by Dr. Lawrence Wilson
© September 2019, L.D. Wilson Consultants, Inc.
All information in this article is for educational purposes only. It is not for the diagnosis, treatment, prescription or cure of any disease or health condition.
WARNING: Medical drugs are a major source of constipation! Most medical drugs cause constipation, including over-the-counter remedies such as Tylenol. Among the worst are anti-depressants, anti-psychotic drugs, tranquilizers, opioids, morphine, cancer chemotherapy, narcotics, blood pressure drugs, and antibiotics.
Traumas and mental stress are other very important causes.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
II. Basic Anatomy Of The Small And Large Intestine
III. Normal Large Bowel Activity
IV. Constipation Defined
V. Causes For Constipation
VI. Connections Between Mineral Imbalances And Constipation
VII. Constipation, Diarrhea and The Oxidation Types
VIII. Correcting Constipation Safely and Rapidly In Most Cases - Foods To Avoid
IX. Other Remedies If The Above Is Not Sufficient
X. Travel And Constipation
XI. Other Topics Related To Bowel Health – “Death Begins In The Colon”
XII. The Colon And The Parasympathetic Nervous System
XIII. Comments On Various Bowel Laboratory Tests
XIV. Other Bowel Tests That Are Usually Not Needed With Constipation
XV. Hair Analysis Patterns Related To Bowel Activity
Bowel problems, especially constipation, are perhaps the most important health complaint in the modern world. Pathologists report that the colon is usually the most diseased organ on routine autopsies of even healthy people who die of accidental causes.
Constipation is important not only because it is unpleasant, but more importantly because it sets the stage for more serious bowel diseases in the future, and for more disease everywhere in the body.
Fortunately, even stubborn constipation is usually easy to correct using only natural methods. The most important steps to correct constipation are:
1. Adults need to eat 6-9 cups of well-cooked, not raw or crunchy, vegetables each day. We know this is a lot of cooked vegetables, but it is very important for excellent health. It provides plenty of fiber and many phytonutrients in a soothing way.
One might think that eating raw salads would be superior because they contain more fiber. However, the body does not absorb nutrients very well from raw food.
We also suggest the development diet. For details, read Food For Daily Use.
2. All adults need to drink about 3 quarts or 3 liters of either a) spring water or b) carbon-only filtered tap water every day. In our experience, other types of drinking water or other beverages do not work well enough. One cup a day of regular coffee or mild tea is okay, however.
Preferably drink a quart of water before breakfast each day. Do not drink much with meals, but rather up to 15 minutes before meals or at least 1 hour after meals.
Do not drink reverse osmosis water, distilled water or alkaline water.
Hydration. At times, one’s drinking water is not hydrating the body and this can cause constipation. Any type of water can have this problem, and the body’s needs can change at any time. For more details, please read Water For Drinking.
3. Avoid the Dehydration Diet. This includes eating any sugars, including fruit or more than 10 ounces of carrot juice, or using any caffeine or alcohol. All of these tend to dehydrate the body.
4. Avoid too much running around or other stress. The reason is that stress and too much activity keep the sympathetic nervous system on all the time, and this impairs bowel activity, which is a parasympathetic activity.
5. Shine a reddish heat lamp on the abdomen for at least 1 hour daily. An alternative is to use a heat lamp sauna for about 20-40 minutes daily. This sauna has three or four reddish heat lamps. For details, read Sauna Therapy.
6. In a few cases, there is a need for certain silicon compounds. Without them, the intestinal tract, and often the vagina and skin dry out and this causes constipation.
If the methods above do not work, add flaxseed soaked overnight and okra to the diet each day. For details, read Silicon.
Usually, these steps will take care of most constipation. However, we also recommend:
Take GB-3 (ox bile and pancreatin) with each meal. This is somewhat laxative for many people.
Also, learn to slow down and relax more, and develop good eating habits and good bowel habits. This can also be very important to overcome some cases of constipation.
These simple steps are usually sufficient to end constipation. Later in this article are other important procedures and remedies that may be used safely, if needed.
BASIC ANATOMY OF THE SMALL AND LARGE INTESTINE
Human beings and most animals have two distinct types of intestines. The small intestine has a diameter of about 1 inch, and is much longer – about 20 to 30 feet in length if it were stretched out. It basically fills most of the abdominal cavity. Most absorption of the nutrients in your food occur in the small intestine.
The colon, also called the large intestine, has a much larger diameter. Its diameter is about the same as that of your forearm near the wrist. That is why it is called the large intestine or the large bowel. It is also much shorter than the small intestine. It is only about two to three feet in length.
The functions of the large intestine are:
1. To absorb enough water from the feces in order to form a semi-solid stool.
2. To absorb water and some nutrients from the feces.
3. To manufacture some vitamins and other chemicals using bacteria that live in the large intestine.
Some physicians say that we need one evacuation per week, while other say once a day is normal. At the other extreme, a few natural health authorities say that one should have a bowel movement after every meal. Others say it is not important how often one has a bowel movement, but rather how much comes out, what it looks like, and maybe what it smells like. It can certainly be confusing. Let us begin with what should be normal large bowel activity.
Here are some criteria for normal bowel action:
1. At least half the large bowel (about 1 foot long) must empty every day. The colon is about two feet long or more, in most people. The ascending colon may be liquid and its contents are not ready for evacuation, so that is why about half should be ready for evacuation daily. It does not matter if this occurs in one, two or more bowel movements during the day.
