Five Strategies to Combat Constipation

by Sarah Healthy LivingComments: 77

in the crapperConstipation is a dangerous condition that slowly poisons and ages the body with toxin overload.  Given that the diet of most Americans is composed primarily of processed foods and that eating these types of  foods contributes greatly to the problem, it is no wonder that over the counter constipation remedies are some of the best selling at pharmacies and grocery stores.

As many as 15-20% of Americans suffer from chronic constipation with many millions more having intermittent issues with it.

Some folks have little hope of going to the bathroom on any given day without their morning dose of Metamucil or a bowl of All Bran.  This is a very unhealthy situation indeed!

Eating more fiber as suggested in conventional circles as a remedy for constipation is not a wise move, however, as fiber eaten in the quantities recommended damages the colon over the long term.

Konstantin Monastyrsky, author of Fiber Menace, warns that high fiber diets produce large stools that stretch and damage the intestinal tract as well as upset the natural balance of beneficial bacteria.  The end result of years of eating a high fiber diet as a band aid approach to constipation is more severe constipation, Crohn’s disease, IBS, hernias, and even hemorrhoids.

Mr. Monastyrsky writes that it is simply unnecessary to consume fiber in order to have normal stools and that many healthy traditional cultures ate diets that included little fiber.

Fiber from grain based foods is the most damaging of all, with the USDA endorsed high fiber diet certain to create long term digestive distress far beyond the annoyance of constipation for those who blindly follow it.

As one gradually transitions from a high fiber to a low fiber, traditional diet, care must be taken to eat plenty of whole animal fats and foods that build the intestinal flora.  In addition, any temporary issues with constipation can easily be handled with the no fiber strategies outlined below.

Exercise (rebounding)

Exercise has long been known to relieve constipation and promote regular bathroom habits.  If jogging or being a gym rat is not your thing, however, it is easy to exercise in the comfort of your own living room with a simple rebounder or exercise ball.    A rebounder, in particular, stimulates lymphatic activity extremely well and gets things moving very quickly. 

Even better, if your kids have a trampoline in the backyard, spend some quality family time with them and tone up your colon at the same time by spending a few minutes bouncing with them each day!

Cleansing Herbs

There are many herbs that assist with elimination problems.   Triphala and Slippery Elm are probably my two personal favorites, but in lieu of becoming an herbal expert, it is easier to just pick up some detox tea from the healthfood store.   These teas have a number of different herbs in them and work brilliantly for that occasional colon sluggishness.  

Taking a few detox teabags with you when you travel is also a good way to keep things moving when the stress of travel, changing of time zones, and sitting for long periods on airplanes or in cars can throw bathroom habits off schedule.


A good balance of beneficial bacteria in the gut is essential to a healthy colon that eliminates regularly and without straining.  These probiotics are best consumed on a daily basis in frequent, small doses in the form of lactofermented foods and raw, grassfed dairy but when this is not possible, a probiotic supplement can be used instead.

Not all probiotics are created equal, however, so be sure to get a good quality brand. Check out my Resources page for some ideas.

Vegetable Juicing

A glass or two of fresh veggie juice can work wonders with softening up the stools and making elimination a breeze. Be aware that V-8 juice or any other type of veggie juice in bottles is not helpful at all.

The juice must be fresh, ideally made no more than 20 minutes before. As a result, juicing and refrigerating to drink later is not a good idea either.

Also use caution when drinking plain veggie juice on an empty stomach particularly if it is heavy on carrot juice which is high in sugars.  Stirring in a bit of cream as traditionally done in France will significantly slow down the blood sugar spike from drinking fresh juice on its own and assist with absorption of the wonderful colloidal minerals from the vegetables.


When all else fails to relieve constipation, the tried and true enema works fantastically well.  Used since Biblical times and even advocated in the Essene Gospel of Peace (from the Vatican library) to flush the colon of impurities and assist with regularity, the enema has been all but abandoned as a safe home remedy in recent decades in favor of over the counter drugs.

Many alternative cancer treatments make liberal use of the coffee enema to detoxify and cleanse the colon, but plain water enemas are simple, fast, and highly effective at treating an occasional bout with constipation.

Enema bags can be purchased at the drug store for about $10 and are the simple, fast, and easy at-home answer to a series of high priced colonics with a professional hydrotherapist which can cost upwards of $75 per session putting it out of reach of many people’s budgets and/or squeezed schedules.

Nothing illustrates the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” better than the old fashioned enema!

Sarah, The Healthy Home Economist

More Information

Relieving Baby Constipation Naturally

Can Squatty Potty Fix America’s Toilet Issues?

Chiropractic for Constipation

Picture Credit

Comments (77)

  • Rob B

    Coffee has some really powerful qualities to it. For those with sensitive stomachs, you can try decaf and/or dark roasts. Tend to be easier on stomachs than light and medium roasts which are very active. Know your body and stay healthy!

    April 7th, 2014 8:55 am Reply
  • Myrna

    Occasionally, I also had the same thing specially on heavy days where I tend to forget drink a lot of fluids. It’s even the cause of my hemorrhoids, suffering from this is hardly a baring role and not an easy one. But let me just share to you that finding a solution to it is a lot easy rather than eating up a cracker. It’s true and it’s in fact considered as the essential deeds that we people must do, it’s all about increasing your oral fluid intake and eating up fruits that is rich in fiber.

