You Are What You Eat
Actually, you are NOT what you eat but what you… assimilate.
AND if the toxins from waste are not being eliminated you are just continuing to poison your system. Health and Death begin in the gut.
I don’t have time to detail the long saga of my digestive health, or lack thereof. Suffice it to say it has been an arduous road of trying everything (pretty sure it has been everything) with questionable results. I could write a book on all the things I’ve tried to overcome a sluggish digestive tract. Below are a plethora of natural ways to prime the pump (so to speak), many I have found to be effective to a degree.
Digestive wellness is a journey towards healing and one that must be won if health is to be achieved and maintained. Each person’s digestive issues are different and you will need to determine what works for you.
Yet not all protocols are created equal and if I were to pick ONE that is at the core of my imbalance I’d choose eating FERMENTED foods and drinks. It all began several weeks ago when preparing with my friend and fermentation queen Rashell Fall to host her talk on fermented foods. I was lamenting my digestive woes and she asked “Holly I know your refrigerator is full of fermented wild foods and veggies but how much of it do you actually eat?” “I save it for my wild food dinner guests” I replied sheepishly. “Why don’t you eat 1 T of your fermented krauts or kimchi before each meal and see if that doesn’t get things moving” she wisely replied. So I did and I have and it is as if the spell is broken and I’m actually almost NORMAL, (digestively speaking) Here is a blog I wrote on this educational event at Wild Blessings:
Some common causes of constipation could be: ignoring the urge to void, dehydration, pain meds are notorious for causing constipation, many foods can be very constipating like wheat and cheese or food sensitivities, unbalanced intestinal bacteria, even emotional issues such as holding a grudge or bitterness can be constipating physically…
Regardless of the cause, constipation is not something to tolerate. I remember going to my ‘regular’ doctor for an annual physical almost a decade ago. She asked me how many times I pooped in a day. I told her “once a week”, to which she replied “I guess that’s normal for you, so don’t worry about it”.
She was wrong. It does matter and I hope this post opens up a plethora of natural ideas that you can try to get and keep things moving. And don’t forget to consume fermented foods faithfully to kick start the healing process. 🙂
If you have any additional natural ideas to help with digestive health please write them in the comment box.
A fun fact to know and tell: American’s spend almost 1 billion dollars a year on laxatives!
I am inserting into my blog my most recent VICTORY with the battle to poop. I do just ok in this arena when I have time to care for myself, but time is something that I am severely lacking in.
A year ago October 17th my mother called me to say that she could not move. That began the new focus shift to being a full time caregiver to my mother. I moved in with her, we battled and won the fight with gout, then she got a cold which developed into pneumonia and then we ended up in the Emergency room where she was administered one of the most powerful and toxic antibiotics out there, Levaquin. She has never been the same.
Though this blog is on constipation I want to warn people to avoid a fluoroquinolone antibiotic at all costs.
This description is taken from my favorite website on the topic of Fluoroquinolone Toxicity, http://floxiehope.com/
“Cipro, Levaquin, Avelox and all other fluoroquinolones are dangerous drugs that can have devastating effects that cumulatively I’ll refer to as Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome or Floxing. Fluoroquinolone Toxicity Syndrome/Floxing includes damage to connective tissue (tendons, ligaments, cartilage, fascia, etc.) throughout the body, damage to the nervous systems (central, peripheral and autonomic), and more. The damage done by fluoroquinolone antibiotics can destroy a person’s quality of life or even kill them. Certainly, there is a time and a place for drugs with dangerous side effects. If you find yourself in a septic shock induced coma, fluoroquinolones may save your life. Unfortunately, these drugs are not being reserved for life or death situations. People are being prescribed them for urinary tract infections, suspected prostate infections, upper respiratory infections, as a prophylactic for travelers’ diarrhea, ear infections, pink eye, etc. Thousands of people have suffered needlessly from the devastating effects of fluoroquinolone antibiotics, when another, safer antibiotic could have, and should have, been used.”
All that to say, Mom has never been the same since. She has become 100% dependent for all of her daily needs. I’ll write a blog on how to try to detox from being ‘floxed’ someday…when I have the time! So caring for my mom and losing Brian in April and other heartbreaks this past year has paid a price on my own health. I have been more constipated than ever and that has been a source of great irritation and frustration. I just don’t have the time to do a lot for myself in this season. That doesn’t mean that all the awesome ideas I’ve blogged about in the past are ineffective I just haven’t had the spunk to be on top of it.
