What Is Constipation?
Constipation occurs when bowel movements become difficult or less frequent. The normal length of time between bowel movements ranges widely from person to person. Some people have bowel movements three times a day; Others, only one or two times a week. Going longer than three days without a bowel movement is too long. After three days, the stool or feces become harder and more difficult to pass.
You are considered constipated if you have two or more of the following for at least three months:
Constipation is a symptom, not a disease. Almost everyone experiences constipation at some point in their life, and a poor diet typically is the cause. Most constipation is temporary and not serious. Understanding its causes, prevention, and treatment will help most people find relief.
What Are the Symptoms of Constipation?
Symptoms of constipation can include:
• Infrequent bowel movements and/or difficulty having bowel movements.
• Swollen abdomen or abdominal pain.
Who gets constipated?
Constipation is one of the most common gastrointestinal complaints in the United States. More than 4 million Americans have frequent constipation, accounting for 2.5 million physician visits a year. Those reporting constipation most often are women and adults ages 65 and older. Pregnant women may have constipation, and it is a common problem following childbirth or surgery.
Self-treatment of constipation with over-the-counter (OTC) laxatives is by far the most common aid. Americans spend more than $725 million each year on laxatives.
What causes constipation?
To understand constipation, it helps to know how the colon, or large intestine, works. As food moves through the colon, the colon absorbs water from the food while it forms waste products, or stool. Muscle contractions in the colon then push the stool toward the rectum. By the time stool reaches the rectum it is solid, because most of the water has been absorbed.
Constipation occurs when the colon absorbs too much water or if the colon’s muscle contractions are slow or sluggish, causing the stool to move through the colon too slowly. As a result, stools can become hard and dry. Common causes of constipation are
- • not enough fiber in the diet
- • lack of physical activity (especially in the elderly)
- • medications
- • milk (dairy products)
- • irritable bowel syndrome
- • changes in life or routine such as pregnancy, aging, and travel
- • abuse of laxatives
- • ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
- • dehydration
- • specific diseases or conditions, such as stroke (most common)
- • problems with the colon and rectum
- • problems with intestinal function (chronic idiopathic constipation)
- • inadequate water intake
- • stress
- • Hypothyroidism
- • neurological conditions (Parkinson’s disease or MS)
People who eat a high-fiber diet are less likely to become constipated. The most common causes of constipation are a diet low in fiber or a diet high in fats, (cheese, eggs, and meats).
Fiber—both soluble and insoluble—is the part of fruits, vegetables, and grains that the body cannot digest. Soluble fiber dissolves easily in water and takes on a soft, gel-like texture in the intestines. Insoluble fiber passes through the intestines almost unchanged. The bulk and soft texture of fiber help prevent hard, dry stools that are difficult to pass.
Americans eat an average of 5 to 14 grams of fiber daily, which is short of the 20 to 35 grams recommended by the American Dietetic Association. Both children and adults often eat too many refined and processed foods from which the natural fiber has been removed.
Research shows that although increased fluid intake does not necessarily help relieve constipation, many people report some relief from their constipation if they drink fluids such as water and juice and avoid dehydration. Liquids add fluid to the colon and bulk to stools, making bowel movements softer and easier to pass. People who have problems with constipation should try to drink liquids every day. However, liquids that contain caffeine, such as coffee and cola drinks will worsen one’s symptoms by causing dehydration. Alcohol is another beverage that causes dehydration. It is important to drink fluids that hydrate the body, especially when consuming caffeine containing drinks or alcoholic beverages.
A lack of physical activity can lead to constipation, although doctors do not know precisely why. For example, constipation often occurs after an accident or during an illness when one must stay in bed and cannot exercise. Lack of physical activity is thought to be one of the reasons constipation is common in older people.
During pregnancy, women may be constipated because of hormonal changes or because the uterus compresses the intestine. Aging may also affect bowel regularity, because a slower metabolism results in less intestinal activity and muscle tone. In addition, people often become constipated when traveling, because their normal diet and daily routine are disrupted.
