Herb Basics: Natural Constipation Remedies

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Constipation affects almost everyone from time to time. It can be caused by several factors, including a low-fiber, high-sugar diet or high stress levels. While chronic constipation can be more serious and harder to solve, many herbal remedies can help ease occasional bouts of constipation and help get your system back on track. Pregnant and nursing women should not use laxative herbs.

Psyllium (Plantago spp.) seed husks can help soften the stool and soothe bowel irritation. Try 1 teaspoon of the husks stirred into a glass of water at bedtime.

Try buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica), a natural laxative. Make a tea by bringing 2 tablespoons of the bulk herb to a boil in 1/2 cup of water. Simmer until the water is reduced to 1/4 cup. Add 1 tablespoon of honey and take 2 to 4 tablespoons in the evening.

Cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana), a near-relative of buckthorn, is another natural laxative; try 2 to 4 capsules or 1 to 3 droppersful of tincture before bed.

Slippery elm (Ulmus rubra) can help soothe and heal the intestinal tract. Take 1 teaspoon of the powder in a glass of water three times daily.

Be sure to eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains to increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Drink at least eight glasses of water daily, and get regular exercise. Walking, in particular, is a great bowel-regulating form of exercise.

Source: Rona, Zoltan. Encyclopedia of Natural Healing. Blaine, Washington: Natural Life, 1997.

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