Constipation is always unpleasant, and frequently a surprise. Finding immediate constipation relief at home isn’t easy, but some natural remedies are likely to already be in your pantry. These home remedies for constipation relief can be put to use immediately and don’t have many of the side effects of over the counter chemical laxatives and constipation relievers.

In the following selection from Secret Food Cures by sisters Joan and Lydia Wilen they outline natural laxatives to help you find immediate constipation relief at home.


You are most likely reading this section because you’re seeking a natural laxative. Therefore, you may already know that the commercial chemical laxatives can kill friendly bacteria, can lessen the absorption of nutrients, can stuff up the intestinal walls, can turn users into addicts, can get rid of necessary vitamins and can eventually cause constipation.

We offer easy-to-take, inexpensive, nonchemical constipation relievers that should not present any problem side effects if taken in moderation, using good common sense. In other words, don’t try more than one remedy at a time.

NOTE: Constipation is a common problem that may be a symptom of disease or lead to more major health problems. It is important to consult a medical professional before starting any self-help treatment.

Natural Remedies

• The most natural time to move your bowels is within the first few hours of the day. Drinking water on an empty stomach stimulates peristalsis by reflex. So, before breakfast, drink the juice of half a lemon in one cup of warm water. While it may help cleanse your system, it may also make you pucker a lot. If you find it hard to drink, sweeten it with honey.

If lemon and water is not for you, eat or drink any one of the following at room temperature (not chilled)…

◆ Prune juice or stewed prunes

◆ Papaya

◆ Two peeled apples

◆ Six to eight dried figs. Soak them overnight in a glass of water. In the morning, drink the water, then eat the figs.

• The combination of dried apricots and prunes is said to work wonders. Soak six of each overnight. The next morning, eat three of each. Then, in the late afternoon, an hour or two before dinner, eat the remaining three apricots and three prunes.

• Eat at least three raw fruits a day. One of them, preferably an apple, should be eaten two hours after dinner.

• Take two small beets, scrub them clean and eat them raw in the morning. You should have a bowel movement about 12 hours later.

• Flaxseed is a popular folk treatment for constipation. Take one to two tablespoons with lots of water right after lunch or dinner.

• Sunflower seeds are filled with health-giving properties and have also been known to promote regularity. Eat a handful of shelled, raw, unsalted seeds every day.

Sensational Sauerkraut

Raw sauerkraut and its juice have friendly bacteria and may aid digestion. It’s also an excellent laxative. Heat destroys the important enzymes in sauerkraut, so make sure you eat it raw. (Raw sauerkraut is available at health food stores.)

You can also drink an eight-ounce glass of warm sauerkraut juice and then an eight ounce glass of grapefruit juice (unsweetened)—one right after the other. It should do the job.

WARNING: Grapefruit juice interacts with many medications. Talk to your doctor before trying the previous remedy.

• We were told about an acupressure technique that is supposed to encourage a complete evacuation of the bowels in 15 minutes. For three to five minutes, massage the area underneath your lower lip, in the middle of your chin.

Olive Oil—Olé!

• The findings of recent studies say that monounsaturated fatty acid—the kind found in olive oil—is best for lowering cholesterol levels. Olive oil is also a help when a laxative is needed. Take one tablespoon of extra-virgin, cold-pressed olive oil in the morning and one tablespoon an hour after eating dinner.

• For some people, a dose of brewer’s yeast does the trick. Take one heaping teaspoon of brewer’s yeast and one heaping teaspoon of wheat germ with each meal. (Both are available at health food stores.) Start with small amounts of either or both brewer’s yeast and wheat germ. Gradually increase your intake and stop when the amount you’re taking works for you.

• Are persimmons in season? Try one. It’s been known to relieve constipation.

• For a mild laxative, soak six dates in a glass of hot water. When the water is cool, drink it, then eat the dates. (Also see the fig remedy under “Fatigue.”)

• If you have a favorite brand of cereal, add raw, unprocessed bran to it. Start with one teaspoon and gradually work your way up to one or two tablespoons each morning, depending on your reaction to it.

Exotic, but Effective

• Two natural laxatives available at the greengrocer or produce aisle are escarole (eat it raw or boil it in water and drink the water) and Spanish onion (roast it and eat it at bedtime). The cellulose in onions gives intestinal momentum.

• Hippocrates (460–377 BC), the Greek physician and father of medicine, recommended eating garlic every day to relieve constipation. Cook with it and eat it raw (in salads) whenever possible.

Be Convincing

• Just as you’re falling asleep, when the mind is most open to autohypnotic suggestion, say to yourself, “In the morning, I will have a good bowel movement.” Keep repeating the sentence until you doze off. Pleasant dreams!

For a Gentle Approach

Raw spinach makes a delicious salad, has lots of vitamins and minerals and is a mild laxative, too. Be sure to wash it thoroughly to reduce the risk of food-borne illness.

• Aerobic exercise is an excellent laxative. With your doctor’s approval, try to move your body for 30 minutes every morning.

• One teaspoon of blackstrap molasses in 1⁄2 cup of warm water, drunk an hour before lunch, might do the trick.

• Soak your feet in cold water, 15 minutes at a time, once in the morning and once before bedtime. Be sure to dry your feet thoroughly.

• Okra acts as a mild laxative. Add chicken gumbo soup to your menu from time to time.

■ Recipe ■

Chicken Soup with Okra

1 small, cleaned chicken cut into serving portions

2 Tbsp flour

1 onion, chopped

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

4 cups okra, chopped

2 cups tomato pulp

1 ⁄2 cup parsley, chopped

4 cups water

Salt and pepper to taste

Coat chicken pieces lightly with flour and sauté with onion in oil. Add okra, tomato, parsley and water as soon as chicken is browned. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Simmer for about 2 1 ⁄2 hours, until chicken is tender and okra is well cooked. Be sure to add water as needed during the simmering. Serves six.

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