Also known as costiveness, or irregularity, this is a condition of the digestive system in which a person experiences hard feces (faeces) that are difficult to expel. It often occurs as a result of food taking too long to pass through the gastro-intestinal tract because the colon absorbs too much water from the food, making faeces dry and hard.
When experiencing constipation, defecation may be extremely painful and in severe cases (faecal impaction) lead to symptoms of bowel obstruction. The term obstipation is used for severe constipation that prevents passage of both stools and gas.
Psychological factors play a strong part in constipation. Many people experience constipation as a result of unfamiliarity with surroundings, long- or short-term anxiety, grief or similar emotions. Constipation-predominant irritable bowel syndrome is characterised by a combination of constipation and abdominal discomfort and/or pain. For more information on IBS, please see our separate article.
Constipation can also be caused by dietary factors such as insufficient intake of dietary fiber, dehydration from any cause or inadequate fluid intake, or too much or too little of a particular nutrient. Other causes include hormonal, anatomical, side effects of medications (e.g. some opiates), or an illness or disorder.
Consideration of psychological factors is a key step. Methods of treatment vary greatly, but can include psychotherapy, EFT, meditation or direct steps taken as a result of awareness of the issues.
The first physical intervention is to increase the intake of fluids (preferably water) and dietary fiber. The latter may be achieved by consuming more vegetables and fruit and whole meal bread, and pulses such as beans and chick peas and by adding linseeds to one’s diet. Taking exercise is often found to be useful.
A number of natural herbs and supplements can be used to relieve physical – and in some cases, psychological – factors. We do not recommend the routine use of laxatives, as bowel action can become dependant on them. Enemas can be used to provide a form of mechanical stimulation but do not reach stools in the intestinal tract and are not a long-term solution.
There follows a list of products that clients have reported success against this health challenge with. For personalised advice, please email
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