Self Help for Constipation

Constipation can vary from being an irritating problem that flares up from time to time, to a debilitating chronic condition causing abdominal pain and other complications.

Physically, constipation can be caused by all sorts of things including a lack of fluid and healthy fats and oils, a diet lacking in fibre, medication and food intolerances. 

Mentally and emotionally it can be triggered by stress, inability to let go of things such as the events from the past, and unwillingness to take in new life, new things, change. 

If there is a lot of faecal compaction the laxatives will only soften the newer stool; the compacted stool will remain. The best way to move stool is to bulk it out with insoluble fibre. This will create a larger stool to push everything through, without absorbing water which would make the stool very hard, difficult and painful to pass. Good sources of insoluble fibre are flax seeds soaked in water, or porridge oats. Both will form a “gloopiness” which is known as mucilage. This is an oily lubricant which will help assist the intestinal tract.

Both reflexology and acupuncture would be beneficial for constipation as both will offer space and time to deeply relax which will switch on the “rest and digest” and break the cycle of “fight or flight”.

Below are some self help tips you can try if you’re are suffering with constipation. These can be tried alongside the general advice of increasing water intake, increasing fibre intake, increasing healthy fats and oils and reducing white refined carbohydrates, sugary foods, caffiene, alcohol and stress.

Look up the following acupuncture points using the internet and gently massage these twice a day for 2 minutes. Do both left and right sides. San Jiao 6 (lower arm) and Gall Bladder 34 (lower leg below the knee).

Ask a friend or family member to gently massage the lower half of the soles of your feet. This general guidance will cover the small and large intestine reflexes. Here is a foot map as a general guide.

Ear points for the intestines (large circle) and rectum (smaller circle) can be gently massaged. Please see the diagram here. Add gentle pressure using finger and thumb, rotate and release. Do this no more than once to begin with, covering the whole area. Then wait as the body digests the action. Note that over stimulation can create feelings of nausia and dizziness, so “less is more” in this case. If any point is sensitive, this is a good indication of imbalance. Treat both ears.

When using the toilet, use a stool to raise up your feet so that you are replicating the squatting position, which is the best position to pass stools. For more information see Squatty Potty.

Ask a friend or family member to massage your abdomen in a clockwise direction. You could also include hips and lower back. Essential oils could also be used. A recommended book would be The Fragrant Pharmacy by Valerie Woomwood. As I’m not a qualified aromatherapist I won’t make suggestions here.

Take a table of flax seeds, cover in water, and soak. Once softened add more water and a small amount of good honey and drink. Do this twice a day. If this is completely undesirable then an alternative option would be to make up porridge using organic oats and water (no milk or sugar). Sweeten lightly with good honey.

Deep breathing exercises. In Traditional Chinese Medicine the Lung and Large Intestine channels are paired; the Lung is the Yin breathing in our essential life Qi, and the Large Intestine is letting go of waste, and the old. Spend a few minutes focusing on taking deep breaths, through the nose and into the belly, and then release. 

As with all self-help information, use at your own risk and do not substitite for prescribed medication or consultation with your GP/medical practitioner.