The Simple Guide To Constipation Relief: 12 Ideas
With dozens of constipation relief ideas floating around, we decided to dig into the research to see what are your best options to consider. Currently, we have a top 12. Let's dive in!
Table of Contents
Please note: This article is a work in progress.
Looking at the root, underlying cause in diet, lifestyle, psychology -- holistic approach to resolving constipation long-term.
1. Dietary changes
- High-fiber diet
- In addition to general recommendations regarding dietary fiber, basic strategies to aid proper blood sugar control could easily be a linked off article from the main guide, and may be what’s most helpful for an individual with this root cause of constipation.
- Water intake **no evidence to indicate improvement in chronic constipation except when dehydrated
2. Foods to help with constipation
Specific foods, beverages, supplements for constipation
- Prunes / prune juice for constipation
- Coconut / MTC oil
- Smooth move Tea’s
3. Lifestyle modifications
- “Regular” bowel movement timing
- Sitting positions / Squatty potty etc
- Exercise **no evidence to indicate improvement of chronic constipation
- Yoga for constipation
4. Laxatives and Fiber supplements
- Laxative subtypes (eg osmotic, stimulant, herbal, etc.) how they work, how they’re taken, potential short and long term side effects
- Fiber supplements — what type of fibers help, which may worsen constipation, when to be careful with supplemental fiber - more on this coming soon
Only helpful if already dehydrated.
- May be used when lifestyle and OTC treatments fail (clearly no medical recommendations will be made here -- just informative)
- Bulking agents
- Laxatives / suppositories / enema - bring more water into your stool
- Lubrication agents
- Stimulate the bowel receptors
8. Pelvic floor training and biofeedback
What it is, when it’s used, efficacy and treatment satisfaction - more coming on this soon
9. Surgical treatments
- When they’re used and why; appropriate expectations (eg surgical interventions, while fixing constipation, often do not resolve abdominal pain)
10. Empiric treatment
- Empiric treatment seems to follow a general trend. The first step is typically to evaluate medications and supplements which may be causing the constipation, removing or changing medications when possible. Afterward, in the absence of fecal impaction, it’s generally recommended to increase dietary fiber and fluids. If an individual does not respond to fiber/bulking agents, or fluids, typically a stimulant or osmotic laxative is the next line of treatment, followed by prescription drug trials or other treatment modalities such as biofeedback or surgery depending on the underlying cause. Below are some general approaches/algorithms I came across regarding medical management of constipation:
11. Magnesium for constipation
12. Probiotics for constipation
An evidence hierarchy is followed to ensure conclusions are formed off of the most up-to-date and well-designed studies available. We aim to reference studies conducted within the past five years when possible.
- Systematic review or meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials
- Randomized controlled trials
- Controlled trials without randomization
- Case-control (retrospective) and cohort (prospective) studies
- A systematic review of descriptive, qualitative, or mixed-method studies
- A single descriptive, qualitative, or mixed-method study
- Studies without controls, case reports, and case series
- Animal research
- In vitro research