Constipation – many of us have had our experiences with this difficult symptom before and it is still one of the most common paediatric conditions that comes through the office.
Regular bowel movements are essential for removing chemical and microbial waste products from the body, so plays an extremely important role in health maintenance.
If one is constipated, it’s may be an indication that the organs of detoxification are not functioning optimally, the nervous system may be exhausted and dysregulated, and/or that the probiotic flora may not be optimally diversified.
Optimal Frequency For Bowel Movements
· Adults and children over age 4 should have at least one sufficient bowel movement daily.
· Children under 2 should be experiencing bowel movements 2-4 times daily.
· Infants should be eliminating after every feeding.
· Bowel movements should not require straining, nor should they cause any pain.
· Bowel movement should typically be one smooth package, medium brown, with no signs of undigested food (exception corn), blood or mucus – take a look at the Bristol stool chart to see where your bowel moments fall (picture of the Bristol Stool Chart in the blog).
Signs of constipation should always be first assessed by a medical professional – imaging may be required for an accurate diagnosis.
Make sure to check in with a medical professional before trying anything on your own, especially if the affected person falls under one of the following:
- Constipation in an infant should ALWAYS be checked out by a medical professional. Please do not try natural remedies for constipated infant until a full medical examination and proper imaging has been done to rule out any potentially serious conditions (this may require an X-ray)
- Constipation is associated with severe pain.
- Cases of chronic constipation (long-term) should always be assessed by a medical practitioner.
- Cases of long-term (chronic) constipation, with sudden onset of watery diarrhea, bloating and pain, rectal bleeding, and/or low back pain.
- Signs of blood, or mucus in the stool.
Natural Treatments For Constipation
Lots and lots of wonderful water will help move those stubborn bowel movements along.
Constipation can be a sign of dehydration so making sure to keep your children sufficiently hydrated is essential for smooth moving stools.
Water, fruits (not juice), herbal teas (non-caffeinated!) are all options for hydration
2. Insoluble Fibre
Insoluble fibre help keep the stools loose and fluid by adding bulk – the bulkiness of the stool will stimulate the intestines to contact, pushing the bowel through the colon.
Sources of insoluble fibre include vegetables (especially dark leafy greens), fruit skins (apples, pears), bran, flax seeds, beans and legumes, beets.
3. Soluble Fibre
Soluble fibre helps with constipation by drawing water in to the bowels forming a “gel”.
This softens the stool, making it easier to pass.
The best sources for soluble fibre sources include psyllium fibre, oats, brown rice chia seeds, artichokes, green plantain, legumes.
There are many foods that are rich in both soluble and insoluble fibres.
4. Prune juice is an age-old remedy used to help treat constipation.
The reason why prune juice is so helpful is that it contains biochemicals called anthraquinones which act as natural laxatives.
Just like any laxative, this should not be used long term as your body to prevent dependence.
It is recommended to provide a child 1-3 ounces of prune juice twice daily before meals to help treat constipation.
Once constipation improves, you can cut this down to 1x/day.
If the prune juice does not work within 1 week, discontinue this approach.
Like I’ve pretty much said in all my articles, probiotics are wonderful for regulating the gastrointestinal tract and great for alleviating symptoms of constipation.
This includes providing the body with probiotics through supplementation, and/or adding healthy prebiotic foods to encourage the growth of a healthy microbiome.
6. Castor Oil
Castor oil belly rubs – used topically on the stomach, this gentle massage technique encourages intestinal contractions (peristalsis) and helps encourage healthy liver function, which is important for digestive health.
For the instructions, visit, http://tanyaleend.com/home-remedies/
If constipation does not improve with these home remedies, stronger treatments are likely needed.
Naturopathic doctors are trained in assessing the root cause of constipation to determine what therapy is appropriate.
Herbal medicine and dietary management are gentle and effective medical treatments when applied properly by a trained professional.
Yours in Health,
Dr. Marnie Luck, N.D
Annex Naturopathic Clinic is a clinic in Toronto that offers integrative healthcare solutions from Drs. Marnie Luck, ND, and Tanya Lee, ND