Constipation, though common, is a symptom of a disorder. Insufficient water intake and a lack of fibre consumption are two leading causes of general constipation. Other known causes may be attributed to particular prescription meds, such as antidepressants. For more chronic cases of constipation, diseases may be involved such as diverticulitis, colitis, pancreatitis, colon and ovarian cancer. Constipation can be agonisingly uncomfortable, causing minimal waste elimination to absolutely no elimination at all. When this occurs, pain is usually present.
If left untreated, constipation may lead to an array of medical problems, including intestinal obstruction, haemorrhoids and hernias. If constipation is not disease-related, natural remedies such as prunes and senna herbs (or psyllium husk) offer quick and effective relief. Constipation that is resistant to general remedies or lasting longer than two weeks, or is alternated with diarrhoea, should be referred to a physician.
Benefits of Prunes
Prunes (a natural laxative) are plums that have been picked prior to full maturation and dehydrated. Although prunes are approximately 6 per cent fibre, prune juice concentrate lacks the same, according to Health Directories. Interestingly, this lack of fibre in prune juice does not diminish its ability to promote regularity.
According to Health Directories, prunes promote regularity of the bowels due to the active lithocholic acid. Prunes are high in sorbitol, which is not easily digested, thereby remaining undecomposed in the gut. The undigested sorbitol causes a retention of water, which softens the stool, making for an easier elimination. Although prunes aid in regularity, they are not the cure-all for severe constipation, according to Natural Laxatives.
Benefits of Senna Herbs
Also known as Senna Alexandrina, senna herbs are bitter-tasting and difficult to digest alone. These scrubby, yellowish-green desert plants, which originate from Northern Africa, are primarily used as a stool softener for relief of constipation. Senna plants are typically handpicked, dried and crushed, then consumed in the form of a tea. According to Tea Benefits, senna herbs have been used for centuries. Senna has been acknowledged by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with precautions.
Prune and Senna Supplements
Prune and senna supplements serve the same purpose in tandem as they do separately. For occasional constipation, one soft gel of the Prune and Senna supplement is recommended for use at bedtime or whenever desired, according to Puritan's Pride, a leading vendor of Prune and Senna supplements. Prune and Senna gel tablets or capsules range in cost from approximately £6.40 to £25.90, varying per vendor. Consultation with a medical physician is recommended prior to use. Pregnant women and nursing mothers should refrain from using senna, as it can be absorbed into the milk, according to herbalists.
Prune and Senna Tea
Using prune and senna capsules, a tea can be made. Pour the contents of the capsule into a cup of warm water, mix, add honey to taste, and drink while warm. Or, an infusion of heated prune juice and senna herbs is just as effective for quick relief from constipation. Place 1 teaspoon of senna herbs into a teaball and insert into a cup of hot prune juice. Let sit for two minutes and sip while warm. Staying close to a toilet is highly recommended.
Precautions in Senna Use
According to Natural Laxatives, severe conditions such as appendicitis, intestinal blockage or inflammatory intestinal orders (Crohn's disease, ulcerative colitis) should not be treated with senna. Senna is not recommended for children under the age of 12, or pregnant or nursing women, as senna may be absorbed into the breast milk. Senna tea should also be taken in moderation due to potential liver and kidney impairment, according to Tea Benefits. It can also lead to potassium deficiency. To combat this deficiency, eat bananas after consuming senna.