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Homeopathy for Constipation: Effective or Just a Placebo?

Updated: Apr 2


herbs and leaves scattered with vial of oil or liquid medicine

Do you suffer from constipation?


Maybe you have tried some medicines to try to get your bowels more regular, but it doesn’t seem to be helping?


Or maybe you're weary of having to take medication for constipation due to potential side effects? You may be health conscious, wanting to use natural remedies whenever possible.


If you can relate to any of this, you’re in the right place.


In this article, we are going to provide you with details on constipation and how it can be caused, what the homeopathic remedies for constipation are, how they work, what evidence there is for their effectiveness and whether they would benefit you!

What is Constipation?

The definition of constipation is having less than 3 bowel movements per week. This might happen to all of us at some point in our life, but it is considered a chronic problem when symptoms continue for at least 3 months.


Other symptoms of constipation can include:

  • Hard, dry stool

  • Excessive strain and/or pain

  • Incomplete passing

  • Abdominal pain or cramping

  • And decreased appetite.

Impact of Constipation on Health

Constipation can play a big part in someone’s mental and physical health. It is fairly common condition with 16 out of 100 adults in the US experiencing symptoms.


Woman holding her stomach in pain

What Causes Constipation?

Constipation is considered to be a symptom itself, versus a disease on its own. There are several factors that can increase the risk of constipation and many underlying reasons that can contribute to the development of constipation.

Medical conditions

There are a variety of different medical conditions that can cause constipation. These could include:

  • Diabetes,

  • Hypothyroidism,

  • Colorectal cancer,

  • Irritable bowel syndrome,

  • Intestinal obstruction,

  • Diverticulitis,

  • And more.

Following up with your medical provider is incredibly important if you have been diagnosed with one of these medical conditions or if you think that there may be medical reason for your constipation.


Poor diet

What you eat can be a major contributor to constipation. Often diets low in fresh fruits and vegetables and high in processed foods contribute to having trouble with bowel movements.


This is because fiber (which is found in produce and whole grains) is responsible for helping to bulk stool and activating movement in your bowels.


If you are currently experiencing constipation, treatment is not as easy as just eating more fiber. We have to relieve the current constipation and then increase fiber for prevention of constipation in the future.


Read more on diet and constipation in our blog about almond milk and constipation!


Sedentary lifestyle

Lack of activity in your everyday life can also cause constipation. Exercise and activity will allow your bowels to activate and move food and waste through them.


Medications

There are many different medications that can cause constipation. Pain medications, antacids, antidepressants, iron supplements, and others can all cause constipation.


Dehydration

Not drinking enough water throughout the day is another contributor to constipation. Dehydration can slow down the movement of stool and make stool harder and dryer.


What are Homeopathic Remedies?

Homeopathy is an alternative medical theory based on the idea that the body can cure itself or that “like cures like.” It operates on the premise that something that causes symptoms in our bodies can, when given in a small dose, be given as treatment for a condition with similar symptoms.


How Homeopathy Works for Constipation

Homeopathy uses natural medicines that are made from organic substances: plants, animals or minerals. These substances are diluted several times and end up containing little, if any, trace of the original component.


Homeopathic Medicines

  • Argentum Nitricum

  • Asafoetida

  • Colocynthis

  • Lilium Tigrinum

  • Lycopodium

  • Natrum Carbonicum

  • Nux vomica

  • Podophyllum

  • Sulphur


leaves and flowers on counter with jars of medicine

How Fast Do They Work?

While the speed that treatments work differs based on the person and specific condition, there’s not a verified time that results will be seen through medical literature.


Can Homeopathy Cure Constipation Permanently?

While some homeopathic treatments may help to relieve constipation, there is no evidence that constipation could be cured permanently. Partially because just relieving immediate constipation is what these homeopathic treatments are working towards.


Preventing future constipation is another set of tools and habits. From things like drinking enough water, eating a fiber rich diet, and more. (Keep reading to get to our section on how to prevent future constipation.)


Effective or Placebo?

Now to get to what we have been waiting for! Can these treatments work to relieve constipation? Keep reading to see what the science says.


What Research Says

One review of several research studies on the effectiveness and safety of homeopathy treatment for those with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) found that the results of these studies didn’t provide strong enough evidence on whether the treatments worked. They concluded that more research needs to be conducted.


