- A lack of fiber and water in the diet can cause constipation. Both are crucial in removing wastes and promoting regular bowel movements.
- Various laxatives work differently, but they all loosen up the stool to treat constipation. Natural laxatives are mainly available as food such as oils, herbs, and other natural substances.
- Fiber makes the stool bulkier and it softens the stool by retaining more water. All plant foods contain fiber.
What is a natural laxative?
A laxative can be in the form of a food, drink, oil, and compound. It may not necessarily be medication only. A laxative induces bowel movement and loosens the stool. If the source is natural, then it is considered as a natural laxative.
In constipation, the bowel movement is delayed and the stool becomes hard or compressed. For this reason, most people who are constipated experience pain and difficulty in passing stools. The poor functioning of the colon and waste disposal system causes constipation. Constipation causes the growth of unhealthy bacteria and parasites to thrive in the body. Moreover, the toxic liquid and wastes recirculate in the body. Hence, toxic materials should always be eliminated. It is necessary to treat and cure constipation.
Causes of Constipation
One of the major causes of constipation is having a poor diet. Refined and processed foods, as well as red meat, can cause an improper functioning of the digestive system since they make the process of absorption and elimination of waste harder. A lack of fiber and water in the diet can also cause constipation. Both are crucial in removing wastes and promoting regular bowel movements. Fiber and water also soften the stool.
Other causes of constipation are:
- Lack of physical activity
- Side effect of medications
- Certain medical conditions
- Excessive intake of processed dairy
- Artificial sweeteners
- Overuse of laxatives
How Laxatives Work
Various laxatives work differently, but they all loosen up the stool to treat constipation. Natural laxatives are mainly available as food such as oils, herbs, and other natural substances.
- Fibrous Foods - They are also called as roughage. They are bulk-forming agents or bulking agents, which make the stool bulkier to retain more water and make the stool softer. Fibrous foods work on the small and large intestine. It takes about 12-72 hours for them to become effective.
- Hydrating Agents - Dehydration of the body may occur due to various reasons. It may cause the stools to get hard, leading to constipation. Epsom salt and milk of magnesia make the stools soft by hydrating the intestine, so that it can retain more water.
- Plant-Based Foods - Some plant-based foods such as aloe vera, bananas, kale, mangoes, parsley, peaches, pineapples, prunes, soybeans, walnuts, tomato, winter squash, olive oil yams, rhubarb, plums, figs, dried apricots, blueberry, cranberry, coffee, dandelion, dates, artichokes, beets, and watercress may act as laxatives, although the reaction to these foods depends on the person’s body.
- Lubricants as Natural Laxatives - They make the stool slippery. Lubricants allow the stools to slide down easily and at a faster rate. It may take around 6-8 hours to take effect. An example of a natural lubricant laxative is the mineral oil.
- Natural Stimulants as Laxatives - Stimulants or irritants stimulate the contraction waves passing along the colon, which enables rapid movements of the stools and getting rid of constipation. Examples of natural stimulant laxatives are aloe vera and castor oil.
Best Natural Laxatives That Work
For constipation, magnesium is the best natural remedy. In just a few hours, it can make the person feel better. It is essential for the correct action of muscles and conduction of nerve impulses. It can help relax the muscles and nerves of the intestine and colon. It also makes the stools soft by drawing water into the colon, which enables easy passage of the stools. Hence, constipation can be treated and cured by magnesium.
- Magnesium oxide - A high dose is needed for the first 24-48 hours for severe constipation. The total amount of magnesium oxide required in a day is 3,000 to 4,000 mg, which needs to be taken in parts.
- Magnesium citrate - It is available in liquid and powder form and works effectively for constipation. The maintenance dose is around 600 mg. However, if the constipation is chronic, then a higher dose may be required.
- Magnesium hydroxide - Also known as milk of magnesia, magnesium hydroxide is the best and effective laxative when it comes to treating constipation. This is helpful, especially during pregnancy. It is a liquid version that acts very fast and mostly recommended by doctors. Follow the directions given on the bottle before intake.
- Natural Calm - It is a magnesium product that treats constipation. It is usually preferred by children because of its good taste.
2. Salt Cleanse
A liter of sea salt water draws water into the bowel and softens the stools. Even baking soda can be used. For severe constipation, both salt and baking soda can be used. In a regular cup size of warm water, mix 2-3 teaspoons of sea salt or pink rock salt. Even baking soda can be used along with it instead of salt. Half lemon can be squeezed and added to the mixture. A salt cleanse helps in the regulation of bowel movements. Have this on an empty stomach. In the case of severe constipation, this remedy needs to be repeated in 3-5 hours. Salt causes mild dehydration and excessive thirst, so while trying out this remedy, make sure to drink clean filtered water.
3. Mineral Oil
It is the best lubricating laxative. It coats the stools and softens it for easy passage. Constipation is relieved in less than 6-8 hours. When using mineral oil as a laxative, it should be taken orally. However, avoid the excessive use of mineral oil as it may cause vitamin deficiencies. It decreases the absorption of vitamin K. Pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers should completely avoid this oil.
4. Olive Oil
Olive oil is easily available. The safest and effective ones are the extra virgin olive oil. It stimulates the digestive system and also hastens certain processes that help get rid of wastes in the body. Take olive oil first thing in the morning and on an empty stomach.
- Adults: 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Children: 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
For extra benefit and flavor, lemon juice can be added. To improve the taste, a pinch of rock salt can also be added.
