11 Surprising Home Remedies for Constipation

The cure for constipation may be as close as your kitchen! Try these natural cures for quick relief.

Adapted by Taylor Shea from Kitchen Cabinet Cures (Reader's Digest Association Books)
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    Sesame seeds

    The oily composition of sesame seeds works to moisturize the intestines, which can help if dry stools are a problem. Add the seeds to cereals or salads for crunch, or pulverize them in a coffee grinder and sprinkle on food like a seasoning. This home remedy for constipation is a favorite of Amish and Chinese folk healers.

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    Molasses

    One tablespoon of blackstrap molasses before bed should help ease your constipation by morning. Blackstrap molasses is boiled and concentrated three times, so it has significant vitamins and minerals; magnesium in particular will help relieve your constipation.

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    Fiber

    Fiber acts like a pipe cleaner, scrubbing food and waste particles from your digestive tract and soaking up water. It adds bulk to your stool, giving the muscles of your GI tract something to grab on to, so they can keep food moving along. Aim for 20 to 35 grams of fiber a day to stay regular. Foods particularly high in fiber include bran cereals, beans, lentils, oatmeal, almonds, barley, many vegetables, and fresh and dried fruits. If you're constipated and taking in additional fiber, be sure to drink more water than usual to keep your stool soft and easy to pass.

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    Mint or ginger tea

    Mint and ginger are both proven home remedies to help alleviate a slew of digestive problems. Peppermint contains menthol, which has an antispasmodic effect that relaxes the muscles of the digestive tract. Ginger is a "warming" herb that causes the inside of the body to generate more heat; herbalists say this can help speed up sluggish digestion. In tea, the hot water will also stimulate digestion and help relieve constipation. Dandelion tea is also a gentle laxative and detoxifier.

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    Healthy fats

    Olive oil, nuts, and avocados all contain healthy fats, which can help lubricate your intestines and ease constipation. A salad with fiber-rich leafy greens and a simple olive oil dressing, a small handful of nuts, or a tablespoon of natural nut butter on fruit or toast are good options. Even if you're watching your weight, healthy fats are necessary for basic body functions; they are very satiating to keep you satisfied with less.

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    Lemon water

    The citric acid in lemon juice acts as a stimulant to your digestive system and can help flush toxins from your body. Squeeze fresh lemon juice into a glass of water every morning, or add lemon to tea; you may find that the refreshingly tart water not only acts as a natural remedy to your constipation but also that it helps you drink more water each day, which will improve your long-term digestion.

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    Coffee

    Coffee can stimulate your colon and speed up your trip to the bathroom. Other hot drinks work too: Herbal tea or a cup of hot water with a little lemon juice (a natural laxative) or honey may stimulate your colon as well. Coffee is also a diuretic, however, so make sure to keep drinking water or your constipation could become worse.

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    Raisins

    High in fiber, raisins also contain tartaric acid, which has a laxative effect. In one study, doctors determined that panelists who ate 4 1/2 ounces of raisins (one small box) per day had their digested food make it through the digestive track in half the time it took other subjects who did not. Cherries and apricots are also rich in fiber and can help kick your constipation. Eat these fruits with a bowl of yogurt for the added benefits of gut-soothing probiotics.

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    Prunes

    These fiber-rich fruits are a go-to home remedy for getting your digestion back on track. Three prunes have 3 grams of fiber, and they also contain a compound that triggers the intestinal contraction that makes you want to go. Another great dried fruit choice is figs, which may not cause as much bloating as prunes.

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    Castor oil

    This home remedy for constipation has been handed down for generations. One of the primary uses for castor oil is as a laxative; take 1 to 2 teaspoons on an empty stomach and you should see results in about 8 hours. Why? A component in the oil breaks down into a substance that stimulates your large and small intestines.

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    Move your body

    Even a daily 15-minute walk can help move food through your bowel more quickly. If you feel sleepy after a heavy meal, try to move around instead of lying down. Jumpstarting the digestive process can help you avoid that painfully full feeling that often follows a large meal.

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