Suffering from constipation is one of the most common ailments in the modern western world, and although normal western medicine does not see it as a serious problem, but rather considers it an inconvenience, naturopath and herbal health practitioners hold an opposite view.
In natural health and healing, it is held as a major contributory factor for a range of ills and ailments visiting the young and old equally.
If the colon cannot remove wastes properly, the other waste removal organs – be that the lungs, kidneys and skin are over-taxed, and toxins build up within the system, and it is these toxins in the colon, that are believed to be the instigators of so many health problems.
In order to avoid this, the answer is fairly straightforward – make sure that you do not get constipated, and that you have regular bowel movements, to remove waste materials and toxins from your body.
It is described in the Webster’s New World Dictionary and Thesaurus, as “infrequent and difficult movements of the bowel”.
This would refer to dry, hard and knotty fecal matter that is being passed and it may also be painful when passing such stools.
Straining to pass hard stools is a major cause of internal and external hemorrhoids, and can also lead to anal bleeding caused by fissures (small tears) forming around the anus, but apart from this it can have a wide range of other side effects as well.
Other symptoms and side effects
It can further be involved in far more serious problems, and can be a contributory factor in major degenerative diseases, such as:
If you look at western medicine, you will find that the medical fraternity will label you as “constipated” if you have less than three bowel movements per week.
Naturopathic and herbal health practitioners have a radically different view on this, and believe that you should have at least one bowel movement per day, as a healthy colon would eliminate solid wastes within 6 – 18 hours after eating.
There are many factors that can contribute to this problem, and to try and create a holistic view, we have listed, and briefly discussed them, point-for-point. But in summary, it can be said that if the peristaltic movements that move the waste materials become sluggish, or if too much water is absorbed from waste material (the stool) the result would be constipation.
- Not enough fiber in the diet
- A healthy individual should consume 25 – 30 grams of fiber a day to ensure sufficient fiber in the digestive system to prevent being constipated. The colon, which moves the fecal matter to the rectum, does so with peristaltic motions, and fiber bulk is needed for the colon to do its job properly.
- Following a too refined and fatty diet, and consuming a lot of sugar will cause sluggish peristaltic movements.
- Milk products
- It has been found that cow’s milk often causes constipation in children. Should this be the case consider switching to goat milk or milk made from soy.
- Too little fluids
- In order for waste material to move through the colon, it must be hydrated, otherwise it will become hard, and difficult to move. For this reason, enough water must be present in the body to be able to supply the colon with hydration.
- A good rule of thumb is to take between 8 and 10 glasses of pure water per day not counting any other drinks that you may consume.
- Too little exercise
- Some older people follow a very sedentary lifestyle, and it is this lack of movement that is a large contributory factor resulting in being constipated – coupled to the fact that metabolic processes have also slowed down.
- Older people would be well advised to take regular gentle exercise – even if it means walking around the block, and also to look after their diet and fluid intake.
- Continuous disregard when getting the urge to defecate
- If a person continuously ignores the urge to defecate, the body may respond by becoming constipated.
- It is a good habit to try and regulate your bowel movements by setting aside a specific time each day for an unhurried, and unforced, attempt to have a bowel movement. The best time for this is normally about an hour after eating breakfast, but it may take your body some time to get into this routine.
- Spinal injuries and neurological problems
- People with spinal injuries and certain neurological problems may have damaged the nerves that trigger the urge to have a bowel movement, and this can result in being chronically constipated.
- Metabolic imbalances
- If there is any type of intestinal obstruction - be that scar tissue, diverticulosis, tumors, colorectal stricture, Hirschsprung's disease, or some forms of cancer, it can compress the intestines in such a way as to cause this problem, and intestinal obstruction needs to be referred to a medical practitioner as soon as possible.
If a diet with enough fiber is followed, together with adequate water intake, moderate exercise and good stress-management, normal healthy individuals should not suffer from this problem.
The diet should include fresh raw fruit and vegetables, wholegrain cereals as well as enough water.
There are many natural dietary ways to prevent getting constipated – and they include items such as prunes, papayas, figs, gooseberries and raisins. Some people have relief when drinking a large amount of freshly squeezed orange juice.
The easiest is to soak 8 to 10 prunes overnight in water, and then to eat the prunes at breakfast.
Taking certain laxatives and purging agents to help bowel movements must be one of the biggest mistaken believes held by people.
Although most laxative will cause a bowel movement, the long-term effect of some laxatives can be very negative and far-reaching.