2. Bowel transit time (how long it takes for food to pass out of the body) should be about 8-15 hours. Most people, unfortunately, have a much longer transit time and this allows the contents of the bowel to remain too long. This increases fermentation, putrefaction and the absorption of toxic amines and other chemicals from the colon.
How to measure bowel transit time easily. A simple way to measure your bowel transit time is to eat a large amount of raw or cooked beets. Then check your stool for the next few days until you see the familiar red color.
If your bowel transit time is above 15 hours or so, DO NOT use purges, laxatives or other methods to speed it up. Your body’s digestion is just sluggish and the transit time is needed right now. As your health improves, it will reduce on its own.
3. The large bowel should not have “pockets” or diverticuli. These are slight bulges in the wall of the colon. They form because there is often a slight weakness between the muscles in each section of the colon. This allows small bulges to form in the colon wall, especially if one strains at the stool.
Bacteria, yeast colonies and food debris accumulate in these pockets, setting up chronic infection that is not easy to detect, even on x-rays or stool tests. Even children often have some of them, usually from straining while trying to have a bowel movement.
Many doctors consider colon pockets or diverticuli “normal” because they are so common on x-rays or colonoscopies. However, I disagree strongly. Dr. Bernard Jensen, DC ND and other natural health researchers studied colon pockets extensively. Dr. Jensen showed they are definitely not normal. In fact, they lead to many other diseases, including cancer in some cases.
Rarely, a pocket will rupture, causing a surgical emergency, so be careful when straining and, if possible, do not do it ever.
NOTE: Bowel pockets cannot be seen or felt from the outside, but only seen on some x-rays. I do not recommend having x-rays of your colon! I mention the pockets only because they are not normal, though they are common, and they will slowly heal as your health improves on a nutritional balancing program.
4. The consistency of the stool should ideally be soft, but formed, and not overly foul-smelling. Foul-smelling stools all or most of the time indicate a lot of putrefaction or fermentation is present in your colon and is not a good sign. Often it means the flora or bacteria and yeasts in the intestines are not correct.
At times, during the course of a nutritional balancing program, the stool will smell foul as toxins are removed from the body. This is fine and will pass, usually within a few days or weeks.
5. You should not have a lot of gas, bloating or distention of your abdomen.
Based on the section above, constipation is present when any of the following occur:
1. At least half (about one foot long) of the colon does not naturally empty each and every day. In other words, it does not matter if a person has one large bowel movement daily or several smaller ones. The number is less important than the fact that the colon is emptied completely of solid material.
2. The bowel transit time is greater than about 20 hours. This means that from the time one eats a meal, it passes through the entire intestinal tract in less than about 20 hours or so.
3. There are many pockets or diverticuli in the colon. Let us discuss pockets a little more. Most people over age 20 have some, so this means that most adults are constipated. However, many children have them today, also, thanks to junk food, white flour, sugar in the diet, straining at the stool and other digestive abominations. So it is an important issue.
CAUSES OF CONSTIPATION
Adults. The most important reasons for their constipation, in roughly descending order, include:
Š Drinking too little water and/or the wrong kinds of water. I recommend only spring water as one’s long-term drinking water. Distilled is okay but only for several months. Carbon-filtered tap water is next best. Avoid all others.
Š Stress of many kinds. This ranges from financial or family problems to subtle forms of stress such as that from using cell phones and computers too much.
Š Hurried lifestyles and not heeding the call to evacuate.
Š Fatigue. Most people do not rest and sleep enough at all.
Š Refined foods and/or yin foods in the diet. These include white sugar, white flour, white rice and a host of other poor quality, low-fiber, highly processed foods. Yin foods include fruit, fruit juices, too much raw food, and more.
Š Chemicals added to most refined and prepared food items. These include thousands of food additives. Among the worst, for some individuals are artificial sweeteners such as aspartame or Equal, Splenda and the others. They can confuse the body into thinking the person has eaten a sweet meal when it is not true.
Š Lack of adequate fiber in some cases. The only good foods for fiber are vegetables and grains, in my view. Fruit is less recommended. It is high in sugars and more yin in Chinese terminology and these make it a less desirable food for everyone today.
Poor eating habits.
These include eating too fast, eating while standing up, eating on the
run or in the car and not resting at least 30 minutes after all large meals.
Overeating may be the worst bad habit. One would think this would “push everything through”. The opposite happens. The body must waste energy dealing with the extra food and with many toxins generated by overeating beyond the digestive capacity. This actually slows bowel transit time significantly.
Drug use, especially antibiotics that damage
the normal bowel flora. Others,
however, act as diuretics such as some blood pressure pills. These may remove too much water from
Others relax the bowel too much such as propranolol. Others paralyze the bowel a little, such as anti-depressants and narcotics. Others affect the nervous innervation to the bowel. Still others may deplete magnesium, causing constipation.
Š Improper bowel flora and chronic viral, fungal or other infections. These are common, though most people are unaware of them. The intestinal tract is home to millions of yeasts and bacteria. The flora must be correct. Any deviation I am calling an infection, since that implies an organism foreign to the ideal environment of the intestines.
Prolapsed colon. This happens when the colon muscle
tone and supporting ligaments and tendons are not holding the colon in its
Like other prolapses, it can be corrected with surgery. However, this often causes serious adhesions that can be life-threatening due to bowel obstructions. In some cases, repeat surgery is required for adhesions.
A far better solution is the use of the slant board with colonics and a nutritional balancing program. This will take care of it in time, in most instances.
