Category Archives for Constipation

Does Peanut Butter Cause Constipation? – What You Should Know

Infrequent bowel movements, the feeling of not being able to empty yourself on the toilet, straining and having difficulty passing stools... these are all signs that you are constipated.

And these are all signs that no one wants to have to deal with.

There are a million and one reasons why someone may be constipated, but is eating peanut butter one of them?

Does peanut butter cause constipation or can you leave this page with relief that you can still enjoy those delicious peanut butter sandwiches and Reese's peanut butter cups without spending 30+ minutes trying to pass a bowel movement?

The good news is that peanut butter is not likely to cause constipation. The bad news is that there are the slim possibilities that it can.

Some Reasons Peanut Butter Might Make You Constipated

1) It's High In Saturated Fat

A serving (2 tbsp) of the popular Jif Creamy Peanut Butter will provide you with 3.5g of saturated fat, which is about 17% of the recommended daily value.

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This is pretty high for such a small serving, and although higher amounts of fat are often associated with constipation relief and the increase of bowel movements, eating too much saturated fat is also linked to constipation.

Evidence from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that there is a connection between high saturated fat intake and constipation, in particular with diabetics and the elderly population who are already at higher risks of getting constipated.

That said, there really hasn't been much research in this particular area and it seems unlikely to cause such problems with the majority of the population.

Note: A 100g serving of peanuts alone will provide only 7g of saturated fat, which is a much lower percentage than most peanut butters (source: USDA). The higher saturated fat content of peanut butter is due to the added ingredients, which often includes hydrogenated vegetable oils.

*Trans-fat is the worst kind of fat and you will find some peanut butters with this unnatural substance. It is known to cause digestive issues and is best to avoid.

2) Too Much Niacin

Niacin, or vitamin B3, is important for many processes that go on in the body... playing a role in turning carbs into glucose, fat and protein metabolism and more.

Peanuts happen to be a great source this and are often recommended to those who are niacin deficient.

Going along with the example used above, a 2 tbsp serving of Jif Creamy Peanut Butter will provide you with 5mg of niacin, which is about 30% of the RDA.

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That's great and all, however, one of the possible side effects of too much niacin listed on WebMD is constipation.

It's very unlikely that this would be the actual cause, but if you are already getting a lot of niacin in your diet and eating peanut butter on top of that, it is a possibility.

3) Intolerance to Peanuts

Food intolerances are non-allergic hypersensitivities and have nothing to do with allergic reactions where your body mounts an immune response to what it thinks is a problem.

Being intolerant to peanuts simply means that your body has difficulty digesting them. 

These conditions may not be all that well understood by doctors, but nut intolerances do exist.

One such potential culprit for these hypersensitivities is salicylate. Salicylate sensitivity is not all that uncommon and is known to cause all sorts of symptoms, including constipation. If you do have this kind of hypersensitivity then you should also experience symptoms from raisins, prunes, blackberries, oranges, strawberries and others foods with high amounts this substance.

4) Peanut Allergies

Having an allergy to peanuts is much more likely to cause diarrhea, a problem on the opposite side of the infrequent bowel movement spectrum. But it seems that it could also lead to constipation, particularly for young children.

Constipation as a symptom of food allergies is something more prevalent for children under the age of 3, and then dissipates with age.

But Don't Throw Out All Your Peanut Butter Just Yet

This purpose of this article isn't meant to frighten you. While there are problems that can arise with peanut consumption, it should be noted that a healthy/natural peanut butter is much more likely to be beneficial for digestion and overall health.

Peanuts and peanut butter are a great source of fiber, protein, healthy fats, vitamins like niacin, folate, thiamin, vitamin B6, vitamin E, and minerals such as magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, iron and more.

It's Actually More Likely to Help Relieve Constipation

The good news is that, while it can potentially cause constipation, it isn't likely to. 

In fact, it seems more plausible that peanut butter would help to relieve a case of constipation.

Lots of Fiber

Fiber provides no nutritional value but is extremely important for digestion and can help your body absorb other food nutrients better.

There are about 1.9g of fiber in 2 tbsp of peanut butter, which is about 8% of the RDA... pretty good for such a small amount. This fiber it provides comes in both forms, soluble fiber and insoluble fiber.

Soluble fiber is, as the name suggests, soluble in water. It absorbs water and turns into a gel-like substance. It can help to pull more water into the stool and soften it while also absorbing excess water as there is in the case of diarrhea.

Insoluble fiber is the more common of the two and adds bulk to the stool, helping increase how fast foods pass through the intestines. This type of fiber is great for treating constipation and a lack of it is often a cause of such.

Heavy In Fats

While we did go over how having too much saturated fat has been linked to constipation in elderly people and diabetics, fat isn't a bad thing and what you get from peanut butter is more likely to be of benefit, assuming you are eating a healthy type of peanut butter and not something with a bunch of added ingredients.

*Most of the fat content that peanuts provide is unsaturated anyhow.

