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
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
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