Last month, I started using Young Living therapeutic grade essential oils and asked what is recommended for helping chronic constipation. Lemon and Peppermint was the consensus. I was told to put a drop of lemon over my descending colon and rub it in a clockwise movement. Then to put a drop of peppermint essential oil over the same spot and rub clockwise as well. Peppermint is a hot oil and so it is suggested to use a carrier oil with it, but I just use it straight. I like to FEEL it working! The Peppermint oil drives in the Lemon to make it do it’s work even more effectively. I keep these two oils next to my toilet and use them each time I poop. Which has been EVERY DAY for the last 24 days. Yes, I am counting. This is a BIG deal to me. I’m not ashamed to discuss this because I know that I am not alone in this predicament.
Of course, I still believe it is essential to hydrate, to exercise, to get sufficient amounts of sun exposure, to eat real food, and fermented foods and to chew food thoroughly (rather than inhaling it) etc… etc…. but for fast relief and systemic transformation I can not recommend Young Living Essential oils more highly.
I didn’t have to wait for all my stressors to magically go away to get regular!
Just had to share this!! If you want to know more about Young Living essential oils, contact me and I’ll help you!
1. Because dehydration can lead to constipation, increase the amount of fluids in your diet. Have spring water, herbal teas and soups readily available, and take them often. Drink 2 cups of water upon waking, 1/2 body weight in ounces during the day, 1 cup an hour before bedtime (helps to curb appetite cravings). A fully hydrated system is key to eliminating well.
2. Eat fiber to aid in bowel movements, but must drink lots of water too to help flush it all out. Other fiber options: greens, prunes, apples, ground up flax seed, other seeds and nuts, oats, oat bran… Add fiber slowly, gradually increasing. Increase the amount of fiber in your diet. Fruits, vegetables, and whole grains are rich sources of fiber. Simply eating a piece of fruit, such as an apple or orange, may help to resolve constipation. The whole fruit provides the most fiber. Take a piece of fruit one-half to one hour before a meal or about one hour after a meal.
3. Green drinks. Put what you have in the blender: celery, lamb’s Quarter leaves, beet greens, parsley, cilantro, comfrey, chard, kale, mint leaves, whatever you have..then I usually add a piece of chopped fresh ginger] add water and blend it up and drink right away. Lots of fiber and nutrition. Remember no matter how much good stuff you take in…if you don’t have the
roughage to move it through it could get stopped up.
4. Fermented foods: kimchi, sauerkraut, kefir, kombucha …. to replace healthy flora into the gut, living microbes. The microflora in the gut are essential for proper bowel function. Sally Fallon’s wonderful book, Nourishing Traditions has lots of recipes on how to make fermented foods yourself. Eat at least 1 T with each meal.
5. Holly’s Honey & Butter Balls
1 Tablespoon unsalted butter, 1 Tablespoon honey, 1 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon licorice powder, 1 teaspoon cardamon powder or cinnamon powder
Blend well until soft and creamy. Roll into teaspoon measure size balls, cover and refrigerate. Let one dissolve in your mouth each evening after dinner. Constipation and sluggish digestion can be improved with those butter and honey balls. They are moisturizing, stimulating, cleansing and oily in the digestive system. They can help with any infection including H.Pylori (The Village Herbalist)
6. Avoid: sugars, white flours, processed foods, transfats. All this stuff gunks and clogs the digestive tract.
7. Prunes, figs, raisins all have a natural laxative effect. Prunes are a time-honored remedy for constipation. Stewed prunes or prunes that have been soaked overnight in water may be easier to digest than the dry variety.
8. Warm lemon water. “That’s something that Deepak Chopra just drilled into us the two different times that I studied with him. He just kept saying, warm lemon water, it will do everything. And honestly, it cleans the tissues, he’s right, warm lemon water. It does everything, especially for the digestive function” (Heather Nic en Fhleisdeir)
9. Every day, upon arising, stir 2 tablespoons of lemon juice into 8 ounces of hot water and drink it. This old folk remedy promotes the production of bile.
10 . For overnight relief of constipation, mix ½ cup of prune juice and I tablespoon of lemon juice with 1 cup of spring water. Drink this before bedtime.
