Constipation results in 2.5 million doctor visits and 92,000 hospitalizations in a year [1].

Medical professionals describe constipation as “infrequent bowel movements or difficult passage of stools”. Constipation can interfere with daily tasks.

Some of the common symptoms associated with constipation include abdominal discomfort, rectal bleeding, and physiological distress.

Fortunately, there are home remedies for constipation that can relieve the symptoms of the condition and soften the stool.

Read on to learn the efficacy of some natural laxative ingredients to relieve constipation.

12 Home Remedies for Constipation Relief

1. Olive Oil

Home Remedies for Constipation

Many believe that olive oil is one of the world’s healthiest cooking oils.

This oil, which is loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids, is a staple in the Mediterranean diet.

With this, olive oil is said to help in reducing risk of heart disease, maintaining proper levels of blood sugar and cholesterol, and warding off type 2 diabetes and other diseases.

Apart from vitamins and minerals that contribute to health and wellness, its phenolic compounds also produce antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-microbial properties [2].

Not only that, it’s also an effective natural laxative that can help treat constipation, as reported in various studies [3, 4].

Researchers from Brazil conducted a double-blind controlled trial evaluating the effects of olive oil on 50 patients with constipation [4].

The participants were randomized to receive either olive oil, mineral oil, or flaxseed oil [4].

Outcome of the experiment showed that olive oil worked in reducing symptoms of constipation [4].

Its efficacy was similar to those of mineral oil and flaxseed oil [4].

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2. Prune Juice

A classic remedy for constipation, prune juice is the go-to solution for people who find it hard to pass stools. Your constipated kids can get quick relief from drinking prune juice. Prune juice is the easiest homemade stool softener for children.

In a 2007 study published in the Nutrition Research Journal, 54 participants with constipation were given 125 milliliters of prune juice for two weeks [5].

Results show that stool consistency, the difficulty of excretion, and fecal frequency all improved in a matter of weeks [5].

This supports the claim that prune juice has mild laxative effects, and can effectively treat mild constipation [5].

Several other studies echo these findings, saying that the high dietary fiber in prune juice helps alleviate constipation, particularly among elderly patients [6, 7, 8].

A total of 51 adults consumed 50 grams of prunes and 200 milliliters of prune juice daily for four weeks in addition to their typical diet [7].

Positive changes were recorded by the time the clinical trial was over, showing great improvement in the overall symptoms of constipation [7].

This has led the researchers to promote prunes and prune products in the alleviation of this common health issue [7].

The use of prune juice resulted in a total savings of $44,000 in laxative drugs [6].

3. Fennel Seeds

Home Remedies for ConstipationA highly valued medicinal plant, fennel is recognized for its anti-microbial, anti-inflammatory, and gastroprotective properties, among many others [9].

That’s because this herb is rich not only in dietary fiber but also in essential nutrients such as B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium and phytonutrients.

Its seeds, meanwhile, are a popular remedy for constipation, as they’ve been found to promote the “peristaltic motion” in the intestines, helping cleanse the bowels more efficiently [10].

They also help as a natural laxative, preventing and treating constipation [10].

If you want quick and safe solution for your constipation problem, this is one of those that that surely work.

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4. Spinach

It’s true that spinach is one of the world’s healthiest vegetables.

Abundant in vitamin A, B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, calcium, potassium, magnesium, iron, and copper, it surely does a fantastic job promoting overall health and wellness.

Among the numerous therapeutic properties of spinach, constipation relief is one of them.

This vegetable belongs to the list of top herbal remedies that act as a natural laxative and used for constipation [11].

It’s most probably due to the vegetable’s high amount of fiber, which promotes digestion and easy passage of stools.

In addition, since it is rich in nutrients, it can also do so much in improving digestive health [12].

5. Figs

Home Remedies for Constipation

Since the ancient times, figs have been used as a source of food and medicine [13].

They’ve always been highly prized for their numerous contributions to human health [13].

High in fiber, minerals, water and natural sugars, they are considered a potent remedy for constipation [14].

Their laxative effects were confirmed in an experiment conducted by Korean scientists who administered fig paste in 15 beagles induced with constipation [14].

The treatment did not alter the dogs’ usual feed and water intake or body weight and blood test results [14].

This shows that not only are figs effective in treating constipation, they also have no side effects [14].

A 2012 study, meanwhile, indicates the figs can be a practical treatment and preventive method even for chronic cases of constipation [15].

This too was done on animal subjects induced with constipation through loperamide [15].

6. Molasses

Molasses refers to the syrupy by-product of sugarcane production.

It is also commonly used for loosening stools in patients with constipation.

There are many fascinating benefits that have been linked to molasses, including stress reduction, healthy skin, cancer prevention, and maintenance of proper blood sugar levels.

Various studies also confirm that molasses are both safe and effective as a treatment for this common condition [16, 17, 18].

In one of these studies, 500 patients who suffer from constipation and abdominal pain were given milk and molasses [17].

This natural intervention proved to be highly effective in resolving constipation with a success rate of 88 percent [17].

This rate varied depending on the amount of molasses given [17].

Findings reveal that not only was molasses effective, it was also generally safe, with only a few minimal side effects reported [17].

