Constipation is not a disease but a symptom often due to irregular bowel movements and difficulty in passing stool. Irregular bowel movements mean defecating less than three times a week. Approximately 16 out of every 100 adults experience the discomfort of constipation. 

The symptoms of constipation include hard stool, unsatisfactory stool, insufficient stool, or a feeling of incomplete evacuation of bowels, straining to pass stools, and, in severe cases, using fingers to manually remove stool (especially in small kids). 

There are two types of constipation: primary and secondary.

  • Primary constipation

Primary constipation or idiopathic or functional constipation arises without any underlying cause. It is further classified into three sub-types.

  • Normal transit constipation is where your stool passes through your colon at a normal pace, and your stool frequency is normal. However, you may still feel constipated. 
  • Slow transit constipation is where your colon movement is reduced. This results in sluggish movement of food through the digestive system. As a result, stool remains in your intestines for extended periods, and the frequency of bowel movements decreases. 
  • Outlet constipation is when your pelvic floor, which supports the bowels and bladder or its nerves, is damaged, resulting in difficulty passing stool.
  • Secondary constipation

Secondary constipation is often due to a faulty lifestyle or lifestyle disorders, like hypothyroidism, irritable bowel syndrome, or diabetes.

Constipation is usually treated with laxatives. Laxatives are medications that soften and stimulate your bowel movements. Homeopathic medicines are effective in treating constipation in all age groups. Both primary and secondary types of constipation are known to respond well to homeopathic medicines. Homeopathy can improve your bowel movements and treat conditions arising from long-term constipation, like hemorrhoids and anal fissures. 

Role of homeopathy in constipation

Homeopathic medicines, although safe, are best when taken after consulting a qualified doctor. This is because homeopathy medications are individualized for each person. So, two people having constipation can be prescribed two different homeopathic medicines. 

Top five homeopathic medicines for constipation

Bryonia alba (Bry.)

Common name: Wild hops

Bryonia is recommended for constipation with dry, hard, and large stools. Stools are often passed in lumps. The stools appear burnt and are passed with difficulty. 

This remedy treats constipation by softening the stool. In addition, it regularizes bowel movements and prevents chronic constipation. Headache due to constipation is a characteristic symptom of Bryonia.

Alumina (Alum.)

Common name: Pure clay

 Alumina is indicated for constant constipation without any urge to pass stools for several days. You don’t defecate for several days due to slow and sluggish intestinal movements. 

Stools are passed when a large quantity of stool accumulates in the intestine. Another characteristic symptom of Alumina is excessive straining to pass stool, even if stools are soft.

Nux vomica (Nux-v.)

Common name: Poison nut

Nux vomica is the indicated homeopathic remedy for constipation with frequent ineffectual urging, unsatisfactory, and incomplete stools. You may pass stools several times a day to clear your bowels but find no relief. This results in passing stool bit by bit throughout the day, but the urge to defecate continues.

There is pain and itching in the anus with constipation. Nux vomica helps in constipation due to abuse of purgatives, a sedentary lifestyle, and excess alcohol intake. 

Opium (Op.)

Common name: Dried latex of poppy

Opium is recommended for constipation with hard, dry stools that are passed in the form of round, hard balls. The stool often appears like black balls of sheep dung. Lack of urge to pass stool is marked in this remedy. Opium responds well in cases of constipation due to long-term use of laxatives.

The stool accumulates in the intestine for a long period of time, leading to a bloated sensation in the abdomen. Constipation due to enema abuse can be treated effectively with opium.

Silicea terra (Sil.)

Common name: Silica, Pure flint

Silicea is used in constipation with constricted anal sphincter. Stool that recedes from the rectum due to the spasmodic constriction of the anal sphincter is a characteristic symptom of this remedy. Stool often remains in the rectum for a prolonged period. The abdomen feels very hard, tight, or bloated due to obstructed flatus. Silicea is indicated in women with constipation during their menstrual cycle.

Causes for constipation

Your colon is a three to five feet long organ lined by muscle layers. Its primary function is to absorb water and salts from the waste that comes from your small intestine. After this, it creates a solid matter (stool) and stores it until you defecate it. 