Fat actually helps your body absorb nutrients, such as carotenoids for example. So if you want to increase the benefits of your veggies then you need to have enough fats as well... which might not be what you'd think. 

Additionally, fats can act as a lubricant in your intestines which is exactly what you want if you are constipated... making hard stool easier to pass. And there is also some evidence that it can help stool hold onto more water, thus softening it.

Peanut Allergies

If you are allergic to peanuts then it is definitely advised that you avoid them altogether. That said, it's worth noting that having allergy to peanuts is much more likely to cause diarrhea than constipation... and most estimates are that somewhere around 0.6 - 1.4% of the population in the USA have this allergy.

An allergic reaction to peanuts or peanut butter happens when your body mistakes the proteins it has as a threat, which causes an immune response that may lead to cramps, itching, swollen throat, diarrhea, etc.

Symptoms will likely be noticeable within minutes after consumption.

Solutions for Proper BM's

1) Go Natural

If you do think peanut butter is the cause of your constipation, or someone else's, then it may be worth a try going natural if it isn't too bad.

Maybe it could be the peanuts of maybe it could be another added ingredient, or maybe it could be all the extra saturated fat that comes from hydrogenated vegetable oils in some of the less healthy products out there.

There are lots of possibilities and if you like peanut butter too much to go cold turkey, try a healthier natural product if you aren't already. The natural peanut butter products might not taste quite as great or be quite as creamy, but they are healthier and less likely to cause BM infrequencies.

2) Stop Eating Peanut Butter

Unfortunately the areas where peanut butter may cause constipation are very understudied. Methods for finding out whether or not peanut butter is the cause and what exactly it is about peanut butter need to improve and at this point it is easiest, and probably best, to just eliminate peanut butter from your diet if your condition is too much to bear.

A simple elimination diet is very easy to follow and can be done at no cost. The downside is that, if you find peanut butter to be the culprit, you won't know what exactly it is about it that is the cause. Is it the proteins, the salicylate, the fats?? Who knows.

3) Use an Alternative

Peanut butter isn't the only type of nut butter out there. While it may not taste quite as good to some, almond butter is healthier in a lot of ways and the taste is said to grow on you.

Almond butter is higher in vitamins, minerals, and fiber. However, peanut butter is a bit higher in the highly coveted, much sought after, protein.

It might be worth giving a try. You can substitute it in where you used to use peanut butter for many different foods/snacks.

*If your constipation is severe then it is always recommended that you consult with your doctor to find a solution.

Do Bananas Help Constipation? – Explained

Is it true that bananas help constipation? Or do they just make it worse?

There seems to be a bit of confusion surrounding the subject and information that says both… That they can help constipation as well as cause it.

Of course if you have this condition the last thing you want to do is to make it worse. Constipation is characterized by…

  • Unusually low frequency in bowel movements
  • Hard and lumpy stools
  • Difficulty having bowel movements
  • The feeling that there is a blockage, etc.

Everyone gets constipated every once in a while, and usually it is nothing serious, but if constipated for an extended period of time it can be very serious and even worth seeking medical attention over.

There are lots of over-the-counter laxatives that you can buy at any pharmacy to help resolve this issue, but we're guessing you are looking into a more natural and healthy solution. After all, bananas are a great source of manganese, potassium, vitamin C and fiber. 

AND... Luckily they do have potential to help eliminate constipation…

Why Bananas Can Put an End to The Vein-popping Bathroom Visits

1. Pectin to Save the Day

The USDA lists a medium sized banana as having 3.1g of fiber. That is a fair amount considering that the daily recommended amount for most adults is around 25 to 30 g.

Some of this fiber is what is called pectin, which is a soluble fiber found in many other fruits as well, such as strawberries for example. According to the World's Healthiest Foods about 1/3 of the fiber in bananas is this soluble pectin fiber.

Why does this matter?

Well… Because soluble fiber can help stop diarrhea as well as constipation (which is why pectin-containing fruits are also good for treating diarrhea). It can do so by helping bring water into the intestines as well as absorb water, overall keeping a healthy balance of large and soft stool, rather than the hard/compact stool that you will experience when you are constipated.

A 2014 study published in a Chinese journal found pectin to accelerate bowel movements and alleviates symptoms of constipation. In this study 80 patients with constipation were given a 4-week supplementation of pectin, at 24 g per day.

*Of course in the study these people were given very high amounts of pectin. You would have to eat a considerable amount of bananas to reach that amount.

2. Insoluble Fiber

It's true that a small percentage of the fiber in bananas is soluble, but this isn't a big deal because insoluble fiber is great for treating constipation as well.

Insoluble fiber, as you can probably imagine, is not soluble. It does not absorb water but is still great as a constipation treatment, helping bring more water into the colon.

As a general role of thumb, soluble fiber is good for treating both constipation and diarrhea, but you only want to up your intake of insoluble fiber when you have constipation.

