For About and By Caregivers
Natural Constipation Helper

By  Cheryl Ellis, Staff Writer 


When prescribed pain medication causes constipation, individuals may be reluctant to continue taking the medicine, or they may continue taking it and bear the pain of an out of balance digestive system.
Going to the bathroom is a normal, healthy function that some people are uncomfortable discussing with their doctor.  In some cases, it may seem their doctors are equally uncomfortable discussing it, but this could be projection from patient to doctor.
Opioid constipation occurs when the mechanism for waste moving through the intestines is slowed down.  Typical contractions move the material from one side of the intestinal tract to another; but when opioids are used, the process slows to an almost-standstill, creating constipation and distress.
These medications may change the way fluids are handled in the digestive tract, which “stops up” the natural lubrication from liquids taken in.  When patients are uncomfortable drinking or eating foods high in water content, this makes matters worse.
Liquids and fiber can help with constipation; but the sphincter that detects that waste must be eliminated can be affected by these medications, too.  Establishing regular times to go to the bathroom can help.
Reverting back to solving childhood difficulties with toilet training may be of assistance when battling slow-moving bowel constipation. 
A home remedy from the Philippines is boiled ginger root “tea.”  A small to medium sized whole root is placed into one or two quarts of water and left to boil fully for about 20 minutes.  The remaining liquid becomes the “tea,” which contains no caffeine or other by-products of commercially flavored teas. 
The “tea” is served at standard tea drinking temperature.  The flavor may be made stronger or weaker by the amount of ginger and/or water used.  Time set to boil affects how strong the liquid is, also. 
Ginger has become a “natural” remedy for constipation, nausea and other stomach distress including gas. 
Treat any herbal “cure” with the same respect you do prescribed medicines and over the counter products.  Watch for intolerance and allergies, and advise the doctor when adding herbs to your loved one’s diet.  “Whole foods” (such as ginger root bought in the store) can be safer than commercially offered products that could combine several ingredients that are unfamiliar.

 Subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter