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4 home remedies to get relief from constipation naturally, without traditional laxatives

Kate Hull,Kelsey Vlamis   

4 home remedies to get relief from constipation naturally, without traditional laxatives
  • Millions of Americans are constipated thanks to work from home, travel, and aging.
  • Unfortunately, the US is also experiencing a laxative shortage.

Laxatives have become a hot commodity, leading to a laxative shortage across the United States.

More people have been reaching for laxatives than usual thanks to an aging population, hybrid work, and an increase in travel — all of which can contribute to constipation.

Another cause of the laxative shortage: TikTok users promoting laxatives for weight loss.

All of these factors may make common laxative medications, like Miralax and Ducolax, harder to find.

Luckily, there are a number of natural alternatives for constipation relief that are still readily available.

Here are four natural laxatives that can help treat constipation.

Psyllium husk

Most Americans consume only half of their daily recommended fiber intake.

Taking psyllium husk can be a great way to get more fiber in your diet and relieve constipation.

Psyllium husk is a type of fiber derived from the seeds of the Plantago ovata shrub, which is native to South Asia.

Psyllium husk is a type of bulk laxative that helps retain fluid in the stool, Dr. Linda Nguyen, spokesperson for the American Gastroenterological Association, previously told Insider over email. This fluid retention makes it easier to poop.

Dr. Wendi LeBrett, a gastroenterology medical fellow who runs a TikTok under the name @socalgastrodoc, previously told Insider that she recommends that people try to incorporate more forms of fiber, like psyllium husk, into their diet before trying laxatives.

There are only two downsides to psyllium husk. First, you might have to take it for a few days before it works, LeBrett said. It also has a goopy texture when mixed with water that some people find unpalatable.

Senna

Senna is a stimulant laxative — a type of laxative that works by causing your intestinal muscles to contract and push out a bowel movement.

Derived from the Senna alexandrina shrub, senna can be taken in many forms, from a capsule, to a liquid, to a tea. It typically produces a bowel movement within 6 to 12 hours, but should not be used for more than one week without a doctor's approval, according to the National Library of Medicine.

While stimulant laxatives like Senna are okay to use "once in a while," LeBrett previously told Insider, long term use can affect gut motility. In other words, repeated use of stimulant laxatives may cause your intestines to struggle to push out a bowel movement on their own.

Laxative teas

In addition to teas containing senna, there are other teas that may be helpful to relieve constipation.

Dr. Peter P. Stanich, a gastroenterologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Insider said he's seen patients benefit from laxative teas that have natural-occurring laxatives in them.

Some teas that may have natural laxative properties include dandelion root, peppermint tea, green tea, and black tea, according to Medical News Today. Many of these teas still need to be studied more to determine how effective they are, however.

Teas may also help constipation just by hydrating the body and allowing more water to be drawn into the stool.

Prunes and prune juice

According to Cleveland Clinic, prune juice holds "legendary status" when it comes to alleviating constipation — and for good reason, too.

A 2022 study found prune juice safely and effectively treated chronic constipation without causing negative side effects.

The reason prune juice works is because it contains sorbitol, a type of carbohydrate known as a sugar alcohol, which can draw water from your colon into your stool.

Eating dried prunes may be even more effective than prune juice, because dried prunes contain twice the amount of sorbitol and a higher concentration of fiber. Other foods that help with constipation include kiwis, mango, and dragonfruit.


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