3. Fructose May Help

Bananas are considered as moderately high in fructose, which is a sugar. They can be very sweet so it might be surprising that they are only "moderately" high in this.

Why is this good potentially?

Because fructose is difficult for our human bodies to digest, which is why "fructose intolerance" is common. This difficulty with digestion is something that often leads to faster and more lose stools.

HOWEVER, fructose intolerance may be a good thing according to an article in Global Pediatric Health. It depends on the person, but for someone with constipation it may be a good solution to help soften and loosen their stools. But for others it can be too much and cause diarrhea.

Under-ripe Bananas - Good or Bad

Much of the controversy as to whether bananas are a cause or cure for constipation is focused around bananas that are not fully ripe, a.k.a. green bananas.

Some sources say that they cause constipation while others disagree.

The fact of the matter is that green bananas contain a lot more starch than yellow, fully ripened bananas. This is because because the starch has not yet went through the process of being converted into sugar, which makes ripe yellow bananas so much more sweet than green bananas.

The problem here is that much of this starch is "resistant starch", meaning that it is resistant to digestion. Before a banana is fully ripened it is said that around 70 to 80% of its weight is starch, most of which is resistant.

This starch is difficult for our bodies to digest and because of this it makes its way through the small intestine into the large intestine, where acts as a food for good bacteria living there.

What Studies Say About It:

2019 study published in the Jornal de Pediatria that took 80 children with functional constipation and tested the effectiveness of eating green bananas as well as taking laxatives. The results were that at a "statistically significant" reduction in constipation was observed.

There was also an earlier study performed in 2014 that is published in Journal of Medicinal Food that tested the resistant starch that is found in bananas' effectiveness against constipation in mice. It was found to increase the digestion speed through the small intestine and quicken bowel movements overall.

While there are claims that green bananas may cause constipation, there doesn't seem to be any good proof of this. 

That said, they have also been shown to help relieve diarrhea, by firming up loose stools, which may be surprising. This may make it seem more acceptable that they could harden it up "too much", but it seems that they are best for supporting an overall balance in digestion.

Don't Eat Too Much

It is well known that you don't want to eat too much of anything, including bananas. It doesn't really matter how healthy a food is, if you eat too much of it, it can become unhealthy.

There have been reports of eating too many bananas leading to constipation and/or diarrhea… Just digestion problems in general.

How much is too much?

Well, this depends on how big of a person you are, but generally speaking adults can eat quite a bit. 

Potassium is a mineral that bananas are well known for having quite a bit of and could be considered the "limiting factor" for how much one should consume, and since the average banana has around 450 mg of potassium and the recommended daily dose is around 3500 mg, you can consume somewhere in the range of 6 to 7 bananas in one day before even reaching that recommended amount. 

Of course this is just a very general number. Many people will be able to eat more without a problem while some may have problems and may want to be less.

Cause or Cure?

So do bananas help constipation or not? There seems to be some conflicting information given here.

The answer is that they can potentially be a cause and a cure. Results will vary greatly depending on the person and many variables, such as what their diet looks like, intolerances they might have, and so on.

As with any food or supplement, you have to find what works for you. If you are constipated and have not tried eating bananas, it very well could be worth the attempt.

How to Do an Elimination Diet for Diarrhea & Constipation

Digestive issues such as diarrhea and constipation are incredibly common yet incredibly annoying and uncomfortable at the same time.

Just how common are they?

According to an article on US News, adult Americans experience about one bout of diarrhea (acute) on average per year.  And constipation is said to be one of the most common digestive problems as well, affecting around 42 million people in the US a year.

Usually such conditions pose no real threat and not much concern, but they can lead to additional problems or stem from something that might be worthy of raising alarm.

Do you want to eliminate foods that are causing diarrhea and/or constipation?

OF COURSE YOU DO! Who Wouldn't?

Our suggestion: Do an elimination diet

Elimination diets, while not 100% accurate, are very simple and are something that you can do on your own. Below we will go over exactly how you should be doing them for the best results possible... and in the easiest way possible.

Elimination Diets In a Nutshell..

You might have an idea of what an elimination diet is just from the name. 

In a nutshell, it is a diet where you eliminate foods from your diet to try to find out what food in particular is causing some symptom or symptoms.

This type of diet can be used to find out the cause of any diet related symptom and it is pretty effective considering how easy it is. In this case of course we are trying to find out what is causing either diarrhea or constipation.

Makes sense right?

You eliminate a food that is causing a symptom and the symptom goes away. Pretty simple logic here.

For the fastest and easiest results you should follow this method of going about it...

The 3 Step Process


Step 1: Elimination

The first thing you are going to want to do is eliminate food that you think might be the cause of the problem.

Are you eating anything that you have a gut feeling might be the culprit? Do you notice any upset stomach, bloated feeling soon after eating certain foods? These are what you might want to start with.

We suggest eliminating a handful of foods at the same time.

Don't have any idea what is causing your diarrhea or constipation? Don't worry... we'll touch on this next.