Laxatives are divided into different categories, which are
- Stimulant laxatives
- These irritate the intestinal wall and it is this irritation which will stimulate peristaltic movement and cause a bowel movement. The downside of this laxative is that it can damage the bowel with constant and habitual use, and can lead to laxative dependency and should be avoided if possible.
- Stool softeners
- These are compounds such as mineral oil and docusate sodium, which can be helpful but should not be used regularly, as they can interfere with fat-soluble vitamin absorption and can also increase the toxicity of other drugs. Constant over-use may cause liver damage as well.
- Osmotic agents
- Bulk-forming agents
- These bulk-forming agents on the other hand can be taken daily, without any dependency forming, and increase the bulk as well as the water content of the stools, thereby promoting regular and soft bowel movements and a well functioning digestive system. A very good bulk forming agent is psyllium.
Taking all of the above into consideration, it is easy to see why we used a "bulk-forming agent" when we developed a digestive aid, that will not only help your digestion, but will also assist in regular bowel movements.
- Healing cream
- To assist in wound healing while soothing skin complaints – such as eczema and psoriasis, acne and piles and moisturizing and protecting the skin. This product has shown its effectiveness over a wide range of problems and judging from sales over more than a decade – it is the trusted healing cream to help with all mishaps, allergic reactions, irritated, burning, itchy and uncomfortable skin conditions.
- Face wash
- This face wash will properly clean your face and remove all impurities and environmental pollutants, without drying the skin. It contains eight herbal extracts to help promote a clear, vital and healthy complexion and a younger looking skin.
- Moisturizing day cream
- This day cream is formulated to help fight the signs of aging on various fronts. It helps to reduce free radical damage which, if left unchecked, leads to premature aging. The herbal extracts help to promote cell rejuvenation and regeneration and provide moisture and hydration to the skin.
- Nourishing night cream
- This nourishing night cream penetrates the skin extremely well and does not make the skin feel oily. It contains a host of herbal extracts to help in the fight against premature aging and has added vitamin E as well. Apart from the moisturizing effect and the anti-aging properties it also softens and smoothes the skin.
- Eye gel
- An effective refreshing eye gel to help reduce puffiness and dark rings around the eyes, while fighting wrinkles and lines. This is a very clever combination of herbal extracts and the base formula has its roots in a clinically proven formula.
- Mud face mask
- With this skin treatment product we combined a special selection of herbs in a base of thermal mud with oligoelements. This recommended weekly treatment will boost circulation to the skin, help to fight wrinkles and lines, improve firmness while at the same time improving suppleness and elasticity of the skin.
- Shampoo with rosemary extract + 7 other herbals
- Our shampoo is in a class of its own – and granted – it is far more expensive than cheap supermarket shampoos, but no other shampoo has the active ingredients we have in our shampoo. The rosemary will boost the health of the hair and scalp, while the other seven herbal extracts will help strengthen the hair and make it shine, increase the volume and make it manageable.
- Rosemary hair treatment conditioner
- We have found that this hair conditioner should really be used as a conditioning treatment. This then removes the need to condition the hair every time you wash – and can be used once a month. It is a superb hair tonic and helps in the control of sebum secretion of the scalp. Although not formulated for dandruff – the ingredients will assist with this as well, while supporting the health of the scalp.
- Hand and body lotion
- When formulating this hand and body lotion we created a rich nourishing, protecting and reviving lotion, which will not leave the skin oily or tacky, but will create a well moisturized, hydrated and supple skin. After applying this lotion it will quickly be absorbed by the skin, leaving it silky soft, smooth and well moisturized.
- Stretch mark gel
- Although nothing can remove already formed stretch marks (only surgery can do that) – thousands of satisfied clients confirm that this gel improves the appearance of old stretch marks. The gel will help in PREVENTING stretch marks (a 92% success rate) and is used with great success by expectant mothers and body builders who may form marks when bulking-up. The formula of this gel is based on clinical studies done in France, to which we added other herbal extracts.
- Jojoba oil
- This liquid golden ester not only moisturizes and penetrates the skin but also helps to fight wrinkles and lines while promoting a clear and unblemished skin. Jojoba does not clog the pores but helps to restore skin elasticity and smoothness. It will leave the skin supple and velvety soft without any oiliness and can be used neat on the skin.
- Almond oil
- This light and deeply moisturizing oil has a softening effect on the skin and can be used on the face and body. Almond oil has excellent emollient properties and helps to balance water and moisture loss in the skin. It can be used neat on the skin and also makes an excellent massage base.