View Full Version : Remedy for (no kidding) constipation

06-05-1999, 12:04 AM
I have a really serious question for the teeming millions. I need a remedy for constipation. No kidding. Had it all my life. Parents made me drink Milk of Magnesia (talk about nasty!) and as an adult, just didn't worry about it. But for the past few years, it's been hell. Achy and bloated for days; clothes don't fit right; if I don't suck it in, I look 6 months pregnant. Doctor says high fiber. Using Metimucil - it helps some, but not enough. Tried prunes years ago and they didn't help. Don't want to use chemical laxatives. Anybody out there got a food/drink/herbal remedy? I'm desparate.

06-05-1999, 12:09 AM
I've never had this problem, but my mom and husband do. Try this: (it helped for my husband, but not my mom) Eat a large bowl of the highest fiber cereal you can find every morning. Also, try to eat at least three servings of fruit a day. This didn't help my mom, BTW. Nothing ever has.

Full of 'satiable curtiosity

06-05-1999, 12:16 AM
Citrucel.Fairly natural:it's methylcellulose.Inert.I think there's a no flavor variety that you mix with any fruit juice.

I'd imagine more water would help.

06-05-1999, 12:22 AM
Maybe go at it from the other end? Glycerine suppository or a plain tap water enema. (Of course - feel free to dump all over this suggestion).

06-05-1999, 07:05 AM
Thans Jess & Sunbear; I may try the citrucel;
I already drink lotsa water. And yes Nickrz,
I would if I could because your suggestion sucks. Jeez, thought I'd get a zillion responses on this...the teeming millions have disappointed me.

06-05-1999, 07:19 AM
Huh? You posted the question at 11:04 PM on June 4, and you got four responses by 6:05 AM on June 5, and you're disappointed?? We may have no lives, but most of us do sleep.

My mother has this problem, and the glycerin suppositories work fairly well. Suppositories are more effective than stuff taken orally, in general.

06-05-1999, 07:47 AM
Yeah, CK, you're right..just shows you how desparate I am! I just figured that with the time zone differences, there would still be teeming millions out there trying to solve my problem while I slept. May have to try the other end after all. Thanks.

06-05-1999, 07:50 AM
Enemas are also effective, you can buy over-the-counter little squeeze bottles that are easy to self-administer.

BTW, a warning -- you shouldn't necessarily seek medical advice here on the Message Boards. Persistent, chronic constipation is something you should discuss with your doctor.

06-05-1999, 11:04 AM
Finally, someone stuck an answer of mine up their ass! ;)

06-05-1999, 11:40 AM
CK, I didn't consider that asking about a natural remedy for this common malady was seeking "medical advice," but I promise not to sue Straight Dope or any of its members for their suggestions. (P.S. Doc was consulted and all that medical expertise resulted in something I already knew and didn't work (high fiber). I have more faith in the teeming millions.

06-05-1999, 02:01 PM
Talk about a pain in the- well, anyway, here's what works for me:

1. Water, water, and more water
2. Fruits and/or vegetables every single day (yes, we should be eating them anyway)
3. Minimizing intake of milk products (that's what really does the trick for me)
4. Exercise! Keep that system moving!

Even though you've promised not to sue and speak of visits to your doctor, I will mention that I received the above advice from my own M.D. decades ago and I now only need reading material in the bathroom when I don't follow the above. However, your body may well be different and any lifestyle changes (for example, you may want to talk to your M.D. about calcium supplements if you give up milk) should be discussed with your own doctor.

06-05-1999, 04:21 PM
Well, it looks like the Teeming Millions are recommending fiber too. BTW, you can get psyllium (active ingredient in Metamucil) in capsule form, and probably other types of fiber as well. Sounds easier on the taste buds to me.

Did you tell your doctor you had already tried fiber? He may just always throw that out first. OTOH, he may not have a clue either.

However, with your symptoms, it sounds like you have more going on than just a dietary problem. You may have a lactose intolerance or a food allergy. You can check for these by removing one food item at a time for a week or two to see if anything changes. And you may want to analyze if anything changed about the time your problem got worse.