This first step, or phase, can take several weeks. It really just depends on what your particular situation. One food might be causing diarrhea from too much fiber that, when eliminated, symptoms could disappear in a couple days.... while another cause of diarrhea could be an allergy, and this takes much longer to go away.

Now this doesn't mean you HAVE to wait weeks. It all depends. If you eliminate foods and the symptoms go away within days, then you are ready to move on to step 2. 

Step 2: Reintroduction

Now in this step, or phase, you will be reintroducing foods back into your diet. However, this is not the complete opposite of that above. It differs.

You are going to want to reintroduce each food one at a time, allowing 2-3 days after each is introduced to check for symptoms.

  • Upset stomach
  • Stomach cramps
  • Bloating
  • Gas
  • Change in bowel movement frequency
  • Stool consistency

... these are all things you really want to keep a close watch on as you reintroduce these foods.

If you don't see any symptoms for 2-3 days after beginning to eat a certain food once again, move on to the next and do it all over again.

As soon as you notice symptoms related to diarrhea or constipation, such as those listed above, stop eating the food.

This should take care of it and you should now know what the cause of your unpleasant bowel movements was!

HOWEVER... if you stop eating the food that was recently reintroduced and the symptoms are not going away as expected, it could be possible that it was the food reintroduced prior and the effects were just taking longer than expected to show. 

In this case you will want to stop eating that food.

Other Ways to Go About It

You might be thinking... 

Well why not just start eliminating foods one by one from the start and wait to see if the symptoms go away?

This could be done but it will likely take longer. It is fastest to eliminate a handful of possible trouble foods right from the start. This will help really narrow it down quickly... and then you can further narrow it down by reintroducing them.

Who Should & Shouldn't Be Doing This

Wondering if this diet is even worth your time?

It is pretty darn simple... but it can take a while so we completely understand that it may be a bit intimidating.

It might be worth a try if you...

  • Recently changed your diet and started experiencing issues
  • Have had the same diet for a while and have had issues all the while

If your situation falls into one of these categories then it very well could be a problem related to the foods you are eating and an elimination diet could do the trick.

However, if you have had just a single occurrence of diarrhea or constipation and have not made any recent changes to your diet, it could be just a "freak occurrence". The symptoms could be due to something that an elimination diet isn't really going to help with, such as food contamination or an illness not related to your diet... which you may want to go to a doctor over if it lasts long.

What Foods Should You Remove First

There could be a thousand reasons why you are experiencing these unwanted conditions. They could be caused a diet too high or low in a certain nutrient, too much or too little fiber, being intolerant or having an allergy to some type of food, and the list goes on.

Some people get diarrhea from orange juice, most don't; some people's digestive systems get triggered by eggs, most don't;... and the list goes on.

While there is no sure list of foods that everyone can remove and be successful with, those listed below are common causes of diarrhea and constipation... and you might want to try removing them first.

For those with diarrhea...

  • Spicy foods
  • Foods high in fiber
  • Artificial sweeteners
  • Diary products
  • Coffee & caffeinated beverages 
  • Fast food
  • Foods high in fat
  • Foods high in sugar
  • Foods commonly associated with allergies and intolerance (ex: peanuts)

For those with constipation...

  • Dairy products
  • Red meat
  • Fast food
  • Caffeine
  • Foods with gluten
  • Foods low in fiber (white bread, white pasta, etc)

If Your Situation Isn't Going Away or Getting Worse

This could potentially be the symptom of a more serious underlying condition. In this case we would suggest consulting with a doctor and getting to the bottom of things.

Do Avocados Cause Constipation? – What to Know

Avocados are healthy and delicious, but do they cause constipation? Because that would be a real deal-breaker if they do. Sure, we all want to live healthy lives and eat healthy, but if they are going to cause a digestive issues such as constipation then they aren't going to be worth it.

These little guys are thought to have been cultivated in South and Central America as far back as 5,000 BC. Spanish explorers first mentioned them in writing around the early 1500's. The name "avocado" actually comes from the Nahuatl word ahuacatl, which actually means “testicle”, probably because of the shape of these fruits.

It wasn't until the 1800s that they were first grown and harvested in the US, now being pretty popular harvests in tropical/subtropical places like Hawaii, Florida and California.

This is when they really started growing in popularity... and really started spreading.... healthy bowel movements or constipation? Which is it?

We've seen the question come up quite a bit... of whether or not avocados cause constipation which is the reason we are addressing it here. In short... there is very little reason why they would, although possible, and they are much more likely to act in the opposite direction, helping decrease the chances or rid you of constipation.

And this is great news!

Now you will not have to fear cutting guacamole out of your diet or cutting back on the avocado salads.

Avocados...

