The Colon and bowel health -- remedies for constipation, gas, IBS, and more

Constipation, gas, irritable bowel syndrome, and many other digestive complaints can be treated with herbal remedies. Constipated? Milk thistle seed and dandelion tincture enhance bile output and soften the stool. Many excellent herbal laxative tea blends are sold at health food stores. Laxi-tea and Smooth Move work well and don't cause cramping or pain. To avoid constipation, drink more water and exercise. Other problems? Slippery elm and aloe juice reduce colon inflammation. Chamomile tea and herbal green drinks with live enzymes soothe and help repair damage. Rosemary, peppermint, catnip, and fennel teas are also excellent choices for digestive health especially when suffering from gas and indigestion.

Detoxification can also help colon and digestive system health. Want to know how to do a 24-hour detox cleanse? Directions are included later on so keep reading.

Stomach with low rise pants illustrates colon health.
Woman with colorful hair - photo courtesy of

You can't tell by looking, but this woman suffers from constipation. Herbs can help!

Colon and bowel health are essential for maintaining a healthy body.

The digestive system is like your home's plumbing. It needs to run smoothly so that things don't back up and cause problems. Since digestive problems are often considered an embarrassing subject, many people suffer in silence and hesitate to ask for advice. Speak up when visiting your healthcare professional. Your life may depend upon it. See our diarrhea page for detailed information about treating that condition with herbs.

Tips for treating constipation

Bowel movements should be regular and effortless. Transit time should be around 24 hours depending on the individual person. If you are going 3 times a day, that is a problem. Not going for a week is dangerous!

The stool should float and be almost odorless. During bouts of constipation, decaying food ferments in the bowels, forms gases, and causes the colon to become a breeding ground for harmful bacteria, viruses, parasites, yeast, and molds. Medicinal herbs that gently help constipation without cramping include chickweed leaves and plantain seeds. I've been using a chickweed tincture and it really helps.

Dandelion also helps the system to digest fats. Dandelion is especially good for anyone that doesn't have a gallbladder.

Ground flaxseed can also work wonders when fighting constipation. When using any seed, fiber, or bulk laxative, remember to drink plenty of water -- or constipation could get worse. Other herbs for constipation include aloe, buckthorn, cascara sagrada, rhubarb, and senna but they may cause cramping so start out with a small dose.

Don't put off going to the bathroom. When the urge strikes, that is the best time to go if you want to avoid constipation.

The best remedy for chronic constipation is a lifestyle change.

Exercise more, eat fresh, healthy foods with fiber, eat less processed food, drink more water, find ways to get rid of stress (stress shuts off communication between your colon and the brain slowing digestion)-- and your digestive tract will reward you with good health.

Constipation and excessive gas, although common, are not normal.

Colitis, irritable bowel syndrome, spastic colon, polyps, food allergies, and colon cancers are on the rise in today's society. There are many things that contribute to poor colon health. Factory farms are growing and harvesting foods that lack basic nutrients and are saturated with pesticides, herbicides, and other poisons. We import wheat and other staples from foreign countries that also use harmful weed and insect killing sprays. Hybrids and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are grown for yield and profit, not for taste, nutrition, or health. Adding to the problem, every day consumers eat tons of processed foods that contain little or no fiber with tons of saturated fat and low quality vegetable oils. The only live enzymes in fast food are lettuce, tomato, and onions!

Fast food establishments contribute to digestive problems.

Fixing a plate of raw veggies or fresh fruit seems like a lot of trouble when there's a fast food joint on every corner offering hamburgers and fries for five bucks. Where can you even buy a plate of fresh, clean, organic veggies, prepared and ready to eat? Farm-to-table eating establishments are out there, but they tend to be expensive and don't have drive-thru windows.

Treating constipation with massage

Massages can be used on yourself to perform natural constipation relief by targeting the descending colon and transcending colon. The following video shows how:

Benefits of a foot stool and posture during bowel movement

Most people can benefit from correct posture and raised knees when using the toilet. A wooden block or sturdy, kitchen step stool works perfectly. The objective is to have a more natural squatting position when going to the bathroom. When your knees are higher, straining is reduced and waste matter moves through the colon much easier.

Is our food safe to eat?

There are constant news reports about the food supply becoming contaminated. E coli bacteria contamination is occurring much too often for comfort. E Coli is especially dangerous on tender veggies like lettuce that are eaten in salads without cooking. Washing each leaf under running water and rinsing in vinegar solution is necessary to remove harmful bacteria. This extra work takes time but really helps to protect the colon and digestive system from infection.

Good diet is important to the colon.

A good diet with lots of water and fiber is the best way to keep the colon and bowels healthy. Fresh veggies, legumes, fruit, green herbs, and water should be consumed throughout the day -- not just one apple or a bowl of oatmeal every now and then, but plates filled with fresh salads, broccoli, greens, carrots, squash, beans, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and other vegetables should be eaten every day. Drink lots of water between meals. The colon needs water to keep things soft and moving.

Keep the colon healthy with herbs

Epsom salts can help

If you overeat, especially with bread, pasta, or cheese, try taking a teaspoon of Epsom salts with some juice. The Epsom salts draw water into the colon bringing moisture to the mass. Be sure to drink extra water when taking Epsom salts so the rest of your body doesn't become dehydrated. Epsom salts is a time tested home remedy for constipation.

Most organic produce is worth the extra cost.

