10 Natural Laxatives to Relieve Constipation ASAP
If it’s been more than two days since you’ve gone number two, chances are you’re starting to feel the effects of constipation kicking in. Now you need a game plan to rev up your digestive tract and get sweet relief.
You could buy yourself a laxative pill from your local drugstore, but maybe that’s not your scene right now. Too intense, too chemical-y, too expensive.
Nature didn’t intend for us to suffer from chronic constipation. Fortunately, you can solve the mystery of the stopped-up plumbing without leaving your home. Let’s take a look at ten natural remedies for your plugged-up gut.
Natural Laxatives for Constipation Relief
The most important thing to remember here is that none of these solutions are going to send you running to the toilet immediately. What natural laxatives actually offer is gentle constipation relief by helping your digestive system get back on track to make and expel some really nice poops.
We all know that a lack of fiber, dehydration and a paucity of probiotics contribute to constipation. But sometimes, when you do everything right, you still just can’t go. Luckily, you have tons of options for kicking your bowels into a higher gear. Welcome to the ABCs of excellent digestive health and curing constipation via your own kitchen.
What can’t coffee do? Besides shaking us out of our morning stupor, up to 30% of people also find themselves needing to poop after having coffee. Why the laxative effect? It’s called peristalsis, AKA contractions in your colon caused by coffee which helps move your stool toward the business end of things. The fact that your colon is twice as active in the morning further heightens the natural laxative effect.
Yogurt, kefir, sauerkraut (unheated), kimchi, pickles. All of these contain probiotics, which can help you get unstuck. The jury’s still out on kombucha. What we do know is all of those little organisms are good for gut health but rendered useless without fiber. So if you’re loading up on probiotics without the requisite prebiotics (prebiotics include carrots, apples, whole grains, onions, leafy greens, you get the idea), don’t bother.
It’s so weird how juicy plums are a hallmark of beautiful sunny summer afternoons, but dried, they’re considered one of the worst snacks in your grandparents’ kitchen. Well, get over yourself, hater, because prunes are the key to unlocking your stuck bowel movements. Thanks to their sorbitol content (a natural laxative) and their high insoluble fiber content, dried plums are nature’s magical constipation remedy. And you can find them anywhere.
This is the stuff Metamucil is made of, and if you don’t want that lurking in your cabinet behind the olive oil, you can probably find a classier-looking psyllium at your local health food store. Weirdly, some fiber can actually make constipation worse. The 70% soluble fiber and 30% insoluble fiber in psyllium, a seed husk that turns creepily gelatinous in water, is the good, helpful kind of fiber, softening your stool and getting your bowels moving.
Bonus points because it doesn’t make you fart. By the way, flaxseed and chia seeds do something similar to chia vis-a-vis the whole gel thing, and they taste better mixed together with coconut milk or yogurt.
5. Spicy food
Why does your roommate’s four-alarm chili make you have to go? We get into the gory details here, but the short version is that you poop after eating spicy food because your digestive system is trying to evacuate your bowels before all that capsaicin burns your innards. Side effects: cured constipation. Can’t go? Taco Bell’s Mexican pizza for dinner it is.
Groundbreaking. Water. It’s not so much that water is a magical stool softener and more so that the opposite of water, dehydration, absolutely causes constipation. So stay correctly hydrated—for adult dudes, that’s around 125 oz a day, including the water content you get from food, but bump up your intake if you’re sweating a lot.
If you don’t, your large intestine will get the water it needs from your food waste, leaving you with hard, stuck poops. Isn’t that gross? We’re sure you’ll stay well-hydrated from now on.
4 More Natural Laxatives That Aren’t Food
Do the following count as home remedies for constipation? Well, they aren’t drugs, so, sure! They also have other health benefits, like giving you a stronger heart yet a more relaxed soul. All that and regular poops? Incredible.
1. Baking Soda
There are two ways baking soda can help you poop. One: dissolving a tablespoon of this stuff in a glass of water (bonus: also good for hydration!) may help pull water into your digestive tract, making it easier for you to go. No, it doesn’t really taste good.
Two: supposedly taking a warm bath with a few tablespoons of baking soda dissolved in the tub helps your anal sphincter relax. Even if the pooping part doesn’t work out, the self-care sounds nice, right?
Better known as the Mariko Aoki Phenomenon, research indicates that some people, maybe as many as one in ten, report that browsing a bookstore makes them have to poop. Maybe it’s the association with the smell of paper, maybe it’s all the squatting and twisting to find what you want on low shelves, but either way, it’s worth a try.
Even if you don’t relieve the symptoms of constipation at your nearest Barnes and Noble, it’s not like going to a bookstore is bad for you.
3. Magnesium Supplements
If you aren’t eating a balanced diet, supplements can only go so far. But if you’re certain you’re already getting enough dietary fiber and you’re still having problems, there’s an easy over-the-counter option.
By drawing water into your intestines as well as helping your bowels relax a bit, a magnesium citrate supplement makes your poop get both bigger and broken up, thereby making it easier for your body to eliminate it.
Even if you hate working out, you’re in luck, because one of the four best exercises to relieve constipation via movement is deep breathing. You can even do it laying down—no excuses.
On the other hand, if you’d like to take a more active role in achieving regular bowel movements, hit the cardio room, get into the cat-cow yoga pose, and train your pelvic floor. Yeah, you read that right, Kegels are good for relieving constipation, not just lasting longer in bed.
Closing Thoughts on Constipation
Irregular bowel movements are a real pain in the butt, from bloating to cramping to deadly farts. But as you can see, there are many ways to find relief that don’t involve ingesting a bunch of ingredients you can’t pronounce.
Whatever you do to make yourself poop, just make sure you’re prepared for cleanup duty with a full stash of flushable wipes. Now your gut and your butt will both be happy.