    February 2nd, 2012 11:50 pm Reply
  • DePaw

    Could one juice home-made sauerkraut rather than eating it whole for a lower fibre probiotic boost?

    December 13th, 2011 8:48 pm Reply
  • Beth Pickrel

    My gastroenterology dr. told me I was insane for performing “home surgery” that could lead to infection and a punctured colon wall when I told him I was doing home retention enemas. (Funny, I saw a dermatologist who called emptying black-heads a risky home surgery and informed me that rather I needed 3 prescription drugs.) Further, the gastro said coffee enemas were the stupidest thing he’d ever heard of – foods should not go up that end. What could have moved me to such an unnatural inclination, he wanted to know. As I reflected on the strange, costly, and uncomfortable home remedies I’ve self-inflicted, I stopped doing them and handed myself over to the American Medical System. But after 3 exploratory surgeries, a diet consisting mostly of fiber, fiber, fiber and 13 medications later (at 25 years old) I too. My stools can be so violent, and even tore a hole in my colon. How is the medical community so impotent to help? My OB told me taking BC pills would change everything for me, but I refused. My urologist blames the use of contraceptives – “it’s unnatural to use them and god doesn’t like it” – and he prescribed me 3 MEDICATIONS. I’ve rejected all these meds except for my hypothyroidism, which I’m told can have no improvement except by medication. I’m at my wits end with the medical community AND home remedies. :/

    September 2nd, 2011 10:22 pm Reply
    • Beth Pickrel

      My gastroenterology dr. told me I was insane for performing “home surgery” that could lead to infection and a punctured colon wall when I told him I was doing home retention enemas. (Funny, I saw a dermatologist who called emptying black-heads a risky home surgery and informed me that rather I needed 3 prescription drugs.) Further, the gastro said coffee enemas were the stupidest thing he’d ever heard of – foods should not go up that end, and did I know I was staining my colon and shooting caffeine through my system? What could have moved me to such an unnatural inclination, he wanted to know. As I reflected on the strange, costly, and uncomfortable home remedies I’ve self-inflicted, I stopped my desperate search for homeopathic answers and handed myself over to the American Medical System. But after 3 exploratory surgeries, a diet consisting mostly of fiber, fiber, fiber and 13 medications later (at 25 years old) I quit that sphere too. My stools can be so violent and painful, and even tore a hole in my colon that has bleed for 3 years. How is the medical community so impotent to help? My OB told me taking BC pills would change everything for me, but I refused. My urologist blames the use of contraceptives – “it’s unnatural to use them and god doesn’t like it” – and he prescribed me 3 MEDICATIONS. I’ve rejected all these meds except for my hypothyroidism, which I’m told can have no improvement except by medication, and anxiety. I’m at my wits end with the medical community AND home remedies. :/ But recently, I’ve started again looking for hope. I know not everyone gets to be healthy, but I’m going to try.

      September 2nd, 2011 10:28 pm Reply
      • Beth Pickrel

        Please ignore the first post. It posted before I was finished. Apologies. Thanks.

        September 2nd, 2011 10:32 pm Reply
  • Raquel

    Hi, is anyone having problems with constipation when they add Vit. D supplements? I try to take 5,000 IU/day and it seems to make me constipated.
    Any feedback would be appreciated.

    August 15th, 2011 1:47 pm Reply
  • Erin

    What do you know about taking Diatomaceous Earth daily? I got some from our local farmer, who also provides our milk and eggs, a couple of months ago and I have been taking about a TBLS each morning with raw milk. It makes everything work well in my system throughout the day. Is this safe?

    August 1st, 2011 6:00 pm Reply
  • Kimberly Pender Wiezycki via Facebook

    Stephanie, I’m one of those ‘dumb’ parents that used to have to give my son laxatives and I can assure you we have always been very healthy eaters. Luke had severe reflux for years (I breastfed exclusively for 6 months and ate healthy too–go figure). It’s a long story– but calling misinformed parents following dietician, GI, and doctors’ orders aren’t dumb. They arre trying to help their children and don’t know about gut flora because no one in the medical field tells us. I’m glad your children have never suffered from constipation. It is heartbreaking.

    July 30th, 2011 10:26 am Reply
  • Lindsey

    Hi Sarah,
    I have a quick question. My husband and I have been wanting to do a cleanse for several months now. There are so many boxed cleanses at the health food store that we just don’t know which one to choose. Plus, they can be expensive and require all kinds of special dietary changes. We have just started diving into the world of traditional cooking, so we’re very open to anything that will naturally and traditionally cleanse our guts. What would you recommend?
    Thanks so much for your time!

    July 29th, 2011 11:05 pm Reply
  • Liz Jaconelli

    Oh man, I’ve been using the Food For Life 4:9 for such a long time and avoiding soy of course. I can’t believe I failed to read the label more carefully! I just stocked up my freezer with a dozen bags of tortillas, eng. Muffins, and loaves of sesame bread. Agh! I just checked and they ALL DO INDEED have sprouted soy. From now on I’m certainly only going to be buying the 7 grain. THANK YOU SO MUCH for pointing this out!!! Now what to do with all that soy laced investment? Donate it perhaps!