A local grocery store sells regular celery stalks for around a dollar. Most organic items cost only 50 cents or so more than their toxic counterparts. Good food is not expensive if you plan carefully and fix it yourself. It is worth it to protect your digestive system from toxic pesticides.

Some things are grown without harmful chemicals even though they might not be labeled organic. Don't bother buying organic avocados which have a tough outer skin and are rarely sprayed with poisons. Some things like strawberries are heavily sprayed in the fields -- so look for organic. Other things, like cranberries, are never sprayed. For more information see the clean and dirty list of common vegetables and fruits.

Colon problems cause toxic build up.

Poor colon health results in the re-absorption of toxins into the human body. Symptoms include infrequent bowel movements (constipation), cramps, bloody stool, hemorrhoids, diarrhea, excess mucus, dehydration, fatigue, nausea, depression, irritability, coated tongue, headaches, bad breath, body odor, and a sallow complexion. Colon and digestive health is very important to the way our bodies function. The Mayo Clinic's YouTube channel offers over 20 videos on the subjects of constipation and colon health. They are worth watching if you suffer from colon problems.

Tips for detoxing and cleansing the body with herbs and essential oils

With all the digestive problems, fatty liver disease, diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, arthritis, and other chronic conditions we hear about every day, people are turning to herbal cleanses to improve the health of their bodies. After consuming lots of processed foods, detoxing is very important to restoring health. A 24-hour detox is good, but remember -- one cleanse is not going to undo damage caused by years of eating processed foods and toxic ingredients. Detoxing and cleansing are great but everyday diet is even more important so eat right and then detox occasionally as needed. Even when eating healthy, detoxing and fasting a couple times a year is still recommended for physical, mental, and spiritual health.

Fresh fruits and vegetables help keep the body healthy.
© Andrey Kiselev | Dreamstime Stock Photos

Good diet, regular detoxing, exercise, lots of clean water, and deep breathing help keep the body healthy.

Detox your digestive system before treating with herbal remedies.

An herbalist’s work is to help the body heal itself by addressing the worst problem first. When one concern is addressed and treated, additional problems may take care of themselves. Herbal remedies work best in a clean environment. When the mouth, lymph nodes, digestive tract, urinary system, liver and other organs are clean, they work to keep the rest of the body healthy. If you eat fast food, lots of meat, lots of dairy, and processed foods, it is important to detoxify the digestive system on a regular basis. For optimal health, eat a good diet every day and detox a few times a year especially in the spring after a long winter. Once the system is clean, medicinal herbs have an easier time doing their jobs and treatment can begin on individual problems.

Fasting is good for the body, mind, and spirit.

Detoxing and fasting are a lot alike. Most animals instinctively fast when they are sick or injured. When treating any chronic condition, fasting can jump start the healing process. A healing fast can last anywhere from 12 hours to a week depending on existing conditions and desired results. Fasting can mean eating only certain things like vegetable broth or doing without foods period. Never stop drinking water -- which could lead to dehydration. Jesus was no stranger to fasting. In the King James Bible there are many examples of Jesus fasting.

Mild cleanse or something more extreme?

There are many types of herbal cleanses and fasts including a blood purifying cleanse, a liver cleanse, a 12 hour cleanse, a 24 hour detoxification, a heavy metal cleanse, and more. A cleanse or fast can be as simple as eating only vegetables and fruits for a day. It can be as complicated as preparing all sorts of broths, smoothies, and green drinks. Herbal cleanses offer all kinds of benefits including glowing skin, increased energy levels, and less pain in chronic conditions like arthritis.

24 Hour Detox directions:

On the night before a 24 hour detox, eat plenty of leafy green vegetables with a light dinner (nothing fried, creamy, or spicy). The next morning, have a glass of water with the juice of a lemon. At midmorning drink some unsweetened cranberry juice or a cup of herbal tea. At lunch have a glass of water and some pure apple juice. In the afternoon drink a cup of chamomile tea or mint tea. Dinner should include papaya or pineapple juice -- nothing solid unless you feel really hungry. If you must have solid food, try getting by on applesauce, yogurt, or a cup of vegetable soup. Have more chamomile tea before bed. The next day introduce solid foods back into the diet. Have some protein likes eggs or peanut butter on toast for breakfast. When breaking a fast, introduce food slowly starting with small amounts of protein, fresh fruit, vegetables, and herbs. Try to buy the cleanest produce possible. Here are some guidelines for choosing the safest produce.

Cleansing, deep breathing, exercise, and meditation

During a fast or cleanse, practice deep breathing techniques and walk some each day. Pick a place with clean air, not a polluted city street! When fasting or cleansing, get adequate sleep and drink six to eight glasses of water every day. Drink plenty of herbal tea. Take time to meditate, pray, and relax. Smell the roses and laugh! Fasting is wonderful for the body and the spirit.

Expect side effects. They are normal as the body heals.

Side effects of a cleanse or fast include headache, bad breath, diarrhea, and weakness as the body works to rid itself of toxic waste. After fasting or cleansing, an herb’s medicinal properties are more readily absorbed into the system. Results are achieved at a faster rate when the body is clean.

* When fasting, drink plenty of fresh, pure water but not so much that vital minerals and salts are washed away. Any fast longer than 12 hours should be undertaken under the supervision of a healthcare professional. Over-the-counter laxatives can be addictive and dangerous so use with caution. Always consult with a healthcare provider before using any herbal remedy especially if pregnant, nursing, or taking other medicines.

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