How to Relieve Constipation Quickly and Naturally

Three Methods:Taking Immediate ActionMaking Long-Term Lifestyle ChangesTrying Other Options

Constipation occurs most often because people don’t have enough fiber and/or water in their diet. Constipation can also occur as a result of too little exercise, or it can be a side effect of a number of different drugs. Everyone experiences this phenomenon from time to time, but the good news is there are a number of safe, gentle and natural remedies to both relieve and prevent constipation. With some minor adjustments to your daily routine, you can deal with this problem inexpensively and in the privacy of your own home. Natural remedies and lifestyle changes can help you deal with constipation now and prevent it from reoccurring later. If you are dealing with recurring constipation and if none of the methods outlined below help, see a healthcare professional.

Method 1
Taking Immediate Action

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    Drink more water. Hard, dry stools are a common cause of constipation, so the more water you add, the easier it will be to pass the stool. It’s especially important to drink more water when you increase the fiber in your diet.[1]
    • Men should aim to drink at least 13 cups (3 liters) of fluid per day. Women should aim for at least 9 cups (2.2 liters) of fluid per day.[2]
    • Avoid caffeinated and alcoholic beverages while you’re experiencing constipation. Caffeinated beverages like coffee and sodas, as well as alcohol, are diuretics. Diuretic dehydrate your body by causing fluid loss through increased urination. This may make constipation worse.[3][4]
    • Other fluids, such as juices, clear broths, and herbal teas are good sources of fluid. Avoid caffeinated teas. Pear and apple juices are mild natural laxatives.[5][6]
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    Eat more fiber. Fiber is a natural laxative. It increases the water content of your stool and helps bulk it up. This will help your bowel movement move more quickly and smoothly through your colon.[7] Abruptly changing your fiber intake can cause gas and bloating, so gradually increase your dietary fiber intake over a few meals. Experts recommend that you get at least 20 to 35 grams of dietary fiber each day.[8]
    • Fiber can reduce how much of your medications your body absorbs. Take medication at least one hour before eating fiber or two hours afterward.[9]
    • Some good choices for increasing your fiber intake include:[10]
      • Berries and other fruits, especially those with an edible skin, such as apples and grapes.
      • Dark, leafy green vegetables like collard, mustard, and beet greens, as well as Swiss chard.
      • Other vegetables such as broccoli, spinach, carrots, cauliflower, brussel sprouts, artichokes and green beans.
      • Beans and other legumes such as kidney, navy, garbanzo, pinto, lima, and white beans, as well as lentils and black-eyed peas.
      • Whole, unprocessed grains. An easy rule of thumb is that if it is a light color or white, it has probably been processed. Go for whole grains such as brown rice, popcorn, steel-cut oats, and barley. If you are eating cereal, read the label to make sure your choice is high in fiber. Look for bread with whole-grain, unbleached, unenriched flour.[11]
      • Seeds and nuts such as pumpkin, sesame, sunflower, or flax seeds,[12] as well as almonds, walnuts and pecans.
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    Eat prunes. Prunes are high in fiber. They also contain sorbitol, a stool-loosening sugar that naturally helps relieve constipation.[13] Sorbitol is a mild colonic stimulant that helps reduce the transit time of stool and decreases the risk of constipation.
    • If you don't like the wrinkly texture or unique taste of prunes, you can try prune juice. However, prune juice has less fiber than prunes.
    • 100 grams of prunes have 14.7 grams of sorbitol. while 100 grams of prune juice has 6.1 grams of sorbitol. You will have to drink more prune juice to achieve the same health benefits, and you will also take in additional sugars.[14]
    • Don’t go overboard with prune consumption. Prunes should start working within a few hours. It’s important to let one serving or glass of juice pass through your intestines before attempting to consume another, or you may risk diarrhea.
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    Avoid cheese and dairy products. Cheese and dairy products usually contain lactose, which many people are very sensitive to. This lactose can cause gas, bloating, and constipation for some people. If you’re having trouble with constipation, cut cheese, milk, and most other dairy products out of your diet until you’re feeling better.
    • The exception to this is yogurt, especially yogurt containing live probiotics. Yogurt that contains probiotics such as Bifidobacterium longum or Bifidobacterium animalis has been shown to promote more frequent and less painful stool passing.[15][16]
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    Consume bulking agents. There are several mild herbs that have a laxative effect and soften stool. These include psyllium, flaxseed, and fenugreek. You can often find these supplements in capsule, tablet, and powder form at health food stores and some pharmacies. Some may also be available as teas. Take these bulking agents with plenty of water.[17]
    • Psyllium comes in many forms, including powder and caplets. It is also the active ingredient in commercial preparations such as Metamucil. [18] Psyllium may cause gas or cramping in some people.[19]
    • Flaxseed is used for constipation and diarrhea. Flaxseed provides fiber and omega-3 fatty acids. You can stir flaxseeds into yogurt or cereals.[20]
    • Flaxseed is not recommended for people who have bleeding disorders, intestinal obstructions, or high blood pressure. Do not take flaxseed if you are pregnant or breast-feeding.[21]
    • Fenugreek is used for several digestive ailments, including upset stomach and constipation.[22] Fenugreek is likely unsafe to use if you are pregnant or breast-feeding. Do not give fenugreek to young children.[23]
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    Take castor oil. When you are constipated, castor oil (cascara) can help stimulate your intestines. It can also lubricate your bowels so the stool may slip out more easily.[24]
    • Castor oil is generally considered safe. However, you should take only the recommended dosage. You should consult your doctor if you have appendicitis or intestinal blockage. Do not use castor oil if you are pregnant.[25]
    • Castor oil can cause a variety of rare but unpleasant side effects if you take too much. An overdose of castor oil can cause abdominal cramps, dizziness, fainting, nausea, diarrhea, skin rash, shortness of breath, chest pain, and tightness in the throat. Contact Poison Control or your emergency medical services if you have taken too much castor oil.[26]
    • Be aware that fish oil may cause constipation. Unless recommended by your doctor, do not take fish oil supplements for constipation.[27][28]
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    Take magnesium. Magnesium can be very effective in relieving constipation. It helps to draw water into the bowel and soften the stool so it can move through your intestines.[29] Consult with your doctor before taking magnesium supplements, as it can interact with medications such as antibiotics, muscle relaxants, and blood pressure medications.[30] In addition to dietary sources, such as broccoli and legumes, there are several other ways to take magnesium.
    • You can take magnesium by adding a teaspoon (or 10-30 grams) of Epsom salt (magnesium sulfate) to 6-8 ounces of water. Mix well and drink. This mixture can taste unpleasant to some people.
    • Magnesium citrate is available in tablets and oral suspensions. Take the recommended dosage as marked on the package (or as recommended by a doctor or pharmacist). Drink a full glass of water with each dose.[31]
    • Magnesium hydroxide, also known as milk of magnesia, is also effective at treating constipation.

