Constipation is a problem that affects 4% of the world’s population. It is a condition that causes mental distress, discomfort, and general uneasiness. Though people are too embarrassed to talk about it, it is at the back of everybody’s mind. The morning’s performance in bowel movement affects the quality of life throughout the day.
Peristalsis-An Automotive Body Process
Generally, less than 3 bowel movements per week signify that you are suffering from constipation. Food as you know moves down the intestine with recurring waves of contraction called peristalsis. Though peristalsis is an automatic process requiring no stimulus its intensity is dependent on how the intestine is stretched by food.
Related: How To Avoid Getting Constipated
Mechanism Behind Constipation
To understand what causes constipation we have to understand something of the ultrastructure of the intestine and the physiology of nerve conduction and muscle contraction.
From inside outwards the intestine consists of the mucus membrane, lamina propria, the muscularis mucosae, the submucus coat, the muscularis externa and the serous coat. The layers that are of interest to us in understanding constipation are the submucous coat and the muscularis externa. The submucous coat contains two bundles of nerve fibers arranged in two plexuses, the Messner’s plexus and the Auerbach’s plexus. These nerve fibers conduct electrochemical currents in the form of moving sodium and potassium ions. These impulses occur when the nerve fibers are stimulated by the stretch receptors which as their name suggests are themselves stimulated by stretching of the intestine in whose walls they are situated. The muscularis externa contains two layers of smooth muscle cells. These smooth muscles contract when a nerve impulse initiated by stretching of the intestinal walls reaches its cell surface forcing calcium ions into the cytoplasm and making its contractile protein actin and myosin interdigitate. The contraction of these muscle cells forces the stool stored in the intestine through the rectum to the exterior. In constipation, the intestine is not stretched and these muscles do not contract. This is the basic pathophysiology of constipation.
Related: Constipation During Pregnancy
Reason Behind Constipation
The other reason why constipation occurs is that when stool moves through the colon water is gradually absorbed from the fecal mass. If too much water is absorbed the stool becomes hard and is difficult to excrete.
Home Remedies to Getting Rid of Constipation
If you fall victim to constipation, do not despair. All is not lost. It is not that you have to take recourse to expensive drugs to combat constipation. Some simple homegrown solutions exist which are quite effective. Let us discuss them one by one.
1. Avoid Dairy and Precooked Foods: You can treat constipation by avoiding some foods like pre-cooked or canned fish and meat. Foods to stay away from including dairy products like milk, cheese, and yogurt and wheat products like bread, pastries, and cookies. Iron and calcium supplements should also be avoided.
2. A Cup of Hot Water In Morning: Taking daily exercise or leading an active lifestyle goes a long way towards mitigating constipation. A brisk walk for half an hour every morning after drinking a glass of hot water can produce miraculous results.
3. Eat Fibrous Foods: Eat foods that contain a high amount of fiber like vegetables and fruits. The fiber reacts with water to form a gelatinous mass that increases the bulk of the stool thus facilitating defecation.
4. Honey with Lukewarm Water: Every night before going to bed take a spoon of honey and dissolve it in lukewarm water and drink it. This has been found effective in constipation.
5. Overnight Lemon Juice: Slice a lemon and keep it overnight. In the morning squeeze out its juice and drink it. This is effective in constipation.
6. Drink Plenty of Water: Get into the habit of drinking a lot of water. Especially drink two glasses of warm water before going to bed. This will help your bowel movement.
7. Isabgol Consumption: One effective therapy of constipation is psyllium husk (Isabgol). One spoon of this is taken every night dissolved in water.
8. Fruits Effective in Constipation: Bael fruit and Cassia fruits are both effective in constipation. The pulp or the juice is taken every night to relieve constipation.
9. Castor Oil acts as a mild laxative. It is natural and has no side effects.
10. Chebulic Myrobalan is good for constipation. The pulp is taken with rock salts flavored with cinnamon.
11. Milk During Bedtime: Have a glass of warm milk before going to bed. Though cited as an old wives remedy, it is very effective in constipation.
These natural measures to combat constipation are inexpensive, accessible to all and above all have no side effects. In a world contaminated with so much pollution and toxic chemicals, it is better not to add to the milieu by ingesting even more chemicals. When a natural remedy is available, it should be made use of. Combat constipation with natural home remedies and live a healthy life.