  • Are a great source of fiber (1 avocado has about 54% (13.5 g) of the DV you need according to Self Nutrition Data)
  • Have 4 g protein (normal store bought avocado from California or Florida)
  • High in heart-healthy monounsaturated fat
  • High in vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, vitamin B6, and more
  • Lots of minerals like potassium, magnesium, copper and manganese

Overall they are incredibly nutritious and well worth adding to your diet, although there is a slim chance they could potentially cause constipation…

They Could Cause Constipation... But Chances are Slim

There really isn't much to say here because there really isn't much reason that avocados would cause constipation.

However, they are very high in fat, a normal sized avocado from Florida or California containing about 29 g of fat (source: USDA), and diets that are high in fat can slow down digestion. This is why people who go on ketogenic diets (low carbs, high protein and fat) occasionally experience digestion issues such as constipation.

But they are more likely to help and even decrease chances of constipation even with their high fat content.

Why They Are MORE LIKELY TO HELP

Lots of Fiber

The main reason that avocados are likely to be beneficial when it comes to constipation is because they are great sources of fiber... and it is a lack of fiber that is often the cause of constipation.

As listed above, one normal sized avocado coming from Florida or California will bring you about 13.5 grams of fiber.

Fiber is great because it adds bulk and helps absorb water to keep stool from getting hard and difficult to pass. It basically helps keep things running smoothly and easily, and is well known to help increase bowel movement frequency.

It's no wonder that too much fiber can cause diarrhea, which is the reason low fiber foods are at the top of our list of foods to eat when you have diarrhea.

Vitamins & Minerals That Help Too

A lot of the vitamins and minerals that avocados have also help keep your digestive system operating smoothly.

Potassium is a big one and something that they supply a hefty dose of. This mineral helps the brain communicate with muscles that play a key role in digestion. And the magnesium they contain should help with muscular contraction, which is what pushes your food along the digestive process.

Vitamin B6 is also important during digestion, aiding in the process of breaking down proteins... something else that avocados are fairly high in.

And this is still just naming a few.

Constipation In Babies and Children

There seems to be a lot of people looking for information regarding constipation in young children. The same applies here though... avocados should be a good food that helps prevent or treat the condition.

There is plenty of information from other credible sources that agrees with this. An article written by Stanford Children's Health on this topic lists avocados as a food to eat as a treatment for constipation.

Overall they are something that makes a great baby food due to their soft nature and rich nutrition.

​Are You Convinced That Avocados Are Causing Constipation?

If you or someone you know is experiencing constipation and are convinced that it is the avocados that are the cause, have you ever considered it could be something else eaten with the avocados that is causing it?

Did you maybe add some other food to your diet at the same time that you are eating in conjunction with them?

What you could do to really get to the bottom of things is try out an elimination diet.. This is where you would eliminate certain foods from your diet and wait to see if there is any change in how you are feeling. You would wait to see if the constipation goes away. However, this can be tricky because with some foods the symptoms could take longer to disappear than with others, and the symptom in question also makes a big difference.

Conclusion

There is no good reason why avocados would cause constipation. Nearly all the information out there points to them benefiting such a condition in positive ways. 

Of course there are many strange reasons that one person might get constipated while most don't, but the only notable reason we see that avocados could cause a condition like this would be due to their high fat content. But even with this it is highly unlikely due to all the fiber as mentioned.

It could be that a diet already very high in fat and very low in fiber could tip the scales a little bit too far, but eating avocados with a decently balanced diet should be no problem.

Does Acupuncture Help Constipation? – A 2500 Year Old Treatment

Does acupuncture help constipation? This type of "needle therapy" has a long list of claimed benefits... constipation being one of them. But the questions is whether or not it 'actually' helps.

Constipation is a pain, no one wants to deal with it, especially in severe cases. It's characterized by reduced frequency of bowel movements, hard and clumpy stools, increased strain, pain and feeling as if you never completely emptied after a movement.

But how effective is acupuncture for treating this really? Surprisingly, it has been found to be fairly effective based on the studies out there performed on this topic. As you will see, many trials have had high numbers of success... but we'll get into all of this in a bit.

Acupuncture is commonly used as a treatment for...

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Stress
  • Depression

...but, as said, the list of benefits is long. Others that are not so commonly thought include...

  • Allergy relief
  • Addiction treatment
  • Headache and eye-strain relief
  • Stroke rehab
  • And of course... DIGESTIVE PROBLEMS like constipation

What exactly is acupuncture?

It's more than what meets the eye. While often being seen as just a way to alleviate pain by sticking needles in or around troubled areas, it is much more than that. This is just how it is often seen in the west.

However, acupuncture originated in the far east, China. Some sources say that the more modern form started some 2,500 years ago, and before that sharpened stones and bones were used dating back to around 6,000 BC.

In eastern practice there is more of a focus in energy flow throughout the body. Many believe that illnesses and disorders come from unbalanced energy flow and that acupuncture can fix this. That said, there isn't really any cold hard science to back up these claims.

Just a Bunch of Quack or Can This Really Treat Constipation?

There are a heck of a lot of claimed benefits but unfortunately many are not well supported with scientific findings. Additionally there are a lot of inconsistent reviews and trials out there.

