Updated: Feb 5, 2021
Constipation. It happens to the best of us. You do all the right things. You eat plenty of fiber. You exercise. You drink water. But sometimes, life happens. A weekend filled with booze and salty snacks happens. Stress happens. And travel constipation is real!
And it isn’t fun. You know exercising or going for a walk would help. But when your stomach and intestines are constantly cramping, you’d much rather curl up on the couch with a glass of wine.
You know you should eat some fiber-rich foods and drink a liter of water. But you already feel uncomfortably full. And your belly bloats at just the thought of a large salad. So that chocolate bar hidden in the pantry calls your name with determination. And that glass of wine looks like it’ll fit in your stomach a lot more easily than a liter of water right now.
You need relief, and you need it NOW.
You don’t need to run to the drug store for some over the counter solution. Who KNOWS what kind of side effects those would have? Nope.
Luckily for you, there are some proven foods and herbs that can be used for natural relief of constipation. Most likely, you already have some of them at home.
Natural Remedies for Constipation
Drink Sparkling or Mineral Water
If you’re seeking relief from constipation, the amount of water you drink may not be the only factor to consider. You may want to change up the type of water you’re drinking.
Sparkling water decreases constipation 4 times more effectively than tap water! So reach for those bubbles when you’re curled up on the couch instead of the wine.
Will my Soda Stream do the trick? Possibly. But if you really want to up your water game, stop carbonating tap water and find sparkling mineral water. And one that’s high in magnesium sulfate.
Mineral waters rich in magnesium sulfate have a laxative effect on the body. They improve both the consistency of your poop and how often you’ll be running to the toilet .
Magnesium sulfate is the mineral that you find in Epsom salts. But it’s also found naturally in some mineral waters. It takes a bit of research to find what minerals are actually in the waters you find at the grocery store. But really, what else are you doing while you’re curled up on the couch? Get to your Googling!
I did a bit of the work for you. A quick search shows me that Gerolsteiner can be found at my local Publix for just $1.83 right now. Their website has a handy tool that shows the mineral content of their water compared to other popular brands. And Gerolsteiner definitely has a high magnesium sulfate level compared to other popular brands.
Moral of the story? If you’re in need of a natural laxative, reach for a sparkling mineral water rich in magnesium sulfate.
I know. When I think of prunes, I think of my grandma, too. It’s one of those timeless old wives tales for constipation that everyone seems to know.
But is it really a tale? A myth? Something your mother just told you because her mother told her?
Turns out, they were right! The science backs them up. So you don’t have to be backed up. See what I did there? ;)
It’s not just the increased fiber content, either. Psyllium is the active ingredient found in Metamucil, a common fiber supplement. If you eat the same amount of fiber either from prunes or from psyllium, the prunes are more effective in relieving constipation . With prunes, you’ll go more often and you’ll have softer stools.
But how many prunes? The recommendations are unclear. Some studies show positive effects after eating just 4 or 5 prunes, while others recommend eating 10 prunes a day .
Not a fan of eating a bowl full of prunes? Even though it doesn’t contain the helpful fiber content, prune juice is another option. Drinking half a cup of prune juice twice a day relieves constipation. A word of warning, though, the prune juice may also increase your flatulence (aka farts) . If you’re home alone, maybe you don’t care. But if you’re on vacation with a group of friends, it may be best to stick with the whole prunes.
You may not have heard of Senna tea, or know much about it. But the pharmaceutical companies certainly do. Senna is an active ingredient in a lot of over the counter laxatives at your drug store. Why? Because it works.
Why not just head to the drug store, then? Let’s take Ex-Lax as an example. If you look at the ingredients, the ONLY active ingredient in Ex-Lax is Sennosides (aka Senna). But here is the list of all the inactive ingredients:
acacia, alginic acid, carnauba wax, colloidal silicon dioxide, dibasic calcium phosphate, iron oxides, magnesium stearate, microcrystalline cellulose, potassium hydroxide, pregelatinized starch, propylene glycol, shellac, sodium benzoate, sodium lauryl sulfate, stearic acid, sucrose, talc, titanium dioxide 
Note, these are INACTIVE ingredients! They are not helping you with your constipation! Do you see how it’s better to go straight to the source?
Senna tea can be found in the tea aisle of almost any grocery store. Head to the store, steep yourself a cup of tea, and snuggle back up on that couch.
A quick word of warning about Senna… It should NOT be used as an ongoing solution! Most recommendations say not to consume Senna for more than one week straight. If you do, you could end up with some serious health complications .
You have three options when it comes to using flax seeds as a natural laxative. You can have some flax meal, flaxseed oil, or make some flaxseed gel.
The important thing to remember is that you cannot just eat whole flax seeds and expect them to do anything for you! When eaten whole, flax seeds just pass right through your system. So whenever you do have a bowel movement, they’re excreted from your body undigested and look pretty much the same as when they went in.
In people that are chronically constipated, eating 50 grams of flax meal every day increases their frequency of bowel movements by 350% ! That takes you from going twice per week, to going every single day.
When measured out, 50 grams of flax meal equals about 7 tablespoons, or nearly half a cup. I don’t know about you, but I can’t really see myself sitting down to a bowl full of flax meal. And half a cup is an awful lot to throw into a smoothie.
Instead, you can try baking it into some flax cookies like these and eating the cookies throughout the day. You could also try sprinkling a couple of tablespoons over your food at every meal and having a tablespoon with your snack.
Note: Be sure to store flax meal in the fridge, as the oils will go rancid if kept at room temperature.
Flaxseed oil not only acts as a laxative, but also acts as an antidiarrheal remedy . The downside to flaxseed oil is that it lacks the fiber content of flax meal.
If you eat the 7 tablespoons of flax meal recommended above, you’ll already be getting 19.6 out of the 25 recommended grams of your fiber for the day! As you know, fiber is essential for consistent healthy bowel movements.
Flaxseed Gel is also known as Flax Mucilage. But let’s be honest, the word “mucilage” increases the gross factor a bit. Personally, I would recommend only going with this option if all you have are whole flax seeds and no way to grind them up. But if you don’t mind eating the gooey consistency or if it’s your only option, Flaxseed Gel is effective in getting things going and getting you to the toilet .
You make flaxseed gel by boiling whole flax seeds with a bit of water. When the water starts to turn a bit gel-like, use a sieve to remove the flax seeds. Allow the gel to cool, and then consume! As a quick side note, if you make too much, flax gel also works as a natural hair gel!
Obviously, the best way to alleviate constipation is to avoid it in the first place. If you’re traveling on a plane, be sure to drink plenty of water. When work is stressful, make a batch of flax cookies to comfort eat instead of reaching for that bar of chocolate. And when the kids are driving you bonkers, go for a walk instead of hiding in a closet.
The top three lifestyle habits to make sure you’re working into your daily routines are drinking enough water, moving your body, and eating enough fiber. The foods highest in fiber are fruits, vegetables, beans, and grains. So make sure you’re getting enough of these foods throughout the day.
If you’re experiencing chronic constipation and already leading a healthy lifestyle, be sure to seek the help of a medical professional! Constipation is defined as having 3 or fewer bowel movements per week . So if you’re going less than every other day, you are constipated!
If you think stress is the culprit of your constipation, check out these science-backed ways to decrease cortisol.
If you’re a health and wellness professional that’s struggling with balancing seeing patients, having a personal life, and marketing your business, schedule a free 15 minute consultation with me. We can discuss if I’d be a good fit to help you meet your business goals.