Constipation. At some time or another, we've all dealt with it. Our modern medical mindset leads us to believe that other than being a pain in the rear end to deal with --- an "annoyance" --- constipation is no big deal. However, this is not the case. For millennia, Oriental Medicine has told us that chronic constipation will lead not only to body toxicity, but to problems such as ASTHMA, HEADACHES, HIGH BLOOD PRESSURE / HIGH CHOLESTEROL, DIABETES, and many others, including heart disease.
This post is not really geared for the person who is occasionally constipated, but for those people who deal with it every single day of their lives --- those who go to the bathroom every week or two ---- or even less frequently (yeah, I've seen it on numerous occasions). According to a 2006 meta-analysis of nearly 150 studies on the subject (Journal of Gastroenterology and Hepatology), "the incidence of constipation is determined to be >30% in the general population." In other words, darn near one in three Americans of all ages is constipated. In other words, there are a lot of folks you know who are, like you always suspected, literally full of it. Just remember that constipation is never really a diagnosis unto itself, but a symptom of a deeper problem. This means that dealing with this problem will probably entail more than simply taking that special formula you bought at the health food store.
The two types of constipation are "Obstructive" and "Hypomotility". Obstructive Constipation simply means that people "plug up" because they are full of impacted fecal matter. Hypomotility means that the rhythmic motion of the intestines called "peristalsis" slows to the point a person has trouble evacuating their bowel. Be aware that Hypomotility can and frequently does become Obstructive over time. Some of the reasons people become constipated also have to do with the medications they are on --- brutally common medications (STATINS, ANTIDEPRESSANTS, ACID BLOCKERS, and NARCOTICS are some of the biggest offenders). HYPOTHYROIDISM and UNCONTROLLED BLOOD SUGAR are both common causes as well. PARKINSON'S, MULTIPLE SCLEROSIS, and numerous other neurological issues can contribute to this problem also. IRRITABLE BOWEL SYNDROME can cause both constipation and diarrhea. This does not even begin to get into the potential problems caused by things like polyps. There is also the mysterious "Slow Transit" (Severe Hypomotility --- sometimes called STC), which simply means that things move through the digestive tract extra slowly, and which doctors sometimes try and deal with via colostomy. This problem is thought to be caused by a deficiency of one of the chemicals related to intracellular communication, SUBSTANCE P (one of those chemicals that falls under the heading of "Inflammation").
As you might be noticing, most of these problems are "Functional". This means that even though you who suffers with constipation will end up going through all sorts of blood work, Upper GI's, Lower GI's, and a host of other tests, there is no pathology to be found. In most cases, this means that your problem can be improved naturally. That is, if you know what to do. Although everyone is different, here are some things that will help the average person stay regular. Many will simply be the sort of common sense things you are already familiar with. Some you will be surprised at. Just remember that MONOTHERAPIES DON'T CHANGE HEALTH.
Dr. Schierling completed four years of Kansas State University's five-year Nutrition / Exercise Physiology Program before deciding on a career in Chiropractic. He graduated from Logan Chiropractic College in 1991, and has run a busy clinic in Mountain View, Missouri ever since. He and his wife Amy have four children (three daughters and a son).