When constipation strikes, it can be quite uncomfortable and sometimes even debilitating if matters become worse. Constipation affects about 20 percent of the American population, resulting in around 8 million doctor visits per year. Constipation is distinguished by having less than three bowel movements a week.
If you have trouble going to the restroom regularly, don’t worry because this can be easily remedied by knowing what’s making you constipated and implementing a few herbs in your diet that are specifically used to help relieve constipation.
What Causes Constipation?
Constipation usually occurs when either the waste or stool moves very slowly through the digestive tract or the colon absorbs too much water from the stool, making it dry, hard and difficult for it to be removed through the rectum.
Most times constipation isn’t caused by a specific condition, so it may be hard for you to pinpoint the direct cause. However, there are a variety of factors that can contribute to constipation, including:
- Not getting enough fiber in your diet
- A change in eating habits
- Not drinking enough fluids
- Ignoring the need to go to the restroom
- Side effects from medications
The severity of constipation ranges from person to person, and it can have negative effects on the quality of life as well as mental and physical health. Luckily, there are a number of herbs you can add to your diet to help relieve constipation.
Best Herbs to Relieve Constipation
This herb is favored by doctors and health professionals alike for its ability to relieve constipation. Slippery elm is extremely soothing and has lubricating effects on the digestive tract. It is also useful for those who suffer from digestive issues like stomach cramps or irritable bowel syndrome.
Fenugreek is an herb traditionally used for beauty remedies as well as cooking, but the seeds of this plant are known to help calm the stomach and relieve constipation. Being a good source of fiber, fenugreek can be added to your curries and soups to reap the constipation-reducing effects while enjoying a tasty meal all at the same time.
Despite this plant being used for sunburns and beauty treatments, aloe vera is also considered a natural laxative that helps soothe digestion as well.
Even though this herb sounds like it might cause you more harm than good, it is very effective at relieving constipation because of its natural laxative properties. Nettle is usually drunken as a tea and can be found online or at your nearest health food store.
Just like nettle, dandelion can also act like a natural laxative and can be drunk as a tea. Found in most gardens, dandelion can actually be plucked up from the ground and added to your salads. Just be sure to rinse them off first.
You may have come across this herb in a number of over-the-counter medications. The pods and the leaves of senna are used for its medicinal abilities, but it’s especially useful for its laxative effects.
This herb is another very effective remedy for those suffering from constipation, especially if they don’t consume enough water in their diet. Sea buckthorn is filled with important fatty acids, including omega 7, which is used to help coat the digestive tract and lubricate the mucous membranes making sure that there is an adequate amount of fluid to help the stool move through the bowel.
This slightly sour tasting herb is used for cooking, but sorrel is effective at relieving constipation as well due to its laxative abilities. You can add the leaves to your cooking or use them to make tea.
Just like fenugreek, flaxseeds are also useful for improving the digestive system and relieving constipation. Just one tablespoon of flaxseeds contains polyunsaturated fatty acids and dietary fibers. The great thing about flaxseeds is that they’re very versatile and can be used in smoothies, cereal, oatmeal and much more.
This herb is especially effective on the digestive system. It is a stimulant laxative that works by causing muscle contractions in the intestines. These muscle contractions help move the stool through the bowel.
Peppermint is a natural remedy for constipation, and it helps relieve bloating and stomach aches. Studies have even found that peppermint tea helps treat irritable bowel syndrome because it relaxes the muscles in the intestinal tract.
Green tea has a positive effect on the digestive system. It has been proven effective for treating nausea, diarrhea and constipation. The good thing about green tea is that you can consume it every day without experiencing any long-term side effects.