    July 29th, 2011 5:24 pm Reply
  • Raquel

    Also what do you think about chia seeds and flax seeds? Are they good for you?

    July 29th, 2011 3:14 pm Reply
  • Michael Acanfora (@BayonneChiro) (@BayonneChiro) (@BayonneChiro)

    Five Strategies to Combat Constipation – The Healthy Home Economist

    July 29th, 2011 12:00 am Reply
  • Meagan

    I’m surprised to see that you didn’t mention taking supplemental magnesium…

    July 28th, 2011 9:09 pm Reply
  • Raquel

    I totally agree with adding more fats but what if you are allergic to dairy. I haven’t tried ghee yet and I do use coconut oil. Also what can you suggest to do if you have hemorrhoids?

    July 28th, 2011 7:00 pm Reply
  • Sheila

    The one thing that always did the trick for me, back when I was very constipated post-partum, was lacto-fermented beets. Also anything with magnesium — I guess I became deficient after pregnancy.

    Also, sometimes it’s just a matter of position. Sitting on a toilet is one of the worst ways to go. Squatting opens everything up … so you go right away instead of sitting around with a newspaper or injuring yourself straining. I squat right on the rim of the toilet bowl if I need to, and it always works.

    July 28th, 2011 5:02 pm Reply
  • Raine

    Hi Sarah – good topic, constipation seems to be a big problem for so many people! Thankfully I’ve not had much trouble with constipation, even in my years when I ate processed foods most of the time. My biggest challenge has been with the opposite problem – diarrhea. Now things are under control, but for years I thought diarrhea was normal, even though I was drinking a lot of alcohol and eating a terrible diet.

    Then I became pregnant with my son, and low and behold, my appendix ruptured during pregnancy. When I was in the hospital recovering from surgery, the nurse told me to watch out for gallbladder trouble. I’d had an ultrasound which revealed gallstones, but never had any “gallbladder trouble” to speak of (that I knew). Sure enough, the night I came home from the hospital, I had my first gallbladder attack. The surgeon said it would have to come out, but I’d have to wait since I’d just had surgery. I spent the next 7 months trying to avoid more of those episodes, as they were some of the most painful and unpleasant I’d ever had in my life. I had surgery in July of 2001 because I didn’t know any better. My doctor told me to eat low-fat foods. I had been trying to avoid fatty foods prior to my surgery as I had been told as well, and ironically, things didn’t get any better.

    Some years later I learned more about gallbladder health and found out that yes, we really do need good, healthy fats. I started eating better and taking bile salts and digestive enzymes. And low and behold, my diarrhea stopped and my bowel movements became regular for probably the first time in my life.

    Currently I’m on the GAPS diet, and I am making great progress. I’ve spent the last 6 years eating traditional foods, learning, and detoxing. I am a big fan of coffee enemas, as you know. I wouldn’t be without them. I always feel great after doing them, and I think they are an indispensable part of detox and health, especially if you are like me and spent a lifetime destroying your body with processed foods. I also take probiotics and eat cultured foods every day. I probably could get more exercise, but I try to go walking, hiking, or bike riding several times a week, and I also horseback ride as well. I think it’s really all about finding something you enjoy and can engage in regularly. I also have a small (personal size) trampoline which I love to use. I haven’t used herbs as much, that is something I want to learn more about and become more proficient in their use.

    July 28th, 2011 4:20 pm Reply
  • Anastasia @ Eco-Babyz

    Great post addressing a common problem!

    July 28th, 2011 4:09 pm Reply
  • William R. Chilton

    Home : Cleansing-Detoxification : Coffee Enemas For Cleansing
    Coffee Enemas For Cleansing
    by Dr_Wilson

    Why in the world would someone use coffee in an enema? That is the question I asked when my health practitioner suggested I do coffee enemas. Yet when I got over my initial resistance, I quickly saw the benefits of coffee enemas.

    I have since recommended them to over a thousand patients. Many have told me how wonderful they are. Several said coffee enemas saved their lives. Indeed, they are most helpful for many types of conditions. The procedure is also inexpensive and can be done at home without special equipment.

    Enemas are an ancient form of hydrotherapy. They have been used for hundreds of years for mechanically cleansing the colon. Enemas and colonic irrigation used to be routine procedures in hospitals. There are many types of enemas used for varying purposes.

    Coffee enemas were first popularized by Max Gerson, MD, author of
    A Cancer Therapy – Results of 50 Cases. Dr. Gerson pioneered nutritional therapy for cancer and other diseases with excellent results. His therapy combined coffee enemas with a special diet, juices and other supplements. The enemas were an integral part of the therapy.

    The major benefit of the coffee enema, he said, is to enhance elimination of toxins through the liver. Indeed, endoscopic studies confirm they increase bile output. A patient was given a coffee enema while an endoscope monitored the entrance to the common bile duct. Within minutes of administering the enema, bile flow increased.

    Increased bile flow also alkalinizes the small intestine and promotes improved digestion. Coffee also acts as an astringent in the large intestine, helping clean the colon walls.