That said, there is some good evidence that acupuncture could very well be an effective treatment for conditions like constipation. And the World Health Organization seems to think so too. They list constipation as a condition acupuncture can potentially treat.

Where's the proof?...

Study #1..

A 2013 study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine tested the effectiveness of acupuncture on patients with chronic functional constipation. Different measures taken included things such as the colonic transit activity, effective rate, Cleveland Clinic Score. The trials were performed on 1256 individuals total and overall the results were positive. 

  • Colonic transit activity = as effective as medicinal therapy
  • Cleveland Clinic Score = no less inferior than conventional medical therapy

The conclusion was that acupuncture may be an effective and safe treatment. However, the downside to the study is that it was not of the best quality.

* It is also worth noting that deeper needles to the abdomen area were found to be more effective.

Study #2..

Another study published in Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine in 2017 tested the effects of electroacupuncture on functional constipation. Patients received treatment for a period of 4 weeks, consisting of 16 total sessions that lasted about 30 minutes each.

*Electroacupuncture is when acupuncture is administered with the addition of the needles being hooked up to a small electric current. It is actually pretty common in western as well as eastern practices.

The results.... significant improvement in bowel movement frequency, stool consistency and reduced strain. While not everyone in the study responded as positively as hoped, over 50% of patients had significant improvement. And maybe even more interestingly... patients retained improved status for 8 weeks following treatment.

Study #3..

Another study titled Acupuncture for Treatment of Chronic Functional Constipation tested both acupuncture and electroacupuncture. 90 Cases were treated and resulted in a 67.7% effectiveness rate. Of those whom it was effective on, things such as defecation frequency, stool quality, difficulty, and defecation time were improved.

Results show effectiveness but there is potential for bias..

A systemic review from 2016 took a look at 19 studies with a total of 1,679 patients and found that, while acupuncture was shown to be more effective than medication overall and with less side effects, many of the studies performed have been poor quality and ran the risk of potentially being biased.

Does this mean that it's not effective?

Certainly not. It just means that there is much room for more improved and properly performed studies to prove acupuncture's effectiveness.

Different Acupuncture Points for Constipation Relief

There is no standard protocol for constipation relief when it comes to acupuncture. There seem to be a many different acupuncturists doing things differently, yet many claim to be getting good results.

That said, according to a 2012 study the best points for a therapeutic effect consist of:

  • Back-Shu and Front-Mu (most common acupuncture points)
  • He-Sea and Lower He-Sea points
  • A Combination of both Shu-Mu points (located at abdomen and lower-back) and He points (located at upper and lower limbs) is thought to be best

Although other points have been shown to be effective as well. The one study that was mentioned above that produced a rate of 67.7% effectiveness used the points:

  • Tianshu (ST 25)
  • Qihai (CV 6)
  • Shangjuxu (ST 37)
  • Ahongliao (BL 33)

Also, there is a lengthy post on wikiHow that explains everything but we'll give a brief summary of some of the points that are supposed to be effective for such treatment.

For Pregnancy-related Constipation:

  • Zhigou (SJ 6) - This point is located on the top side of the forearm about 4 inches up the arm from the wrist. For best results it is said the needle should be inserted at a perpendicular angle.
  • Zhaohai (KID 6) - Zhaohai is just below the bony point of the inside of your ankle. The needle should also go in at a perpendicular angle. When combined with the SJ 6 point it is said to be more effective.
  • Tsusanli (ST 36) - Located about halfway between the knee and the ankle on the inside of the leg, the needle should be inserted about 1-2.5in at a perpendicular angle.
  • Yanglingquan (GB 34) - This spot is just below the knee on the outside of the leg. Inserting the needle 1-2 inches perpendicularly should do.

Other Constipation Relief Points:

  • Taibai (SP 3) - To use this acupuncture point you are going to want to apply a needle about 7/10"-1" deep on the inside of the foot slightly less than halfway from the tip of the big toe to the point of the ankle.
  • Zhangmen (LR 13) - LR 13 is on the abdomen just below the bottom rib of your ribcage. Insert a needle at a perpendicular angle about 1.3 inches in.

To Acupuncture or Not To Acupuncture?

While there is a lack of quality studies that suggest its effectiveness, there seems to be a pretty unanimous agreement that it is effective to some degree.

And the fact that it is affordable, has a low risk of side effects, and just looks cool, make it an alternative that very may well be worth trying out for yourself.

There doesn't seem to be any core protocol for treating different types of constipation with acupuncture. It seems that many different points are used and found effective, but maybe this is just how it works.

Oh... and by the way... if you are worrying that it might hurt... Don't! Acupuncture needles are very fine and nothing to worry about. They usually are only a fraction of the thickness of a doctor needle.

  • For natural ways to help constipation through your diet, check out our articles on grapes and flaxseed.