Like you, I have had problems with Doctors on some of my health problems. They can help 90% of the time. But when you get to that 10%, if the problem is chronic, you'll need to educate yourself to find the best solution for your problem. So, while I understand where CKDextHavn is coming from, I sympathize with your problem.

Mastery is not perfection but a journey, and the true master must be willing to try and fail and try again

06-05-1999, 05:11 PM
Thanks all -- especially Opus for that helpful suggestion...I laughed so hard I nearly crapped my pants. It eventually does come out, but I have to be extremely uncomfortable for a few days first, so it isn't like it's a medical crisis. With all the herbal remedies these days, thought someone out there might have discovered an amazing herb that does the trick.

06-05-1999, 08:17 PM
Has someone already suggested a microscopic stick of TNT?

I'd have to go with a generous amount of liquids and fiber too. I've found that nuts and licorice also help.

06-05-1999, 09:56 PM
Seriously, caffeine. Stimulates peristalsis.

06-05-1999, 10:24 PM
Or, from King Of The Hill:

Dale: "You take a cup full of bacon grease..."

Hank: "I'm not drinking a cup of bacon grease."

Dale: "You didn't let me finish."

All levity aside, see your doctor. Colon blockage can kill.

"If A=B, B=C, and C=D, do not get a job proofreading" --Quid's Theorem

06-06-1999, 01:02 AM
Couple bran muffins & two cups strong coffee.

So far no one has said anything dangerous.

If it just doesn't come out, the doctor can take it out, it's called 'manual decompaction.'

06-06-1999, 01:36 AM
Do what the constipated mathematician does when he's lost his calculator: Get a pencil & work it out.

06-06-1999, 11:33 PM
I wouldn't say my colon is blocked - I go two - three days without a good bm; it's just extremely uncomfortable until I do have a good one. Seems to run in the family (mother's side); I remember my grandmother taking laxatives all the time; she died of colon cancer -- that's why I don't want to depend on chemical laxatives. I do plan to see my doctor soon for annual check and will discuss with him. Thanks again all for the input (so to speak).

06-07-1999, 12:02 AM

You have had many good suggestions here, but you have wisely adopted to seek the advice of your M.D. This is not a part of your body to treat lightly, no matter how many jokes we make.

There could well be an underlying reason for chronic constipation, and it isn't a good idea to look for 'common' simple remedies. Make sure your doctor fully apprectiates the problem, for they can be just as dismissive. Don't be embarrassed. It is an important part of your body. I would urge you not to look for simple solutions and to look carefully for root causes. You may have something quite serious and can manage it easily if you find the right advice.

Audrey Hepburn died of colon cancer, and it is a leading cause of death from cancer. Don't joke this one off, folks.

06-07-1999, 12:21 AM
jdv, thanks for the advice. I haven't been taking it seriously because I've had the problem all my life. Long time ago I brought it up with anothr doctor and even had a barium enema which showed no pathology, but I will ask my current doctor about it.

06-07-1999, 08:49 AM
Eat oatmeal for breakfast every day, and drink lots of water. And eat all those things that have lots of fiber--apple skins, bran muffins, beans, etc. Finally, exercise. Sit-ups are good at getting the ol' colon working.

06-07-1999, 11:32 PM
Sycorax: any results?

06-08-1999, 08:04 AM
You might also want to try yogurt. Mom has the same problem and has found yogurt to be helpful. But, I recommend ruling out lactose intolerance first, or yogurt could be counter-productive.

And be sure to tell us if everything comes out ok ;)

Mastery is not perfection but a journey, and the true master must be willing to try and fail and try again

06-09-1999, 07:01 PM
Guy: My main source of fiber has been Metamucil; now trying Citracil; I don't get much fiber from food - I'm always watching my weight and eat mostly chicken & veggies; do drink lotsa water; and I do Jazzercise (aerobics) for an hour 3X a week.
Zyada - thanks for the suggestion; I'm not lactose intolerant and don't eat yogurt, but I used to and didn't find it helpful.
Sunbear: as for results; well, as I mentioned above, I eventually do get results; like, suddenly the dam breaks and relief at last. It's just those coupla days that I'm bloated and so uncomfortable before the dam breaks.
Thanks again everyone.

