bacteria in the gut with Dr. Kelly Karpa of Penn State and Dr. Gerald Callahan of Colorado State University. There’s more information here.
We also offer other suggestions for constipation, including the much-maligned but still extremely useful fiber with plenty of fluids, in our Guide to Constipation.

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  1. B.G.

    I take two tablespoons of Metamucil twice daily. Simply follow the directions. Don’t over do it, such as more is better. These are rounded TBL’s. I also took for a few weeks one TBL per day of Molasses. I was a decades long Hemorrhoid sufferer. I found out about the Molasses on this web page. So by using both Metamucil and the Molasses I cured up a huge painful problem. The Molasses starts to work with in a few hours. I still take a TBL of Molasses about three times a week, just to be on the safe side. The Metamucil causes you to lose some pounds and that’s good.

  2. John

    I use tincture of cayenne. I put one dropper full under my tongue three times a day. It causes peristalsis. It’s a great laxative.

  3. Kathleen

    Try using magnesium pills along with psyllium husks before bedtime. The magnesium relaxes muscles and allows bowels to release fecal material. I take two tablespoons of psyllium before bed time and two magnesium tablets—all is well in the morning.

  4. John

    Any info on the need to/ability to block or treat to remove lectins?

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