4 Ways Flaxseed Helps Constipation – For More Pleasant Bowel Movements

There it's a good chance you are constipated if you have…

  • Less than 3 bowel movements a week
  • Stools are hard and lumpy
  • You have difficulty emptying bowels
  • Lack appetite

It's usually nothing to panic about and everyone has their fair share of constipated bowel movements over the years, but nonetheless it is a very annoying occurrence at the very least and can be frustrating as well as extremely uncomfortable.

Relieving constipation is a must and luckily there are plenty of natural foods out there that can help solve this problem, flaxseed being one of them. This is no new finding. Using flaxseed to help with constipation has been used for centuries in traditional Chinese medicine and with the increasing number of research being done on this particular topic, it is pretty well proven to help.

Constipation.. a Number of Causes and a Number of Solutions..

Constipation, like diarrhea, has a number of causes. However, some of the more common ones include…

  • Lack of fiber
  • Not getting enough H2O
  • Inactivity 
  • Eating too much dairy
  • Medications
  • Digestive diseases

Because there are many different causes of this particular condition you should keep in mind that just because flaxseed helps relieve diarrhea in one person doesn't mean it is necessarily going to work for you, although it does have a good chance.

4 Ways that Flaxseed Helps

How It Helps..

1. It Increases Stool Consistency

Constipation is characterized by a hard lumpy stool, which makes it very difficult to pass. This is not a good consistency to have and luckily flaxseed can help with that.

A 2018 study published in Nutrition and Metabolism (scientific journal) showed that a daily intake of 10 g flaxseed (which is just under 2 tablespoons) can improve stool consistency, making it more formed, soft, and overall easier for your body to get rid of.

In the study 10 g of flaxseed was baked into cookies and patients consumed them daily for 12 weeks. The results were that 42.3% of patients who consumed the flaxseed cookies reported at least somewhat of an improvement in symptoms of constipation, compared to only 7.4% who ate placebo cookies. The stool consistency was then looked at and also showed improvement for the flaxseed group but no improvement in the placebo group.

2. And It Increases Stool Frequency Too

A separate study that tested the laxative effects of flaxseed meal found that it can increase the stool frequency as well. This makes perfect sense, after all if it increases the consistency then an increase in frequency should come along with it due to the simple fact that it is much more easy for the digestive system to get rid of.

In this study flaxseed meal was fed to constipated mice for 14 days. The results were that it "significantly increased amount of defecation and wet weight of feces".

Why It Might Help..

3. It's a good source of fiber

Fiber is easily one of the most common causes of constipation… Specifically lack of fiber. That is how it usually works, constipation is due to lack of fiber and diarrhea is due to too much fiber, although it doesn't always work out this way 100% of the time.

There is insoluble fiber and then there is soluble fiber. Insoluble fiber is not broken down by the digestive system and helps break up food and add bulk to stool. Soluble fiber helps to absorb water and can lead to softer stool that is easier for your body to release.

If you consume only 10 g of flaxseed a day then you are getting about 1 g of soluble fiber and 3 g of insoluble fiber, which is a pretty darn good amount. And just to put this into perspective for you, most ground flaxseed products have their serving size listed at 2 tablespoons which is 14 g. 

4. Omega-3 fatty acids can help

Omega-3 fatty acids are probably most well-known for being beneficial to heart health, but they may also help with healthy bowel movements. There is some evidence that exists which suggests that they help with symptoms of Crohn's disease and ulcertative colitis, which includes constipation.

Why omega-3 fatty acids help is largely unstudied. They are known to help reduce inflammation from constipation in the intestines and colon and can act as a lubrication which could be the reasons for such benefits.

Fish oil is probably the most commonly taken supplement when it comes to omega-3's but is far from the only good source of them. According to WebMD 1 tablespoon of flaxseed will give you about 1.8 g of these fatty acids.

Flaxseed Oil is Effective as Well

If you were to look up whether or not flaxseed oil is effective for fighting constipation you would find information to the contrary, stating that it is not a good remedy. However, we beg to differ.

Yes, flaxseed oil has zero fiber BUT there are a number of studies out there showing it to be a good treatment.

A study from the Journal of Renal Nutrition tested flaxseed oil as a constipation treatment for people doing hemodialysis. This study was a double-blind, randomized, four week long study that consisted of 50 constipated patients. The results… The oil proved to be as effective as mineral oil which is a well-known constipation treatment.

Another study performed on rabbits and guinea pigs found flaxseed oil to not only help with constipation, but also to have antidiarrheal effects. Basically what was found here is that the oil helps your bowels return to healthy normal movements and can be beneficial for either side of the spectrum.

So Should You Be Taking Flaxseed for Constipation?

There our a lot of health foods out there that are claimed to be good for treating conditions like constipation but seriously lacked the evidence of being effective. Flaxseed is not one of them. Flaxseed as an effective treatment has plenty of scientific backing.

As mentioned earlier, this is definitely not going to work for everyone because of the many causes of constipation, but it is worth a try. And even if it doesn't work, at least you benefit from it in other ways.