7. Castor Oil

Home Remedies for Constipation

Castor oil has been highly revered for its medicinal value from the early years to the modern times [19].

It works as a natural antifungal and antibacterial and is replete with many essential nutrients including vitamin E, ricinoleic acid, and omega fatty acids.

A 2002 study published in the Alimentary Pharmacology & Therapeutics shows that castor oil has a “laxative effect” that includes inhibiting the absorption of water in the intestine and stimulating the motor function to promote bowel movement [20].

A dosage of 30 to 60 milliliters was enough to produce “effective catharsis” in only a matter of hours [20].

It’s no wonder this oil has been used for many years to treat mild to chronic cases of constipation.

It’s also commonly employed for bowel preparation prior to surgical and diagnostic procedures [20].

Yes, it causes abdominal cramping, which might turn you off from using this remedy.

However, keep in mind that it does work, and it does not have harmful side effects as long as proper procedure for application is followed.

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8. Flaxseed

Here’s a common problem for those who use constipation remedies: sometimes, they end up having diarrhea!

That’s because when consumed in amounts more than recommended, laxatives can make the stool too soft.

If you don’t want this to happen to you, it would be a good idea to make use of flaxseed.

Flaxseed is one of the few remedies that have dual efficacy for both diarrhea and constipation [21].

Research findings published in the BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine indicate that flaxseed can promote the release of stools after regular consumption [22].

What makes it effective as a remedy for constipation is its high fiber and antioxidant content [23].

Since flaxseeds abound in nutritional compounds, you’ll also be strengthening your immune resistance with this remedy.

9. Honey

Home Remedies for Constipation

Honey won’t be hailed as the “golden liquid” for no reason.

This substance, which is a by-product of bees, contains many amazing nutrients and benefits for the health.

A popular remedy for various diseases, honey is also a viable solution for an infrequent bowel movement.

Studies have shown that honey serves as a natural laxative, and can, therefore, help resolve constipation [24, 25].

In 1995, a team of scientists from Greece evaluated the effects of honey in different doses and a placebo in 20 individuals [24].

After 10 hours, most of the volunteers who consume honey reported having loose stools [24].

Similar findings were obtained from a study that was conducted in China in 2009, which used potato honey juice in treating chronic cases of constipation [25].

It also helps that honey is packed with vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants, and can, therefore, improve overall health [26].

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10. Yogurt

Yogurt is made by fermenting milk.

This food product is highly nutritious, as it is packed with calcium, potassium, protein and other important nutrients that can keep you in top health.

If you’re having problems due to constipation, you may also want to try including more yogurt into your diet.

Many studies have been done to verify the efficacy of yogurt as a treatment for constipation [27, 28, 29, 30, 31].

Scientists from Seoul, Korea did a double-blind controlled trial on 42 individuals with constipation [31].

These participants were asked to include yogurt in their daily diet [31].

Results revealed that yogurt increased the frequency of bowel movements, softened the stools, and improved straining [31].

The participants reported satisfactory improvement in their condition [31].

Probiotics in yogurt were found to have a positive impact on the intestinal function [27].

Researchers agree that eating probiotics is a safe and effective way to get regular bowel movement.

11. Drink More Water

Home Remedies for Constipation

Dehydration is one of the primary causes of constipation. It is of utmost importance that you consume enough water on a daily basis for the proper functioning of all bodily processes. [32]

According to experts, an adult should consume a minimum of 1 liter or 8 glasses of water daily for overall wellness.

Several studies have shown that sparkling water can provide with immediate relief and comfort from constipation and get the physical process moving smoothly. Moreover, rehydration of the body is beneficial for relieving irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) and chronic idiopathic constipation.

When you’re constipated, you could try finding relief by drinking some carbonated (sparkling) water to help you rehydrate and get things moving again.

12. Increase Dietary Fiber

Health experts recommend the increase of fiber intake to get rid of constipation naturally. Dietary fiber that comes from various foods can boost the bowel movements and help the stool to pass smoothly. [33,34]

Recent studies have shown a positive result of fiber supplements in relieving chronic constipation among 77% of the victims.  [34]

You need to have some knowledge about the types of dietary fiber that are good for consistent bowel movements. Dietary fibers can be classified broadly into two types: soluble and insoluble fibers. Both the types are an effective remedy for constipation. Here are the sources of these dietary fibers and how you should consume them.

Add wheat bran, whole grains, and leafy vegetables to your meals. These insoluble fibers increase the bulk of the stool and make the bowel movements smooth and easy. Lentils, fruits, peas, seeds, oat bran, nuts, etc. can make your stool soft. Consume these foods on a daily basis.

When to Visit a Doctor

Constipation is not to be taken lightly.

If left untreated, it can lead to complications such as:

  • Hemorrhoids or swollen veins in the anus
  • Anal fissure or broken skin in the anus
  • Fecal impaction or hardened stools that obstruct the intestines
  • Rectal prolapse or protruding intestine into the anus

So, to make sure these things do not happen, it’s important to treat this condition immediately. [3] Usually, constipation goes away in a few days with some dietary changes. But if you notice the symptoms don’t go away for 3 weeks or more, you should seek medical attention.

Besides, you must see a doctor if the following symptoms occur:

  • Pain with constipation.
  • There’s blood in your stool.
  • Constipation happens due to some medications.

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