Psychological or emotional factors. These include a rigid and weak sense of
identity, according to some experts on psychosomatic medicine. This causes the person to be very tense
and to “hold on” when they are upset or just tired.
Less common are traumas due to childbirth or toilet training. Drs. Sigmund Freud and Eric Erikson believed that lack of trust around the time of toilet training can cause a tendency for bowel problems such as constipation.
In my experience, natural methods can usually overcome most psychological reasons for constipation without extensive therapy, although it is excellent in some cases.
Š Less commonly, not eating enough food. This mainly affects elderly people who have a poor appetite or trouble chewing, perhaps.
Š Less commonly, other bowel problems. These include very poor muscle tone in the colon, cancer, some types of colitis, irritable bowel syndrome and others. Fortunately, most of these, including early cancers, can all be corrected, often rather easily, by cleaning the colon thoroughly and other simple, natural methods.
Š Rarely, inherited abnormalities of the colon. These are quite rare, however, in my experience.
Babies, a special case. Babies should not be constipated. Today, however, I encounter the problem commonly. It is usually very easy to correct. Rarely, the cause is an intestinal malformation that must be corrected with surgery. Most often, however, the cause is:
A need for more pure water. This is often the case. It can even occur in a baby who is breastfeeding. Many mothers are so dehydrated their
milk is concentrated and not supplying enough water.
A terrible practice is to feed babies soda or fruit juice in a bottle instead of water. Neither of these properly nourish or hydrate the toddler. Ideally, do not give a baby tap water unless it is filtered with carbon. Do not use reverse osmosis water, either, as it does not hydrate the body well.
Š A need for magnesium. This is often the case with diets of milk, for example, which is low in magnesium. One can add a little Epsom salts dissolved in milk or water to correct this and constipation is usually over.
Eating foods low in fiber and often high in sugar. Sugars of any kind, in fact, easily
cause yeast infections in children that can contribute to constipation. Even feeding children fruit, fruit
juice or worse, soda pop can do this.
Do not feed most children fruit, and never put juice or soda in a baby bottle and leave it in the baby’s mouth in the crib. This stupid practice causes tooth decay and many other problems, including constipation in some cases.
Š Vaccination. This introduces many toxic germs into the system, and not just the one being vaccinated against. Please read the article on this site entitled Vaccination.
Iron in baby formulas. This is horribly constipating for some babies. It is rarely needed, but may be added
to “round out the formula”. Babies
are born with a two or three year supply of iron from their mothers. Breast milk contains little to no iron
and babies do just fine on it.
In truth, extra iron is quite toxic for most babies. It can contribute to other problems such as infections and perhaps even behavior problems, along with constipation.
Š Giving drugs to babies, especially antibiotics. These usually damage the normal bowel flora and even cause liver toxicity in susceptible babies. Liver toxicity is one cause of constipation in babies and adults.
Š Stress. This occurs in a few babies and in some children, today.
Infections. Babies and
children, especially, often consume spoiled food items, especially in fast food
restaurants, while traveling outside America and elsewhere.
Swimming pools and hot tubs. Another common source of infections, sadly, is swimming in pools or worse, hot tubs. Chlorine, bromine, copper and even ozone are not capable of killing all the germs in pools and hot tubs. They would need so much it would be toxic for swimming.
Hot springs, lakes or oceans are far better for children, as well as for adults. However, if you insist on allowing your child to swim in pools and hot tubes, at least be sure your pool is adequately shocked at least weekly or more. This helps, but is not a good enough solution in my way of thinking.
Many infections lodge in the intestines in early childhood, sadly, and may stay there forever after.
To overcome constipation in a baby, correct the baby’s diet to eliminate fruit, juices, all sugars and sweets, junk foods, and food chemicals. Make sure the baby drinks enough pure water, not just milk and never soda pop. Adding a little magnesium is also very helpful.
THE CONNECTION BETWEEN CERTAIN MINERAL IMBALANCES AND CONSTIPATION
Copper and yeast infections. Copper toxicity or low zinc levels almost always lead to yeast infections in the colon and elsewhere. This can be a cause of constipation and many other bowel symptoms.
Copper is found in some foods, particularly grains and beans. It also tends to increase in the body with the use of birth control pills, copper IUDs and if one becomes very stressed.
Copper also rises before the menstrual period, causing problems for many young women. To read more about copper, see Copper Toxicity Syndrome on this website.
Iron is extremely constipating. Iron from vitamin pills, white flour products enriched with iron, and even too much red meat, is constipating in the extreme. This has to do with its oxidant qualities, perhaps.
Magnesium deficiency contributes to constipation. Magnesium can act as an osmotic laxative. This means it can hold water in the intestines.
Magnesium is deficient in most people as it is not found in refined or processed foods in most cases. Nuts and seeds are the best sources, which people do not eat enough of, usually, to obtain enough magnesium.
Calcium is constipating. Calcium tends to be constipating in most instances, though not all. Calcium should be balanced with magnesium in foods and in supplemental products as well. One may have to vary the ratio between calcium and magnesium in order not to upset bowel action.
Commonly, people eat too much dairy that is rich in calcium but lacks magnesium to balance it. Other common sources include calcium tablets, liquids and some multivitamins that are not balanced with magnesium.
Aluminum can be very constipating. Aluminum is a toxic metal. However, it is widely used in antacid products such as Maalox, Mylanta, Ryopan, Gaviscon and perhaps 20 other antacids sold mostly without a prescription. It is also found in some health food products such as Bentonite, Montmorillinite and Azomite.
