What is Constipation?
Being constipated means your bowel movements are difficult or happen less often than normal. Almost everyone has it at some point in life, and it’s usually not serious. Still, you’ll feel much better when your system is back on track.
The normal length of time between bowel movements varies widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day. Others have them only once or twice a week.
Going longer than three or more days without one is usually too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and tougher to pass.
What Are the Symptoms?
- Few bowel movements
- Trouble having a bowel movement (straining)
- Hard or small stools
- A sense that everything didn’t come out
- Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain
Treatment for chronic constipation usually begins with diet and lifestyle changes meant to increase the speed at which stool moves through your intestines. If those changes don’t help, your doctor may recommend medications or surgery.
Diet and lifestyle changes
Your doctor may recommend the following changes to relieve your constipation:
Increase your fiber intake. Adding fiber to your diet increases the weight of your stool and speeds its passage through your intestines. Slowly begin to eat more fresh fruits and vegetables each day. Choose whole-grain breads and cereals.
Your doctor may recommend a specific number of grams of fiber to consume each day. In general, aim for 14 grams of fiber for every 1,000 calories in your daily diet.
A sudden increase in the amount of fiber you eat can cause bloating and gas, so start slowly and work your way up to your goal over a few weeks.
Exercise most days of the week. Physical activity increases muscle activity in your intestines. Try to fit in exercise most days of the week.
Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement. Take your time in the bathroom, allowing yourself enough time to have a bowel movement without distractions and without feeling rushed.
Several types of laxatives exist. Each works somewhat differently to make it easier to have a bowel movement.
Examples of laxatives include:
- Fiber supplements. Fiber supplements add bulk to your stool. Common ingredients include methylcellulose, psyllium, calcium polycarbophil and guar gum. Brand names include FiberCon, Metamucil, Konsyl and Citrucel.
- Osmotics. Osmotic laxatives help fluids move through the colon. Examples include milk of magnesia, magnesium citrate, lactulose, polyethylene glycol (MiraLax) and sodium phosphate enema (Fleet Enema).
- Lubricants. Lubricants enable stool to move through your colon more easily. One example of a lubricant is mineral oil.
- Stool softeners. Stool softeners moisten the stool by drawing water from the intestines. Examples include Colace and Surfak.
Alternative Treatments: Useful Acupuncture Points for Quick Constipation Relief
Stimulating these acupressure points with your fingers can help relax the abdomen and promote regular bowel movement without any pain or discomfort. They also help in relieving the associated symptoms of constipation such as abdominal pain, bloating and gas.
CV6 or Conception Vessel 6 is an important acupressure point for treating constipation. It is also named the Sea of Qi and this point is located exactly three finger widths below the belly button. This point should be stimulated using the fingertips gradually. The pressing should be no more than 1 inch deep. You will peel something firm with your fingers as you press. Maintain this firm pressure for 30 seconds as your breath normally keeping your eyes closed. This point helps in relieving pain in the abdomen, constipation, colitis and gas. It is also useful for treating hernia, irregular menstruation, impotence in men, digestive disorders and fatigue.
CV12 or Conception Vessel 12 is yet another vital acupressure point that is a solution for all types of digestive problems and provides quick constipation relief. It is known as the Center of Power and it can be found on the midline of the body, halfway between the base of the breastbone and the belly button. This point should be stimulated with great care and should not be pressed for more than 2 minutes at a stretch. It should be pressed on an almost empty stomach. It is best to avoid this point if you are suffering from heart disease, cancer or hypertension. It relieves constipation along with abdominal spasms, stomach pain, indigestion, heartburn and emotional stress. It is also an effective pressure point for dysentery, jaundice, insomnia and vomiting.
St36 or Stomach 36 is a beneficial point of acupressure for constipation that relieves stomach and intestinal disorders, promotes digestion and strengthens the whole body. This is also known as the Three Mile Point and it is situated four finger widths below the kneecap, one finger width towards the outside of the shinbone. When you reach the correct spot, you will feel flexing of a muscle as you move your foot up and down. Use your palms to briskly rub this point for one minute on both legs. It is also a useful point for asthma, PMS, insomnia, depression and nervousness.
LI4 or Large Intestine 4 is by far the most famous acupressure point that is a solution for various health issues and is an important point for constipation acupressure. It is called the Joining Valley point and it is located on the fleshy muscle between the index finger and the thumb. Spread your thumb and in index finger apart and stimulate this point by squeezing the fleshy webbing with your fingertips for 1 minute while you take long, deep breaths. Now, switch sides and press the point on the other hand for 1 minute. It helps to relieve constipation, chronic pains, eye problems, toothache, and allergies and boosts the immune system. This point is forbidden for pregnant women because stimulating this point can lead to premature contractions of the uterus.
For more information about how acupuncture and other treatments can help you, please contact Board Certified Licensed Acupuncturist, Steve Drugan,B.S., L.Ac., at 614.218.6287 or click here. Taking new patients in and around Columbus, Ohio.