What is it about when things get “backed up” inside that has the power to make us feel everything from under the weather to downright crazy?  Constipation can sideline even the strongest healthiest person.  It’s just no fun. 

Conventional wisdom would have us reaching for the All-Bran or Fiberall, Metamucil or Ex-Lax, or, if we have fallen for more natural alternatives, psyllium husk or senna which is pure fiber and an herbal bowel stimulator that can cause more problems in the long run than it helps.

We are brainwashed to believe fiber is our friend; that whole grains and loads of high cellulose green vegetables (as raw as possible) are the only paths to regularity and health.  These claims also go steps too far in heralding the benefits of fiber to achieving great skin, lower cholesterol and a healthier heart.

Bear in mind insoluble fiber like those in whole grains, unripe fruits and the peels of some fruits like apples, and cellulose rich raw dark green leafy vegetables are actually quite indigestible and the fiber, regardless of the nutrient content, is actually quite non-nutritive not to mention these insoluble fibers can actually bind to essential minerals such as zinc, calcium, magnesium and iron and make absorption of these vital nutrients impossible. Soluble fiber found in some low ground vegetables and ripe fruits (and even in oats, though those should be soaked well to reduce antinutrients) can be helpful to bowel health as they bind with water to  form a gel like substance and help carry waste like endotoxin out of the body.

We are also are made to believe that constipation is an illness.  The fact of the matter is, it’s only a symptom that something isn’t right.  The wrong fiber might even be part of the problem.  In fact, one of the biggest causes for constipation is inflammation where the wall of the intestine swells and can become thicker which creates a constricted channel for waste to pass through.

{For more information on this read The Fiber Myth}

Constipation is a sign that perhaps our diet isn’t right or even our metabolism and digestion is somehow impaired. It can even be a symptom of low stomach acid.  Whatever the reasons behind it, it’s never fun.

Wouldn’t it be nice to know how to ‘get moving’ and ditch the grit for good?

Well, today’s your lucky day.

It’s probably no surprise diet is key in banishing constipation for good.  Eating enough healthy saturated fat such as nourishing coconut oil and grass fed butter or ghee speeds up metabolism which cuts down on transit time which makes healing digestion much easier.  In fact, eating a little healthy saturated fat with every meal can increase intestinal motility which increases assimilation of nutrients.

Replace starchy foods (especially with grains) with ripe fruits and fruit juices along with non-starchy vegetables like cucumber, green pepper, fennel, and other low ground vegetables along with root vegetables such as turnip, kohlrabi, celeriac, beetroot and potato.  Make sure your potatoes are rinsed and soaked before cooking to eliminate as much starch as possible if you are constipated.

Raw honey and other natural sugars nourish the thyroid which, in turn increases a sluggish metabolism.

One of my favorite ways to not only ease constipation but to rid the body of excess estrogen and endotoxin is eating a carrot salad or even simply a carrot or two every day. Carrots have a special kind of fiber which binds to excess hormones and endotoxin and carries them into and through the digestive tract without the  “sticks and twigs” damage that grains tend to do on the GI tract.

{For more information on how carrots help the body see Balance Your Body with a Carrot a Day}

Many people, when constipated, reach for harsh chemical laxatives or even natural ones like psyllium (which is soluble fiber but, since it is ground into powder to be consumed, can be too much for the intenstine to handle and can cause bacteria to give off gas which causes discomfort) and senna root, which, when overused (and overuse is easy to do if used more than once a week) can cause the bowel to become lazy affecting peristalsis which can exacerbate acute constipation and lead to chronic constipation.

Aged cascara sagrada powder is a natural laxative that has anti-inflammatory properties (which, again, is a major cause of constipation) and is considered a stimulant laxative as it stimulates peristalsis (which is the contraction the intestinal tract makes to push waste through the bowel and out the body).

Cascara Sagrada has many positive effects on the body other than being a natural laxative.  It contains a compound called Emodin (also found in Aloe Vera) which has been shown to be antibacterial, antiviral, and, as I said, anti-inflammatory.  It helps heal leaky gut, can prevent urinary stones, and, because of its anti-inflammatory principles, it can lower elevated serotonin levels which can help treat depression and enhance memory.  It also has the ability to carry excess estrogen and endotoxin out of the body so it is particularly useful for estrogen dominance issues.  I often use this in my own practice for women with both constipation and estrogen dominance issues in addition to the carrot salad which can pull excess estrogen from the body quickly.

Magnesium can be really helpful for a myriad of issues such as insomnia, hypoglycemia (it is key in regulation of blood sugar issues), and abnormal heart rhythm and is essential for bone health as 50% of bone is made up of magnesium. It is also necessary for protein synthesis and is needed to utilize fat soluble vitamin activators like Vitamin D.

It is a star in helping with constipation as it aids the intestines in absorbing water which increases peristalsis which, as you know, helps move waste through the bowels.  I recommend, first and foremost, topical use of magnesium in the form of magnesium citrate flake baths and magnesium oil rubbed into sore muscles and even on the abdomen.  The skin absorbs magnesium extremely well making it my number one preference in quelling any deficiency.

If additional magnesium is needed I recommend a magnesium citrate powder like Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm 2-4 teaspoons in the evening as a good starting point.  It is a safe and effective supplement that I give to each of my 9 month old  triplets!

Constipation does not have to be a chronic problem.  A little caution on listening to the dietary dogma (that is just plain WRONG) goes a long way and eating a digestible diet that calms the intestinal tract will have you regular in no time.