So go out there bake some flaxseed cookies, whip up some flaxseed in your pancakes or maybe mix them in a smoothie. Give it a try and see if it works for you.

There are also plenty of other natural treatments you could try. Looking for something sweet? Grapes help too.

Grapes and Constipation – A Cause or Cure?

You may be tuned in here because you heard that grapes could help with the problem, or maybe you are on the opposite side and have come to conclusion that they may be a cause… But what is the truth of the matter? What is the connection between grapes and constipation? Are they a cause of this unwanted condition, or a possible cure?

The domestication of grapes began around 6000 to 8000 years ago it is estimated. This delicious health food has made its way into many cultures, and is often consumed for both its nutritious value and delicious taste… Providing a nice sugary taste while also delivering lots of vitamins and antioxidants among other things.

Of all grapes' contents, a compound called resveratrol is one of the most highly esteemed. This compound, found in large amounts in red grapes, is thought to behave very much like an antioxidant and is likely behind many of the benefits of great consumption, some of which include…

  • Decreased chances of heart disease and may even decrease cancer risk
  • Lowered risk of weight gain
  • Fights early aging
  • Helps immune system health
  • And so on...

But although grapes have one heck of a history and are well known to be a very healthy snack, they are not worth popping a vein in your forehead over when trying to take a crap.

What exactly is constipation?

Constipation is a very broad term and can have 1001 different causes. It is typically characterized by…

  • Going to the bathroom less frequently
  • Having hard, lumpy stools
  • Straining to get it out

While this post may be written in a lighthearted manner, this is no laughing matter. When left untreated constipation can lead to other much more serious problems than just straining a little bit more than normal to use the restroom.

But don't go throwing out those grapes just yet… Luckily, grapes are much more likely to help with this condition rather than cause it. 

3 ways grapes can help..

#1 - Lots of water 

Did you know that constipation and dehydration of the colon go hand in hand? According to an article published on WebMD, dehydration is one of the leading causes of constipation. If you think about it this seems like common sense… If you want more liquidy and less hard turds, then just drink more water.

They say that 8 cups of water a day should be everyone's goal… But if you don't like drinking water all that much you can always just eat foods that contain high amounts of water, like grapes. Grapes happen to be extremely hydrating with around 70% of their weight being water.

#2 - High in insoluble fiber

Consuming a good amount of fiber regularly can have major positive effects when it comes to normal bowel movements. People that get good amounts on a daily basis are much less likely to suffer from constipation… And luckily eating grapes can be a good source of such fiber.

Unlike soluble fiber, insoluble fiber is not broken down in the digestive process. It remains intact and helps aid in digestion… Helping things flow smoothly throughout.

If you want to get the most out of your grapes, eat them raw with the skin on. In general, 10 grapes can provide you with around 2.5 g of fiber. And forget about the juice… Grape juice is not going to be nearly as effective as grapes in their raw form.

#3 - Helps support gut bacteria

Grapes have also been found to improve gut flora, which is also very important when it comes to healthy bowel movements.

What the heck is gut flora and why is this important? Well… It is the community of microorganisms that live in everyone's digestive tract, playing very important roles in the digestion of everything we eat. An article published in the SpringerPlus journal states that alterations of intestinal microbiota may contribute to constipation, which is the reason that probiotics are becoming more popular when dealing with such conditions.

As a general rule of thumb, eating less processed and more natural foods is usually a good thing for such, and thus consuming grapes for such a purpose makes sense. Not only might they be beneficial for good gut flora, but they also may help fight off bad gut flora.

Can they cause constipation?

While there is almost bound to be a select few people that exist in which grapes cause them constipation, there is no information on this. All the information out there and studies that have been performed point to grapes lending a helping hand in relief of this ailment.

However... they could cause diarrhea 

Grapes can however cause the opposite of constipation, which is diarrhea. That said, many people reading this may look forward to flipping the table and experiencing such.

The reason they could be the cause of such is because of their high water content, insoluble fiber and sometimes their high amount of fructose.

Grapes don't contain much soluble fiber to soak up excess water (although some), most of it being insoluble. This coupled with the fact that this fruit contains very high water content could mean watery and frequent bathroom visits. And, although less likely to be a problem, grapes are high in fructose which some people can't handle too much of due to fructose malabsorption. This can increase the water inside the intestines and lead to diarrhea.

But they are unlikely to really cause it (which is why we listed them on our fruits that help with diarrhea post)... and even if they do, as stated earlier, it may be well worth it. If eaten in moderation they are much more likely to help you return to normal bathroom visits.

Give them a try

There is nothing better than natural foods when it comes to constipation relief and grapes are a promising fruit that bring about a wide array of benefits far from just helping with your ability to defecate.

Next time you are constipated pick up some raw grapes at the store and eat them by the handful. This isn't going to be a fix for everyone but is well worth the try and very well could be an effective treatment, or at least help.