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5 remedies for constipation that might not work for you!

Why sometimes eating fibre-rich foods and having lukewarm water doesn't help in inducing a bowel movement.

Written by Debjani Arora |Updated : July 27, 2016 10:10 AM IST

Read this in HINDI

Dietary fibre, lukewarm water, stool softeners, laxatives have you tried everything for your constipation with little or no relief? Then you have landed on the right page. Because all that you have heard about constipation remedies aren t true. Well, to be precise they might be partly true. Remember, all home or natural remedies don t work for everyone. Getting relief from constipation with the help of home remedies is a trial and error process. Here are few of the common remedies that most people swear by but they might not be effective for everyone:

1. Eating more fibre

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People believe that adding more dietary fibre to your plate through breakfast cereals, pulses and legumes and various other grains can add bulk to your bowel, loosen its consistency and help you pass a motion. However, this isn t entirely true; while fibre works for some, it does just the opposite to others. A study done to evaluate the effect of fibre on people who suffered from idiopathic constipation where a person passes motions less than three times a week saw that lowering dietary fibre helped reduce symptoms of constipation in them. The study done on 63 patients divided into three groups of no-fibre, low-fibre and high-fibre diet showed that patients who stopped or reduced dietary fibre had significant improvement in their symptoms while those who continued on a high fibre diet had no change [1]. This shows that the magic of dietary fibre doesn t work for everyone.

2. Drinking warm or cold water

Dehydration is supposed to be one of the major causes of constipation and this is a well-established fact. However, this doesn t mean that gulping down litres of water can help you increase stool frequency or consistency. Studies suggest that water is only helpful when taken in supplementation with a high-fibre diet for people who suffer from functional constipation which happens due to a neurological, psychological or psychosomatic cause and not due to an anatomical or hormonal cause. A study published in the journal Hepatogastroenterology stated that adequate water intake with at least 25 gm of fibre through diet (which can be equivalent to two slices of brown bread or one bowl of brown rice) can help relieve constipation [2]. So if you are just drinking water before going to the restroom this might not be an effective solution.

3. Including probiotics

Yes, there are studies that say including probiotics in your diet can help you combat constipation and reduce its symptoms. A recent study done on children who suffered from constipation showed that intake of probiotics increased the concentration of good bacteria in the gut and helped to loosen the stool consistency and improved frequency. However, the results came to show only on 4th week after consistent inclusion of probiotics in the diet [3]. So again if you are expecting a miraculous relief from constipation with adding yoghurt to your diet, don t.

4. Taking herbal supplements

You need to be very cautious while picking up an over-the-counter herbal supplement as all supplements don t work for everybody. So if you want to try one of these herbal remedies, it is best to consult a practitioner first.

5. Having antacids

Many believe that constipation is also an outcome of constant acidity or GERD so having over-the-counter antacids can help relieve constipation. Well, not all antacids can help you here, but the milk of magnesia can do the trick. A study done in children showed that milk of magnesia helped to treat constipation effectively [4]. So next time you know what to get over-the-counter when both constipation and bloating gets the better of you.


1. Ho, K. S., Tan, C. Y. M., Daud, M. A. M., & Seow-Choen, F. (2012). Stopping or reducing dietary fiber intake reduces constipation and its associated symptoms. World journal of gastroenterology: WJG, 18(33), 4593.

2. 1: Anti M, Pignataro G, Armuzzi A, Valenti A, Iascone E, Marmo R, Lamazza A,Pretaroli AR, Pace V, Leo P, Castelli A, Gasbarrini G. Water supplementation enhances the effect of high-fiber diet on stool frequency and laxative consumption in adult patients with functional constipation. Hepatogastroenterology. 1998 May-Jun;45(21):727-32. PubMed PMID: 9684123.

3. Sadeghzadeh, M., Rabieefar, A., Khoshnevisasl, P., Mousavinasab, N., & Eftekhari, K. (2014). The Effect of Probiotics on Childhood Constipation: A Randomized Controlled Double Blind Clinical Trial. International journal of pediatrics, 2014.

4. 1: Loening-Baucke V, Pashankar DS. A randomized, prospective, comparison study of polyethylene glycol 3350 without electrolytes and milk of magnesia for children with constipation and fecal incontinence. Pediatrics. 2006 Aug;118(2):528-35.PubMed PMID: 16882804.

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