Method 2
Making Long-Term Lifestyle Changes

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    Incorporate yogurt into your daily diet. Yogurt contains live bacterial cultures (probiotics) that create the right environment for your digestive system to stay healthy and run on a regular schedule. Try adding a cup of yogurt to your daily diet.[32]
    • The bacteria in yogurt are thought to alter the microflora in the gut. This reduces the amount of time it takes for your food to be digested and move through your system.
    • Check the label to make sure the yogurt you buy has “active cultures” of live bacteria. Without live cultures the yogurt will not have the same effect.
    • Other fermented and cultured foods such as kombucha, kimchi and sauerkraut also contain beneficial bacteria that may aid in digestion and relieve constipation.[33]
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    Avoid processed foods. Processed and “fast” foods can contribute to chronic constipation. These foods are often high in fat and low in fiber and do not offer much nutrition. Foods to stay away from include:[34]
    • Processed or “enriched” grains. White bread, pastries, many pastas, and breakfast cereals often include flour that has been stripped of much of its fiber and nutritional value. Look for whole grains instead.
    • Junk foods. Foods with a high level of fat and sugar can cause constipation. Your body will try to get its calories from fat first, which will slow digestion.[35]
    • Sausage, red meat, and luncheon meats often contain a high level of fat and salt. Look for lean meats such as fish, chicken, and turkey.
    • Potato chips, french fries, and similar foods do not offer much nutrition and have very little fiber. Go for roasted or baked sweet potato “fries” or air-popped popcorn instead.
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    Get more exercise. A lack of exercise may cause weakness in your intestines, making it hard to pass waste regularly. Sedentary lifestyles can affect digestion and cause constipation.[36] Get moderate exercise at least 3-4 times a week.[37]
    • Walking, swimming, jogging, and yoga are all great options. Even 10-15 minutes of exercise a day can help your body stay regular.
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    Don’t ignore your body’s rhythms. Your body will tell you when it is ready to have a bowel movement.[38] There is a wide range of what is considered “normal” for bowel movement frequency. Many people average 1-2 bowel movements per day, but others may go only 3 times a week. As long as your body feels comfortable, there’s no need to worry about how often you have a bowel movement.[39]
    • Constipation can be caused or aggravated by not having a bowel movement when you feel the need to. If you frequently delay your bowel movements, you could cause your body to stop sending the signal to go. Delaying a bowel movement will also make it more difficult to pass later.[40][41]
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    Avoid becoming reliant on laxatives. Overusing laxatives, especially stimulant laxatives, can cause your body to become dependent on them. Do not use laxatives every day. If you have chronic constipation, consult your physician for alternative treatments.[42]
    • Laxatives containing polyethylene glycol are usually safer for long-term use than other types.[43][44]

Method 3
Trying Other Options

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    Get some exercise. If you can, try taking hourly walk-breaks to "massage" your bowels.[45]
    • Start out walking slowly for about 30 seconds. Gradually pick up the pace until you are walking as fast as you can without breaking into a run.
    • Do the fast walk for about 5 minutes. Then, slow down for another 5 minutes. The total time spent walking should be about 10 minutes every hour or so.[46]
    • If that amount of time doesn’t work for you because of other responsibilities, don’t worry. Just try to increase the amount of faster-than-normal walking you do whenever possible.
    • If you are severely constipated, this may be somewhat uncomfortable, but try not to get discouraged. It's better than another day of constipation.
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    Try a different position. Aboriginal people tend to have bowel movements while squatting, and this position can be helpful.[47] When you are on the toilet, use a stool or the edge of the bathtub to prop your feet up.[48]
