Constipation is a common disturbance of the digestive tract. In this condition, the bowels do not move regularly, or are not completely emptied when they move. The stools are unduly hard and unusual straining may be required to achieve defecation. It is one of the most troublesome disorders of childhood and a major cause of maternal anxiety.
Constipation is the chief cause of many diseases, as such a condition produces toxins which find their way into the blood stream and are carried to all parts of the “body. This results in weakening of the vital organs and lowering of the resistance of the entire system.
The number of motions required for normal health varies from child to child. Most children have one motion a day, some have :two a day, while others have one every other day. However, for comfort and health, at least one clear bowel movement a day is essential and is considered normal.
The most common symptoms of constipation are infrequency, irregularity or difficulty of elimination due to hard faecal matter. Among the other symptoms are coated tongue, foul breath, loss of appetite, constant fullness in the abdomen and diarrhoea alternating with constipation.
Improper diet and irregular habits are the chief causes of constipation. All foods in their natural state contain a good percentage of ‘roughage’ which is most essential in preserving natural balance of foods and also in helping peristalsis – the natural rhythmic action by means of which the food is passed down the alimentary canal. Much of the food children eat today is deficient in natural bulk or roughage and this results in chronic constipation.
The intake of refined and rich foods lacking in vitamins and minerals, insufficient intake of water, insufficient chewing, overeating, wrong combination of foods, irregular habits of eating and drinking may all contribute to poor bowel function. Other causes include faulty and irregular habit of defecation and frequent use purgatives.
Home Remedies for Constipation
The treatment for constipation will depend upon the age of the child whether he is a small baby or a child, four or five years of age. When a baby is on breast-feeding, constipation is usually the result of wrong feeding on the part of the mother, and it must be corrected. The baby should be kept on water and orange juice for a day, and small enema of warm water given. In the alternative, a glycerine suppository may be applied. Laxative should be avoided as far as possible. Also if the baby is artificially fed, the cause is wrong feeding, and this should be rectified. Here are some home remedies for the treatment of constipation.
Drink a glass of warm water early in the morning, walk around for a while, and then visit the toilet. The water sets up peristalsis, and walking around braces up the system. Do not be in a rush to go to work. Instead wake up early, so that there is enough time for everything.
Eat a lot of raw salads and green vegetables. Drink plenty of water, but not immediately before or after a meal.
3. Warm Water with Honey
Drink a glassful of warm water with a spoonful of honey every night before going to sleep. (This may not be a good idea for those with a weak bladder.)
Have a glass of warm water with fresh lemon in the morning.
Eat half a cupful of the pulp of a ripe bael fruit and a teaspoon of jaggery eveyday in the evening before dinner. For chronic constipation have this regular for 4-6 weeks.
6. Bael Juice
The ripe pulp of bael fruit can also be made into a pleasant sherbet. To a tablespoon of ripe bael pulp, add a tablespoon of tamarind water and half a teaspoon of jaggery, and drink this once or twice a day for 2-3 days. This clears chronic constipation within 2-3 days.
7. Castor Oil
Some of us are familiar with the old boarding-school remedy for constipation-a tablespoon of castor oil last thing on Saturday night ensures regular motions throughout the week. If it is too unpalatable, have it with half a cup of orange juice or milk.
A teaspoonful of slightly roasted fennel, taken at bedtime with a glass of warm water, acts as a mild laxative.
10. China Grass
Another gentle laxative is china grass. This is a dried seaweed, which when cut into bits and cooked in milk becomes a gelatinous substance. It is used to make a milk custard-like pudding. While cooking, add sugar and flavoring to taste, and set. It makes a good vegetarian pudding and sets at room temperature. It can also be used to thicken soups or jellies. The laxative action is very gentle-ideal for children.
Note: Diabetics should not have fruits which are sweet, including dried figs. All white foods cause constipation-white refined flour (maida), white rice, white bread, cakes, pastries, sugar, cheese and milk products.