5 Of Nature’s Best Laxatives

31 Jan 2021

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In this woke world, we have learned to talk about almost everything openly. Talking about sex and sexual health, mental health, women’s rights, don’t make us uncomfortable anymore. However, there is one terribly common health issue that’s still pretty taboo and we are just too embarrassed to talk about – constipation.  

The problem with not being open to discussing this condition has led us to rely on OTC laxatives and other such pills. Being dependent on such medications can be a threat to your health. Using them too often can lead to electrolyte disturbances and changes in the acid-base balance which can further lead to heart and kidney damage [1]. And why rely on pills when we have natural alternatives? Here we talk about five commonly available kitchen-items that can be considered as nature’s best laxatives.

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Chia Seeds

Fiber is the best defense against constipation and chia seeds are full of them. Fiber does not get digested and moves through the intestine adding bulk to the stool, encouraging regularity [2]. Researches have shown that increasing the amount of fiber in the diet can not only increase stool frequency, but also soften the stools and make bowel movements easy and effortless [3].  

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Legumes & Lentils

Legumes and lentils are both very common Indian kitchen ingredients. They are a family of edible plants that include beans, chickpeas, peas, peanuts, etc. They too are rich in fiber and encourage regular bowels. Consuming legumes can help your body increase the production of butyric acid, a type of short-chain fatty acid. Studies have shown that butyric acid may aid in treating constipation [4]. They may also act as anti-inflammatory agents that may reduce the inflammation in the intestine that’s associated with certain digestive disorders like Crohn’s disease or inflammatory bowel disease [4].

Castor Oil

Castor oil has traditional values of being a natural laxative. On consumption, castor oil releases ricinoleic acid, a type of unsaturated fatty acid, responsible for its laxative effects. The acid activates a specific receptor in the digestive tract that increases the movements of the intestinal muscles, which in turn induces and increases the frequency of bowel movements [5]. A study conducted by Turkish researchers at two rest homes in Manisa, Turkey found that castor oil was effective in alleviating symptoms by softening stool consistency, reducing straining during defecation, and lowering the feeling of incomplete defecation [6].  

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Olive Oil

Studies have shown, time and again, that olive oil consumption can be effective in dealing with constipation. It works as a lubricant laxative that provides a coating in the rectum allowing easy passage of stool [7]. Olive oil has shown in several studies to effectively spur bowel movements and alleviate the symptoms of constipation [8].

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera has several health benefits and being a natural laxative is one of them. Aloe gel has been used to treat constipation for decades. It gets its laxative effects from anthraquinone glycoside, a compound that pulls water into the intestines, which in turn stimulates bowel movements in the digestive tract [9].  

Take Away Tips

Here are a few simple tips that can help you prevent and manage constipation:

  • Include a high amount of fiber-rich food in your diet
  • Keep yourself well hydrated
  • Limit your caffeine intake
  • Exercise regularly 
  • Do not resist your urge to defecate

References: 

  1. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20687617/
  2. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/7360261/
  3. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23326148/
  4. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4027827/
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3384204/
  6. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21168117/
  7. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2780140/
  8. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25238699/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK92765/

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