A little aluminum (not enough to cause constipation) is also found in other products such as anti-perspirants, cosmetics and many others. It is also added to most municipal drinking water supplies and it is often added to common table salt to prevent caking of the salt. Use sea salt and drink spring or distilled water only to reduce your aluminum exposure from these common sources.
Manganese may also be constipating in some people. Common sources are gasoline fumes, some well water and occasionally occupational exposure. Some people take excessive manganese in mineral supplements.
Most people have too much hidden aluminum, along with excessive levels of toxic forms of manganese and iron. To read more about this phenomenon, read the article on this website entitled Manganese, Iron and Aluminum. For more information on the problems with iron, read Chronic Iron Toxicity.
Dr. Paul Eck found that tendencies for constipation and diarrhea often have to do with the oxidation rate on a properly performed hair mineral analysis. Basically, fast oxidizers are usually more prone to diarrhea because the intestinal tract is healthier, and sometimes overactive in these individuals.
Slow oxidizers are far more prone to constipation because they are far more tired, stressed and even exhausted. They also usually have exhausted sympathetic nervous systems, and most have some yeast in the intestines.
Diarrhea. To read a separate article on diarrhea, click here.
CORRECTING CONSTIPATION SAFELY AND RAPIDLY IN MOST CASES
Step 1. Drink at least 3 quarts or more of spring water every single day. In many cases, this solves the problem almost overnight. Be sure to drink at least a quart of water before breakfast.
I find spring water is the best overall drinking water for most people. Steam-distilled water is also excellent, but should not be used for more than 3-6 months. Distilled water is too low in minerals to be a long-term drinking water. It will leach some vital minerals from the body. Do not add minerals to distilled water, as they are usually not the right ones and most of these mineral supplements contain toxic metals.
Many people do not like buying and drinking out of plastic bottles. However, I have found this to be best. The plastic chemicals can be removed relatively easily and the plastic is recyclable and can be safely incinerated as well. Otherwise, have it delivered or go to www.findaspring.com. Often you can bring your own bottles to a spring and fill them up at no cost.
Carbon-filtered tap water is next best for drinking. Other types of drinking water do not work as well, usually. They simply do not hydrate or nourish the body nearly as well. Read the article on this website for more about drinking water.
How much water. One needs at least three quarts a day. This is 108 ounces a day or about 12 glasses if each glass is 8 ounces or so. This is critical. How to drink this water is important, also.
When to drink. I learned that the best time to drink seems to be in the morning. The best way for many people is to drink 4-10 glasses of water as soon as you are up and dressed.
Relax and sit comfortably and do not interrupt the drinking, except to refill your glass. Warm the water in a pot on the stove if the water is cold or makes you cold. Warming will also remove plastic residues in bottled water.
Step 2. Take GB-3 with each meal. Increase the number of tablets until you start having bowel movements. GB-3 is a digestive aid with ox bile and pancreatin. Read more by clicking on GB-3.
Step 3. Relax more. Here is why rest and relaxing more is so helpful for constipation:
Š Fatigue damages the autonomic nervous system severely.
Š Fatigue interrupts digestion and therefore often affects elimination as well.
Š Fatigue ruins one’s ability to relax.
Bowel function is affected even by missing one hour of sleep nightly. Everyone, in my opinion and experience, needs at least 9 hours of sleep. In fact, most people have a sleep deficit and need even more for a year or so in most cases to make up for years of not enough rest and sleep.
Step 4. Eat correctly for your oxidation type, and eat at least 70% cooked vegetables and no sugars, no fruit, no junk food and no wheat.
Fiber and low sugars. Most people eat too little fiber and too much sugar. To avoid this, make 70-80% of your diet steamed or otherwise cooked vegetables. Proper cooking does not destroy all the fiber and has many other benefits discussed in other articles on this website such as Raw Foods.
Other excellent foods are whole grains, a little salad, perhaps, though this is not needed. Fruit has some problems such as its sugar content and its yin nature, in general. This is why we do not recommend any fruit juices and very little fruit today.
Other excellent fibrous foods are dried beans such as lentils, split peas and all the other legumes. These must also be cooked properly for several hours in most cases.
Lightly cooked meats and oils. Overcooking any food is not helpful for constipation. However, in particular, meats and even eggs are best cooked lightly. Otherwise, their protein structure is changed, forming more toxic substances that usually putrefy in the intestines.
Fats and oils require a lot of digestion. They are best eaten raw, such as raw olive oil, certified raw butter and milk, or nut and seed butters just on occasion. They are all quite yin and contain some toxic constituents. The best, by far, is raw or even toasted almond butter, an excellent food. Nuts and seeds require a lot of chewing and are yin, so they are not as good.
Nuts can also lodge in the colon pockets and cause diverticulitis, a painful and occasionally serious condition.
Step 5. If you wish, have a series of colonic irrigations. The best is a series of about 5 or more colonic irrigation treatments. However, this will cost you a few hundred dollars and you must bare your behind for an hour to a stranger.
Another excellent option is to do at least a few months or more of daily coffee enemas at home. The procedure is available on this website under Detoxification Procedures.
Another option, not quite as good, is to buy or build a home colonic unit. A very simple, ready-made plastic unit is called a Colema Board, for example. This can be rigged up in most bathrooms, though you must set it up and take it down each time you use it if you require the bathroom for other purposes.
