Constipation is when bowel movements are infrequent, the bowel does not completely evacuate the contents, or what is passing are hard, dry bowel movements. Constipation is a disturbance in the digestive system that may be the precursor to many other ailments. Since bowel movements are infrequent, toxins do not get removed from the body. Instead, they often find their way back into the bloodstream and circulate throughout the body.
Symptoms include stools that are hard and dry, making them painful to pass; a full, bloated feeling and abdominal pain. Constipated people will have three or fewer bowel movements in a week. Bowels may still feel full after you have a bowel movement. Some people also experience heaviness in the stomach, gas, a mucus-coated tongue, pain in the lower legs, hypertension, fever, nausea, vertigo, drowsiness and palpitation.
Constipation can be caused or exacerbated by a low fiber diet, low fluid intake, weak abdominal muscles, irregular meals, eating lots of refined foods, inadequate chewing of food, holding back stools, and by some diseases like diabetes, colitis, tumors, hyperacidity or sluggish liver. Constipation may also be aggravated by stress, lack of sleep, smoking, ingesting too much coffee or tea, and by certain medications.
See your physician if you have not been able to pass a stool for a week. If you are experiencing severe abdominal pain or blood in the stool, see your doctor as soon as possible.
The Bristol Stool Chart
The chart below was developed at Bristol University by Heaton and Lewis, it shows the seven different types of stool, with the first two, types 1 and 2, being classified as constipation. As you can see from the chart, there are various types of stool with types 3 and 4 being considered as normal. As you move down through the chart so the stool type gradually becomes more like diarrhea.
Released under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Stools can be made softer and bulkier and therefore easier to pass by taking plants that contain mucilage. Plants that contain mucilage include psyllium, slippery elm and flax seeds, all these make for good constipation remedies. Laxative plants can irritate the intestine if used long term and you should seek medical advice or herbalist advice.
Constipation remedies to bulk stools:
As a laxative:
To aid the digestive system:
Essential oils that may be useful in massage, bath or vaporizer include basil, lemon, marjoram and rosemary. A suggested blend might be basil 4 drops, lemon 2 drops and rosemary 4 drops.