Q. I take meds to control my high blood pressure (verapamil and clonidine), cholesterol (atorvastatin) and pain (tramadol). This causes major constipation, which I suspect is related to the drugs. Are there any natural remedies to help with this problem?

I drink lots of water, but that doesn’t help. I would hate to add another drug to the list to combat constipation caused by the meds.

A. You are batting a thousand for drugs that cause constipation. Every one of your medications can contribute to this problem, so it’s no wonder you are suffering.

The first strategy might be to ask your physician to determine whether there are alternate medications that don’t have constipation as a side effect. That way you can get to the source of the problem.

Non-drug strategies to combat constipation include sugarless gum, psyllium (which will also help with cholesterol control), magnesium and “Power Pudding.” This formula involves unprocessed bran, prune juice and applesauce. A tablespoon taken with plenty of water can be helpful.

We are sending you our Guides to Constipation and Digestive Disorders with more details as well as a dynamite Pumpkin-Bran muffin recipe to ease your discomfort.

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  1. Gloria M.
    Reply

    After back surgery and several drugs, I was severely constipated. Visiting nurse told me to take any hot liquid, I mixed some prune juice with 2/3 c hot water in the morning and it was a fruity drink, not bad.
    Used miralax also.

  2. JH
    Reply

    I had this problem for years and now eat Activia yogurt for breakfast EVERY morning, PROBLEM SOLVED!!!!!!!

  3. lsm
    Reply

    I was given Tramadol for my sciatica two years ago and it gave me constipation.

  4. Geraldine K
    Reply

    I use Vicodin twice daily and it causes constipation; this adds to my usual problem. I use psylium (about one tablespoon) at breakfast and Fiber One for “dessert” with fruit in the evening. Drink lots of fluids, too.

  5. ds
    Reply

    I agree w. Peoples Pharmacy. Try to get to source/cause of initial diagnoses that required RXs– to see if patient can take fewer or different RXs (that are causing constipation). Beets & Beet juice effectively lowered my sudden increase in blood pressure (High BP caused by Pain). Perhaps under Doctor supervision patient could attempt eating/drinking Beets/Beet juice. If it lowers BP then perhaps Doctor will lower dosage of BP Meds. Pain can increase Blood Pressure. Monitor Blood Pressure to see if you have more pain when Blood Pressure goes up. If so, then perhaps use a different regimen for Pain. (EX: TENS=Electrical Stimulation Unit. Now are cheaply easily available w. Doctor RX. Perhaps a different Pain RX, etc.) Patient did not indicate cause of Pain. Different causes suggest different Pain relief. Under Doctor supervision, monitor, experiment, document. Good luck determining causes of patient’s initial diagnoses & then reactions differing from RXs. And do know that different bodies react differently to various constipation cures.

  6. mb
    Reply

    After seven years of pain so bad that it put me on disability, my thyroid was tested. My cholesterol was high, and the lab report said that if thyroid function was not normal, that should be addressed before cholesterol. This was a huge shock to me, especially when I read that muscle pain and joint pain could be a result of thyroid problems. So, I would say that if you haven’t had your thyroid checked, you may wish to do that. If the thyroid is causing those problems, you may not need those constipating medications. Just a thought

  7. G.L.T. & P.A.T
    Reply

    My wife and I were not experiencing any problem with our bowels, but my younger brother told us about “equate” Fiber Therapy at WAL-MART. He suggested taking a teaspoon each morning with water (even though the directions say 3 times daily)! We experienced instant improvement in the consistency and amount of our stool.

  8. Gabriele
    Reply

    I am usually quite regular (within an hour of eating breakfast every day) but when I had to take nsaids for a fractured rib a friend counseled me to be prepared to deal with constipation.
    He wasn’t kidding… I hadn’t responded quickly enough and more body discomfort wasn’t needed. I had also been taking calcium for pain but just calcium (I used to take dolomite for its balance but had just run out). I had taken some magnesium tabs one time in error and I know what effect that had had… so I took a magnesium pill with a meal and it worked first time… every time.
    Since magnesium is needed for other purposes by the body it’s a double plus.
    I know the value of fiber and especially prunes, etc., but since I also have to watch adding extra sugars to my diet I don’t like to make it a daily extra.