These procedures are not necessary, however, in many cases. The following is often sufficient to remedy most cases of constipation quickly and safely.
Sweets. Minimize or eliminate all sugar products, including honey, maple syrup, rice bran syrup, fructose, glucose, dextrose and the others. These all foster yeast growth in the intestines and are never healthful products for your colon. Other sweets include all fruits, and all fruit juices. Minimize these for best colon health.
White flour. All white flour products are very harmful for the bowel. They contain too much iron in most cases. They also contain almost no fiber and the gluten is sticky like glue in the intestines. In addition, they contain chlorine or bromine used to bleach the flour. Most have added sugar and other chemicals, especially breads today.
Overcooked hard eggs and all spoiled food.
Allergic foods. I suggest everyone today avoid all wheat and spelt as most people are allergic to them. They are hybrids and simply not quite as healthful as they once were.
Many people should also avoid all gluten. This is found in all products made with rye, oats and barley, in addition to wheat products. Many processed and prepared foods have some hidden in them. Corn is sometimes another allergic food. As the colon heals, often one can reintroduce corn and gluten foods, especially blue corn products, which are excellent foods.
Temporarily avoid any other food that cause allergic reactions. This might be any food at all.
Commercial dairy products may cause food sensitivites. However, raw or perhaps organic dairy products may be okay in moderation. I do not suggest more than 8 ounces of raw or organic milk daily, however, because it contains too much sugar to have more.
Food chemicals. Some of these may indeed constipate. Avoid all you can for this reason, as well as for hundreds of other health reasons.
These should rarely be needed, but occasional use is okay.
Bile acids, bile salts or the product called GB-3. This is a superb remedy. There are other reasons besides constipation and this is why I recommend most people take this product. Click to read more about GB-3 from Endomet Labs.
Bile acids and salts are a little irritating and that is why they may be laxative. However, they have so many vital properties as well, such as killing infections in the intestines that they are excellent products.
They can even reduce cancer cells in the body, if taken at the right times and enough of them. This product is far superior to herbal laxatives that do provide few other benefits.
They are also parasympathetic because they are an animal-based product, unlike many digestive aids and herbs. This is another advantage in many ways. Finally they kill parasites of some kinds in the intestines, a common problem in most people to some degree.
Probiotics or beneficial flora for the intestines. These help a few cases and are excellent when they help. We rarely find them needed if the diet is correct. The most common one is lactobacillus acidophilus. However, there are many sold in health food stores that are excellent.
Most flora products must be refrigerated and are sold in the refrigerator section of the store. Be wary of any product that is not sold refrigerated as many probiotics are not as potent as advertised if they are not absolutely fresh.
Fiber. Anyone who eats correctly with plenty of steamed and some raw vegetables and whole grains should get plenty of fiber. If you do not eat well, fiber supplements may help.
Older people most often benefit from fiber supplements. They often do not eat enough of anything. Also, their chewing is poor so they do not use their food well enough. Many also live on poor quality food, especially at retirement homes and other such institutions.
The best fiber supplements may include psylllium seed, bran, citrus or apple pectin and plant fibers such as cellulose. Try to avoid drug or health food store products that contain sugar, colorings, flavorings and other chemicals.
Magnesium. This is a very safe and old remedy for constipation. It is excellent for babies as well as adults.
An added benefit is you will increase your intake of this precious mineral that has been refined out of all processed flour, sugars and other common foods. Magnesium is hard to overdo since most people could use it anyway. Take too much and you will usually just get diarrhea from it.
Preferably use magnesium tablets, powders, liquids or even a bit of Epsom salts, though it tastes terrible. Oddly, the less expensive forms of magnesium such as magnesium oxide may work a lot better than a costly form of magnesium such as the glycinate, chelate or citrate forms. This has to do with the action of magnesium.
Mechanism of action. Magnesium works by keeping more water in the intestines. It is called an osmotic laxative substance. An inexpensive magnesium works better in many instances because it is poorly absorbed from the intestine, so more of it remains to hold water in the stool.
One can use the patent drugstore product, Milk of Magnesia. This old product has artificial colors and flavors and more chemicals in it, but it works well.
Most people can take at least three magnesium tablets daily. Liquids and powders vary in potency so I cannot give an amount. However, you can safely take basically as much as you want for most people. Increase the dose slowly and reduce it it if it causes diarrhea or cramping.
One cup of coffee. This old-fashioned remedy helps millions to avoid constipation. In fact, it is one of the main reasons people choose coffee in the morning.
Coffee irritates the intestines a little and can stimulate bile flow from the liver. While effective in most cases, in my view it is not a health food, no matter what others say. One cup daily is okay, however, for most people if needed.
Avoid the fashionable cappuccinos and lattes. They are too strong, contain less water, which is bad, and they contain more caffeine, which is also worse and more irritating. If you use coffee, if possible limit it to one cup of regular coffee daily.
Prunes. This old remedy is high in fiber. Raisins should work this way, also. While prunes and raisins are nutritious, they contain too much sugar for my liking. Therefore, they are somewhat less recommended than the remedies above.
One or two daily, however, is not bad if needed. They are best used soaked overnight or warmed for a while in water so they fluff up a little and contain less concentrated sugar.
Mechanical and drug methods
Squatting. Some people have a much easier time with bowel movements if they squat at the toilet, instead of sitting in the usual way. This is especially true of the newer, wheel-chair friendly toilets. They are higher off the ground and less comfortable for most people.
