Quick constipation relief

Prunes for your colon

Quick constipation relief is high on the agenda of every chiropractor; the appointment book is daily filled with slipped disc and headache patients.

Researchers report in the Journal of Alimentary Pharmacology that over a half of patients suffering from chronic dry and hard faeces are less than satisfied with the standard medical treatment which is a natural fibre called psyllium.

What is psyllium? The seeds are reaped from plantago plants which are grown worldwide. Their chief virtue is that they contain a large amount of soluble fibre called mucilage. It's not truly a laxative, but absorbes water in the bowel giving much needed bulk to the stool.

It's a safe and effective natural product sold under then name Metamucil. Researchers in this study used one tablespoon per day, dissolved in water, and costing about 40 US cents per day.

However, as stated above, less than half of patients are satisfied with the results.

On purchasing Metamucil you'll notice that it has sugar and artificial flavourants added to it to make it more palatable. There are other brands of psyllium husks.

This is the choice.

Those who read this website, and receive our newsletters (sign up at the bottom of this page) will know that constipation comes up regularly in the topics. It's directly related to colo-rectal cancer.

It's also important very often in the management of headaches and lower back pain. Straining increases the spectre of aggravating a lurking slipped disc. Slipped disc rules ...

Perhaps too because I suffered terribly from constipation myself until the good wife came up with her unique solution. Helens 15 euro salad gives me very quick constipation relief.

Prunes vs psyllium

Researchers at the University of Iowa under the direction of Dr Rao, MD, PhD, were asked to compare "grandma's medicine", namely dried prunes, with psyllium husks. Which was more effective?

Research technique

A "double-blinded" technique was impossible. Obviously the candidates knew whether they were eating prunes or swallowing a mucous gel.

But they did use a single blinded test, the researchers not knowing which group the candidates were in.

The research was a "cross-over" type. Half the group started with three weeks of one TBSP of Mutamucil, whilst the other half started on 5 prunes daily. There's was a week's "wash-out" in between, then the two groups swapped.

Careful details of stool habits were kept.


The authors concluded that prunes are a safe and significantly more effective treatment for constipation that psyllium. Perhaps surprisingly, they were considered equally palatable by the participants.

What is the cost? In South Africa the dried plums are about half the price of the psyllium.

Five prunes per day are significantly more successful that psyllium fibre in producing a regular, soft and consistent stool. 

Does that ring a bell? Back to the meals that granny dished up is the theme tune. That's also the sentiment expressed by a veteran cardiac surgeon in his foods to reduce inflammation lecture.

I confess those five prunes are a good deal cheaper than Helen's fifteen euro salad too, unless you're a gardener, but not a tenth as tasty.

So, what's in those  prunes? They have the distinct advantage of having both soluble and insoluble polysaccarides; both are important for a healthy intestine.

Not only does they have all the advantages of soluble fibre, but the insoluble fraction also binds with water promoting the movement of the bowel contents through the colon.

More, prunes contain two other important substances; sorbitol, a natural and gentle laxative and a large amount of antioxidant polyphenols.

An important tip. Prunes and olives with pips keep your dentist in business. It's vital to know whether they have pips or not? Eat them on their own.

A grave difficulty I have....

"Fashion is a form of ugliness so intolerable that we have to alter it every six months."

I wish I could tell you that I penned those memorable words, but no it was the incomparable wit of Oscar Wilde.

psst: did you know he was gaoled, and died in exile, utterly humiliated for being a homosexual? One of Ireland's greatest writers of all time. Homosexuality wrong ...?

Back to my point. The ugliness of fashion reaches deep into nutrition and diet. Today it's prunes for quick constipation relief. So for a week or two, we gobble prunes. Then it's beetroot constipation or apple diet or simply more legumes and prunes are all but forgotten. But all have their merit, each better than the other for one reason or another. To be really healthy we have to eat from as wide a range of foods as possible.


If your prunes have been pitted, then you can add them to your cereal. In the back left corner below you can see my usual breakfast:

Quick constipation relief

Quick constipation relief research proves that grandma's recipe is indeed the best and cheapest too.

But it's spring in Africa. How about a bowl of fresh mulberries and cream too? I promise you... eat foods like these and you can enjoy a couple tablespoons of cream without guilt. Your cholesterol will be dangerously low, and you simply have to get it up a bit! Remember cholesterol is a vital part of many biochemical processes in the body. Foods that lower cholesterol ...

Mm, what a delicious breakfast. It titivated every one of my tastebuds, and I promise you I have a lot of them, all screaming for attention. One of the joys of enjoying these kinds of meals is there is no calorie counting, no limits on what you want and zero concerns about your weight.

Slipped disc

Crazy? A total healthnut? Yes, I confess it. You see, you either go through the disciplines of life, of lower back exercises or you take a lot more time (and pain, and money) visiting your chiropractor; who won't be unhappy. Or you take the time to enjoy these quick constipation relief foods that are full of fibre and phytosterols. Or you spend the time visiting the oncologist. He won't be unhappy either. It's very kind of you to pay for our next skiing trip.

Alternatively, you could spend a little time each day making us both grumpy; by exercising and pay attention to your diet.

A slipped disc in the lower back can affect the autonomic nerves that supply the bowels; constipation is a common complaint. Worse, the inactivity related to a severe sciatica makes the problem worse.

Eating plenty of these quick constipation relief foods when you injure yourself is important. Straining on the toilet requires the so called valsalva manoever; the loo also means prolonged sitting which is forbidden. It will certainly aggravate any lumbar disk prolapse.