11. Taking warm liquids or hot cereal such as oatmeal every morning acts gently to stimulate the intestinal tract, in addition to providing fiber. I use steel cut oats and add to it Slippery Elm powder, fresh ground Flax seeds and blueberries.
12. Foods high in magnesium, such as dark-green leafy vegetables, are very helpful.
13. If you experience constipation alternating with diarrhea, oatmeal cooked in flaxseed tea can be very helpful. It soothes irritated intestines and relieves constipation. Prepare flaxseed tea by adding 1 teaspoon of flaxseed to 1 quart of spring water; simmer for fifteen minutes. Use the resulting liquid instead of water to cook oatmeal. Or add one cup of the tea to 8 ounces of juice and take one dose daily. Constipation should be relieved within forty-eight hours. (20doc.com)
AVOID: Be aware that stimulants like coffee and alcoholic drinks dehydrate the system and add to the risk of constipation. If you consume these beverages, do so in moderation only.
1. Chew food thoroughly and eat slower. The digestive process begins in your mouth. Enzymes in saliva start breaking down food before you swallow. Remember that your stomach has no teeth. Chew your food completely, and don’t overeat. I’ve heard it said, “Chew your liquids and drink your solids.” Make sure everything you eat is well masticated. This helps all aspects of digestion.
2. Don’t ignore the urge to have a bowel movement.
3. Go to bed early, sleep in complete dark. Regulate your circadian rhythms.
4. Squatting over the toilet is more anatomically helpful in eliminating than sitting on the toilet.
5. Taking a brisk walk fifteen minutes after a meal can also get things going.
6. Exercise for constipation http://www.webmd.com/digestive-disorders/exercise-curing-constipation-via-movement
7. Jump on a mini tramp is a great lymph mover
8. Deep breathing and stretching
1. Dandelion root is an aparient A teaspoon at a time for the dandelion would be fine. Three times a day is fine, just drink plenty of water along with it. Taking it before meals is also a great idea. The more that’s taken, the more profound the action. So you just turn up the dosage. Susun Weed eats a dandelion leaf at every meal and never has digestive issues! As far as the dandelion tea (decoction with the roots). If you take it 10 to 20 minutes BEFORE a meal it has time to move down the digestive tract and stimulate the liver into producing bile. Bile helps the digestive system digest and is laxative in itself.
2. Yellow dock root is another mild laxative. You could do a decoction of the yellow dock roots. Depending on how strong you make the concoction you could do a tablespoon to a 1/4 cup three times a day. Yellow dock root is really great for restoring that peristaltic action that happens in our intestines to move what we’ve eaten along. It also gives a lot of vital minerals that we might not normally be getting in.
3. Triphala is an ancient remedy from India used as a laxative
4. Mallow and Slippery elm are healing to the digestive tract. Both of these are gentle herbs so unless drastic measures are taken, there’s no need to worry too much about taking too much. Slippery elm is invaluable for irritated intestines. It soothes and helps resolve inflammation. Take a cup of slippery elm tea, 500 milligrams in capsule form, or 1 to 2 teaspoons of powder dissolved in a cup of hot water three times a day, as needed. (doc20.com)
5. There is a tea put out by Traditional Medicinals called Smooth Move that is effective. The main ingredient is Senna. A half of a cup is plenty. Only use on occasion
6. Heavy duty herbal movers: Regular use of stimulant laxatives can cause dependence. Never use stimulant laxatives for even a week. Here is the mix I made up for emergency bowel stimulant: Cascara sagrada, Cape Aloe, Dandelion, Burdock, Fennugreek, Cayenne, Marshmallow, Licorice
7. Liquid food-grade Aloe vera juice is quite helpful in resolving constipation. Make sure you purchase the edible form of aloe vera juice. Take ¼ cup two to three times daily until the stool is soft and easy to pass.
