Occasional discomfort or slow bowl movement for a day or three days happens to everyone for a variety of reasons. The use of laxatives is common for those suffering from constipation among others. It can range from just minor harmless constipation to chronic constipation. Whichever is the situation, we are here to help. Let us briefly explain on laxatives so you are sure of what you are looking for.
What are laxatives?
Laxatives are substances that loosen the hardened stool in the digestive tract or stimulate a bowel movement. I have written a pretty good article on constipation remedies and care. You can read it here if you are interested.
There are four main types of laxatives meaning, there are four main ways that laxatives help the body to expel waste. They do this by: by softening the stool, stimulating the digestive system to quickly form a soft stool, by drawing water into the small intestine to help pass a stool and by stimulating the muscles of the digestive system to pass the stool. You can read more about them here.
I would like to add the one thing that we have all heard over and over again as a necessary part of having healthy bowel movements. Water. Yes, the water we take daily. We are well aware of the importance of water which is said to be the source of life and is crucial to maintain a healthy body. If you look closely, most of the laxatives mentioned above introduce water to the stools to soften them or ease their passage. This shows that proper hydration is very important when dealing with constipation.
I am not adding water to the natural laxative list instead, it is just a quick reminder because if you are constipated, taking plain water will not give you the immediate relief you need at the moment. It is supposed to be for a more sustainable approach to preventing constipation. So let us move on to natural laxatives.
Oranges. They are available all year round. Rich in vitamin c (we all know that), vitamin A and potassium. This one of the natural laxatives I use the most. They contain fiber and a compound called naringenin which stimulates bowel movements and relieves constipation.
The secret behind this remedy is not to take an orange or two but to take about 10-20 oranges not more than that. That is a lot I know. But that is also what works and within 30-40 minutes, you will be rushing off to the toilet.
Remember, depending on the severity of your constipation, you might need to repeat this about 8 hours after your first set of oranges. Do not use this remedy for more than two sessions in a day.
Those with health conditions such as ulcer should avoid this remedy because the acid content of citrus fruits can harm their stomach.
How to use:
- Juice the oranges with a juicer or manually by hand between 10-20 oranges to produce 1-2 mug cups of orange juice depending on their size and how juicy they are.
- Alternatively, cut up 10-20 pieces of oranges and estimate their juice to be between 1-2 mug cups of orange juice
- Do not take more than that amount of juice at a time
The pulp of the tamarind juice is known for its numerous uses in the body. Its use is recommended for constipation in both children and adults with the children’s dosage being half of the adult dose. Tamarind contains high malic, potassium and tartaric acids that loosen the stools in the digestive tract, and studies have been carried out to prove their effectiveness.
Tamarind is commonly found in Nigeria and West Africa as a whole for it is part of many of our dishes and diets. It is called tsamiya by the Hausas in the northern part of Nigeria. You can easily find it in the local market. Beyond Africa, you can get it in Asian/African markets or even the general supermarkets if you get lucky
How to use:
- Wash 1 long bean of tamarind to remove the sand if you bought it from the local market
- You can cut it into smaller sizes so that they can properly sit in the cup
- Soak the tamarind bean in about half a cup of water for an hour.
- Sieve the tamarind and take the water after meals.
- use this remedy for not more than 3 times a day
Castor fruits as we know are poisonous and should not be eaten. The castor oil though is safe to ingest in small quantities. It is a powerful laxative and it most suitable for those suffering from chronic constipation as it tends to flush everything that is in your stomach. So take it with caution.
Pregnant women are not advised to use this remedy because it can is also used to induce labour and can harm your baby.
How to use:
- Take a teaspoon to maximum a tablespoon of the castor oil in a day about 2 hrs meals
Very ripe pawpaw is good for stomach health and is a laxative. It helps clean the stomach and stimulate bowel movement. It has high water content and digestive enzymes that help in maintaining a good environment in the stomach.
How to use:
- Peel and clean one medium-sized whole, ripe, and sweet pawpaw
- Cut into smaller sizes suitable for you
- Take the entire fruit alone and you will feel the difference right away
Oats are known sources of soluble fiber that enable the retention of water in the stools by preventing the over absorption of water in the intestines. This fiber also makes the stool softer, larger, firmer and easier to pass out of the body.
How to use:
- Make an oat porridge which is the most common way of taking oats in Nigeria.
- Follow the direction on the oat pack to make it.
- Do not overcook it and do not add milk and other additions.
- Use a little sugar or preferably honey as a sweetener if you have to.
- Take at least one whole bowl of this cereal to loosen your bowels
Fonio also called Ach-cha in northern Nigeria are micro grains smaller than couscous but they are very nutritious and delicious. It is a superfood that contains not just fiber but many other useful nutrients in one grain.
This is another of my front-line healthy remedies against constipation when I know I need to eat something that will clear my digestive tract.
I wrote about this wonderful grain that we need to acknowledge more in another post on the grains and tubers of Nigeria. You can find the post here.
How to use:
- Make a simple recipe of this grain without too much spices or oil in it. You can easily find them on the internet. In my experience, you can cook it as a rice, cous-cous etc.
- Eat considerable amount of the grain and you will feel better.
The use of pharmaceutical laxatives should be as infrequent as possible because of their harmful effects when used inappropriately or on a long-term basis. It is best to use natural laxatives because they are foods we eat all the time and unless taken in a crazy fashion, they will not harm us.
I hope you find relief with these simple everyday natural solutions. They are easily available where ever you are in the world including in Nigeria. Remember to improve your diet and exercise for permanent relief from constipation. Laxatives natural or not are only for immediate, short-term relief from the problem.
Kindly rate this article below to help us improve and let me know of your experience with using these suggested laxatives in the comments below. I will appreciate that.
I hope you enjoyed being here. Thank you for stopping by and have a nice day.