Constipation is one of the most common digestive complaints reported in the US. This feeling of bloating and irritability can cause headaches as well, making daily activities even more of a hassle. Many people turn to over-the-counter laxatives and Advil, which may have negative side effects. Extensive laxative use is shown to cause dehydration, electrolyte imbalance, and laxative dependency. It's shocking to discover how many side effects are caused by Advil and how commonly it's overused or abused. To help rid constipation without the toxic over-the-counter drugs there are many natural healing herbs that do the trick. Here are some herbal remedies for relief from constipation and the associated headaches.
1. Skullcap (Scutellaria Lateriflora)
Skullcap is a member of the mint family and is a healing herb native to eastern North America. It can be identified as having hooded violet-pink-to-white blossoms that grow along just one side of its short flower stalks. Skullcap is a great antispasmodic and calming herb that is used by herbalists to aid in anxiety and insomnia due to an overactive mind. Skullcap is a great alternative for over-the-counter headache medication and has few known contraindications. Skullcap can be used in many ways; although tea, tincture, and dried capsule forms are the most common. For tea steep 1 tablespoon of dried leaves and make an herbal tea 1-3 times daily. For stronger dosages, tincture and capsule forms can be found in most herbal shops. Drowsiness may result from a sedative herb like Skullcap, so caution is advised for those taking pharmaceutical drugs for sleep or anxiety. As with any herbal remedy, consult your doctor or a certified herbalist when you want to use this herb.
2. Dandelion (Taraxacum officinalis)
Dandelion is a very common herb, which has many medicinal uses. Yet, a lot of money is spent to rid this yellow flower from sidewalks and gardens. Dandelion is identified as having round yellow flowers and when mature they turn into white balls of seeds, each with its own parachute that carries it away with the wind. The green stalks can be eaten either raw or cooked and Dandelion has many beneficial herbal actions. Dandelion is a liver and digestive tonic, diuretic, alterative, and a blood tonic. The bitter fresh leaves and flowers are used for teas (because they tend to turn seed when dried) and can help stimulate bowel movement. Use 1 tbsp of fresh dandelion for a cup of tea. Dandelion is referred to as a mild laxative. It's best to gain access to the herb from a reliable herbalist source, not a neighbor’s sidewalk garden.
3. Ginger (Zingiber officinale)
Ginger is a great healing herb native to Asia and is popularly used in various styles of cuisine. Ginger is great for digestive problems due to its antispasmodic, stimulating, and warming properties. Most cultivated varieties rarely flower and the parts used are the roots/rhizomes (underground stems). Ginger is great for aiding in constipation due to its ability of relaxing the stomach and stimulating flow throughout the body. Ginger is used in its raw form for colds and coughs, but for constipation it is recommended to use dried ginger powder instead. Add about ¼- ½ teaspoon of ginger powder to a cup of water and let steep for 10 minutes, straining if necessary. Adding ginger to the diet is safe for young and old, however pregnant women should consult a physician before taking more then 1 gram of dried ginger per day. It is also advised not to take high doses of ginger with anticoagulant (blood thinning) drugs.
Overall, it is very possible to avoid over-the-counter drugs when dealing with digestive issues like constipation. It is recommended to use only organic herbs to reduce your exposure to toxic pesticides. Lastly, you should always speak with your physician or local herbalist before adding herbs into your daily diet.