    A common contributor to ill health is the production and absorption of toxins within the small and large intestines. If food is not digested properly, sugars ferment and protein putrefies or rots. Both processes generate toxic chemicals which are then absorbed into the liver. The coffee enema enhances digestion by increasing bile flow and removes toxins in the large intestine so they will not be absorbed. Most people with health complaints suffer from impaired digestion and production of toxic substances in the intestines.

    Coffee enemas are particularly helpful for slow oxidizers. Their liver activity is more sluggish and digestion is usually impaired. Fast oxidizers may have more difficulty retaining the enema. The procedure described below is really a coffee implant rather than an enema, because it involves only two to three cups of water. Using a quart of water may be more difficult to retain for some individuals.

    However, the use of a quart of water, and making sure the water reaches most of the large intestine, is more helpful for cleansing the colon of accumulated waste material. If one suspects severe bowel toxicity or in cases of serious illness, quart enemas are preferable, at least to start with.

    Dr. Gerson recommended the coffee enema up to 6 times daily for severely ill cancer patients. His patients continued them for up to several years with no ill effects. I usually suggest one enema per day to assist detoxification or to enhance liver activity. Two enemas daily may be taken during a healing reaction if needed. For those who are very ill, several a day may are best for at least several months. For best results, a program of coffee enemas should be carried on for at least a month. They should not be needed for more than two or three years, although many people have continued to take them for a number of years without problems.

    The best time to take the enema is after a normal movement. One will get a slight rush from the caffeine, but it is not like drinking coffee, which I do not recommend. Coffee enemas taken in the evening may interfere with sleep.

    If performed properly, coffee implants do not cause habituation, constipation or any rectal problems. In over 23 years of practice, I have not seen important negative effects of coffee enemas in those who need them. Difficulties occasionally arise if one has hemorrhoids. In these cases, extra care is needed in inserting the enema tip. Some people with hemorrhoids find the enemas irritating.

    A small number of people are unable to retain even a cup of water for the required 15 minutes. One can start with less coffee or less water in these cases. There seems to be no harm if one wishes to retain the enema longer than 15 minutes. While enemas may seem uncomfortable, many clients report the procedure is so helpful they soon forget the inconvenience.

    Step 1. Materials

    * Buy a 2-quart enema bag with a clamp. This is sold at drug stores. The enema/douche bag combination is easier to use.

    * Buy any brand of regular coffee – regular grind or flaked, non-instant and not decaffeinated, or grind your own coffee. Organically grown coffee is best, though any coffee will do. Organic coffee is available at natural food stores. Store opened coffee containers in the freezer for maximum freshness.

    Step 2. Preparation of coffee

    There are two methods. The first is best.

    * Place 2 to 3 cups of purified water and two to three tablespoons of coffee in a saucepan and bring to a boil (or use a coffee maker).

    * Let it boil 5 minutes, then turn off the heat and allow it to cool. One or two ice cubes may be added to speed the cooling process. You may make a larger quantity and use it for several enemas.

    * Wait until the water is comfortable to the touch. If the water is too hot or too cold, retaining the enema will be more difficult. Strain the liquid through a fine strainer or coffee filter paper into a clean enema bag. Screw on the top of the enema bag. The enema is now ready.

    The alternative non-boil method:

    * Place 1 cup of ground coffee in a container with 2 cups of water. Stir the mixture thoroughly and allow it to soak overnight. (You may make a larger quantity if desired.)

    * In the morning, filter the liquid through coffee filter paper or a fine strainer. Place in a jar for storage in the refrigerator.

    * To prepare an enema, pour 2 cups of purified water into the enema bag. Add 2 or 3 tablespoons of the coffee liquid from the jar.

    Step 3. Preparing to take the enema

    * Be sure the plastic hose is pushed or fastened well onto the enema bag and the thin enema tip is attached to the other end.

    * Remove any air from the enema tube the following way. Grasp but do not close the clamp on the hose. Place the tip in the sink. Hold up the enema bag above the tip until the water begins to flow out. Then close the clamp. This expels any air in the tube.

    * Lubricate the enema tip with a small amount of soap or oil. (Too much lubrication will cause the tip to fall out of the rectum, creating a mess!).

    Step 4. Taking the enema

    * The position preferred by most people is lying on one’s back on a towel, on the bathroom floor or in the bath tub.

    * With the clamp closed, place the enema bag on the floor next to you, or hang the bag about one foot above your abdomen.

    * Insert the tip gently and slowly. Move it around until it goes all the way in.

    * Open the clamp and hold the enema bag about one foot above the abdomen. The water may take a few seconds to begin flowing. If the water does not flow, you may gently squeeze the bag. If you develop a cramp, close the hose clamp, turn from side to side and take a few deep breaths. The cramp will usually pass quickly.

    * When all the liquid is inside, the bag will become flat. Close the clamp. You can leave the tube inserted, or remove it slowly.

    * RETAIN THE ENEMA FOR 15 MINUTES. See below if you have difficulties with this. You may remain lying on the floor. Use the time to read a book, meditate, etc. Some people are able to get up and go lie on a towel in bed, instead of on the floor. Walking around the house with the coffee inside is not recommended.

