As well as foods, there are also some herbs that are really beneficial for helping relieve constipation, particularly if you have been suffering for some time. People with chronic constipation must consider the cause – medication, poor diet, stress, lack of water, etc. – rather than just treating the symptoms.
However, some of the following herbs may provide relief and should be safe to use on a longer-term basis – although please do check with your GP if you are on any medication or have any illness, as some herbs can interact and worsen symptoms, or lessen the impact of your medication.
Top eight herbs for helping relieve constipation
1. Aloe Vera
You may have heard of Aloe vera being used topically for things like sunburn, but it is also considered a natural laxative. You can buy Aloe vera juice from all good health food stores – it’s great for adding to a smoothie or juice!
2. Slippery elm
Slippery elm is another herb favoured by health professionals for helping relieve constipation as it has a very soothing and lubricating effect on the intestinal tract. Like Aloe vera, it is healing and nourishing and is also great if you suffer from any other digestive complaints such as IBS or stomach cramps. BioCare do a capsule that can be taken 20 minutes before every meal.
Fenugreek is more traditionally known as a cooking herb but the seeds are also known to be great at helping to settle the stomach and relieve constipation. Fenugreek is also a good source of fibre and contains key vitamins and minerals. Rather than buy it in supplement form, it is always best to consume foods in their natural state so look to start adding fenugreek to soups, casseroles and curries for their full benefits and constipation-relieving effects at the same time.
Dandelion acts as a natural laxative and can be drunk as a tea – I really like Clipper Teas – or you can grab some dandelion leaves, yes the ones that grow in the garden, and add them to salads in the summer (make sure you wash them well first!).
Like dandelion, nettle can be drunk as a tea and is a natural laxative.
Sorrel has a slightly sour taste but can be used in cooking quite easily and has natural laxative properties. Or if you like the taste, you can make your own tea by steeping some leaves in hot water.
7. Sea buckthorn
Sea buckthorn is another herb that may benefit some constipation sufferers, especially those who don’t drink enough water! Sea buckthorn contains those all important essential fatty acids, including omega 7, which are known for helping coat the intestinal tract and lubricate the mucous membranes ensuring healthy digestion and a more fluid movement of the stools through the bowel. It also contains the Vitamin A and some B vitamins so is a good addition to your diet. Try Revital for Sea buckthorn remedies.
The leaves and pods of the senna plant are medicinal and well known for their effective laxative effects. You may well have heard of it before as it is found in a number of over-the-counter remedies such as Senokot.
When trying any of the herbs above, please start slowly as they will affect everyone differently. Some people will find a particular herb does nothing for them whilst others may find it a powerful laxative. And as always, please check with your GP if you have any medical condition, are pregnant or are on medication as herbs can be quite powerful and may have an adverse effect.
For more information try reading 'Natural remedies for constipation'