Diseases that cause constipation include neurological disorders, metabolic and endocrine disorders, and systemic conditions that affect organ systems. These disorders can slow the movement of stool through the colon, rectum, or anus.
Conditions that can cause constipation are found below.
Problems with Intestinal Function
The two types of constipation are idiopathic constipation and functional constipation. Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) with predominant symptoms of constipation is categorized separately.
Idiopathic—of unknown origin—constipation does not respond to standard treatment.
Functional constipation means that the bowel is healthy but not working properly. Functional constipation is often the result of poor dietary habits and lifestyle. It occurs in both children and adults and is most common in women. Colonic inertia, delayed transit, and pelvic floor dysfunction are three types of functional constipation. Colonic inertia and delayed transit are caused by a decrease in muscle activity in the colon. These syndromes may affect the entire colon or may be confined to the lower, or sigmoid, colon.
Pelvic floor dysfunction is caused by a weakness of the muscles in the pelvis surrounding the anus and rectum. However, because this group of muscles is voluntarily controlled to some extent, biofeedback training is somewhat successful in retraining the muscles to function normally and improving the ability to have a bowel movement.
Functional constipation that stems from problems in the structure of the anus and rectum is known as anorectal dysfunction, or anismus. These abnormalities result in an inability to relax the rectal and anal muscles that allow stool to exit.
How can cannabis help relieve constipation?
Constipation of intestinal reflexes may be alleviated by the anti-emetic properties of cannabis. Relief of constipation was one of the original cannabis indications cited by Shen-Nung five thousand years ago. Virtually every historical medical reference since that time has included similar observations. On the other hand, opiates commonly cause very severe constipation..
Ingesting whole cannabis extract will relax your bowels. Smoking/Vaporizing cannabis will relax your bowels
“Smoking marijuana worked to produce an immediate result, usually in less than two minutes.”
“Hemp seed oil products mixed with herbal extracts are widely sold in China as laxatives.”
Around (2,300 B.C.) hemp was documented as a medicine. Emperor Shen Nung prescribed hemp for the treatment of constipation along with a long list of other ailments. In India, the ayurvedic physicians mix hemp leaves with milk, sugar and spices to treat constipation.
Cannabis Seed for Constipation
Make your own (laxative) concoction: Put 10-15 grams of cannabis seed into your blender or food processor. Drizzle in, ( a little at a time), good quality EVOO (olive oil) and some Meyer lemon zest and juice.
Cannabis seed oil is nutritious. The seeds are rich in essential fatty acids: the omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid (ALA) and the omega-6 fatty acid gamma-linolenic acid (GLA). Seeds also contain natural vitamin E and protein.
A study found that the “hemp seed pill “(HSP) relieves a form of constipation known in traditional Chinese medicine as “excessive syndrome,” in which the bowels dry out and cause problems such as dry mouth, abdominal swelling and pain and trouble sleeping.
The study, made up of 120 people and split into two groups, one receiving 7.5 grams of HSP in 150 ml of hot water while the other group got a placebo, (twice a day for 8 weeks). Forty three percent of those taking the HSP reported improvement in their bowel movements, compared to only eight percent in the placebo group. Cannabis has a stabilizing affect on the digestive system. It binds to the nerves that control the digestive system and will reduce symptoms of IBS.
Cannabinoids are antispasmodic. Sedate when there is irritation. Relaxe the smooth muscles.
The relaxing effects of THC can help your intestines pass bulk bowel movements much easier and more quickly because the cannabinoid (THC) relaxes the nerves in the intestional wall. There is a theory that THC helps the stomach digest and process foods more easily.
“Tincture of Cannabis” was an “over the counter” preparation available in most drug stores in the United States until 1937.
Concoction: a combination of various ingredients, usually herbs, spices, powders or minerals, mixed together, minced, dissolved, or macerated into a liquid so it can be ingested or drunk.
Decoction: combining different ingredients by heating or boiling to get the active ingredients released.
A concoction of: Rhubarb, Cannabis sativa, and Elecampane is suppose to be a very effective laxative. “It gives no harmful effect to internal organs but activates their functions and promotes digestion by dissolving bile.”
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