    Step 5. Finishing up

    * After 15 minutes or so, go to the toilet and empty out the water. It is okay if some water remains inside. If water remains inside often, you are dehydrated.

    * Wash the enema bag and tube thoroughly with soap and water.

    Hints regarding enemas:

    * If possible, do the enema after a bowel movement to make it easier to retain the coffee. If this is not possible, take a plain water enema first if needed, to clean out the colon.

    * If intestinal gas is a problem, some exercise before the enema may eliminate the gas.

    * It is not essential but is helpful if the water fills the entire colon. You can assist by first lying on your right side for 5 minutes, then on your back for 5 minutes, and then on your left side for 5 minutes.

    * If water will not flow around the entire colon, you may gently massage your abdomen. Some people attach a 30-inch colon tube to the tip of the enema tube, and insert the tube so the water will reach the right side of the colon.

    * If the enema makes you jittery, reduce the amount of coffee.

    * The enema may lower your blood sugar. If so, eat something just before or after taking the enema.

    * If you have trouble holding the enema, here are suggestions.

    1) Be patient. Practice makes perfect.
    2) The water may be too hot or too cold. Be sure the water temperature is comfortable.
    3) It may help to place a small pillow or rolled up towel under your buttocks so the water flows down hill into your colon.
    4) If trouble continues, try reducing the amount of coffee or add 2 tablespoons of blackstrap molasses to the water.

    Dr. Lawrence Wilson
    P.O. Box 54
    Prescott, AZ 86302-0054
    (928) 445-7690
    Visit for books, and audio tapes from Dr. Wilson
    How To Take An Enema
    How Often To Take Enemas
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    The coffee used in an enema should be a low-acid coffee, because the acids in coffee can damage the sensitive tissues of the colon.

    Learn more about our made-for-enema coffee
    * * * * * * * * * * * *
    4 Quart Easy Enema Kit with Flex Tip – Price: $52.50
    **The Liver is the Major Detoxifying Organ**

    – The liver utilizes a two-phase system in detoxifying the body of harmful substances:

    – 1 st : Transforms toxins into more water-soluble compounds that are then carried through the blood to the liver for further processing, or to the kidney for elimination.

    – 2 nd: Completing the detoxification in the liver and sending the toxins back to the kidney for elimination, or into the bile for elimination via the GI tract.

    – Namaste’ – Bill

    July 28th, 2011 3:47 pm Reply
  • Howard C. Gray via Facebook

    Clearly the problem is she hasn’t dropped her shorts!

    July 28th, 2011 2:48 pm Reply
  • Rachel

    Going traditional has been the trick for us too. My eldest had constipation issues before we started eating traditionally and he’s also the only one of our 4 kids who’s had cavities. And he got them all before the age of 4, eating his peanut butter and whole wheat, which his doc and the pediatrition both gave the thumbs up for adequate nutrition. Boy, we were dumb back then!!! We always felt uncomfortable about his limited diet, but really didn’t know what to do (first time parents coupled with a child with a strong gag reflex that he used to his advantage). We figured since he drank lots of milk (pasteurized) we figured that he was doing ok. I know, I just shuddered too.
    Boy, oh boy, were we wrong!!!! Now we eat traditionally, lots of butter, coconut oil and Raw milk. No toilet issues for any of us, none of the kids have cavities and they’re all super healthy too! Wonderful 😀 Raw milk gives you such peace of mind – I LOVE it!!!

    July 28th, 2011 2:26 pm Reply
  • Audry Thompson Barber via Facebook

    the woman in the photo must not have much hope that her remedy is going to work……

    July 28th, 2011 2:22 pm Reply
  • Kate @ Modern Alternative Mama

    I struggled with this only while pregnant…when I didn’t eat traditionally. I did not have this problem during my current pregnancy. No, pregnancy doesn’t mean you “will” have these issues (there were a lot of other pregnancy issues/symptoms I skipped this time too), they are highly correlated to a not-so-healthy diet!

    July 28th, 2011 2:13 pm Reply
    • sara r.

      I absolutely agree with this- I eat a mostly traditional foods diet and have NO issues with constipation, morning sickness, fatigue, etc. I’m now 8 weeks pregnant with our second, and I feel absolutely the same as I do when I’m not pregnant (except for having to get up to pee at night!). I think that a lot of the problems pregnant women experience in our culture are a direct result of poor diet + prenatal “vitamins”, and low activity levels. Morning sickness is seen as the norm here, but it just doesn’t make sense that a pregnant woman who needs to nourish a growing baby would be throwing up all of her food! Doctors even tell women that if they feel sick, that it is a good sign that the baby is healthy! This makes NO sense to me.

      July 29th, 2011 3:04 pm Reply
  • Marya

    My son had a terrible time for years with constipation. Going gluten free has done the trick for him.

    July 28th, 2011 1:20 pm Reply
    • Stella

      i fel a whole lot better without gluten too

      April 22nd, 2013 3:43 pm Reply
  • Raj Ganpath (@rajganpath)

    Five Strategies to Combat Constipation – The Healthy Home Economist

    July 28th, 2011 1:18 pm Reply
  • Nelly

    Can you do a post about how to do an enema? My husband who was raised in Mexico said enemas were a regular part of his childhood to keep the family healthy. I would like to learn more, but I don’t know where to go for “How to do an enema” info.

