Constipation is a very common complaint. While doctors rarely become concerned about constipation unless the patient seems to have obstructed bowels, sufferers find that this problem really affects their quality of life. Sadly, some become dependent upon laxatives. Others want to avoid such medications and wish they had access to natural remedies for constipation. Luckily, there are a few that are neither risky nor expensive.
What Natural Remedies for Constipation Might You Try?
Q. Are there any natural remedies for constipation in older people? I don’t want to take a laxative. My mother used to recommend prune juice. However, this raises my blood sugar. What can I do?
A. Usually, the first suggestion for overcoming constipation is to get more fiber. Often this could be in the form of prunes or possibly psyllium, the soluble fiber in Metamucil. Adding extra vegetables and fruit to the diet can be quite effective.
Kiwifruit as Natural Remedies for Constipation:
Recently, scientists presented evidence at a virtual conference of the American College of Gastroenterology. Their research demonstrates that eating fresh kiwifruit (two a day) works about as well as psyllium or prunes. In addition, people eating kiwi fruit were less likely to report bloating, pain or gas as a side effect. There were 79 middle-aged adults in the study who consumed kiwi fruit, psyllium or prunes daily for four weeks. The participants ranked stool frequency, stool consistency and straining.
This kiwifruit study is not unique. Research from New Zealand revealed similar results (Journal of Nutrition Science, May 2019). Moreover, previous research showed that kiwifruit could reduce symptoms of constipation among individuals with irritable bowel syndrome (Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2010). Presumably, the fiber in kiwifruit is partly responsible for its effectiveness. Fortunately, kiwifruit does not appear to speed the passage of gas through the digestive system (Neurogastroenterology and Motility, Sep. 2020).
Other Natural Remedies for Constipation:
Our readers have written about numerous other natural options for treating constipation. Some advocate consuming water in which they have simmered flaxseed. On the other hand, bran cereals or pumpkin bran muffins are popular natural remedies for constipation. We have a recipe for those muffins as well as for Power Pudding (wheat bran, prune juice and applesauce) in our newly revised eGuide to Overcoming Digestive Disorders.
An Old-Fashioned Laxative Recipe:
We recently received this letter from a reader with one of the classic natural remedies for constipation:
Q. I have a time-tested homemade laxative recipe I would like to share with your readers. Combine 1 cup chopped pitted prunes, 1 cup chopped pitted dates and 11/2 cups boiling water. Simmer until the water has evaporated. Store in the refrigerator and take 2 tablespoons per night.
A. Prunes are often used for their laxative properties. An analysis of four clinical trials found that prunes were better than psyllium (Metamucil) for increasing stool frequency (Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics, Oct. 2014).
A more recent study compared “prune essence concentrates” (PEC) with a prune-flavored placebo drink. Not only did the PEC improve intestinal function, it also lowered total cholesterol and LDL-C (Pharmaceutical Biology, Dec. 2017).
Don’t Forget Psyllium:
Because blood sugar is a concern, you should be checking yours regularly. Consequently, you may want to consider using psyllium for regularity. Beyond its effects promoting bowel evacuation, this fiber helps reduce both fasting blood sugar and HbA1c as well as triglycerides and LDL cholesterol (Phytotherapy Research, June 2020).