How healthy is your digestive tract? Unless it is functioning appropriately, you may not feel as well as you would like. Many readers have written to ask how to overcome constipation. Some also offer possible solutions. One person discovered that a food allergy was causing chronic digestive distress.
Could Egg Allergy Lead to Both Constipation and Diarrhea?
Q. I suffered with both constipation and diarrhea for 56 years. The pain was terrible, and the onset of an episode would throw me into a panic attack. There were times I ended up passing blood.
Then at 57 I was tested for allergies. EGGS! My reaction was five times the upper limit on egg whites and three times the limit on yolks. An egg a day was the one food my parents had insisted I eat!
A. A study of children with chronic constipation found that this problem resolved when they avoided the foods that caused them allergic reactions (European Journal of Pediatrics, Sep. 2011). Wheat and egg are among the most common culprits. Cow’s milk may also cause digestive woes (Caspian Journal of Internal Medicine, Winter 2021).
It’s too bad this wasn’t well known when you were a child. A year or two of strictly avoiding eggs might have saved you more than 50 years of misery.
We have heard about other approaches that may be helpful. One reader advocates an Ayurvedic option.
Triphala Could Overcome Constipation:
Q. Why don’t you mention the Indian herb mix Triphala for constipation? Triphala consists of Haritaki, Bibhitaki and amla. It is used in traditional Ayurvedic medicine to prevent disease and treat a number of symptoms, including constipation and inflammation.
A. Triphala (TLP) is indeed a popular Ayurvedic remedy. (You can learn more about Ayurvedic medicine here.)
In fact, according to Dr. Deepak Chopra and his colleagues, this triple-fruit mixture
“is a cornerstone of gastrointestinal and rejuvenative treatment” (Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Aug. 1, 2017).
The polyphenols in these plants promote a healthy gut microbiome. So do cocoa flavanols and many other polyphenols (Nutrients, March 5, 2021). Consequently, you might want to consume as much colorful produce as you can, to maximize your flavanol intake and keep your microbiome happy.
Can You Overcome Constipation Without Harsh Laxatives?
Q. I have been plagued with constipation and indigestion my whole life. A friend recommended magnesium, but that has given me diarrhea.
I do not want to take harsh laxatives or antacids. What natural options are there to overcome constipation?
A. Experts usually recommend adequate fluids and fiber to treat constipation naturally. If you eat five or more servings of vegetables and fruits every day you should be getting enough fiber, but some people will need more to stay regular.
Some antacids (especially those containing aluminum hydroxide) can actually cause constipation, so you’ll want to be careful about that. Other medications might also cause constipation as a side effect. You may want to discuss this with the prescriber or the pharmacist.
Treating Constipation Naturally:
One approach to overcome constipation is “Power Pudding” made of bran, prune juice and applesauce. You’ll find instructions for that and “dynamite” pumpkin bran muffins in our book, Recipes & Remedies, available at www.PeoplesPharmacy.com. It also contains information on remedies such as persimmon punch or ginger tea for indigestion.
Occasionally readers report on a simple tactic that works for them. Don’t forget that prunes are an age-old remedy for constipation. Other readers sip hot water with lemon juice right after they get up in the morning to get things moving.
You might want to reconsider the magnesium supplement you tried. At a lower dose, it might be helpful rather than simply cause diarrhea. Also, chewing sugar-free gum or candies can lead to diarrhea, but by carefully adjusting the dose you might find they are helpful in conquering constipation.
You may wish to listen to two interviews that could be enlightening. We spoke with Dr. Robynne Chutkan about constipation. You’ll find that conversation in Show 1115: How You Can Conquer Constipation. We have also interviewed Dr. Kulreet Chaudhary about the principles of Ayurvedic medicine. In Show 1033: How to Stay Healthy with Principles of Ayurvedic Medicine, she describes the importance of good gut health for the entire body