Tips & Tricks: Constipation

One of the problems with taking pain medication is that most of us get constipated. Some medications are worse than others but in the end it is almost always a problem. Especially when we have to increase our dosage.

We also do not need to strain. That’s tough on the back. So here are some tricks I’ve learned along the way. The first one is to drink a lot of water. You need more then the average person. Do what you need to if you don’t like water. You can flavour it with fresh lemon or lime. You can drink herbal teas instead. Most herbal teas don’t contain caffeine but some do so check it out. Even a coffee can count as water intake but not more than 2 cups. The reason for that is that too much caffeine makes us pee getting rid of that water we so preciously need. In the summertime I make iced tea using strawberry or berry herbal teas. Adult koolaid. 

The second thing you can do is eat as much fresh fruit and vegetables as you can for the fiber. Fiber is a big thing. It holds the water in the large intestine and is known as a bulking agent. Get as much as you can from your food. Choose brown over white for everything from bread to pasta. And eating the food  eg orange gives you more fiber than the juice. The daily recommended amount of fiber in the diet is 25g. We are going to need more.

Commercial fiber supplements have changed a lot over the years. Gone are the lumpy mixes we had to choke down. There is fiber that completely dissolves in water and is tasteless. You can add it to your coffee or milk or your oatmeal (which is also good for constipation) without it changing the flavour. The most common one on the shelves now is called Benefibre. A rounded teaspoon contains 3.2 grams of fiber. Now this is a different form of fiber made from chicory root and it might not give you the same results as pysillium seed HUSKS did in the past. The only place to get the seed husks that I know of is the health food store. But then we are back to that lumpy concoction that I just can’t swallow anymore.

Stool softeners are another aid. Notice that I am staying away from laxatives. The reason is regular use of laxatives promotes a lazy bowel and eventually can lead to dependence on the laxative. Not a good thing. However once in awhile usage is all right. Stool softeners are different. The best form is docusate calcium. The other form is sodium bound which increases your sodium intake and that isn’t good for all kinds of reasons. Start with the bottle or your doctor’s recommendations. You’ll find your own personal best amount. I read an article where one patient was taking 20 capsules of 100mg a day. He was on a lot of pain medication. I find that 9 capsules works for me. However, I do not use the stool softeners all the time. I switch between the different forms of commercial products so that I don’t become dependent on any of them. I might use them for a month and then switch. I find that after awhile, they just stop working. It’s like you adapt to them or something. That’s not very scientific but it’s been my experience. So switching works.

Commercial fiber powders are not supposed to develop dependency but even with them I find they just stop working after awhile.

I also use gelatin suppositories. These work by increasing the urge to go to the bathroom. I use these when all else has failed.

All the commercial products can be purchased on the cheap from Walmart.

Now I’m just trying out a homemade product that I received as a gift. LOL. Right. Some people just know what’s right for you. :-) I got it from my brother in law who is a doctor. One of his patients is waiting for spinal surgery, in a lot of pain and absolutely cannot strain. She and her mother found this recipe and she says it’s terrific.

I’m going to post the recipe separately as well as here to make it easy to find when searching. If anyone has anything else that works for them, I’d appreciate an email.

FruitLAX: Natural Fruit Laxative

2 oz (56 g) senna leaves (health food store)

8 oz (224g) pitted prunes (works out to be about a cup)

8 oz (224g) figs (ensure a moist brand, works out to be about a cup)

2 cups of pitted dates

2 cups of dark raisins

8 cups of boiling water

2 cups of brown sugar

Pour the boiling over the senna leaves. Let steep 10-15 minutes, then strain the leaves out. Longer is not better.

Put all the ingredients and the senna liquid into a large non-stick pan and cook for about 30 minutes (until soft and liquid is absorbed). Stir often.

Process with blender in small amounts.

Keep in refrigerator.

Start with one tablespoon each morning.

4 Responses to “Tips & Tricks: Constipation”

  1. Marites Says:

    I’m suffering for constipation and almost six months I’m using laxative. Please kindly give me the best things that I can stop laxative without any pain passing stool and to be stool soft.
    Because I had surgery 1991 for hemorrhoid and after 16 years a got second operation again same problem hemorrhoid then March 2008 got an operation for fissure but on and off my hemorrhoid comes out, until I got blood clot and recently doctor remove it the blood clot its going to be heal.

    Now I’m so much afraid to stop laxative, pls. kindly give some advice what be the best things to do…. I never forget to eat a lot of vegetable and fruits, drinking 8 glasses everyday..

    Waiting for your reply….

  2. Darlene Says:

    Hi

    Just got back from a month in Mexico.

    First of all I need to say that you should be talking to your doctor about this. They most certainly can be a great resource in the case of constipation.

    If it’s not contraindicated with any of your medication, you can take stool softeners. I usually take calcium ducoslate. Start taking one and add as you go along. It will not act immediately but will eventually help.

    But it has to be a multifaceted approached – you need to drink more water. Even if you are drinking lots of water, you need to drink at LEAST 2 liters a day. And you need more fiber. Lots of fiber. That will hold the water in the large intestine. Even though you are eating lots of fruits and vegetables it’s obviously not enough.

    Doctors often recommend metamucil or something like that. I prefer a combination of natural fibers called Fiber Smart. You can also mix up the following fruit laxative. Lots of fiber in there. Start with a tablespoon and work up.

    FruitLAX: Natural Fruit Laxative

    2 oz (56 g) senna leaves (health food store)

    8 oz (224g) pitted prunes (works out to be about a cup)

    8 oz (224g) figs (ensure a moist brand, works out to be about a cup)

    2 cups of pitted dates

    2 cups of dark raisins

    8 cups of boiling water

    2 cups of brown sugar

    Pour the boiling over the senna leaves. Let steep 10-15 minutes, then strain the leaves out. Longer is not better.

    Put all the ingredients and the senna liquid into a large non-stick pan and cook for about 30 minutes (until soft and liquid is absorbed). Stir often.

    Process with blender in small amounts.

    Keep in refrigerator.

    Start with one tablespoon each morning.

    ——–

    Also look at my page: Tips and Tricks for Constipation http://fitnessfusion.wordpress.com/2007/12/25/tips-tricks-constipation/ This is the page you posted your comment on…

    But really, talk to your doc.
    Good luck.
    Darlene Morrow

  3. Estelle Says:

    Does anyone know where I can find a comprehensive list of foods and the grams of fibre they contain?

    • Darlene Says:

      Hi Estelle
      If you go to Calorie King they have a complete list of what is in food including fiber.
      You can get that info using the free part of their website.
      If you are looking for a specific food, it’s often called “component”.
      Good luck
      Darlene


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