4 ways to conquer constipation

Sluggish bowels equate to a sluggish body void of energy. Last week we talked about the effects of certain diseases like MS, on the bowels, and how that relates to fatigue.

Whether you have a similar condition — or are in the peak of health — a sluggish bowel is something to be on the lookout for… so you can stave off worsening symptoms that could zap your energy and have a huge impact on your quality of life.

My partner Kellie has MS and she has really taken control of her symptoms, especially bowel function, with the following solutions. Please give them a try and see how many you can implement daily…

Remove the blockage – The first step in improving bowel function is to remove the current blockage. That is, move along and out the current constipated feces from the bowels while you incorporate the actionable advice that follows.

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There are several ways to do this, such as taking castor oil or citrate of magnesia. The two solutions work but have less-than-ideal side effects. Castor oil is a toxin, which is why the body moves it (along with your bowel blockage) through you quickly. Citrate of magnesia pulls water into your intestines to create movement, but can be painful to the stomach, cause sharp cramps, and is not advised with certain medications and supplements.

Administering a Fleet saline enema is fast and effective. It works much the same way as the citrate of magnesia in terms of pulling water into the bowels, but focuses on the lower bowel and has an effect within minutes.

A simple abdominal massage will also help move things along, and a quick Internet search will provide any number of videos that explain the method. Carl Lowe wrote about research from China on constipation, summarizing studies on ear acupuncture and electro-acupuncture.

Relieve stress – Engage in daily stress reduction practices. These include meditating for 15 minutes at a time, once or twice daily as you can. You can do a guided meditation or use a mantra, or simply utilize mindful breathing. The specific meditation practice is not as important as doing one daily.

Other methods of stress relief include biofeedback, massage, yoga, tai chi, walking, listening to music, gardening, and reading. Reducing stress is one of the best ways to improve QOL overall, and certainly assists in reducing stress-induced constipation.

Eat better – Because we are discussing sluggish bowels it is easy to see how diet plays a direct role. To help bowel transit time you want to be sure to drink 8 glasses of filtered water daily. Eat plenty of whole grain fiber and fiber-rich fruits and vegetables and also include the dark green leaf veg to help moisten the intestines and provide bulk for transit. Fermented foods like kimchi, radish, kefir and live-culture yogurt also aid digestion, gut flora, and bowel motility.

Digestive enzymes and probiotic supplementation are also a great idea for constipation, as is taking Omega-3 fatty acids and magnesium. Magnesium is found in such foods as halibut, tuna, artichokes, bananas and figs. It is especially high in buckwheat flower, wheat flower, oat bran, barley, cashews and almonds. If you can’t seem to get enough in your diet, then taking a good quality supplement of about 400 mg per day will help get you to optimal levels and get the bowels moving.

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Move your body – Getting up and moving the body is one of the best things MS patients can do for their pain, inflammation and digestive health. Exercise does not have to be difficult, robust or intensive to have good results for MS. Walking is terrific, as is swimming, dancing, bouncing on a mini-trampoline, riding a stationary or moving bicycle. Mind-body practices like yoga and tai chi are also wonderful exercises that increase metabolism, improve blood flow and help regulate bowel function.

Additional thoughts

Fatigue is difficult enough and takes its toll on wellness and quality of life. MS is also a great struggle for people and when fatigue becomes chronic it as it does for many MS patients quality of life is diminished. As we see here, there are many things one can do to reduce MS fatigue that is related to bowel function. These can be done easily and incorporated into daily life at very low cost. There are other resources, too. You can read another story I wrote on MS fatigue and pain and an article on how whole body vibration helps pain symptoms of MS.

In a few cases, constipation and bowel issues can be the result of potentially serious health issues like Crohn’s disease, ovarian cysts and nerve dysfunction. Although these are not the common causes of digestive disorders, they should not be overlooked if you try the natural route to improve your sluggish bowels without success.

Dr. Mark Wiley

By Dr. Mark Wiley

Dr. Mark Wiley is an internationally renowned mind-body health practitioner, author, motivational speaker and teacher. He holds doctorates in both Oriental and alternative medicine, has done research in eight countries and has developed a model of health and wellness grounded in a self-directed, self-cure approach. Dr. Wiley has written 14 books and more than 500 articles. He serves on the Health Advisory Boards of several wellness centers and associations while focusing his attention on helping people achieve healthy and balanced lives through his work with Easy Health Options® and his company, Tambuli Media.