Another study which reviewed 27 clinical trials and 3 case studies looked at the alternative treatment options of constipation in children.


This systematic review found that these alternative therapies need more research to come to conclusive findings. However, all these studies (except for 3) had positive outcomes for the children’s symptoms and most of which were statistically significant.


In a 2017 review of homeopathy in the United States, authors stated that the data showed a “potential for public health benefit” for a few specific conditions. However, constipation wasn’t specifically one of the conditions mentioned.


Placebo effect can be a real concern as to whether treatments are effective or not. But placebos are found when used in traditional medicine as well.


In a review of studies that looked at placebo-controlled trial research done with people that have chronic idiopathic constipation, it was found that 4% - 44% of participants experienced placebo effect.


This just shows that whether people are potentially using traditional constipation relief medication or homeopathy, the placebo effect could be present.


You can see from the research, that there isn’t strong evidence that homeopathy is effective or not. There may be some benefit to trying alternative therapies for some people.


Interestingly, another review study mentioned that people who worked with a homeopathic practitioner were more likely to believe that treatment was helpful, compared to people who didn’t work with a homeopathic practitioner. Work closely with your medical provider to find the best option for you.


Woman mixing oil with herbs in medicinal jar

Homeopathy Safety

While there may be some evidence for homeopathy working and some evidence that it doesn’t work, there is still a concern as to its safety.


A comprehensive review of adverse effects in homeopathy looked at 41 randomized controlled trials. Authors concluded that “homeopathy had no more side effects than placebos.”


In this same review, authors found that adverse reactions were reported with homeopathic treatments. However, compared to homeopathy, “the number of adverse effects was significantly higher for conventional medicine, as well as other complementary therapies."


Overall, the scientific literature seems to show that homeopathic remedies are fairly safe with little adverse side effects. This area of medicine could still benefit from continued research and clinical trials as more and more interest in natural medicine grows in the United States.


Prevention is Different than Relief

When experiencing constipation, relief needs to be the main goal. Adding fiber to your diet or drinking water are not going to be enough to fix the problem (and may even cause more trouble). Constipation needs to be addressed first; any fecal impact needs to be resolved prior to preventing future poop issues.


With the care of your medical provider, you may try some natural remedies, laxatives or stool softeners. Once the constipation has been remedied, then you can look at the prevention of future instances of constipation.


To prevent continued constipation, try these helpful steps below.


Work with a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN)

There can be so many things going on when you have the symptom of constipation. Working with an RDN helps to address your whole body and its concerns. They will help you make a strategic plan and give you the support you need to implement it!


If you want to lose weight read more about what medical weight loss is and how to incorporate wellness into your weight loss journey.


Drink Enough Water

Water helps our body move waste and stool through our intestines. The average adult needs at least 8, 8 oz glasses of water a day. Several factors can influence how much water you need like elevation, weather, your age, gender, activity level, and more.


Incorporate Fiber Rich Food at Each Meal

Fiber is so helpful for our bowels by helping to clean out bacteria in your gut, bulking up stool and helping to have regular bowel movements. Most Americans don’t get enough fiber in their diet. Men and women need different amounts, and it varies based on age.

Chart of Fiber Needs for Men and Women


Exercise Daily

Exercise helps to lower the time it takes for food and waste to move through your large intestine. Find a way to move daily that you love. Even just 10-15 minutes can help your digestive system!


Decrease Stress

When we have times of high stress, our gut-brain connection is disturbed. When this happens, it can slow down the movement of food through the intestine, leading to constipation. Find ways to healthfully relieve your stress like deep breathing, yoga, walking, journaling or meditating.



5 Tips to Prevent Constipation Infographic


Final Thoughts

Constipation is a common condition that affects many people in the United States and globally.


There are many things that can cause or contribute to constipation such as medical conditions, medications, poor diet and exercise, and dehydration.


Homeopathic remedies have been used for years in an attempt to cure diseases or symptoms, like constipation. Despite being around for such a long time, there is still little evidence as to their effectiveness in relieving constipation.


Working to first get constipation relief and then put habits in place to prevent future constipation is of utmost importance. One of the best ways to do that is by working with a Registered Dietitian.

Our dietitians at Idaho Nutrition work with a variety of people suffering from gut distress. Make your appointment today to get the gut relief you have been wanting.



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