We need to talk about chronic constipation. This issue is a major concern for our long term health and recovery potential. The colon is a major detox organ and if this pathway is congested, you will be more prone to retaining a high toxic load, developing or exacerbating bacterial and parasitic overgrowth, and having excess inflammation throughout the digestive tract.

Depending on your diet, there is a range of normal frequency of bowel movements. On a very high fiber diet, as many as 2-3 times per day can be normal, if the stools are healthy and well formed. On a very low fiber or carnivore diet, as little as one bowel movement every other day can be normal, as long as you do not feel bloated or uncomfortable.

For most people, a bowel movement about once a day is most desirable to support our healing and healing. However, a lot of the clients who come to Whole Body Healing are not getting anywhere close to this, or are reliant on interventions such as Miralax, over the counter laxatives, or daily enemas for relief. What are the underlying causes of chronic constipation, and what can we do about it?

  1. One of the primary overlooked causes of this issue is actually neuropathy in the lining of the gut. Our enteric nervous system, meaning the nervous system that lives in the lining of the gut, is intimately involved in peristalsis- or rather, the amount of movement in our digestive tract that moves food and waste matter through. Many people do not realize that the nervous tissue in this part of their body is inflamed or damaged, leading to digestive “stasis”- the food and waste matter sit, without being moved along at a proper speed. This neuropathy is usually due to B vitamin or mineral deficiencies and can be corrected through diet and targeted supplementation.
  2. A second cause is gut dysbiosis, although this is actually related to the first issue. A common factor in chronic constipation is methane dominant SIBO, or small intestinal bacterial overgrowth, which is an overgrowth of bacteria in the small intestines. These bacteria release chemicals as a part of their life cycle that have a “paralyzing” effect on the nervous tissue. A nutritional dietary plan is important for resolving this issue and supporting the immune system properly through therapeutic nutrients. We use a version of the GAPS diet, or Specific Carbohydrate Diet, as a way to rebalance the overall immune system, rather than focus on the SIBO directly. If there is one type of gut dysbiosis, there are generally many more types of overgrowth.
  3. Bile congestion, which leads to poor fat digestion. This ultimately comes from high levels of toxicity in the liver and gallbladder, and without proper support can cause the formation of bile stones and gall stones, or “sludge” in the gallbladder and bile ducts. This causes fat to be poorly digested and causes sticky, hard to pass stool. This toxicity is often caused in part by the aforementioned bacterial overgrowth, and sluggish liver and gallbladder function are exacebated by nutrient deficiencies includes B vitamins, amino acids, and Vitamin C.

This combination of gut neuropathy, gut dysbiosis and liver/gallbladder congestion feed into each other with accumulating stress, toxicity and nutrient deficiencies over time. To interrupt this loop, we need to stop eating foods that are repressing the immune system, depleting key B vitamins and minerals, and target supplementation.

The top nutrients that I have my clients with constipation supplement are Sodium (good old salt!), Magnesium, Potassium, Vitamin C, Taurine, B1 (Thiamine), and B6 (Pyridoxine). We can also use herbs such as St. John’s Wort and Lion’s Mane to stimulate the growth of new nervous tissue, and ginger and artichoke as a bile stimulator.

For more advanced support, we can bring in coffee enemas, which should be done daily for at least a few weeks to clear out liver/gallbladder congestion (coffee enemas are major stimulators to the liver can actually relieve the underlying problem better than a regular salt water enema).

Lastly, many people have chronic tension in the abdominal muscles and pelvic that can lead to chronic constipation. If all the nutrient and microbiome issues have been addressed, with no improvement in symptoms, consider if you have a history of sexual or physical trauma that may be cause deep tension patterns in this area of the body. This is a very vulnerable area that is going to be contracted if we don’t feel safe. This is why Trauma Release is a major component to what we provide at Whole Body Healing- while nutrition is essential, it is not always enough on its own.

Please check out our options for working together by clicking the menu above! We would love to help trouble shoot your chronic digestive concerns.

About the Author
Jen Donovan completely rebuilt her life and career as a result of her experience with severe chronic illness. After finding no answers from conventional medical approaches, she took matters into her own hands and with the help of key mentors, found a path to healing.
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