In conclusion, there's nothing wrong with psyllium fibre for constipation; just prunes are more effective, and cheaper; and a good deal tastier too in my opinion.

Psyllium has the added advantage of proven cholesterol lowering properties; but then prunes do too because of their fibre.

In really stubborn cases, and you are desperate for quick constipation relief then there's no reason not to use both.

That freshly ground flax seed that I recommend adding to your cereal every day is rich in omega 3, a natural anti inflammatory, but also it contains a lot of lignans which reduce cholesterol and also add fibre for the colon.

Beetroot for constipation

Honest injun, beetroot beats the lot when it comes to quick constipation relief. Beetroot constipation ...

More quick constipation relief

Whilst on a recent locum in Holland I very soon became constipated, without Helen about, and eating too much lovely Dutch bread and cheese. It's sounds a little bizarre, but two green salads a day soon fixed that.

It's all about more fibre; not the insoluble form in bran but primarily the water soluble fibre found in fruit and salad; both are important though.


Chiropractic practice has much to do with headaches and slipped discs; both are good reasons to be regular. This quick constipation relief page is so easy to introduce to your diet.

Retaining toxic bowel material for longer than needed in the colon is certainly one of the cause of a low grade woozy headache. It's the reason why drinking more water helps headaches; it makes you more regular.

And of course your salads and fruit are mainly water, with a bit of flavouring and vitamins! And a lot of soluble fibre.

Useful links

› Quick constipation relief

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Interesting challenges of the day

1. Mr S is a 76 year old man with neck pain of some 9 months duration. Luckily, most of the discomfort is upper cervical which is only rarely arthritic; his lower cervical spine is a degenerative mess that I've left alone. After seven treatments his pain and stiffness is 50 percent better, and he's happy in the circumstances. He can sleep through the night now and that makes a huge difference.

2. Mr P is 32 year old man with very severe lower back pain radiating to the big toe which is 30 percent numb. He had an episode three weeks ago, took anti inflammatories and was soon better as is typical of the medial disc herniation. But before it healed, after a trivia it came roaring back, much worse. The characteristic crossed sign was evident; sitting in a chair, straightening the right leg provoked severe left back pain and tingling in the leg. He's doing well.

3. Severe lower back pain is scary; just ask Mrs P. Just watching her get out of the car I she was in trouble; she had a slipped disc at L4 making her lean towards the opposite side; luckily she had no pain in the leg. Despite family pressure that this was far too severe for a chiropractor, she persevered. Within five days she was standing upright, and after two weeks almost painfree. 

Despite a hectic job, she wisely took my advice and stayed home for what I call exercising bed rest.

4. Mr S has had lower back, groin and back of thigh and calf pain for fourth months.

He has a pincer deformity in the hip causing the stabs in the groin, and a degenerative facet causing the sciatica. Both are responding well to chiropractic and he's well pleased; sixty five percent better after three treatments.

5. Mr T is a wise man; he's taken a warning TIA seriously and has lost 15 pounds, and has at least as much again to lose. A change to a low starch diet and half hour daily walk has made the difference; but the walking is making his foot and back miserable. The expensive orthotic is hopeless; luckily his hips and back are fine, but he needs a simple heel lift.

6. I too have had serious lower back issues, luckily fixed by my own chiropractor; so I too have to do my exercises, take care when lifting supers full of honey, gardening and using the chainsaw. Regaining the function of your spine is just as important as the pain.

7. My own granddaughter, only 7 is hypermobile giving her pelvic, knee and ankle issues. Xrays show a mildly dysplastic hip. Years ago we would have called it growing pains. She too regularly needs chiropractic care and luckily responds well. Increased range of motion is more difficult than too stiff in my opinion. Our care is for kids too.

8. This 65 year old lady is a serious gardener; every day she is bending, lifting and digging for 2 to 3 hours a day. It regularly catches her in the sacroiliac joint, so she has a treatment once a month that sorts it out. She does her lower back exercises faithfully.

9. This 88 year old lady is an inspiration; every day she is busy in the community. With a nasty scoliosis she manages very well with a chiropractic adjustment every six weeks and exercises faithfully done.  

10. Mr X is a 71 year old retired man who wants to continue with maintenance care every six to eight weeks; he had suffered from two years of lower back pain when he first came a year ago. He has no discomfort now after 8 chiropractic treatments, but is aware that danger lurks.

11. Mrs C has been having severe headaches, and taking a lot of analgesics. It's a non complicated upper cervical facet syndrome, and she's doing well.

12. Mr D is a 38 old year man with chronic shoulder pain after a rotator cuff tear playing cricket. It responded well to treatment, but he knows he must do his exercises every day; for two years he couldn't sleep on that shoulder.

13. Mr D, a 71 year old man, has a severe ache in the shoulder and midback since working above his head. Trapped nerve tests are negative but he has advanced degenerative joints of Luschka; after just two treatments he is 50 percent better. Can we reach 90?

And so the day goes; chiropractors shouldn't be treating the elderly most medical sites state but that's so much bunkum.

Have a problem that's not getting better? Looking for a different slant on your pain? Want to pose a question?

Interesting questions from visitors

CLS writes:

Greetings, Dr B.
You helped me quite some time back with a soothing and professional response which turned out to be exactly correct. I now consult a local chiropractor. You write a superb newsletter, too.

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Knowing that up to 70% of the time the correct diagnosis is made with no examination, no special tests, no xrays, but just from the history, there's a fair chance I can add some insight to your unresolved problem. But at least 30% of the time, I may be quite wrong! Give plenty of detail if you want a sensible reply.

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