06-09-1999, 07:14 PM
[[as for results; well, as I mentioned above, I eventually do get results; like,suddenly the dam breaks and relief at last. It's just those coupla days that I'm bloated and so uncomfortable before the dam breaks.]]

This sounds a lot like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You might bring that up with your doctor.

06-13-1999, 02:20 PM

Here's something tasty and I can practically guarantee the effectiveness.

People have mentioned psyllium already. But for truly intractable constipation, just taking a few capsules or a spooful is not enough.

My Magic Yummy anti-constipation breakfast:

In a blender:

)a banana

2)Frozen fruit of your choosing...I go for a berry mix. A handful.

3) Big 'ol spoonful of nonfat yogurt

4) Some OJ or other juice: pineapple, apple, cranberry, whatever.

5) If necessary, a little water and/or ice (to make it blend better and cut the richness of the fruit)

Blend briefly.

Grab a package of psyllium, dump a couple of heaping tablespoons on top, blend again.

Drink through a straw. Delish. (And drink it relatively fast. Within 20 minutes. The psyllium starts to swell and then it gets kind of a weird slimy texture that isn't very pleasant.)

It's a smoothie, essentially. But the whole fruit AND the psyllium together work wonders. After two days of this, your system will start working amazingly well. It might take a couple of days to get comfortable, too, because this mix can make you feel a bit bloated inititally. But after that, I DARE you not to go.

And you gotta do it pretty much every day. After you are in the habit, you might be able to skip one or two days out of 7, but develop the habit first.

(By the way, this mix also makes for very TIDY elimination, if you get my meaning. Again, after a couple of days.)


Don't meddle in the affairs of dragons, cuz, like, you're crunchy
and taste good with ketchup.

06-13-1999, 09:00 PM
Stoidela - Sounds good - I will give it a try. (And, yes, "tidiness" is greatly desired; when the dam does break, it can be pretty messy, if you know what I mean.

06-14-1999, 03:16 AM
Good, let me know how it works for you! ANd hey, if nothing else, it's very yummy!


Don't meddle in the affairs of dragons, cuz, like, you're crunchy
and taste good with ketchup.

08-30-1999, 04:59 AM
Try WOW pototo chips

08-30-1999, 09:17 AM
I was just about to suggest that. Let me tell you... the warnings on the package don't do it justice. Whatever is in olean (olestra) does the trick and then some. If that doesn't cure someone of constipation, they had better seek medical attention. I just had some WOW Doritios yesterday, and I've been visiting the bathroom since 3 am this morning. They should call it o-clean.

08-30-1999, 09:58 AM
It's not really anything "in" Olestra that makes it do what it does; it's the structure of the stuff itself. Olestra (aka Olean) is just a form of oil that the human body cannot digest, so it comes out the same as it went in.

Eating Olestra is like greasing your intestines with vegetable oil. That mental picture is enough that I've resolved never, ever to try the stuff.

I'm not a warlock. I'm a witch with a Y chromosome.

08-30-1999, 10:06 AM
This is a sure fire remedy: Drink Vodka & Tonic, or Vodka & Orange Juice till just before you get sick. Go to bed, and in the morning you'll poop your brains out.

08-30-1999, 10:13 AM
An apple a day...
honest, it works well. I chop one apple (large) up, fry them in butter until soft then throw on about 1/4 cup packed brown sugar, let that melt, and serve them over 2 toaster waffles. Yummy, plus you get a serving of fruit. Good luck!

08-30-1999, 11:14 PM
A chronic condition really needs to be followed up under medical supervision to find the root cause, as has been mentioned. If an allergy is suspected, go to an allergist to find out what it is -- quickly. If your doctor can't help you, go to a specialist.

The association of constipation with colon cancer is a definite cause and effect link. Pushing the too-hard stool creates diverticuli (unbroken ballooning ruptures) in the intestinal wall. These can get filled with impacted feces, become infected or even cancerous.

Now, I know you said you drink a lot, but many Americans' idea of 'a lot' is really too little. Are you drinking at least eight tall glasses a day? Not to be gross, but one's urine should always be flowing clear for optimal health. If it's yellow or darker, you're not drinking enough. (Side note -- the only way to loose fat weight is with an abundance of liquid in the diet. Dark urine usually means that the body is preserving fat, not breaking it down.)