    July 28th, 2011 1:01 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Maybe I should do a video on it. LOL

      JUST KIDDING! :)

      July 28th, 2011 1:36 pm Reply
      • Drea

        If you do, you might want to explain how to do one for a child versus an adult. We’ve used the steps in the book I listed above. You can’t use a traditional enema bag. We’ve used the nose syringe for a child as it is such a great way to help your little one if needed!

        July 28th, 2011 7:56 pm Reply
      • Jen

        I saw that video too! Sean Croxton of Underground Wellness. He’s great! It’s on You Tube, and it’s called Poopin’ 2.0.

        July 29th, 2011 1:27 am Reply
      • Julie

        I saw that Youtube video you mentioned. I am pretty sure it was done by “Underground Wellness”.

        July 29th, 2011 9:11 pm Reply
      • Celeste

        That would be Sean at Underground Wellness. He’s fabulous. I think the video is called “Pooping 2.0”

        I read recently (in Louisa Williams’s book “Radical Medicine”) that butyric acid is the fuel for colon cells — not glucose like most other cells. The butyric acid comes from either the fermentation of fibers in the diet (including cellulose fiber from vegetables) as well as — guess what — butter! Butter is the highest source of butyric acid in the diet. Yet another reason to love butter!

        January 2nd, 2012 12:40 am Reply
  • Stephanie Pruett Amuso via Facebook

    Well I have to say we’ve never had “constipation” issues in our house! But I do know kids (with poor diets) that live on laxatives :( I cringe at how dumb the parents are to do that to them!!!!!

    July 28th, 2011 12:59 pm Reply
  • Annika Rockwell

    Great post! In working with pediatric nutrition clients, I have found that painful constipation is one of the TOP problems. And adding powdered fiber to their diet does NOT work. The “magic trick” of adding good fats (coconut oil, butter, ghee) and cultured dairy always seems to work! More specifically, I tell moms to add a pat of butter or coconut oil, and a Tablespoon of raw sour cream to every one of their kid’s meal, and usually that day, the kids have effortless BMs and don’t cry anymore when they sit on the toilet!

    July 28th, 2011 12:37 pm Reply
  • Wellness Mama (@TheWellnessMama) (@TheWellnessMama)

    Constipated or struggle with digestion? Great article about natural ways to fix it (hint: fiber isn’t the answer!)…

    July 28th, 2011 12:35 pm Reply
  • Kim Buesing

    I have been eating 1 slice of Ezekiel toast each morning with coconut oil & butter on it. Would you recommend me cutting that out to help move the bowels? Kombucha seems to help me go!

    July 28th, 2011 12:27 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Kim, one slice of toast a day isn’t a problem. It also depends how much fiber you have in the rest of your day. Watch the Ezekiel bread though as it has sprouted soy in it. Sprouted soy is best to avoid.

      July 28th, 2011 1:15 pm Reply
      • Kim B.

        Thank you, Sarah!

        July 28th, 2011 6:22 pm Reply
      • Rose

        Some Ezekial mixes may have soy in them but Food for Life Ezekial 4:9 combines only those grains and legumes mentioned in the verse. No soy. So I guess it would depend on the brand

        July 28th, 2011 8:07 pm Reply
        • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

          I buy the Food for Life sprouted English muffins and the last time I checked, the Ezekiel one had sprouted soy in it. The 7 grain one did not (but it wasn’t called Ezekiel) which is the one I buy. Have they changed the ingredients recently? That would be great if they have!

          July 28th, 2011 9:12 pm Reply
  • Patricia

    I had my thyroid removed 45 years ago and constipation was a constant problem in my life. I tried all the high fiber supplements and doctors advice but nothing worked. About 10 years ago I started drinking Magma Plus (for reasons I don’t even remember), but I continured to drink it because, even though it was considered an energy drink, I found that it helped with regularity. After starting the tradional diet, I figured out it was the probiotics that were in the Magma Plus. I started making kefir and buying raw milk (had to join a cow lease program for that in my state) and things are super! Probiotics work! And, gosh! I love the fats! LOL

    July 28th, 2011 12:25 pm Reply
  • Mikki

    Water, lots of water in your diet. You cannot get them year round unless you buy from out of the US, but 2-3 fresh plums with skins of course, do it every time for me. 3 or more, and I’d have the reverse problem! For some reason, dried plums AKA prunes just don’t do it for me.

    July 28th, 2011 12:16 pm Reply
  • Catherine Hochschild

    That’s “initial days.”

    July 28th, 2011 12:07 pm Reply
  • Drea

    My husband and I read about that last approach in a children’s herbal book as a way to help a fever. I thought it was the grossest thing ever. However, we have used it with our children and have had 100% success using a garlic enema for a fever. Just a few cloves of garlic blended with warm water. Strain out the chunks of garlic. I still think it’s gross, but I can’t argue with the success we’ve had with it.

    July 28th, 2011 12:05 pm Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, and coffee enemas are miraculous for relieving a migraine or a regular headache with no meds.