    • You want to bring your knees in as close to your chest as possible. This increases the pressure on your bowels and may ease the passage of a stool.
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    Try yoga. There are several yoga poses you can try to help stimulate your bowel and get your body in a comfortable position to have a bowel movement. They can increase the internal pressure on your intestines and help the bowels move the stool more easily.[49] Among these are the following:
    • Baddha Konasana: In a seated position, bend your knees and bring your feet together so the soles are touching, and grasp your toes with your hands. Flutter your legs quickly, then lean forward so that your forehead touches the floor. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
    • Pavanamuktasana: In a reclined position, stretch your legs out in front of you. Bring one knee up to your chest, and hold it there with your hands. Pick one leg and pull your knee against your chest and flex or wiggle your toes. Hold that position for 5 to 10 breaths, then repeat with the other leg.
    • Uttanasana: From a standing position, keep your legs straight and bend at the waist. Touch the mat with your hands or grasp the back of your legs. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths.
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    Take mineral oil. Liquid mineral oil will coat your stool with an oily, waterproof film. This will help the stool retain moisture and move smoothly through your colon.[50] You can find mineral oil at most pharmacies and drug stores. Usually, it is combined with liquid, such as milk, juice, or water, to consume it.[51]
    • Do not take mineral oil without first consulting a doctor if you have any of the following conditions: food or medication allergies, pregnancy, heart failure, appendicitis, trouble swallowing, stomach pain, nausea or vomiting, rectal bleeding, or kidney problems.[52]
    • Do not take other laxatives or stool softeners at the same time as mineral oil unless instructed by your doctor.
    • Do not give mineral oil to children younger than 6.
    • Do not take mineral oil regularly. Regular use can cause dependency on its laxative effect. It can also keep your body from absorbing enough vitamins A, D, E, and K.[53]
    • Do not take more than the recommended dosage of mineral oil. Overdose can cause severe side effects, including abdominal pain, diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting. If you have taken more than the recommended dose, seek emergency medical assistance.[54]
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    Try purgative herbs. For rare or severe constipation, there are stronger herbs that can help relieve constipation. They are usually not safe for prolonged consumption and should be considered a last resort after other treatments have not worked. Common herbal treatments include:[55]
    • Sennosides are stimulant laxatives. They hydrate your intestines to help your bowel movements move smoothly. Natural senna laxatives can take 6-12 hours to work. They usually come in oral suspensions and tablets.[56]
    • Talk with your doctor before using senna if you've recently had surgery, you already take laxatives every day, or you have any preexisting conditions involving your digestive system.[57]
    • European buckthorn is sometimes used to treat constipation. It is only recommended for short-term use (less than 8-10 days). It can cause side effects such as cramps, diarrhea, muscle weakness, and heart problems. It should not be used if you are pregnant, breast-feeding, or under 12 years old.[58]
    • Do not take European buckthorn if you have stomach pain or intestinal problems, such as appendicitis, Crohn’s disease IBS, or ulcerative colitis.
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    Consult a doctor. If you have chronic constipation, you may need more effective treatment than what you can achieve with at-home remedies. For example, your doctor can prescribe medications and laxatives that are stronger than those you can purchase over-the-counter. You should see your doctor if you have not had a bowel movement in more than 3 days.[59]
    • If you have been mildly constipated for more than three weeks, see a doctor. You should also see a doctor if you see blood in your stools, you have stomach pain, or you are losing weight.[60][61]
    • Your doctor may prescribe hypersmolar laxatives that soften stools. The most common of these laxatives are lactulose (Kristalose), sorbitol, and polyethylene glycol (MiraLax).[62]


