About This Condition
Find comfort from constipation, a change in normal bowel habits characterized by a decrease in frequency and passage of hard, dry stools. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
About This Condition
Constipation is a condition in which a person experiences a change in normal bowel habits, characterized by a decrease in frequency and/or passage of hard, dry stools. Constipation can also refer to difficult defecation or to sluggish action of the bowels.
The most common cause of constipation is dietary, which is discussed below. However, constipation may be a component of irritable bowel syndrome or other conditions ranging from drug side effects to physical immobility. Serious diseases, including colon cancer , may sometimes first appear as bowel blockage leading to acute constipation. However, constipation itself does not appear to increase the risk of colon cancer, contrary to popular opinion.1
Although dietary and other natural approaches discussed below are often effective, individuals with constipation should be evaluated by a doctor to rule out potentially serious causes.
Symptoms of constipation include infrequent stools, hard stools, and excessive straining to move the bowels. Frequency of bowel movements and severity of symptoms may vary from person to person.
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Exercise may increase the muscular contractions of the intestine, promoting elimination.2 Nonetheless, the effect of exercise on constipation remains unclear.3
Anecdotal reports have claimed that acupuncture is beneficial in the treatment of constipation.4 , 5 , 6 , 7 However, a small, controlled study of eight people with constipation concluded that six acupuncture treatments over two weeks did not improve bowel function during the course of the study.8 Placebo-controlled trials of longer duration are needed to determine whether acupuncture is a useful treatment for constipation.
Biofeedback techniques have been shown to significantly increase the frequency of bowel movements among women with chronic constipation.9
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
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Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
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30. Kocharatana P, et al. Clinical trial of maeng-lak seeds used as a bulk laxative. Maharaj Nakornratchasima Hosp Med Bull 1985;9:120–36.
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Last Review: 11-07-2012
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2013.
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