      July 28th, 2011 12:15 pm Reply
    • christin

      What book is that? Sounds like a good one!

      July 28th, 2011 4:31 pm Reply
      • Drea

        “The ABC Herbal” by Steven Horne I learned about onion juice for earaches in that book too. I learned of the book and bought it through There is lots of great stuff on the site!

        July 28th, 2011 7:52 pm Reply
  • Susan Picken Moran via Facebook

    What I suggested was to naturally relieve an occasional issue.

    July 28th, 2011 12:05 pm Reply
  • Nathalie Farquet via Facebook

    well, it appeared I needed to increase my water intake to reduce my pollen allergy… all the food changes improved it a little, but the major change was made by drinking more water. Dehydration can be a problem sometimes. I’m not saying to drink 3 quarts a day, just to increase the water intake slowly to see if the situation improves.
    And I drink kombucha and water kefir regularly… usually that’s enough to regulate my digestion, but sometimes I tend to forget drinking water in addition to those and then constipation comes back.

    July 28th, 2011 12:00 pm Reply
  • Possibly Maybe

    What about when following a low carb diet for weight loss. I was told by other low carb paleo adherents that smaller stools or going every other day is common as long as it isn’t hard and pebbly when you don’t have a lot of excess bulk to pass from plant matter. Is this not true? Should I be going a lot more?

    July 28th, 2011 11:44 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Paleo diets are also lowfat … eating lowfat is constipating so I do not find going every other day to be reasonable or normal in any way.

      July 28th, 2011 11:51 am Reply
      • Catherine Hochschild

        Just a note: you’re quit correct that Loren Cordain’s original “paleo diet” book was low fat, but there are many advocates of paleo out there that do not adhere to this approach and encourage lots of fat. Since “possibly maybe” didn’t say, we don’t know her personal approach to fat. I can get constipated on a high fat diet, but I’ve always had poor gut flora and I suspect that this is a big culprit, as well as a mag. deficiency.

        July 28th, 2011 12:18 pm Reply
      • Possibly maybe

        I eat about 60-70% of my calories as fat. :-)

        July 28th, 2011 3:45 pm Reply
      • Ashley

        I eat about 60-70% of my calories from fat and it’s mostly animal/coconut sourced. I also drink a few cups of bone broth a day, meat, some fermented veggies, my cooked veggies are always smothered in coconut oil or grassfed butter, and I take CLO and butter oil.

        I’m definitely not doing the Cordain style paleo. haha I guess I’m more primal but who needs labels!?

        July 28th, 2011 3:49 pm Reply
    • Catherine Hochschild

      IMHO, you should still work toward going every day, although the initial says in some low carb diets may make that more difficult. The solutions presented here are all compatible with low-carb however (except kefir with paleo) and you should be able to implement them as needed without slowing your progress. I have low-carbed for years, and constipation is often a problem for me–unless I keep on top of it with these methods. I third magnesium, too! Works wonders.

      July 28th, 2011 12:05 pm Reply
  • thehealthyhomeeconomist via Facebook

    You actually don’t need much water unless you go the conventional fiber approach. I think that drinking too much water is not good for the body and this is also discussed in Fiber Menace … folks got hooked on the water thing as they needed it to swell all that fiber in their diet. If you eat a traditional, low fiber diet you don’t really need much water in the diet and you stay nice and hydrated.

    July 28th, 2011 11:42 am Reply
  • Katherine

    Because there are 1000s of strains of probiotics, taking a supplement is really an inefficient way to get your probiotics since they usually only contain one or two strains in dried, capsule form. On my website, I give my Perfect Trifecta for Intestinal Health which includes garlic, clay water, and kefir. The garlic kills the unfriendly bacteria in your gut and feeds the friendly bacteria, the clay water attracts and eliminates the unfriendly bacteria (while providing over 80 trace minerals), and the kefir adds friendly bacteria to your gut, which the garlic then feeds. Consuming water kefir, home-made yogurt, and milk kefir (along with other fermented foods) introduces many strains of friendly bacteria to your system instead of the few found in most probiotics. It’s a daily routine that heals and maintains the gut.

    ~ Kathy

    July 28th, 2011 11:37 am Reply
    • Kelsey

      The probiotic she is recommending is one that contains many more strains of probiotics than most, which is why she says to choose carefully and look at her resource page. But she also says to focus on fermented foods, not supplements.

      July 28th, 2011 11:56 am Reply
  • Howard C. Gray via Facebook

    Beware the Fiber Menace!

    July 28th, 2011 11:34 am Reply
  • Mike Lieberman

    I’ve been taking Natural Calm lately, which is a magesium citrate powder. It’s non-addictive and has a bunch of other beneficial results. One of which is it helps you to “go.” I definitely recommend it.

    July 28th, 2011 11:30 am Reply
  • Nathalie Farquet via Facebook

    thanks for that article :)

    July 28th, 2011 11:24 am Reply
  • Mary

    Hi Sarah,

    This was a great post. I am so glad you exposed fiber for the problem it can be. I know so many folks who are wedded to eating tons of fiber everyday and all they have are hemorrhoids and polyps…and all sorts of digestive problems!