The fiber issue has been covered adequately already.

With regard to movement and exercise, you should be walking briskly for an hour at least five times a week or exercising aerobically for a half hour at least three times a week. This is not merely to shake things along, this helps oxygenate and stimulate the intestinal muscles.

And don't forget stretching. Besides a regular twice daily routine of stretching all your muscles (recommended for everyone); you should especially do waist bends -- side to side and front to back (keep knees slightly bent)-- and waist twisting with arms extended. Don't push too hard or too far. And if you have any health concerns or are middled-aged or older -- see a doc first before you start a new stretching or exercise regimen.

I hope everything works out in the end.


Contestant #3
08-30-1999, 11:29 PM
Try eating some White Castle's

Contestant #3

08-31-1999, 07:39 AM
Exercise regulary. And do your stomach crunches. Nothing regulates me more than a good round of abdominal work. It must "push" everything down. Good luck! :)

08-31-1999, 10:44 AM
Thanks again everyone. I've been using Fiberall, which has different kinds of fiber in it (including fruit fiber) and that's helped a lot.

09-14-1999, 06:30 PM
The cure for constipation (don't laugh) sugar-free gummy bears. Constipation is caused by lack of moisture in the bowls. The sweetner (sorbitol) in the sugar free gummies mixes with the fluid, but is indigestible and passes through undigested taking the fluid with it. just don't eat too many or I promise you'll regret it in the middle of that ride to work.

09-14-1999, 07:09 PM
Sycorax, we're all hoping that you've spoken with your doctor, and your doctor has paid serious heed to the fact that you've had colon cancer in your family. We're all also hoping that you've got regular fiber, water, veggies and exercise in your daily regimen. If you're still having problems, I can GUARANTEE the following: equal portions of prune juice and Phillips Milk of Magnesia. If you can get it down, it won't stay in your long. (No reading material required in, say...30 minutes)

"There will always be somebody who's never read a book who'll know twice what you know." - D.Duchovny

09-14-1999, 07:16 PM
1- one piece of fresh fruit or 1/2 cup of raisins
2-one small bowl of popcorn (for fibre)

Especially #3

This, too, shall pass....................

We have met the enemy, and He is Us.--Walt Kelly

09-14-1999, 07:44 PM

Like you, I have had problems with Doctors on some of my health problems. They can help 90% of the time.

I've found that they can help less than 10% of the time, whether the problem be common, simple and acute or rare, complex and chronic. That "90%" right off makes me think you caught it from an MD. Their idea of mathematics is "90% this" and "90% that." They generally don't care to try to figure out what causes anything or what could logically help to ameliorate or cure it; they just ramble on about how long they spent in school (mostly doing things other than studying physiology) and mention the last drug sample a pharmaceutical salesman left off -- never caring to find out what the possible side effects of it could be.


You have had many good suggestions here, but you have wisely adopted to seek the advice of your M.D.

Is this coming from an MD?


This sounds a lot like Irritable Bowel Syndrome. You might bring that up with your doctor.

This isn't what you bring up with your doctor; this is the rubbish that your doctor is likely to throw back at you -- with his/her medieval "disease" view of the physical world or accusative view of your mind! This term, of course, means absolutely nothing and is totally functionless in all attempts to solve an intestinal problem. Do you actually feel your money is usefully spent in getting this silly label -- equal to 'riled-up gut' -- either as a diagnosis or confirmation of such?

One measure of the ignorance and stupidity of American physicians, of things useful, is that this term and essentially all the fixes mentioned in this thread that are espoused by physicians are stated as a result of complaints of either constipation or loose bowels. Think about it! One guy says my car runs too slow, that next that his runs too fast. The mechanics diagnoses both as 'disagreeable gas-gulpers'? You wouldn't stand for that. Don't sit down for MDs.

