The Herbal Approach

Good digestion is central to good health. Dysfunction here not only starves the body of nutrients, but leads to a buildup of toxins.

Constipation is generally a symptom of other health problems. It may be associated with poor diet. Waste material is left entirely too long in the body. The longer the waste is retained, the more poisons are being absorbed into the blood. It has been proven by medical athorities that nearly half of all sickness starts in the colon.

The long term use of herbal laxatives like senna is to be avoided, since the bowel can become habituated to their use. Chronic use of any laxative eventually overrides the bowel's sensitivity to the need to elliminate.

Constipation can be caused by certain medications (tranquilizers, anticholinergics, narcotics, antacids with aluminum), rectal/anal disorders (hemorroids, fissures), obstruction, metabolic and neurologic conditions (diabetes, M.S.). Other diseases of the colon commonly associated with constipation are irritable bowel syndrome and diverticular disease.

Causative factors include weakness, immobility, debility, fatigue, and inability to increase intra-abdominal pressure to faciliate the passage of stools.

In gerneral there are two types of constipation:

The Flaccid Type
When muscular activity is weak,
Or The Tense Type
When nervous and muscular tension inhibits bowel activity

The former type can be relieved by regular exersise and a high fiber diet. Tradditional infusion/decoction: 1 part each licorice, damiana, raspberry laeves, goldenseal, rhubarb root, and ginger, and two parts of dandelion root. The basic method for making infusions and decoctions is given elsewhere at this site.

The tense condition may respond to bowel relaxants: 1 part each, chamomile, ginger, valerain, peppermint, and two parts each of licorice, wild yam, and dandelion root.

In both cases it is advisable to use psyllium seeds (crushed, as whole seed may cause problems with diverticular disease). The black variety being more effective than the white. Psyllium (Psyllium hydrophilic muciloid) contain contain a mucilaginous and bulking laxative, which tends to lubricate the bowel. If herbal Psyllium is not available, by all means, use Metamucil, a polysaccharide and cellulose derivative that mixes with intestinal fluids, swell, and stimulates peristalsis.

Produced by: Michael Hall, R.N.