    I also love how you mentioned about adding cream to veggie/fruit juices. My mom has always done this. She is in great health (she’s in her late 80’s) and has never had a problem with constipation. A wonderful juice we make here – – – and especially good when you are battling illness…is apple, celery, ginger, cinnamon, and turmeric…and raw cream and honey. Juice an apple, a few stalks of celery, and a knob of ginger – maybe about an inch. Warm the juice VERY gently on the stove top adding in the ground cinnamon and turmeric. Once the spices are dissolved, remove from the heat and pour into a coffee mug. Stir in a bit of honey to taste (or maple syrup which is especially tasty) and top it off with a splash of raw cream. This is very healing and will also prevent constipation which sometimes accompanies illness.



    July 28th, 2011 11:18 am Reply
  • mel

    Fats have been really helpful at our house, i.e. coconut oil! And also drinking enough water. I read that if you are having trouble having a bm, that you should drink 3 glasses of water on an empty stomach (on rising) and that gets things moving. Kind of wakes up your system, so to speak.

    Thanks for sharing this- info that everyone needs to know but no one really wants to talk about! :)

    July 28th, 2011 11:18 am Reply
  • Susan Picken Moran via Facebook

    Water, water and more water! When my kids get constipated I make them drink 8 oz of water every 30 minutes. Works every time! Read this in a natural healing book.

    July 28th, 2011 11:16 am Reply
  • Pavil, the Uber Noob

    Magnesium seems to help. It must be a dietary deficiency.

    Ciao, Pavil

    July 28th, 2011 11:13 am Reply
  • Kim

    My 8 year old son suffered from terrible constipation for years and the last month we’ve been eating real fats, healthy fats, real milk, kefir, butter, etc. he has not been constipated at all. In fact, it’s become a joke because he goes so quickly and it looks normal now– he likes to call me in to show me. All this debate about whether or not raw milk has health benefits–this is proof enough for me.

    July 28th, 2011 11:05 am Reply
  • Beth

    Gentle bouncing on a mini trampoline is another option — supposed to be good for the digestive organs and lymph circulation.

    July 28th, 2011 10:54 am Reply
  • Erica

    Hi Sarah,

    I believe eating enough fat, especially good animal fats, is also essential in relieving constipation.

    July 28th, 2011 10:49 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Yes, this is mentioned in the post. When the fiber based carbs are reduced, healthy fats should fill that gap.

      July 28th, 2011 11:00 am Reply
  • Bethany

    I’m not seeing any probiotic recommendations on your resources page. I imagine you recommend bio-kult, but I was trying to see if there were any others listed. Am I missing something??

    July 28th, 2011 10:20 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      GapsDiet and Cultures for Health are both listed.

      July 28th, 2011 10:38 am Reply
  • Magda Velecky

    I never thought the big C was my problem until I went on GAPS, especially the intro part. I quickly learned my BMs were nowhere near normal and I needed help. Namely: enemas. I dreaded them and simply refused them. Until I had no choice… and guess what?? They’re not bad. And you feel so good afterwards!! I’ve been on GAPS for almost 6 months and I now have a daily BM. The last 2 days I had 2 BMs a day! (Sorry if this is TMI). Adding dairy kefir and increasing ferments was key for me.

    July 28th, 2011 10:00 am Reply
    • Sarah, TheHealthyHomeEconomist

      Hi Magda, many folks are constipated and don’t even realize it. Much of this is due to doctors promoting the idea that a BM every few days or even once a week is ok. Such insane advice and what keeps folks in the dark about the truth of their condition, plugged up and on the road to extreme illness from all those toxins putrefying in their gut 24/7.

      July 28th, 2011 10:14 am Reply
      • Pamela


        Could you give your 2 cents on this, please?: My 5 month old’s stooling pattern suddenly changed about 2 weeks ago. Instead of multiple dirty diapers daily, she now is once per day, sometimes every other day. Is this healthy/normal? She is a breastfed baby. Could my diet be influencing her stooling pattern, or is a change in her stools normal at her age?


        July 28th, 2011 4:31 pm Reply
  • HealthyHomeEconomist (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon) (@HealthyHomeEcon)

    Five Strategies to Combat Constipation – The Healthy Home Economist

    July 28th, 2011 9:44 am Reply
    • Nancy

      I am so glad that you are addressing this problem. I became acquainted with the idea of the a coffee enema through a friend who was a fan of Charlotte Gerson and her work. I admit it took me a couple of years to get the courage to try it, but really it is a great tool for the home health tool box. You can order supplies from the store at Also good info explaining the how and why.
      The biology behind the benefits of coffee enemas occur because the liver combines toxins with bile and excretes the toxins with the bile flow. The caffeine, theobromine and theophylline in coffee dilate the bile ducts to facilitate bile flow. The palmitates in coffee increase the action of glutathione-S-transferase by 600% in the liver and 700% in the small intestine. It is this enzyme that is responsible for the detoxification of free radicals and it’s also this enzyme that inhibits the re-absorption of the toxic bile. The quart of fluid held in the colon encourages the bowels to quickly move the waste out of the body by increasing peristalsis. Only coffee administered through the colon has the effects of bile duct dilation and glutathione-S-transferase stimulation.

      July 28th, 2011 1:34 pm Reply

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