Constipation occurs when a person has fewer than three bowel movements in a week or has difficulty when stooling. It happens when stool moves very slowly along the digestive tract thereby making the colon to absorb too much water from the waste which in turn hardens the stool, hence making it difficult to pass out from the rectum.
Under normal circumstances, as food moves through the digestive tract, nutrients get absorbed and the ones not properly digested move from the small intestine to the large intestine, otherwise called the colon. The colon then absorbs the water which forms a solid matter (stool).
There are many causes of constipation ranging from low intake of dietary fibre, dehydration, lactose intolerance, refusal to excrete among others.
SYMPTOMS OF CONSTIPATION
If you notice any or all of the following signs in your system, it is likely that you are suffering from constipation:
- Dry and hard stools.
- Painful bowel movement and difficult passage of stool.
- The feeling that you have not fully emptied your bowels.
- Stooling less than three times a week.
- Excessive straining to have a bowel movement.
- The feeling that you can’t completely empty the stool in your rectum.
- Abdominal pain and cramps.
- A bloated feeling.
- Loss of appetite.
QUICK REMEDIES FOR CONSTIPATION
In this article, after careful research, we have put together various home remedies that quickly relieve constipation especially if you live in Nigeria:
1. TAKE AFRICAN STAR APPLE
African star apple popularly called African cherry or Udara/Agbalumo (in local parlance) is a natural and native way to relieve constipation. Taking lots of star apple cleans the system and makes for easy bowel movement. A lot of people attest to the effectiveness of this local remedy to relieve constipation. Therefore, eat plenty of “agbalumo” including the bark.
2. SCENT LEAF
Scent leaf goes by a number of names like Clove basil or tea bush in ‘Nigerian English.’ Scent leaf is also very good for the treatment of constipation as it helps to promote bowel movement. Use a glass of water and make scent leaf juice to drink. Alternatively, you can use the scent leaves soup to treat severe constipation.
Remember that the major characteristics of constipation are dry and hard stool. Thus, regular dehydration can lead to constipation. To prevent and relieve constipation, it’s very important that you drink sufficient amount of water on a daily basis.
Read our article on How Much Water Should You Drink Per Day?
Being hydrated will reduce constipation and aid digestion as well. Ensure that what you take is sparkling water and not soft drinks. Avoid drinking carbonated drinks because they may worsen symptoms of constipation.
4. FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND FIBRE.
Increasing your intake of fibre is another quick way to relieve constipation as it improves bowel movements. Fruits and vegetables, especially the dark leafy vegetables, contain a lot of fibre and relieve constipation. When insoluble fibre moves through the intestines, it traps water, increasing the moisture in the stool thereby making it easier to excrete. Apples, pears, papaya (pawpaw), carrot, lemon, orange, banana, pumpkin leaf (Ugwu), etc are all very rich in fibre so they’re a perfect fit. Ensure to eat the fruits along with the peels.
5. CASTOR OIL
Because of the laxative properties of castor oil, it is effective for relieving constipation which makes it a popular home remedy. Castor oil increases the movement in the intestines making the process of excretion smoother. It should be taken on an empty stomach and done regularly if it is a case of constant constipation.
Castor oil works very quickly so it shouldn’t be taken at bedtime. It also tastes bad so it is recommended that a sweetener should be added like orange juice to improve the taste. Generally, castor oil is safe and trusted but large amounts of it should be avoided as it will lead to an overdose. Castor oil contains the toxin, ricin, so when overdosed, it can result in diarrhea, nausea, chest pain or abdominal cramps. A proper dosage for adults is 15-60ml while for children above 13 years of age is 5-15ml.
This is a very old remedy for constipation and many cultures in the world still use herbs till date. There are two categories of herbs which are the bulk-forming and stimulant laxatives. Bulk-forming herbs include fenugreek, barely, flaxseed etc. Stimulant herbs include aloe vera, Senna etc. Also using herbs can interfere and react with some medications so it is important that you consult your doctor or speak with a health care practitioner before taking any herbs.
7. GARRI (cassava flakes)
Garri is very effective for relieving constipation because it softens the stool. When taking garri for constipation it should be taken without sugar or any other ingredients. In other words, it should be taken plain and soaking it up is optional.
8. OLIVE OIL
Olive oil helps relieve constipation by stimulating the digestive system which in turn helps in moving things through the colon. Taking it regularly can prevent constipation as well. All you need is a tablespoon of olive oil and you can choose to add a tablespoon of lemon juice. Olive oil works best on an empty stomach so it should be taken in the morning before eating anything else.
Constipation is common and it can result from dietary habits, medical conditions, and various other factors. It is very okay to relieve constipation using home remedies but when there are severe symptoms, discomfort, sudden constipation or worsening of symptoms, consult a doctor immediately.
Medical Disclaimer: KompleteCare™ aims to improve the quality of life for everyone with fact-based content about the nature of diseases, preventive care, behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider