Go Ad-Free
logoThe People's Perspective on Medicine

Show 1115: How You Can Conquer Constipation

The old wives were right when they said you should eat your vegetables. A fiber-rich diet, including vegetable stems, is a big help when you are trying to conquer constipation.
Current time

How You Can Conquer Constipation

0% played% buffered

Americans love laxatives. Millions of people rely on such products to stay regular. But you can conquer constipation without depending on these medications.

Medications That Cause Constipation:

A surprising number of common medicines can cause constipation as a side effect. Opiates are notorious for this, of course, but people may not think about the antihistamine in their cold medicine or OTC sleep aid. Antidepressants, motion sickness medicines, blood pressure pills and even iron supplements may contribute to this problem. Check your medicine chest for possible culprits if you are frequently troubled with constipation.

Eat Leaves and Stems:

To get your colon to behave properly, you need to treat its denizens right. What should you feed your millions of microbes to keep them happy so that your digestive tract will function as it should? As much as possible, avoid processed foods. A menu with plenty of fiber-rich plant foods will be most helpful, including vegetables, fruits and whole grains. Don’t throw away the stems to those veggies. They are rich in fiber and can be delicious. Stems are great for growing a good gut garden. What about fiber supplements? When do they make sense?

Probiotics to Help You Conquer Constipation:

Fermented foods like sauerkraut and kimchi can be helpful, perhaps in part because they are vegetables and rich in fiber. Sometimes supplements like magnesium will also be useful. Find out which is most appropriate for the problem at hand.

When to Check with Your Doctor:

Most of the time, constipation is a nuisance, but occasionally it is a red flag that something is very wrong. A sudden change in bowel habits should prompt a check-in. Likewise, if you have pale stool and dark urine, it’s time to schedule an appointment to evaluate your liver health. Floating stool is not usually a problem, but if you are feeling ill, floating poop could be a sign of pancreatic problems. Most of the time, constipation can be corrected by changing your diet, increasing your exercise and adjusting your medicines. If those measures don’t work, your health care provider will want to look for more sinister causes.

This Week’s Guest:

Robynne K. Chutkan, MD, is on faculty at Georgetown Hospital and is the founder of the Digestive Center for Wellness in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She did her medical training at Columbia University and is board certified in gastroenterology. She has written three books on digestive health: Gutbliss, The Microbiome Solution, and The Bloat Cure.

Her website is:  gutbliss.com

Listen to the Podcast:

The podcast of this program will be available the Monday after the broadcast date. The show can be streamed online from this site and podcasts can be downloaded for free. CDs may be purchased at any time after broadcast for $9.99.

Buy the CD

Download the mp3

Rate this article
4.2- 55 ratings
About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies..
Tired of the ads on our website?

Now you can browse our website completely ad-free for just $5 / month. Stay up to date on breaking health news and support our work without the distraction of advertisements.

Browse our website ad-free
Join over 150,000 Subscribers at The People's Pharmacy

We're empowering you to make wise decisions about your own health, by providing you with essential health information about both medical and alternative treatment options.