Squatting is used around the world. It squeezes the intestines a little bit and it relaxes the abdominal muscles more than the sitting position. When a person sits down on the toilet one must keep some tension in the abdomen and back to hold oneself erect. This is less the case when squatting, so the muscles tend to relax more. Also, in the squatting position, one is generally more relaxed overall.
So try this if you wish. If it helps, use a step in front of the toilet on which to place your feet. You can also buy a special step-like device that fits around the toilet.
Rubbing the Right Calf. Firmly rubbing the entire length of the back, sides and even the front of the right calf for five minutes or less daily is an ancient acupressure technique. It works surprisingly well in some people to help relax the abdominal organs.
Knees to chest exercise. Before getting out of bed in the morning, bring your knees up to your chest and hold them there tightly for several deep breaths. This old yoga posture may help relax the abdominal muscles and stimulate the abdominal area to help produce a bowel movement.
Exercise. This helps some people who are sedentary. Gentle, relaxing walking, for example, can help to relax the body enough to cause a bowel movement. Becoming exhausted with exercise is not helpful.
Water enemas. These can be used occasionally if one cannot have a bowel movement. They work well and are safe if done correctly. However, if possible do not use them daily.
Coffee enemas. This is not a remedy for constipation. However, repeated use of the coffee enema, especially with a nutritional balancing program, will often end constipation for good. The coffee enema will clean the colon, and it is fine not to have other bowel movements if you are using coffee enemas daily.
Coffee enemas work by removing toxins from the liver faster than any other method of detoxification I know of. The coffee also has a gentle astringent effect on the large bowel. The coffee enemas also have many other beneficial effects. Since most people’s livers are very toxic, this is great for many people and temporarily solves the constipation problem as well.
Coffee enemas can be a little messy at first. They become much easier with practice. Most of our clients who use them find they enjoy them greatly and feel much better, overall. Coffee enemas have many amazing benefits and are highly recommended for almost everyone.
Note, never force yourself to retain any enema and always begin with very little coffee as it can be stimulating, especially at first. To read more, click on Coffee Enemas.
Colonic irrigation or colon hydrotherapy. This is not strictly a treatment for constipation. However, it will clear the colon of fecal material faster and more completely than anything else. A series of colonic treatments, as they are called, can help to revitalize the colon, but are best used as just a small part of a total healing program.
The procedure is that a professional colon therapist gently places a plastic tube into the rectum. Water is then gently pumped into the colon until there are some contractions of the colon. The water is then removed through the same tube by turning a valve that removes the water and fecal material.
When the colon is empty of all the water, the process is repeated. Usually the colon will hold more and more water as it becomes cleaned out. The process continues for about an hour in most cases.
The therapist should also gently massage the abdomen, feeling for impacted or hardened fecal material and releasing it gently with the water and massage.
The therapist can also observe the fecal matter that is removed through a clear window or section of the tube. He or she can tell quite a bit about parasites, yeasts, digestion and other aspects of colon health by noting the color, consistency and type of matter that is removed.
The procedure is quite clean and painless in almost all cases. One may actually lose several pounds of impacted fecal material if one has had constipation or other bowel problems in the past.
Herbs and drugs.
Glycerin suppositories. These are small suppositories that irritate the intestine just enough to cause a nice bowel movement in some people. I do not recommend them except for occasional use. For traveling, for example, they may be perfect. They are sold at most drug stores.
Herbal products. These usually contain either senna or cascara sagrada. Both are effective and can be used occasionally, such as when traveling.
However, herbal laxatives are a little toxic. They work by stimulating the bowel to eliminate them. Therefore, I do not like them too much. Use them only if needed and when other methods have not worked.
Castor oil or any purgative. These can be dangerous as they force an evacuation that could damage or even rupture the intestines. Please do not use this at all, preferably.
Stool Softeners. Colase and related products are drugs used often in hospitals for constipation. They are mild irritants designed for intermittent or occasional use only. They are not designed for daily use, so please don’t become dependent on them if you try them.
Travel is always a stressful event, in my experience. As a result, many people become constipated when they travel. Here are suggestions for travel:
Watch your diet and eating habits. Eat on a regular meal schedule if at all possible. Don’t just snack or eat at malls, if possible. Also, eat some food you are used to, not just “native” foods that are more likely to cause problems in many people.
Always carry water with you, so you are not without it. Many people become enamored of the trip and forget these simple good habits. Do not substitute wine or beer for water. It does not have the same effect.
Follow excellent eating habits. Always sit when you can. Many people will stand at counters, food lines, stand-up restaurants and so forth. They do not realize that it takes a toll on your energy and is far less relaxing than even an uncomfortable wooden or even metal bench in a park, for example.
In Mexico and other third world nations, I would only eat cooked food, fruit you peel or wash thoroughly yourself and only drink bottled water. Otherwise you are asking for trouble.
Relax more. Switching automobile drivers once every hour is a simple way to help avoid undue fatigue, for example. Go to bed early and get more sleep. Allow an extra day upon arrival to adapt to changes in the time zones.
Also, do not carry heavy luggage around if you can help it. In other words, conserve your energy in every way possible when you travel. Plan your trips well, and try not to be late for buses, trains or planes, as that just adds stress. Take an afternoon nap.
Air travel. This is the hardest type of travel for your body, bar none. Airplanes are very dry, so be sure to drink extra water when flying. Preferably, ask for spring water, as the tap water is not nearly as good in most cases.
