It’s time to get real. When was the last time you had a bowel movement?
And the last time you had a bowel movement did you check it out? I mean really check it out?
People rarely take time out of their day to think about poop. But they should. It’s an important part of daily life. A lot of people are constipated and don’t even know it. Constipation occurs when there is lack of ease or discomfort in eliminating the bowels, ideally on a daily basis.
There is somewhat of a stigma involved in talking about the body’s waste. Ultimately the lack of awareness related to this important bodily function is detrimental to overall health. I would like to open up the conversation and give you a place to start if you are wondering what exactly is constipation and if you are experiencing it at this time. Then, I will give you some naturopathic solutions that are found to address underlying causes and help alleviate constipation symptoms.
Take a look at the Bristol Scale (pictured below). It is a good visual and indicator of what your poop might look like on a spectrum from constipated to having diarrhea. Conventional medical guidelines say constipation occurs if stool is harder than type 3-4 (normal bowel movements) on the Bristol Scale. If your bowel movements are occurring less than three times per week and they resemble Type 1 or 2 on the Bristol Scale – lumpy, dry, hard to pass – you might be experiencing constipation (SOURCE)
Constipation can occur in both adults and children. There can be a number of underlying issues creating constipation, here are a few (SOURCE):
- Poor nutrition – especially lack of fiber
- Lack of physical activity
- Certain medications (including antihistamines, antidepressants, antispasmodics, antacids containing aluminum, blood pressure meds, opiates, iron supplements)
If you suspect constipation, you might be wondering how to repair your bowel function and get things moving.
Conventional primary care physicians generally recommend Miralax or a stimulant laxative like Senokot.
The naturopathic approach to constipation is a little different, and there are many natural agents you can try to alleviate the root causes of constipation prior to the use of laxatives. We start with the foundations: fiber, water, movement.
- Hydrate. Start by adding water to your nutritional intake.
- You might add fiber bulking drinks as a next step, but naturopathic doctors most often suggest dietary fiber in the form of fresh fruit, veggies and whole grains.
- Try to increase the amount of time you move your body (exercise) in a day.
- I might prescribe magnesium or high doses of vitamin C as stool softeners.
- Depending on the situation, I might suggest motility support.
- I also often recommend the use of a stool, such as a Squatty Potty, to rest the feet on to make bowel function easier.
- Self-abdominal massage has been shown to help with constipation as well.
Constipation is common, and natural medicine can work very well to improve bowel function. Please contact Dr. Heather Buckle ND, FABNO if you have questions about integrative solutions for any gastrointestinal issues you may have. If you live in Washington state and would like to learn more about Dr. Buckle’s naturopathic approach to your wellness, please call (206) 643-2239 or CLICK HERE to schedule a consultation.