5. Castor Oil
It is one of the most effective remedies for constipation. It helps relieve chronic constipation. Take one tablespoon of castor oil on an empty stomach. Orange juice or apple juice can be added for better taste. Castor oil should only be used as a temporary solution for constipation and should never be used for longer periods.
6. Aloe Vera
Aloe vera contains compounds such as anthraquinone glycosides that act as laxatives. It is effective in treating constipation since it contains compounds such as aloin, barbaloin, and aloe-emodin. Mix aloe vera gel in water or fruit juice and have it in the morning. Another option is to drink one cup of aloe vera juice.
7. Coconut Water
Coconut water helps maintain the electrolyte balance in the body. It has an electrolyte content, especially potassium, and is used as a natural hydration boost. It prevents dehydration helps loosen the stools and treat constipation.
8. Black Strap Molasses and Honey
They are effective and can treat constipation. They are also good energy boosters. They are popularly known for their laxative effect. Before a meal, take one tablespoon of black strap molasses and one teaspoon of raw honey. They are quite effective since they contain high levels of magnesium. Black molasses even contain potassium and vitamin B6. They can also be mixed and added to a glass of almond milk.
9. Tea or Coffee
Tea and coffee contain caffeine. One cup of tea or coffee in the morning can help keep regular bowel movements. Caffeine stimulates the digestive system. However, in cases of chronic constipation, this remedy cannot be useful. But a simple and easy way to have regular bowel movements is by drinking one cup of tea or coffee in the morning.
Pregnant women can try this remedy, but not more than a cup. Coffee promotes peristalsis, relaxes the intestinal muscles, and promotes bowel movements. For well-formed stools, peristalsis should happen faster so that the body does not get enough time to reabsorb water from fecal matter, and coffee works very fast.
10. Good Bacteria
One way to relieve constipation is to keep a balance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. Good bacteria are important for digestion and help eliminate waste from the body. They also prevent the growth of harmful microorganisms. Taking a high-quality probiotic supplement and practicing the art of food fermentation will help in the daily supply of good bacteria in the body. Also, natural yogurt helps in maintaining the healthy bacteria in the body.
The available probiotic foods are kefir, sauerkraut, probiotic yogurt, kimchi, and kombucha. However, always choose organic products such as goat's milk products, raw dairy products, and organic kefir since they are easier on digestion. Probiotics also help create a healthy environment in the gut, and freeing an individual from constipation problems.
One of the natural laxatives is fiber, which helps relieve constipation. Fiber makes the stool bulkier and it softens the stool by retaining more water. All plant foods contain fiber. Another type of dietary fiber is chitin, which is found in seafood such as lobsters, shrimps, and crabs. Other natural laxatives are cereals, seeds, and whole grains.
Water helps soften the stool. It is also needed for proper food digestion and its assimilation. Water helps relieve constipation, so drink at least a gallon of water a day. It will also ensure you of regular bowel movements.
It has been proven that exercise can help relieve constipation by inducing a healthy circulation. Exercising can also stimulate the normal function of the intestine such as digestion and elimination of waste.
One of the major causes of constipation is a poor diet. Eat plenty of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, grains, and herbs as they contain fiber and other essential nutrients, which are important for digestion, absorption, and elimination. Some natural remedies are:
- Flaxseed - Flaxseed and flaxseed oil can help clean and soothe the intestinal walls and bowels. They soften the stool and promote regular bowel movements.
- Chia Seeds - When combined with liquid, chia seeds form a gelatinous substance. It easily moves through the intestine. When absorbed in water, they swell and expand in the digestive tract. They help treat constipation by increasing the capacity of fluid the body can take.
- Prunes - They keep the bowel movements regular since they are rich in fiber. Fresh prunes or prune juice are both effective for constipation. However, the juice should not be filtered as the natural fiber in prunes must be retained.
- Plums, Pears, Grapes, Apricots, and Figs - They are extremely high in fiber and are also known as colon cleansers. They are a natural cure for constipation.
- Apple Cider Vinegar - There have been mixed results for apple cider vinegar. However, it surely helps in the process of digestion. It is also an important health tonic.
- Cabbage, Spinach, Broccoli, and Beans - The fiber content of these vegetables is high, and to keep the bowel movement regular, they should be regularly included in meals.
- Bananas and Rhubarb - They are natural home remedies for constipation. Overripe and green bananas should be avoided. Eating green banana can actually make a person constipated.
- Fish Oil or Cod Liver Oil - They contain omega-3 fatty acids, which are vital for the process of digestion and absorption. They also promote regular bowel movements.
- Raisins - A daily handful of raisins is a natural remedy for constipation. It is high in digestible fiber.
Psyllium is a terrific remedy. If the stool is hard, its adaptogenic fiber automatically helps soften the stools quickly. Moreover, if the stools are loose, it can also help the stools to harden up.
Psyllium husk obtained from Plantago ovata, which is also known as isabgol, is a natural laxative. It contains insoluble fiber and forms bulkier stools. It helps the stools to draw water in the intestine and causes easy bowel movements. One hour after dinner, add 1-2 teaspoons of psyllium husk in a glass of warm water or milk, and have it before bedtime.
It is a mixture of certain fruits. Take two tablespoons of this mixture twice a day. Combine one cup raisin, one cup pitted prunes, one cup figs, one cup dates, one cup currants, and one cup of prune juice concentrate. Grind them to form a paste-like consistency and have it twice a day. When not in use, put in a refrigerator.
17. Wheat or Barley Grass
It cleans and softens the walls of the bowels to soften the stools. It is also high in plant fiber, thereby promoting a healthy digestion. Moreover, it promotes absorption of food and nutrients as well as maintains the good health of the digestive tract.