Other stresses with air travel are long waiting lines, x-ray exposure, even just walking past the machines, and breathing other people’s germs for hours in a closed space. Often, food choices are limited and meal schedules become disrupted.
If possible, plan your trip carefully so you rest as much as possible. Bring your own food, if possible. Traveling first class, if possible, is a little better.
A famous surgeon remarked that he rarely found a healthy colon during all of his years of surgery practice. Indeed, my experience with patients would indicate that healthy bowel activity is rare, today. Few people, for example, are not constipated by the definition in this article.
Digestion Versus Putrefaction, Rotting and Fermentation
Most food, except for fiber, should be digested in the small and large intestines. If it is not well-digested, it rots, putrefies or ferments. Let us briefly consider these.
Digestion is a process whereby food is acted upon mechanically by chewing and then by acidic and alkaline enzymes and environments. These should break it down into its basic components.
For example, protein is broken into its amino acids. Fats are broken into fatty acids and starches and sugars are broken down to simple sugars. These simpler molecules should then be absorbed in the small intestine, mainly.
Putrefaction occurs in the human intestinal tract a little, normally. It is the breakdown of mainly protein substances by certain bacteria in the intestines. This gives rise to extremely toxic substances with names such as cadaverine, indol and skatol.
Rotting is similar to putrefaction. However, it occurs in the absence of putrefying bacteria. This is what happens if you leave an egg or a piece of meat in the open air for a few days.
The distinction between rotting and putrefying is not great and the words are often used interchangeably. However, it is not technically the same.
Fermentation is the breakdown of sugars and starches by yeast organisms. This also produces very harmful chemicals including alcohol, acetaldehyde and many others in the human intestinal tract.
One way to tell if fermentation or putrefaction is occurring in your body is the smell of intestinal gas. Fermentation smells mild, often like horse manure, for example. Putrefaction, however, smells quite rancid or very foul.
Autointoxication. A word used to describe the processes above is autointoxication. Autointoxication used to be a widely accepted idea. Now, it is considered a joke among many medical personnel. However, it is no joke.
For example, many readers know they can develop a headache or low back pain, perhaps, that goes away when you have a bowel movement. This is often a case of autointoxication.
Toxins generated by fermenting and rotting food travel through the portal vein and even some through the walls of the colon. They can directly affect the liver and many other organs and tissues.
When the process goes on for years, it takes a toll on general health. The result is often chronic fatigue, skin problems often and many others.
Pockets of infection in the colon irritate the colon wall and can contribute to many serious diseases, the primary one being colon cancer. This is a very common cancer today in America, in particular.
I believe that colon cancer is totally preventable with a proper diet, a series of colonic irrigations or even with enough coffee enemas done on a regular basis to keep the colon functioning properly.
The small and large intestines derive their nerve energy in part through the action of the parasympathetic nervous system. This is a critical fact about digestion that is often overlooked.
The parasympathetic is a one of two branches of the autonomic or automatic nervous system. It must be kept in balance with the other branch, the sympathetic nervous system. This system directly inhibits digestion and elimination.
Most people today overuse their sympathetic or fight-or-flight nervous system. This inhibits the parasympathetic system greatly. The two systems antagonize each other. However, the sympathetic system always takes precedence, as it is concerned with emergencies and survival.
A key to balancing and strengthening the parasympathetic system is relaxation and rest. Stress and fatigue, in contrast, activates the sympathetic nervous system.
If you want better bowel action, reduce all stress as much as possible. Rest, relax more and do your best to stay very happy. This can be easier than you think. Focus on happy thoughts, listen to happy news and music and avoid negative people and places as much as possible. Stay out of the fighting or fleeing mentality as much as you can and be at peace.
Also, nourish your autonomic and parasympathetic nervous system with healthy food and the proper nutritional supplements. Balancing the autonomic nervous system is a critical part of the nutritional balancing programs I offer through a number of practitioners who are listed on this website. For more information about the autonomic nervous system, read Autonomic Nerovus System Health .
A FEW COMMENTS ON BOWEL AND STOOL TESTS
The complete bowel contents analysis. I had this test when I returned from living in Mexico and was very ill. It is the proper way to test bowel contents, but it is an unpleasant, time-consuming and more costly test.
For the test, one goes to a laboratory and is drinks a glass of Epsom salts dissolved in water or some other strong laxative. Then one sits in the lab for several hours and submits all of the bowel contents for analysis. One must usually stay in the lab for at least several hours until the bowel empties completely from top to bottom.
The lab examines the contents and cultures it as well. They report adult parasites, larva, ova or immature forms of parasites, bacteria, yeasts, and perhaps evidence of viral and other infections.
They also report the color, consistency, odor, amount, pH and possibly other qualities of the stool. This can yield information quickly for the doctor that is invaluable in some bowel diseases and helpful in every case, in my view. However, its cost and inconvenience, as well as lack of competence by many labs, makes this test rare, if you can find it anywhere at all today.
The stool analysis. This is the usual way to test the bowel contents. The person simply collects one or more stools in a plastic bag and sends it for analysis to a laboratory. Problems abound with this test. Here are the main ones I have found.
1. Most labs today only insist on one sample. This is not enough for accurate results. It saves time, trouble and money, but it misses too many parasites, especially, that live in the colon walls.
2. Even multiple stool samples usually miss some bacteria, parasites, ova and other organisms. This is because they are hidden or sequestered in pockets in the colon. No test is perfect. However, the complete bowel contents test has a far greater chance of dislodging some of these so they can be seen under a microscope.
