(NaturalNews) Constipation, or the inability to properly and regularly eliminate waste from the digestive system, is a growing problem for millions. Particularly among aging "baby boomers" and the elderly, chronic constipation is an issue with potentially life-threatening consequences, including organ disease, diverticulitis, a type of intestinal inflammation, and even early death. But there are real solutions out there to address the problem of chronic constipation that do not involve taking pharmaceutical drugs or undergoing invasive surgeries, some of which we will cover here.
One of the most common failed approaches to addressing constipation involves the use of laxatives, which can actually make the constipation problem worse over time. Laxatives may help get things moving initially, but the body can become addicted to them. It can also develop a tolerance to them, which means an increasing amount of laxatives is needed to keep things regular, as the body further loses its ability to process and digest food. In many cases, laxatives end up making constipation worse, which perpetuates an endless cycle of poor digestion.
"Within days, this laxative habit can aggravate the cycle of chronic constipation and the need to take another laxative, and then another," Dr. Harris H. McIlwain, a board-certified doctor of rheumatology and geriatric medicine, is quoted as saying about the inadequacy of laxatives in addressing the root causes of chronic constipation.
The importance of stomach acid in curing chronic constipation
A more effective and holistic approach to healing chronic constipation is to first repair and rebuild your body's ability to effectively produce stomach acid. Also known as hydrochloric acid (HCL), stomach acid is arguably the most important factor in regulating digestive health, and a lack of it may be the reason why you are constipated. HCL, after all, is essential for breaking down food and eliminating waste from the small intestine.
"Stomach acid is a digestive fluid formed in your stomach to break down food," explains natural health expert Charles Poliquin. "A serious but common problem is that because low stomach acid leads to impaired digestion, it is often misdiagnosed as having too much stomach acid. This is because when the stomach does not empty correctly, partly digested carbohydrates and proteins that have started to ferment in the stomach will back up into the esophagus -- an uncomfortable problem that is interpreted by uninformed individuals and physicians as too much stomach acid."
The importance of bacterial balance in alleviating chronic constipation
Once you get your stomach acid in check, the next step is to support your inner ecosystem with living probiotics. Cultured vegetables, kombucha tea, yogurt, raw milk, and kefir are a few examples of probiotic-rich foods that will help populate your gut with the bacteria needed to break down food and eliminate toxins, including heavy metals like mercury that can become impacted in the gut.
A 2003 study published in the Canadian Journal of Gastroenterology, for instance, provides evidence of the benefits of probiotic foods in alleviating chronic constipation. This particular study found that patients who drank a probiotic beverage containing Lactobacillus casei Shirota (LcS) for four weeks experienced significant improvement in their symptoms -- 88 percent of participants drinking the beverage, in fact, experienced positive results. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/14631461)
The benefits of magnesium, colon hydrotherapy in mitigating chronic constipation
For many people, a simple lack of dietary magnesium is responsible for chronic constipation. The Standard American Diet (SAD) is dominated by processed meat, dairy, and grain products, but lacks significantly in foods that contain magnesium. An important mineral for healthy bowel function, magnesium is required by your digestive muscles to process and move food.
"Magnesium normalizes tension on colon walls allowing for a normal peristaltic action," explains the website for Natural Vitality's Natural Calm magnesium supplement. "Also, magnesium attracts water and allows you to bring in more water into your colon."
Colonics, and specifically colon hydrotherapy, is another option for maintaining regularity. Colon hydrotherapy involves cleansing the colon with an enema of water, or in some cases, coffee -- you can learn more about the benefits of coffee enemas here: http://www.naturalnews.com -- for the purpose of flushing out impacted fecal matter and other waste that can clog the digestive tract and cause constipation.
"If medical centers, hospitals, and clinics installed colon hydrotherapy departments, they would find such departments just as efficacious for patients as their present treatment areas which are devoted to physiotherapy," says Dr. Leonard Smith, M.D., a board-certified general surgeon, as quoted by The Colon Therapists Network. (http://www.colonhealth.net/colon_hydrotherapy/index.html)