8. Try a mix of slippery elm or marshmallow powder and ground flax seed infused in cool water till hydrated. This adds lubrication and healing to the digestive tract. You could also make cocoa by making a quart of marshmallow cold infusion (infuse 1 ounce marshmallow root in a quart of cool water for 2-4 hours & strain; add enough water to make a full quart) and adding 1/3 cup honey & 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder. Heat and whisk till well blended.(Jim Mcdonald)
9. A combination of fresh flax seed ground and slippery elm bark is very healing to the digestive tract (Jim Mcdonald)
10. Add a small amount of Yellowdock root or Oregon Grape root to daily tea helps get things moving
11. Bitters Stimulates digestive secretions. Stimulate gastric; hydrochlorlic acid, stimulates pancreatic solutions and bile. Stimulates all of them from the taste of bitter. Every meal should have some type of bitter taste to it. Without proper digestion everything behind that cascades into ill health. Everyone needs some sort of bitter all the time. Indicated for; constipation, stagnant digestion, sluggishness, lack of appetite, malabsorbtion. Yarrow, dandelion, horehound, chamomile, yellow dock, oregon grape, mugwort, gentain, elecampane. (Rosalee de la Floret)
12. Psyllium, available in capsules or powder, is an excellent stool softener with mild laxative properties. Be sure to drink it quickly as it coagulates into a mushy mess.
13. Organic flaxseed oil or olive oil will help ease discomfort of passing hard stool. Take 1 tablespoon of either two or three times daily until the problem is resolved.
14. Marshmallow root cold infusion. Make a quart of Marshmallow root infusion (this plant extracts best in cold water), set in the sun for minimum of 4 hours (I do it overnight). After straining off the herb material, keep the marshmallow infusion fresh in the refrigerator. Add 1/5 of a jar of Marshmallow root infusion to our quart of water. This is so healing to the digestive tract and mucosa tissues.
15. Dr. Christopher’s bowel confection for children:
- 1 pint chopped and ground up dried fruit (apples, peaches, apricots, raisins, dates, figs whatever)
- 1 oz powdered flax seed
- 1 oz powdered licorice root
- 1 oz slippery elm bark
- blackstrap molasses
Mix all the ingredients together and use just enough molasses to moisten. Works best if you mix with your hands. Roll into balls and roll in a mixture 50/50 of slippery elm bark powder and carob powder. Let dry a little and eat.
Vitamins and Minerals
1. Vitamin D
2. Fish Oil pills (2 a day)
3. Spray Magnesium oil on abdomen
4. Take Magnesium citrate in hot water morning and night (try taking it to bowel tolerance to get poopin)
5. Take probiotics before bed on an empty stomach. Acidophilus and bifidobacteria help to establish favorable intestinal flora, which is very helpful in relieving constipation. If you have chronic or recurrent constipation, probiotic bacteria are strongly indicated. Keep probiotic supplements in the refigerater. Healthy flora can be added in your diet with fermented foods.
6. Take enzymes with each meal to help digest the food better (keep these refrigerated)
8. Vitamin C to bowel tolerance
9. If the stool has an exceptionally foul odor, take chlorophyll supplements. This natural deodorizer is high in trace minerals, especially magnesium, and has natural antibacterial properties. Follow the dosage directions on the product label. (doc20.com)
10. The B vitamins are important for digestion and also contribute to the health of the colon. Take a good vitamin B complex supplying at least 50 milligrams of each of the major B vitamins twice daily. Also take 500 micrograms of vitamin B12 twice daily for three days, then once daily for one week, then once a week for ten weeks. (doc20.com)
1. Castor Oil pack. A castor oil pack involves the use of cloth soaked in castor oil which is placed on the skin. It’s used by some alternative practitioners to enhance circulation and to promote the healing of the tissues and organs underneath the skin. Alternative practitioners also use it to improve liver function, relieve pain, reduce inflammation and to improve digestion. Put on the abdomen to relieve constipation and other digestive disorders. Place cotton flannel in a container of castor oil soak it in the castor oil till saturated but not dripping. Place the pack over the affected body part. Cover with plastic. Place a hot water bottle over the pack. Leave on for 45-60 minutes. Rest while the pack in in place. After removing the pack clease the area with a dilute solution of water and baking soda. Store the pack in the covered containerin the refrigerator. Each pack may be reused up to 25-30 times.
2. Liver flush Drink: This is Dr. Schultz’s recipe.
In blender I put ½ lemon with the skin on if it is organic or skin off if not
1 clove of garlic
1 end of finger size piece of ginger
1 or more tlbs olive oil
1 cup of water
Blend and drink all at once [ you want it to hit the liver] best on an empty stomach which is why I call it my garlic shake for breakfast. Then follow with a cup or 2 of hot tea made from things that are good for the liver lilke yarrow or milk thistle or burdock etc. I sometimes use grapefruit which makes the whole thing taste better..or a combo. You can use apple too I increase the garlic and the olive oil to 5 Tlb of olive oil and maybe more garlic depending on any social contact that day.
