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Suffering from Slow Digestion? Try These Herbal Remedies

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Everyone suffers from constipation once in a while and when you get that uncomfortable bloated feeling, you want to relieve it quickly. Rather than running to the drugstore for a laxative or toughing it out, consider whether there might be some all-natural remedies you can try. Keep reading to learn about some herbal options for constipation relief.

What is Constipation?

Constipation is having fewer than three bowel movements per week. For some people it happens occasionally but, for others, it is a chronic issue. Some of the most common symptoms of constipation include hard stools, straining, feeling blocked up, abdominal pain, nausea, and bloating. Though there are over-the-counter treatments to relieve these symptoms, they can become habit-forming. In other words, your digestive system may become too dependent on them and you might struggle to have natural bowel movements in the future.

Some of the most common causes for constipation include poor diet and inactive lifestyle. If you fill up on junk food and fail to stay active, your digestion may become sluggish and you may be more prone to constipation. Eating certain foods can increase your risk for constipation as well – foods like dairy products, high-fat and high-sugar foods, low-fiber foods, alcohol and caffeine. If you don’t drink enough water, that could also become a contributing factor. You may even develop constipation as a side effect of common medications such as antidepressants, diuretics, antacids, and blood pressure medications.

Five Herbal Remedies for Constipation

Because over-the-counter treatments for constipation can be habit-forming, not to mention expensive, you might want to consider some natural remedies instead. Here are five herbal remedies to relieve your constipation:

  1. Buckthorn – Also known as Cascara sagrada, buckthorn is derived from the bark of a certain species of buckthorn tree. This herbal laxative works by slightly irritating the colon to promote a natural bowel movement. In most cases, short-term use is tolerated well but you should look out for side effects like abdominal pain and electrolyte imbalance. Long-term use may cause liver damage, so follow dosing instructions closely.
  2. Psyllium – A natural fiber laxative, psyllium is a member of the plantain plant species. This type of fiber helps to give bulk to stools and is a common natural remedy for chronic constipation. It can be safely combined with natural and synthetic laxatives, though there may be side effects such as nausea, stomach pain, or vomiting.
  3. Rhubarb – Though more commonly used as an ingredient in baked goods, rhubarb also makes a great natural laxative. Rhubarb is safe for short-term use but it may have an antidiarrheal effect due to its tannin content, so avoid long-term use.
  4. Senna – Both the fruit and the leaf of the senna plant can be used for constipation relief. The fruit is typically the gentler of the two options, though both should only be used as short-term treatments. Long-term use of senna for constipation relief could cause liver damage. You can find senna in the form of a pill in most drug stores.
  5. Slippery elm – This herb has been used as a natural remedy for constipation for hundreds of years. It works by stimulating the gastrointestinal tract, increasing mucus production to provide constipation relief. Keep in mind that it does have a mucigenic effect, so it could reduce the absorption of some medications. You should always check with your doctor before using it.

If none of these herbal remedies provides relief, or if your constipation becomes more frequent than three times per week, you should talk to your doctor. Chronic constipation could be a sign of an underlying issue that needs to be treated, so don’t ignore it.

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