I've never had constipation as an adult (now 68) and very little as a kid, but have had some recurrent problem with gas and loose bowels now and then. You get all this same crap (you decide whether pun intended) out of GI MDs, for that direction of bowel problem. All these remedies can't make that stuff go both ways, except in the fantasy minds of MDs. I've had an MD claim the existence of diverticula in my case; don't know if it was legitimate accusation or not, but I don't believe diverticula correlate particularly to constipation or colon cancer. Occasionally some gas will make something at the very top end of the sigmoid hang up on something. Once got an x-ray after pinpointing the spot in 3 dimensions within 1/4". The x-ray came back too out-of-focus to tell anything. Two weeks later the MD retired. (OK, that was at a VA facility, but they're all defective punks.) And you can spend your life fooling with allergists. They just like to enroll all-life suckers.


Good, let me know how it works for you!

Doesn't that go, "Let me know how it 'all works out' for you?"

Ray (Call a plumber.)

09-14-1999, 09:48 PM
Way WAY back when Johnny Carson still hosted The Tonight Show, he did a Karnak the Great sketch where he held an envelope up to his head and divined the answer to the contained question as "Here's Boomer, and Breaking Away." (Here's Boomer was an NBC TV series that ripped off Benji. Breaking Away was an NBC TV series based on the movie of the same name.)

The question that corresponded to this answer? "What are two very bad names for a laxative."

Ba-doom, kssssh! I'll be here all week! Tip your waitstaff!

09-15-1999, 04:17 AM
Nanobyte, your anti-MD ranting is literally full of shit.

The cause and effect link between constipation and diverticuli is more solid than the link between smoking and lung cancer. Or, since it's MDs who make that link, do you disbelieve that, too?

The reason why the same recommended diet can help remedy both constipation and diarrhea is becuase it's a healthy diet which creates a healthy bowel movement. Just becuase two possible symptoms of an irritable bowel seem like 'opposites' doesn't mean there has to be two opposite cures.

MDs make a lot more sense than the anti-intellectual trash you just tried passing off on us.

09-15-1999, 06:32 AM
I just came across a lovely young ladies website who has a technique that would help you out alot!

Resist urge to link an image, resist, resist...

Irritable Bowel Syndrome is a non existant affliction favored by hypochondriacs. For every doctor who believes in it, there are 5 who don't. You definately need to seek some medical advice, and your diet is most likely the culprit. The advice given is quite thorough, follow it, and consider ignoring that diet for a while and see if this doesn't sort itself out. Constipation is a common sign of an eating disorder, so be cautious with this dieting. IIRC caffine and nicotine are laxitives and a sudden decrease in their use my cause constipation.

09-15-1999, 08:54 AM
Okay, everyone's chimed in, so I guess I will, too.

Sauerkraut juice, Sycorax. At least four ounces after every meal. Best of luck.

09-15-1999, 11:54 AM
Okay, everyone's chimed in, so I guess I will, too.

Let me drink a single Budweiser, and I could shit through a keyhole at 50 yards!

I don't know what it is about that brand of beer!


09-15-1999, 06:18 PM
Seems to run in the family . . .

Apparently not.


Coarse and violent nudity. Occasional language.

09-15-1999, 09:15 PM
This hasn't been mentioned yet, so you might try it. It works! (And yes, go to a doctor. My father died of colon cancer. It is very risky, scary stuff.)

I read about this in a book (forget the title) about the Rock Bottom Remainders. (This is NOT a cheap joke!) It's the rock band of authors, including Stephen King, Amy Tan, Barbara Kinsolver and Dave Barry. Anyway, Tabitha King used her nurses training to help the group when the long days on the bus got them badly constipated.

Basically it's a cross bowel massage. Lay on you back, with you knees bent. With the heel of your hand, knead firmly but gently from your left hip bone to your right. Do this quite a few times. Then with the the heel of your hand, knead straight down the center of your stomach, from your navel on down.

It helps if you stay relaxed. It's a sort of exterior massage that helps move the load on down through the pipes.

And you may want to examine your strict low fat regimen. There's a reason your fond mamma dosed you with a tablespoon of olive oil or cod liver oil. Helps lubricate the works, so to speak.

But by all means DO get a medical checkup. You, like me, are in the high risk group because colon cancer does run in families. It is as virulent a killer as melanoma. The tests aren't fun, but they're more fun than colostomies, chemotherapy, radiation and dying.

Best of luck!

