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Understanding Constipation and Natural Treatment Options

Constipation is a very common condition affecting about 14% of the US population. Females and elderly are more likely to report constipation. It accounts for about 3.2 million visits each year to the doctor looking for relief. Constipation is when stool becomes hard, dry, and difficult to pass, and bowel movements don't happen very often. Red flags would be fewer than 3 bowel movements per week and going longer than 3 days without a complete bowel movement. Other symptoms may include painful bowel movements, and feeling bloated, uncomfortable, and sluggish. Stools should be soft, pass comfortably without straining, and be sausage-shaped.

Constipation and Diet

What you are eating is the first place to look when it comes to constipation. A lack of fiber is the most common reason. Only 3% of Americans get the recommended 35g of fiber daily. But constipation can also be related to other factors such as poor abdominal muscle tone, inactivity or immobility, and prolonged use of opioid medications.

Natural Treatments

Constipation can be a debilitating condition. Options to address include:

  • Fiber supplements (psyllium, flax)

  • Stimulant type laxatives (senna, aloe)

  • Stool softeners

  • Probiotics

Tweaks to diet and lifestyle also play a role. Consuming more fibrous foods like fruits, vegetables and grains can increase stool frequency. Increasing intake of water can prevent dehydration and keep stool from becoming harder. Walking and other exercises keeps things moving as well. Keep a food log to correctly pinpoint foods with bowel movements.

There are several common factors related to constipation. We created our Gut Repair and Restoration Program for this reason. We can work together to rule out all possible underlying causes while working to improve diet and restore optimal gut health. Diagnostic testing can give us a more comprehensive picture of gut function and add in other treatment options. Schedule a FREE consultation to discuss our approach and let us help with your GI symptoms and discomfort.


1. Quagliani D, Felt-Gunderson P. Closing America's Fiber Intake Gap: Communication Strategies From a Food and Fiber Summit. Am J Lifestyle Med. 2016;11(1):80-85. Published 2016 Jul 7. doi:10.1177/1559827615588079

2. Albu A, Farcas A, David L, Dumitrascu DL. The economic burden of constipation therapy. Med Pharm Rep. 2019;92(3):261-264. doi:10.15386/mpr-1222

3. McCrea GL, Miaskowski C, Stotts NA, Macera L, Paul SM, Varma MG. Gender differences in self reported constipation characteristics, symptoms, and bowel and dietary habits among patients attending a specialty clinic for constipation. Gend Med. 2009 Apr;6(1):259-71. doi: 10.1016/j.genm.2009.04.007. PMID: 19467522.


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