3. Coffee enemas. You’ll have to google this.
4. Salt water flush. Take first thing in the morning upon waking on an empty stomach.
5. Take an epsom salt bath. Add a few of the aromatherapy essential oils specified for constipation. Take it as hot as you can stand. Stay in the bath for no longer than 20 minutes because by then the toxins in your body are in the water and you don’t want to reabsorb them.
Body or Energy work
1. Belly rubbing…Start with circling the bell button with gentle circles..then move into the other ab areas with a cat-like paw push in a circle in the direction the colon moves…. right to left. You do have to breathe and relax while doing this. Can do this while lying in bed.
2. Rub your feet on the instep where the connection is to the large intestine. Reflexology
3. Rub the web in between the thumb and the forefinger…way up in the crease ..that is a point for constipation. It should hurt quite a bit. That’s how you know you are on the right point and you can do it anywhere…driving, walking etc. The more the better.
4. Rub the part of the ear lobe that is related to the colon
5. Acupressure points for constipation: http://www.herbalshop.com/Acupressure/Acupressure_16.html AND http://www.doc20.com/disease/constipation/acupressure.html
6. EFT tapping protocol can release stuck energy
7. Aromatherapy for digestive health (20doc.com):
- Essential oils of basil, lavender, myrrh, and rose strengthen the digestive system and help to counteract constipation.
- Create an oil blend of rosemary, mandarin and other citrus oils to stimulate peristalsis. Massage your abdomen with the oil blend in a clockwise direction which helps in digestion.
- Take a aromatic bath using 5 drops essential oils which ease the abdominal tensions associated with constipation.
- Massage by lemongrass oil into your abdomen also helps in digestion.
- Use rosemary and marjoram together in your blend which enhances the ability to ease cramping and abdominal tension.
Links for further help
Something else that maybe should be addressed: Did you know that “high-fiber” whole grains can actually cause constipation? And that meat is NOT bad for you. In fact – there is a whole “re-think” going on regarding whole grains. I rarely eat them anymore and feel so much better.
Here are a couple of sites you may like to look at:
Here is some wisdom from herbalist Jim Mcdonald (herbcraft.org)
Its good to differentiate between causes of constipation.
` Lack of bowel tone can be an issue, you’ll often (though not always) find constipation alternating with loose stools, usually more one than the other. Most of IBS falls into this catagory. Astringents (cranesbill, blackberry, avens) & healing mucilages (marshmallow/slippery elm) are used, more astringents if loose stools predominate, more mucilages if constipation does. Probably good in both cases to add tissue healers like plantain and calendula. Strong astringents will worsen the problem.
` Sluggish digestion (the food moves so slowly through the digestive tract that too much water is absorbed, making it hard and difficult to pass – there’s usually gas/burping with this). Bitters and warming aromatic spices help here.
` constipation with gas indicates the need for aromatic carminatives
` Constriction could cause constipation if the intestines are all tense & cramped and inhibit peristalsis; there’s often griping and gas pains involved. Aromatic bitters and antispasmodics (wild yam, cramp bark) would help.
` Dryness from lack of fluids (both water and oil based) can be a big issue, and may be clearly indicated by hardness of the stools. If you grind up flax seeds and mix it 50/50 with slippery elm powder, you can mix a tablespoon of this in some warm water and drink it without straining (after the slippery elm has hydrated). This provides both bulk and lubrication, and I’ve frequently seen it do miracles. If you use plantain tea instead of water, it will heighten its healing influence to the digestive tissues.
` Also, dryness could be resultant from sluggish liver function, since in addition to helping to emulsify and digest lipids, bile acts as a lubricant fro the GI tract. Bitters will stimulate bile production and release.
` If adding fiber increases pain, that’s likely a sign that the tissues are inflamed, and mucilages are super important.
Disclaimer: Holly Drake is not a medical doctor. All communication is for informational purposes only. Not intended to diagnose or treat any illness. Seek your healthcare provider if you so choose.