Constipation: Unsatisfactory defecation characterized by infrequent stool, difficult stool passage or both for at least 3 months, according to the American Association of Gastroenterologists. They also set a range of 3 BM a day to 3 BM a week as normal depending on the individual. Then why is it such a major problem, that affects our daily life? Statistics show that 1 in 6 Americans live with chronic constipation. It is estimated that $725 million dollars is spent yearly on laxatives. Wow, now that's impressive right? I bet the 3 BM a week people, who've been told they're normal, that are buying all those laxatives!! These can get things moving… but do not correct the underlying problem.
Some key rule-out diagnoses for acute constipation are colonic obstruction, appendicitis, diverticulitis, peritonitis, and possible stone obstruction from the gall bladder or kidneys. For chronic constipation, some key rule-outs include celiac disease, hypothyroidism, and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), as well as inflammatory bowel disease and colon cancer.
Gastroenterologists have classified chronic constipation into 4 subtypes:
1) Slow-transit constipation
2) Pelvic floor dyssynergia
3) IBS with constipation
4) Functional constipation (Functional constipation is defined as chronic idiopathic (no none cause) constipation no known physiological cause) Then it should be called "I don't know why you are constipated" type, because it is certainly not functional!
Causes of Constipation:
a) the nature of the diet
b) deficiency or a faulty composition of the intestinal secretions
c) impairment muscular power, which leads to slow transient time
d) resisting the calls of nature from carelessness or circumstances that prevent going at the proper time
e) A more sedentary nature of ones lifestyle
RECOMMENDATIONS FOR CONSTIPATION:
1) Responding obediently to the call of nature at the proper time. This issue can begin very young. Many children have reported that they are not allowed to be excused to use the bathroom while in school. This, along with the sedentary nature of children’s school days, can create a lifelong pattern of constipation. For some, the call of nature just stops calling after being ignored for too long. Then bowel retraining to reestablish peristalsis and normal function would have to begin.
2) Evaluate the diet for potential food intolerance's, sensitivities, and for low-quality foods or food combining that may be contributing to the constipation. Adverse reactions to foods overtime, lead to leaky gut and congestion in the whole digestion tract. The elimination of dairy – a mucus-promoting and potentially binding food – can correct constipation in some patients. Cutting out all gluten sources has also produced noticeable improvement. Individual food sensitivity testing is optimal for best outcomes. The conventional scratch tests for allergies is not an accurate means to evaluate. Food react to the IgA immunoglobulin in the gut, not the skin. N.E.A.T (natural elimination of allergies technique) is non invasive, and an excellent means to not only identify food sensitivities, and allergens, but it can be used to desensitize you against the allergens, without having to endure repeated injections!
3) Evaluation of the gut-brain axis may reveal reasons for altered secretions of the organs and glands of the whole digestive system, including the stomach, intestines, liver, gall bladder, and the pancreatic enzyme secretions. The major player in this arena is cranial nerve X, ie, the vagus nerve, also named the wandering nerve because of its far-reaching impact in the body. (you can read more about the Vagus Nerve in my articles online)
What is happening in the brain affects the digestive tract, and vice versa:
The intestinal microbiome impacts brain development. Imbalanced gut flora, as well as leaky gut caused by inflammation will also affect brain neurochemistry.
The brain controls the movement of food through the intestines, the release of gastric and pancreatic enzymes, and liver/gallbladder bile release. The vagus nerve carries information to and from the brain, and the brain activates the brain stem which activates the vagus nerve. The vagus nerve activates the enteric nervous system which controls all of the digestive functions. Loss of digestive function can thus be linked back to loss of brain function and/or loss of vagus nerve function. An under-active vagus nerve may express with gastroparesis, decreased heart rate, stomach pain, nausea, heartburn, stomach spasm, weight loss, and/or malabsorption.
A Closing Thought:
The frequency of acid reflux and heartburn is of an epic scale in our culture today, with constipation often being an underlying condition… If one end of the tube is blocked, it makes sense that things will bubble up on the other end. It continues to amaze me in clinical practice, the number of infants that are being diagnosed with reflux and put on proton-pump inhibitors. This is surely the beginning of a lifetime of digestive difficulties.