Muscular contractions of your colon push the stool towards your rectum to be excreted from your body. Different hormones and nerves control the motility of your colon. When the stool fills and distends your rectum, your internal anal sphincter relaxes, and you feel the need to defecate. The contraction of your rectal muscles follows this, and the simultaneous relaxation of your external anal sphincter opens your anus, and stool is excreted. 

Constipation occurs if any of the above processes are affected. Some common causes include:

Insufficient muscle contractions

Slow and sluggish muscle contractions of your colon give it more time to absorb water. This results in dry and hard stool that is difficult to push out. 

Nerve problems

Constipation can occur due to problems in the nerves that signal contraction of your colon and rectum.

Blockage

If there is some blockage in your colon or rectum, it can result in constipation.

Inadequate fiber intake

If your diet lacks fiber, it can lead to hard stools and irregular bowel movements, causing constipation.

Dehydration

Lack of adequate hydration can result in dry and hard stools, leading to constipation.

Sedentary lifestyle

Lack of physical activity can slow your digestive system, contributing to constipation.

Medications

Medications like opioids, anticonvulsants, laxatives, calcium supplements, iron supplements, or antidepressants can cause constipation as a side effect.

Medical conditions 

Health conditions like diabetes mellitus, hypothyroidism, spinal cord lesions, depression, and irritable bowel syndrome are linked with constipation.

Symptoms of constipation

Infrequent bowel movements

Less than three bowel movements a week is indicative of constipation.

Straining

You might feel difficulty or pain while passing stools, compelling you to strain.

Hard or dry stools

Stools are dry, hard, lumpy, and difficult to pass.

Incomplete evacuation

You might feel that your bowels are not completely emptied after a movement.

Abdominal discomfort

Bloating or pain in the abdominal region, with a generalized discomfort, is a common symptom of constipation.

Decreased appetite

Some people experience decreased appetite with constipation.

Rectal blockage sensation

There can be a feeling of blockage stopping regular bowel movements.

Bowel obstruction symptoms

Symptoms such as vomiting, nausea, and abdominal pains are common in constipation due to bowel obstruction.

Treatment for constipation

Medications

Over-the-counter or prescription medications like stool softeners, stimulants, or laxatives are prescribed in severe cases of constipation. It helps by softening your stool.

Enema

Mineral oil enemas are another option for constipation. 

Surgery 

Surgery is a rare option to treat constipation. It is only recommended if you have a structural problem in your colon causing constipation. Surgery is recommended for intestinal obstruction due to blockage in your colon, narrowing in a portion of your intestine, nal fissures, or rectal prolapse.

Diet and lifestyle modifications for constipation

Diet and lifestyle changes can help manage mild to moderate constipation. Here are some tips for quick tips to relieve constipation:

Hydration

Ensure you drink eight glasses of water a day. Refrain from caffeinated drinks and alcohol, as these can cause dehydration, contributing to constipation.

Diet

Avoid processed meats, fried foods, refined carbs like white bread, high-fat foods like meat, eggs, and cheese. Add lean meats like poultry and low-fat dairy to your diet.

Increase your fiber intake by adding fresh fruits, seasonal vegetables, and whole grains to your diet. Eliminate high-fat foods like red meat, eggs, and cheese from your diet.

Posture

Correct how you sit on the toilet to pass stools. If using western toilets, raise your feet, lean back, or squat to ease defecating.

Regular exercise

Physical activity stimulates your bowel movements and promotes a healthy digestive system. 

Set a routine

Set a routine for meals and bowel movements. It helps regulate the natural rhythm in your body.

Probiotics

Probiotic-rich foods like yogurt promote a balanced gut flora. Include these in your diet to prevent constipation.

Avoid ignoring the urge

Do not ignore the natural urge to defecate.

Conclusion

Constipation can affect your daily routine activities. Its treatment involves a holistic approach, including medical interventions with dietary and lifestyle changes. 

Homeopathy can offer relief in constipation by correcting its underlying cause. Consult a homeopathic doctor to improve your gut health and live a life free from constipation.

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