  • If you are dealing with recurring constipation and if none of the methods outlined above help, see a healthcare professional and tell them about your problem.
  • If you are not experiencing relief, you can combine several methods.For example, increase the fiber in your food, go for walks, have some senna tea and try some yoga positions. Do not mix more than one type of laxative at a time.
  • High fiber foods and drinking lots of water will not only help relieve, but also help prevent constipation.
  • While it may be difficult, try to relax and let your bowels (and gravity) do most of the work when you visit the restroom.
  • Try having lemon water. The acid in the lemon will soften the stool and will ease the movement in your bowls.
  • It can be hard to predict what method will work, how well it will work and when it will work. Make sure that you have the time and availability to use the bathroom when you need to.
  • Taking warm water and honey should help.
  • When you wake up in the morning, drink from 2 to 4 glasses of water, it works wonders. This helps your body to eliminate toxins.
  • Put you feet on a stool, when sitting.
  • Take ginger lemon tea in morning.
  • Eat dry all-bran sticks in the morning they are full of fibers.
  • Stay away from foods like bananas! They tend to slow the process down. Leafy vegetables are a good alternative.
  • When drinking warm tea, don't add a lot of honey. If it has more honey, the herbs in the tea wouldn't make much of a difference.
  • Saline or Osmotic Chemical Laxatives – works quickly, in 1 to 3 hours.
  • Take castor oil and do jogging and squats when constipated.


  • Take only the recommended dosage of any treatment. Taking more than recommended can cause serious side effects.
  • “Natural” does not necessarily mean “safe.” Consult with a doctor or pharmacist before taking a natural remedy, especially if you have other health conditions. Herbs and food can interact with a number of different medications and medical conditions.
  • If you are pregnant or nursing, or are caring for an infant or child who is constipated, talk to a healthcare professional before trying any of the methods described here.
  • Do not take any laxative if you have severe stomach pain, vomiting, or nausea.[63]
  • Aloe latex is a natural laxative. In the United States, the FDA does not allow aloe latex in over-the-counter medications because of safety concerns. Aloe latex is very powerful and can irritate your intestines. Its use is not recommended.[64]

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