09-15-1999, 09:41 PM
Thanks everyone - what a surprise - I thought my topic had run its course. I must repond to some of the replies -- re Nanobytes rant about MD's - I don't think they're quite that bad, but, no, Idon't have a lot of faith in doctors -- especially male doctors dealing with women patients -- I think they are apt to think women's problems are emotional and tend to brush them off. I HAVE talked to my doctor about this - same advice as some of you have given- diet, fiber, fruit, water, blah, blah - I've done it all. Also had a barium enema about 20 years ago that showed no problems. I eat healthy, I happen to prefer water over other drinks; I drink it all afternoon and have to pee about 5 times every afternoon too. I exercise. As for caffiene and nictotine being helpful - well I do drink at least two cups of coffee in the a.m., and yes I'm a smoker. As for Milk of Magnesia--YUK! I was constipated as a child and my mother made me take Milk of Magnesia and I can't stand the stuff now. No way. Budweiser,someone suggested. That's a thought, but I don't like Bud - I'm a Miller Lite person. (Actually,I prefer vodka.) Now the sauerkraut juice I haven't tried. I may do that. Thanks again everyone.

09-16-1999, 01:03 AM
Enright, don't confuse the work with the artist! You obviously haven't considered that you've just been blessed with raw talent!

09-16-1999, 04:43 AM
Moriah -- a very proper name for all this wind in the region of the rear orifice.

I just put ' +diverticuli +colon-cancer ' into AltaVista search engine and got only 31 hits. I went to most of these pages and found absolutely nothing mentioning both items in any kind of relationship; the two were simply discussed in separate sections on the same page.

On this page:


, additionally it was pointed out that IBS "never" results in cancer. The page has a very long discussion of IBS, and since the page is by an MD, he has to not damn this notion, but all that he presents on it certainly makes clear the idiocy of trying to use the term in any kind of intelligent approach to improving health. It is clearly an historic term built on mystique, after which people then ask, well what causes it. Well, what causes gargoyles? Or unicorns? This business of pulling mystical conceptualizations out of the air and then deciding they really are something that should have some kind of unitary existence, developmental process and consistent causal conditions -- and building up treatment practices on the basis of them -- is one phony MD trip that the moriahs of the world blow around everywhere until the "teeming millions" (of unthinking people) are afraid to shout that the emperors of flatulence have nothing over their bones to cover their tailpipes.

Moriah calls my post "anti-intellectual trash". Does he feel that the public's interest in medicine should be in its intellectuality? Shouldn't the damn stuff work? To work it should make logical sense. It just plain doesn't. . .and it doesn't work -- except to fill the pockets of you know who at the expense of you know who.

Ray (of light pierces the gale)

09-16-1999, 07:38 PM
Nano - I agree wholeheartedly with you on the IBS issue -- it's b.s. IBS is a symptom - so what causes it? When the oh-so superior physicians can't come up with a cure, they give it some bullshit name, tell you to improve your diet, exercise, and throw pills at you, and pretend they know what the hell they're doing. I've decided I'm just going to have to live with this - I have all my life - and use Fiberall, which doesn't do a great job, but helps, and a pill laxative with senna (which is natural). I enjoyed your rants - I don't think much of doctors either, but I go once a year because I DO want the blood work, pap smear and the mammogram, and also I'm a smoker. So, if something's going on there, I want to catch it early. Thanks for the input.

09-27-1999, 11:56 PM
I'll tell you what works for me: Excruciatingly hot Singapore curry chicken and noodles with spinach and mushrooms. I guarantee that, early the following morning, you will come to fully understand the words "imperative" and "imminent."

It's the capsaicin (sp?) I'm sure. But eating a bunch of Thai chilis by themselves wouldn't taste nearly so great.

09-28-1999, 03:19 AM
Be a Pepper. Drink Dr. Pepper.
(Seriously. It contains prune juice.)

09-28-1999, 08:55 AM
This web site may help:

It's funny: some of the foods mentioned by others to help cure constipation are listed on this page as "foods to avoid"! Hope it helps anyway.

01-11-2000, 12:19 AM
So how are you now?

01-11-2000, 02:21 AM
Sycorax, meet Farmer....