3. The sample is always “old”, perhaps a week old, by the time it gets to the laboratory. This means that some organisms are dead or dying and will not grow on the culture plate. It might help if the patient were instructed to freeze the sample. However, I don’t know of any lab that suggests it.
4. The test is rarely done well and here is why.
a) Technicians who actually view the sample often have only limited knowledge of bacteriology, toxicology and parasitology. They are usually not doctors of even highly trained laboratory personnel. Often they are low-level workers hired to stare at microscopes only.
b) They sit with a chart in front of them and compare the sample with pictures on a chart. This is simply not adequate in many cases. They should be doing a completely holistic analysis of the stool including its pH, food contents and what organisms should be growing and are not, versus what is growing in the sample.
c) They are often in a hurry. They are usually given five or ten minutes to analyze the sample. This test can take hours if one is persistent in looking for certain problems.
For this reason, always use a Iaboratory that specializes in this type of testing. It is likely better than a large, commercial lab, which the hospitals often use. Expect to pay a lot for this test if it is done right. If it is under $100.00 or so, it is not as good. Be sure to send three stool samples, at least.
Radionics and other electrical and computerized machines. These are growing in popularity among the holistic community of practitioners. They only measure energies in the body, not actual bacteria or parasite counts. They are interesting and have potential. However, at this time I do not trust them enough for two reasons:
a) Most practitioners are not skilled enough in the use of the machines. This is sad to have to say. However, many are not feeling well themselves, which can influence the test. Some are in a hurry, and many are just “experimenting” with a new modality without realizing it.
b) Even if the test is very accurate, which is certainly possible, it is usually not done holistically, as explained above. One needs a “picture” of the condition of the bowel, not just the fact that one has yeast or the pH is too high (true in many cases).
1. Colonoscopy. This involves sedating the patient and then inserting a flexible or rigid tube into the rectum that can view the length of the rectum through a lens or even a camera at the end of the probe.
Advantages: This test actually visualizes the colon and can identify polyps, some tumors if large enough, and other abnormalities.
Disadvantages: The test is costly, unpleasant and will not analyze bowel contents.
2. GI (gastrointestinal) series of x-rays. This is also called a barium enema. For this test, one swallows a glass of a barium or other concoction, or perhaps receives it in an enema. It is a material that is opaque to x-radiation. This will allow the radiologist to visualize the colon as it passes through.
The person then lays down on an x-ray table and a series of x-rays are taken of various parts of the small and large intestines.
Advantages: The test has great value for locating large tumors and for a few other purposes such as for obstructions, prolapsed colon and to prepare for bowel surgery.
Disadvantages. 1) One is exposed to a lot of x-rays in a delicate part of the body, 2) cost and 3) it does not analyze bowel contents, 4) the barium or other contrast medium is somewhat toxic and must be expelled by the body. Barium is very toxic in fact, but is very radio-opaque, so it is still often used.
Prolapsed colon. Commonly, the colon dips down toward the floor at its midpoint. This can cause pain, bloating, diarrhea or constipation. Doctors overlook it because it is common, but it is not healthful.
It can often be corrected with the use of a slant board, colonic irrigations and other simple procedures. Surgery is not indicated for this problem unless it is extremely severe so that it obstructs the bowel completely. Surgery often results in terrible adhesions that can be life-threatening in a few cases.
Certain hair analysis patterns are associated with bowel problems. Here are the main ones:
Phosphorus less than 12 mg%. This indicates problems with protein synthesis in the body. It can indicate low protein in the diet, improper types of dietary protein, impaired digestion of proteins or other digestive difficulties.
It may also be caused by an intestinal yeast or other infection, a low zinc level, elevated copper and rarely other toxic metals in the body.
Sodium/potassium ratio less than about 2.5:1. This often indicates fatigue, adrenal weakness, low vitality in general and chronic digestive stress. It may also reflect a low level of digestive enzymes. Dr. Eck believed it was associated with low levels of hydrochloric acid in the stomach.
Four lows pattern. This is indicated by a hair calcium less than 40 mg%, magnesium less than 6 mg%, sodium less than 25 mg% and potassium less than 10 mg%.
This pattern is also often associated with digestive weakness, often due to overuse of the sympathetic nervous system and chronic and often severe fatigue.
Slow oxidation. This is indicated by a Ca/K ratio greater than 4:1 and Na/Mg ratio less than 4.17:1. This pattern is often associated with digestive system weakness, especially if the ratios are very far away from normal.
It is also associated with constipation, as a sluggish oxidation rate indicates sluggish elimination in most instances.
Sympathetic dominance pattern. This is indicated by a hair potassium level between 1 and 4 mg%. A reinforcing indicator, but not a primary one, is a ratio of Na/K greater than about 6:1.
This pattern is also associated with digestive weakness, often quite severe, and constipation as well. Symptoms are due to overuse of the sympathetic nervous system.
This reduces the energy going to the digestive tract because this part of the body is stimulated by the parasympathetic nervous system and inhibited by the sympathetic system.
Also, those with this metabolic pattern are found to have poor eating habits in many cases because they are too active and do not relax well.
Elevated lead, cadmium, mercury, aluminum, arsenic or other serious toxic metals. This often impair digestion and elimination.
Note that normal or ideal values for toxic metals vary from lab to lab. To learn more about the normals I accept, see the article on this website entitled Toxic Metals.
Combinations of the patterns above and double patterns. These usually indicate even worse bowel problems. Read Double Patterns on this website for more on this topic.