Niagara Gazette

May 20, 2014

NATURAL HEALTH: An uncomfortable situation

Niagara Gazette

Niagara Gazette — A condition that many suffer from — which doesn’t stop them from going to work or their daily routine but should be taken seriously — is constipation.

Constipation is a common health issue that shouldn’t be ignored or downplayed. It is a sign that things are not right in your digestive world and with it comes many dangers and side effects.

When the bowels are not regularly pushing waste out, things become backed up, harder to move and over time lead to pockets of diverticula, which may eventually lead to the diagnosis of diverticulosis or an infected and painful condition of diverticulitis.

One of the colon’s major functions is to reabsorb water, so it only makes sense that the longer the waste remains in the colon, the harder it is to move. A diet high in sugar and processed foods plays a definite role in a sluggish colon and will increase your risk for colon cancer. Fiber from fruits and vegetables acts like a broom that sweeps the inside lining of the colon to keep it clean. If you suffer from constipation, please do not take fiber supplements as this may only increase your discomfort and make things harder to move. Fiber supplements are beneficial in keeping a colon clean but will not relieve one from constipation.

Leaky Gut Syndrome and autointoxication are serious complications that may result from chronic constipation. If the intestinal pores become enlarged and backed-up waste leak beyond the intestinal membrane, the body will attack. This condition is linked with allergies, fibromyalgia, painful inflammatory conditions, lupus and asthma. Autointoxication is a condition where the body is continually poisoning itself. Simply put, you are not eliminating the toxic waste from your body and slowly being poisoned over time. Harmful bacteria, yeast and parasites are free to flourish.

So what is considered normal? If you eat two to four times daily, then you should move at least twice daily. Some of my most constipated clientele have daily bowel movements. They may be hard and small — but it pacifies them to think they do not have a problem.

Moving your bowels should take less time that emptying your bladder. You should not have to read a small novel in order to get through the process. Bunny pellets and marble size pieces are not acceptable. A very large soft serve swirl is what you are striving for. (Sorry for the correlation to food, but you shouldn’t be eating ice cream anyway.)

Please note that there are many medications that contribute to constipation. Pain medications are at the top of the list. Please discuss this with your doctor if you suspect this may be the cause of your constipation.

If things are not moving the way you want them to, here are a few tips that may help:

DIET: Eliminate dairy and minimize your bread intake. Eat single-ingredient foods such as vegetables, fruits, nuts, meats, poultry and fish. Within a week, you should notice a difference in the quality of your movements.

HYDRATION: Drink half your body weight in ounces of water daily. Most individuals only consume caffeinated and sugary drinks that actually dehydrate them.

PROBIOTICS: Keeping the healthy bacteria levels optimized will have you running smoother and can completely rid you of IBS symptoms.

PARASITES: If you have dark circles under your eyes, grind your teeth and suffer from a dull ache in your lower right abdomen, consider parasite treatment. I cannot ignore how much this has helped my chronically constipated individuals.

CAPE ALOE: These aloe capsules are a very gentle but effective softening agent. They are safe to be taken daily and do not cause dependency.

MAGNESIUM: Magnesium deficiency can lead to constipation. Magnesium glycinate or amino acid chelate works best in the dose of 400 to 600 mg daily.

COLON HYDROTHERAPY: This is a safe process that removes impacted fecal matter from the colon. It also helps to restore function to a colon that has become over-distended and underproductive. Typically a series of three to six sessions is recommended to restore bowel health and function.

HERBAL LAXATIVES/STIMULANTS: These are beneficial for only occasional use. If frequently used, dependency becomes an issue.

ABDOMINAL MASSAGE: A beneficial therapy that can be done by anyone. Daily abdominal massage stimulates peristalsis and facilitates the urge to go.

CASTER OIL PACKS: These warm packs applied at least three times per week will improve your bowel habits.

These are just some of the more popular remedies that are tried and true. For a small percent of the population, chronic constipation is not related to diet or lifestyle. These are the individuals that have suffered life-long constipation. I would assume that the problem has more to do with their anatomy than anything else. Unfortunately, these people are best remedied by filling their toolbox up with a combination of supplies and therapies. One remedy will not likely work very long and they need to switch things up on a regular basis.

More information can be found at

Catherine Stack is a doctor of naturopathy and a certified nurse midwife. Her practice is located at Journey II Health in Niagara Falls. Contact her at 298-8603 or at her website at