Constipation can have many causes, so it can be hard to pinpoint and resolve. The average American today has a 96-hour transit time from the mouth to the other end, meaning they carry four days worth of waste in their colon. This can lead to major discomfort and reabsorption of the toxins that are sitting in the bowels.
Ideally, a healthy colon produces 2-3 bowel movements per day. Getting to this point can be a long process of trial and error to find a good balance of nutrition, movement, hydration and stress relief. Before you get frustrated and reach for over-the-counter drugs, which can have unsavoury side effects, try these helpful herbal teas instead.
Peppermint has long been a traditional remedy for stomach upsets, nausea and vomiting. The main beneficial constituent is menthol, which supports the intestinal muscles to function smoothly and helps dispel gas.
Fennel is antispasmodic, meaning it helps relax the muscles of the intestines and colon to keep things moving through. Fennel is commonly used for constipation, colic and gas pains. Just crush 1–2 teaspoons of fennel seeds in a mortar and pestle, add to 2 cups of boiled water and allow to steep, covered, for 5–10 minutes.
Chamomile contains tryptophan, which is an effective relaxant. This calms the digestive system and can act as a mild laxative. It’s interesting to note that constipation is often a physiological response to a heightened emotional state. In this way, chamomile’s relaxing properties also have a good chance of remedying constipation indirectly by alleviating stress and anxiety.
Dandelion and burdock both stimulate bile release from the liver and gallbladder. This helps carry digestive enzymes into the digestive tract, stimulates peristalsis and promotes the breakdown of fats and oils.
Dandelion is considered more helpful for “flaccid” or “lazy” constipation, which results from weak peristaltic action of the intestinal muscles and colon. These are the muscles that should provide a smooth, rolling squeeze to help waste move along. If this action is weak, dandelion root can be helpful.
On the contrary, if constipation is the “spastic” type resulting from tension and stress, this means the muscles need to be relaxed. Herbs like chamomile and peppermint are more helpful for this condition.
Burdock root contains lignans, bitter principles, inulin (resistant starch), mucilage, sulphur and organic acids. This potent mixture helps increase bile secretion from the gallbladder. With this support, the body is better able to digest fatty and oily foods and use them effectively for various biological functions.
If stools are dry and difficult to pass, burdock is a good choice, since breaking down fats will help bring moisture into the stool.
Marshmallow root is described as “demulcent,” which means it provides lubrication in the colon and calms inflammation. It has been used as a treatment for constipation in traditional medicine for centuries.
Try these potent remedies from nature next time you’re experiencing slowed digestion and toxicity. If nothing else, they will nourish and hydrate the body to resolve constipation on its own, without harmful side effects or creating dependency.