How To Remedy Constipation
( Originally Published 1904 )
"The removal of the cause is a matter of the first importance. Cathartics should be avoided, if possible."— A. A. Stevens, M.D.
Is there a remedy for constipation? I answer unhesitatingly, "Yes!"
Is there a rapid remedy? This depends upon the severity of the case. It is a safe rule to observe in the healing of the sick, that the longer the malady has lasted the longer must the sufferer work for the cure. But the most obstinate case of constipation should yield to natural methods of cure in an eneouragingly short space of time.
Is the cure that I propose an unfailing one? To this I will reply that, after many years of experience in the healing of the body, I have never known my method to fail. But you must not take up the treatment for two or three days, then begin to doubt, and soon go back to cathartics, dietetic sins and lack of exercise.
There are several methods for treating this annoying trouble, but probably the best is a combination of diet, exercise and general physical up-building. The trio will not only act in a remedial manner, but will, at the same time, further the general constitutional vigor and thereby vastly increase the nervous and vital powers.
Give yourself a little time to bring about a natural, normal condition. If you have been in the habit of taking pills or cathartics in any form, throw them aside immediately. If immediate action be necessary you can flush the colon. But this, too, should be avoided if not absolutely requisite.
What you want is normal action of the bowels, brought about without artificial aid, which at the best is a source of danger or, in any event, of great annoyance. If, however, you have to make use of the flushing method, gradually discontinue its use. Flush say twice the first week, and thereafter extend the intervals between the operations.
As soon as the bowels begin to manifest a tendency to act by themselves, you can cease the flushing at once.
Living on fruit juices alone for from one to three days, is always the best means of beginning the natural treatment. After this, eat only twice a day and chew every morsel of food to a practical liquid before swallowing it.
If you think the uncooked diet of nuts and fruits and vegetables is too great an ordeal for you to at-tempt, eat plain foods, green vegetables, salads, dried beans and peas that have been cooked by the simmering process.
Use the purest olive oil very freely. Though it may seem distasteful at first, such oil makes almost any article of food more appetizing, and its free use has a decidedly beneficial effect in the treatment of constipation. Also eat whole wheat bread and wheat products that have not been marred by excessive cooking.
In fact, the whole wheat itself, if allowed to soak over night, simmered until it has attained a proper degree of softness and eaten as part of a meal, is an admirable assistant to a cure. Have pure water at hand at all times and try to drink a glass of it every hour or two during the day.
And when you have "thought over" this remark about drinking sufficient water, think it over again and again. Remember that the small and large intestine—the latter, the colon, especially—may have so little fluid in them that the feces—the waste matter that you are trying to evacuate require vigorous efforts with every muscular contraction of the intestine as the latter seeks to rid itself of them. Moreover, when the colon is in this dry, parched condition, what little fluid there is in the feces is taken from them in order to lubricate the inner membrane of the organ. This leaves the feces still more dry with each inch of progress through the colon, and finally they become so "caked" and stony that, some-where near the end of the intestine they stop altogether.
If this fearful condition is reached, agonies indescribable are suffered. Every hour increases the trouble. There is a frantic desire to evacuate; but it seems as if the effort would result in the rending of the rectum. At this stage there is no relief possible, except through the undignified and unpleasant process of " unpacking." Yet this condition of " dry pack" could have been obviated by the presence of sufficient fluid in the intestines.
Indeed, some of my readers have assured me that the drinking of a sufficiency of water has been found by them all that was needed to keep the bowels in regular action. But I imagine that they have forgotten to add that they are in the habit of exercising and eating proper foods.