|Animal-based|| Bile Salts
| ||Bile salts are often referred to as the body?s natural laxative. In many cases constipation is a result of insufficient bile production. Bile salts can be obtained as a supplement, often in combination with digestive enzymes, and can be very effective for some people. For others, just taking a regular digestive enzyme without any bile salts in it is all that is needed.|
Probiotics / Fermented Foods
| ||In a controlled trial of one month, 56 weaning infants were supplemented with fructo-oligosaccharides in their cereal ( 0.75g FOS per serving of cereal; average FOS consumption 0.74g per day). This resulted in more regular, softer stools and less frequent symptoms of constipation. [Br J Nutr 2003;90(3): pp.581-8]|
Chlorella / Algae Products
Picrorhiza (Picrorhiza kurroa)
| ||Picrorhiza is used in India for people with constipation due to insufficient digestive secretions. [Nadkarni KM, Nadkarni AK. Indian Materia Medica. Bombay, Popular Prakashan, 1976, pp.953–5]|
| ||Digest RC has been used to treat and prevent digestive disorders including constipation.|
Triphala is the most popular Ayurvedic herbal formula of India, since it is an effective laxative which also supports the body's strength. The constitution of vegetarian Hindus cannot tolerate harsh laxatives anymore than vegetarians in other countries. Because of its high nutritional value, Triphala uniquely cleanses and detoxifies at the deepest organic levels without depleting the body's reserves.
Triphala will prove useful for all kinds of constipation except that caused by a lack of vital energy or chi. Even for the latter type, it will not further deplete such an individual and can be made to work well if it is combined with other chi, blood or yang-warming tonic herbs such as ginseng for chi tonification, tang kuei for blood tonification and prepared aconite for yang tonification.
| ||If you find that an enema is useful for stimulating a needed bowel movement, this may be an opportunity to try the coffee enema. If no added benefit is noticed beyond that of the water enema, the CE (coffee enema) can be discontinued.|
Senna (Cassia angustifolia and Cassia senna)
Antiinflammatory Combination Products
| ||Psyllium is a popular fiber supplement which cleanses the intestines and promotes softer stools. It is a good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber.|
| ||A vegetarian diet is generally higher in fiber than non-vegetarian diets. Constipation amongst those on vegan and raw-food diets is extremely rare.|
Increased Water Consumption
| ||Drinking water adds fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. People who have problems with constipation should drink enough water every day, at least eight 8-ounce glasses depending on weight. Other liquids such as coffee and soft drinks contain caffeine and seem to have a dehydrating effect.|
High/Increased Fiber Diet
| ||A diet with enough fiber (20 to 35gm each day either from food or supplements) helps form a soft, bulky stool. High-fiber foods include beans, whole grains and bran cereals, fresh fruits, and vegetables such as asparagus, Brussels sprouts, cabbage and carrots. For people prone to constipation, limiting foods that have little or no fiber such as ice cream, cheese, meat, and processed foods is also important.|
Soy Isoflavones (genistein, daidzein)
| ||Amongst 65 children aged 11 to 72 months with chronic constipation, 68% had a positive response with regard to bowel movements while receiving soy milk.|
| ||Water or juice fasting is indicated for those with constipation, and many times the fast will produce more regular bowel movements.|
Increased Fruit/Vegetable Consumption
| ||Raisins have a mild laxative effect. They soften the stool and speed transit time through the colon. Prunes are even more widely recognized for this effect.|
Dairy Products Avoidance
| ||A double-blind trial found that chronic constipation among infants and problems associated with it were triggered by intolerance to cows’ milk in two-thirds of the infants studied. Symptoms disappeared in most infants when cows’ milk was removed from their diet. [N Engl J Med 1998;339: pp,1100-4]|
Dairy products are also devoid of fiber which is important in maintaining normal bowel movements.
| ||Xylitol is a natural sugar substitute that is very low in calories simply because the human body cannot digest it. A known side effect of xylitol is that it can cause loose stools, so some people find it helpful for constipation.|
Conventional Drugs / Information
| ||Research has found that a medication, tegaserod, is effective in treating nearly all symptoms associated with chronic constipation (CC), a common disorder of the gastrointestinal tract that affects approximately 15% of the Western population at any one time. Tegaserod is currently the only drug aside from laxatives found to be effective at treating such a wide variety of symptoms.|
"Chronic constipation is a complex medical disorder and several bodily mechanisms are involved in its development," says Stefan Muller-Lissner, M.D., lead author of the study. "The positive results we have found from tegaserod treatment in relieving this array of symptoms could potentially benefit millions."