  9. edna
    Reply

    yes, prunes, fiber, lots of fiber. fruit, and protein helps too!

  10. pp
    Reply

    The “power pudding” worked for my husband in 2 hours! Then he found out that prune juice in the am and dried prunes at bedtime did the job.–also reducing dairy in the diet.

  11. Helen M
    Reply

    I also take medications which cause constipation, including the tramadol mentioned previously. Recently I discovered that magnesium oxide is poorly absorbed by the body and, as it travels thru, draws moisture to itself, helping to soften stool and easing constipation. Glucophage, which I took before I lost a kidney to cancer, was terrific for me. They are using it now for pre-diabetes, which is epidemic in today’s society that has forgotten what real food and cooking from scratch is. To avoid digestive upset, it is best to start taking it after a meal, slowly move dose times thru the meal, until you are able to take it before eating. I really miss it.

  12. ds
    Reply

    I too have had Prescription Drug induced constipation for 6 years. Tried all home remedies suggested: more water, fiber, etc. But through Kaiser Gastro I discovered problem was that colon stool was NOT RETAINING WATER. Extra Fiber made worse. Recently learned this from Gastroenterologist when was discussing upcoming Colonoscopy. She recommended MIRALAX — not only for week prior to Colonoscopy Prep. But for afterwards as well. MIRALAX IS NOT THE HOME REMEDY REQUESTED in this article. But MIRALAX has been like a miracle !!! Immediate & daily stool of soft consistency & appropriate shape. Much relief !! I experience No side effects. I feel terrific. Normal is so good. BUT IF PEOPLES PHARMACY knows reason not to take MIRALAX please do inform. I DO NOT HAVE DIABETES, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE. ALL LABS ARE NORMAL EXCEPT FOR LIPIDS. I had been previously experienced prescription RX STATINS caused SEVERE muscle pain. (NO FAMILY HISTORY OF HEART PROBLEMS. CRP TEST for Inflammation WAS NORMAL.) Then when Ibuprophen, Celebrex, etc did not relieve pain I was prescribed Opioid RX for Muscle pain. Later experienced Tendon, Nerve & Muscle Pain & Non Diabetic Peripheral Neuropathy — caused by reckless, needlessly prescribed Antibiotics FQs: Avelox, Levaquin & Cipro. (Which messed up gut/lower digestive nerves & muscles as well. Hope this helps. But if PEOPLES PHARMACY Advice against use of Miralax to keep stool to retain water please advise. In meanwhile OTC MIRALAX has been a sure relief.

  13. Diane
    Reply

    The constipation solution for taking perscription drugs is interesting except I can’t have gluten. Is there a substitute?

  14. DGH
    Reply

    Just crank up the amount of daily Metamucil that you ingest (with a lot of water) until you achieve the correct balance. I take some similar medications and require two tablespoons daily of the Metamucil which is seriously more than my Gastroenterologist recommends. However, I seem to require that much. It is side-effect free and it fixes the problem nicely for me.

  15. steve
    Reply

    Try Miralax. Even though you may consider it a “drug”, it is non-habit forming and works amazingly well, and is certainly better than suffering from constipation. I has a similar problem caused by drugs I was taking, tried many “natural” remedies (with no luck) and finally tried Miralax after reading hundreds of reviews along the lines of “Miralax saved me.” It was a godsend for me (I would not recommend any other OTC remedy).

  16. EH
    Reply

    I don’t know about drug-induced constipation, but I find regular magnesium supplements helpful for chronic constipation. High fiber intake makes things much worse for me. Lots of water doesn’t help. Prunes and rhubarb do nothing. One or two large meals a day instead of small meals and snacks is a good strategy. More veggies, meat, beans, and pasta than bread and cookies.

  17. R.N.
    Reply

    Have you tried exercise? Especially yoga. Might help with everything. Best wishes..

  18. LPW
    Reply

    I too had medicine constipating me. A salad for lunch with a teaspoonful of Flax seed solved my problem.

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