Moving, Cleansing, Clearing
Here’s the deal about constipation: it’s a barking guard dog. There’s ways to break things loose and get them moving again ... but these things rarely address the reasons things got stuck in the first place.
So if all one does is break things loose, it’s a little like shooting the guard dog to shut him up.
That said ... there’s simple, safe & effective ways to get things flowing again and keep them flowing. And if constipation only happens once in awhile, they're probably all we need. But if constipation is more chronic, we might want to dig a little further. First we’ll look at the first-aid approach ... and then consider some of the deeper issues.
My fave emergency constipation-reliever: Vitamin C.
Linus Pauling pointed out that humans, higher primates and a few other species are the only mammals that don’t make gram amounts of vitamin C in their own bodies all the time. If we made vitamin C at the rate most mammals do, we’d be making 14-17 gms/day from our blood sugar.
Linus also determined that the best way to know the body was saturated with vitamin C was when we’d taken enough to get diarrhea. That’s right ... enough vitamin C is an excellent laxative. It’s generally gentle (as long as one does things right.) It’s relatively easy to control. And it’s not potentially toxic to the kidneys like other powerful laxatives such as epsom salt.
Be sure to use regular ascorbic acid, best taken as a powder for this purpose. DO NOT USE other forms of vitamin C, such as Ester-C, Emergen-C, time-release forms of vitamin C, calcium ascorbate or chewable vitamin C ... each of these presents potentially dangerous issues in large quantities. But pure vitamin C is usually fine.
Start w/about 3 gms (2/3 level tsp), as a test. If you have any gastric discomfort at this level, this approach is not for you.
If you don’t ... after 30 minutes or so take another 6 gms (1 heaping tsp.) This will often do the trick. A few minutes before things break loose you may notice gurgling sounds appearing in your gut. This is normal ... so get ready.
The diarrhea, when it comes, is typically watery. If you hit your dosage just right you you’ll experience an easy, gentle evacuation of soft stool. There’s typically no pain or burning. It will come and go for about 20-30 minutes, again typically watery ... with maybe a late visit 50-60 minutes later, then it’ll be over. Drink plenty of fluids.
If, on the other hand after 30 minutes there’s been no change, take another heaping teaspoon of pure ascorbic acid. That should do it.
If if doesn’t ... it doesn’t mean vitamin C won’t work. It means you probably have an infection somewhere. It’d be a good idea to get in touch.
My fave chronic constipation-reliever: oily seeds.
If constipation is a frequent friend, the best approach I’ve found is to take a spoon or two of oily seeds by mouth everyday, relying on the vitamin C approach only in emergencies.
People take a wide range of oily seeds to help lubricate their GI tract and keep things moving smoothly. Flax seed is the classic: a tbsp or two/day should do it. Be aware: this is not a substitute for taking a good omega-3 supplement. Seeds typically stay intact as they move through the gut so we don’t get their full nutritional benefit. But they do supply bulk and lubrication. That can help many cases of chronic constipation. But again, all we’re doing is sedating the guard dog. It’d be better to grab a flashlight, head on out of the gate and track down whatever’s gotten the dog barking.
The Long View
Standing back a little bit, constipation reveals itself to be a warning sign—the barking guard dog. Things like Epsom Salt (corrosive, not advisable), vitamin C or oily seeds can help, but they’re only immediate, temporary fixes. They shut the dog up.
When digestion & elimination clog it's typically a sign of something else. It can be as simple as dehydration--if we forget to drink enough fluid the body starts absorbing fluid from the stool making it hard and easy-to-get-stuck. It can be as deadly as cancer ... esp. if accompanied by blood, although blood in the stool usually means hemorrhoids, not cancer. It can mean issues with the upstream digestive organs: pancreas, small intestine, the stomach itself. Because healthy body function relies on adequate nutrients absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract, regular constipation is like a blinking road sign: caution. Look more carefully ahead.
In naturopathic or chinese medical terms, the Liver is usually the issue, and that means detoxification. That’s another story. The watchword about detox work: start very slowly and gently, especially if you have a history of reacting strongly to medication, odors, people, situations.
Sometimes it's a good idea to do strengthening work after or along with the detox. There’s a lot of good info about these strategies on this and other sites. But sometimes it’s good to have a guide, a filter, a program and a coach. That’s our department. Interested? Get in touch.