The long-term safety, efficacy and tolerability of tegaserod have been proven. Patients show no serious side-effects from long-term usage and maximal improvements were observed after approximately 6 months of further treatment and were sustained thereafter. [The American Journal of Gastroenterology, 27 Nov 2006]
Well, another drug bites the dust. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has requested that Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation of East Hanover, New Jersey, voluntarily discontinue marketing of Zelnorm (tegaserod) based on the recently identified finding of an increased risk of serious cardiovascular adverse events (heart problems) associated with use of the drug. Novartis has agreed to voluntarily suspend marketing of the drug in the United States.
Zelnorm is a prescription medicine approved in July 2002 for short-term treatment of women with irritable bowel syndrome whose primary symptom is constipation. It was subsequently approved in August 2004 for treatment of chronic constipation for men and women under age 65. Zelnorm is marketed in 55 countries.
FDA is currently advising patients who are using Zelnorm to contact their health care providers to discuss treatment alternatives. Patients who are taking Zelnorm should seek emergency medical care if they experience severe chest pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, sudden onset of weakness or difficulty walking or talking, or other symptoms of a heart attack or stroke.
"This decision reflects the FDA's commitment to continuously monitor approved drugs throughout their marketing life, and take action when we believe the risks exceed the benefits," said Dr. Douglas Throckmorton, Deputy Director for the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research. "Here, a potential risk of very serious harm to patients who have this non-life-threatening condition was recently identified, making this action necessary."
Throughout February and March 2007, Novartis reported to FDA the results of a new analysis of 29 short-term (1 - 3 months) randomized, controlled clinical trials of Zelnorm. FDA has concluded, based on these data that for most patients the benefits of this drug no longer outweigh the risks.
| ||Chronic constipation affects 15 to 20 percent of the U.S. population. Nearly one-third of affected people have dyssynergic defecation, in which muscles used for bowel movements do not work well, but there's some good news. University of Iowa research shows biofeedback treatment can successfully retrain muscles.|
The biofeedback approach was better than standard treatment of laxatives, diet and exercise or another treatment (sham) that included muscle relaxation and coping strategies. The findings appear in the March 2007 issue of the journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.
Many people with dyssynergic defecation have life-long constipation and experience significant difficulty with passing stools but are unaware that they have this particular type of chronic constipation, said Satish Rao, M.D., professor of internal medicine at the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine.
"People with dyssynergic defecation cannot sense stool in their bowel or have difficulty using bodily mechanisms to expel the stool. However, they often don't seek help beyond using over-the-counter laxatives, and some doctors aren't aware of the condition either," Rao said.
The biofeedback technique involves making people more aware of unconscious or involuntary bodily functions involved in defecation. The technique includes placing a pencil-thin probe into the rectum to provide feedback information about how the body muscles are performing. This data, as well as visual and verbal feedback techniques, help individuals relearn the normal process of having a bowel movement.
The study included 79 adults, with an average age of 43, who had dyssynergic defecation. The 69 female and eight male participants were randomly assigned to one of three study groups: standard, biofeedback or "sham" biofeedback.
In the biofeedback group, 79 percent of the individuals had corrected bowel function at the end of the study. In contrast, only 4 percent of the sham group and slightly more than 8 percent of the standard group showed corrected muscle function.
| ||Lack of exercise can lead to constipation, although doctors do not know precisely why.|
Test for Food Allergies
| ||Constipation triggered by food allergies might be responsible for chronic constipation in some adults. Individual foods, such as milk and milk-containing products, may be at fault in some individuals.|
| ||When given orally in sufficient quantities, magnesium citrate or sulfate (Epsom salts) is not fully absorbed but attracts water into the colon and thus acts as an effective laxative. Most people have heard of milk of magnesia, a form of magnesium sold as a laxative in drugstores. It is completely natural, safe, and it works very well, aside from a slightly unpleasant taste. Other forms of magnesium, including magnesium chloride, have a higher absorption rate. They may not be quite as effective as laxatives but they don't taste as bad, they are gentler and can help while at the same time also providing magnesium for the body.|
MSM (Methyl Sulfonyl Methane)
| ||Some patients with chronic constipation have experienced continuing relief with a daily supplement of 100-500mg of MSM. The effect appears particularly strong in those who are older.|
| ||Virginia Sturm has put together an e-book which has helped many overcome this chronic problem. Click here to learn more about this book and read comments from those who have been helped.|
| ||In general, children under 18 months of age can be given a glycerine suppository. Children between 18 months and 9 years can either be given a Fleets enema or 1/2 of a Dulcolax suppository. Older children can be given a regular Fleets enema or a whole Dulcolax suppository.|
Up to five cases of acute hemodynamic deterioration, including one death, have been associated with the use of milk and molasses enemas for constipation in children. The four children who recovered required aggressive resuscitation. [J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2003;36(1): pp.144-8]
In children, you should avoid the regular use of an enema or suppository and try to solve the problem dietarily. The infrequent use of a water only or saline enema is considered safe.
The occasional use of an enema in an older child or adult should not result in any complications. If a coffee enema is indicated, it will not only help your liver, but produce a healthy evacuation as well.