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  • Writer's pictureMin Jeon

Relieving Yourself of Constipation: Letting Your Life Flow Smoothly and Naturally




Constipation is a topic often left unspoken, but it's a common issue that affects millions of people worldwide. In this blog, we're going to dive deep into what constipation is, who it affects, the myriad of causes, and most importantly, how acupuncture can be a beacon of relief for those seeking freedom from this uncomfortable condition.




Understanding Constipation


Constipation is more than just an inconvenience; it's a digestive issue that can have a significant impact on one's quality of life. Simply put, constipation occurs when bowel movements become infrequent or difficult to pass. It occurs when the stool moves too slowly through the digestive tract, allowing the colon to absorb too much water from it, making the stool hard and dry. This often results in hardened stools, bloating, and discomfort. While the frequency of bowel movements can vary from person to person, having fewer than three bowel movements per week is generally considered a sign of constipation.




Constipation is a widespread issue, and many people experience it at some point in their lives. It is estimated that about 12% to 19% of people worldwide experience constipation. Studies suggest that around 20% of Americans suffer from chronic constipation, while up to 63 million people in the United States experience it occasionally. This means that you are not alone if you're grappling with this issue.




Constipation doesn't discriminate. It can affect people of all ages, genders, and backgrounds. However, it is more common in certain groups, including:


  • Women: Hormonal fluctuations during menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause can make women more susceptible.


  • Children: Constipation is a common issue among children of all ages (especially in younger age groups) often due to dietary factors (such as low fiber intake), dehydration, changes in routine or diet, withholding stool due to fear or discomfort, stress and certain medical conditions.


  • Senior Individuals: Age-related changes in digestion and medications often lead to constipation in seniors.


  • People with Sedentary Lifestyles: Lack of physical activity can slow down the digestive process.


  • Those with Specific Medical Conditions: Certain medical conditions like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), diabetes, and thyroid disorders can contribute to constipation.






Potential Causes of Constipation


Constipation can stem from a variety of factors, including:


Dietary Factors:

  • Lack of fruits and vegetables in the diet

  • Inadequate fiber intake

  • Insufficient water intake

  • Consumption of dairy products

  • Overconsumption of processed foods


Lifestyle Factors:

  • Lack of physical activity or exercise (exercise stimulates the digestive system and helps prevent constipation)

  • Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement

  • Traveling or changes in routine disrupting regular bathroom habits

  • Stress and anxiety (anxiety and stress can disrupt the natural digestive rhythm)


Medications and Supplements:

  • Some medications, such as certain pain relievers (e.g., opioids), antacids containing aluminum or calcium, and certain antidepressants can slow down bowel movements.

  • Iron supplements


Medical Conditions:

  • Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS)

  • Hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid)

  • Diabetes

  • Neurological disorders (e.g., multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's disease)

  • Colorectal conditions (e.g., colorectal cancer, anal fissures, hemorrhoids)

  • Pelvic floor dysfunction


Pregnancy:

  • Hormonal changes during pregnancy can slow down bowel movements.


Age:

  • Constipation is a common issue among children and seniors.

  • The risk of constipation tends to increase with age.


Dehydration:

  • Not drinking enough water can lead to dry and hard stools.


Ignoring the Need to Defecate:

  • Avoiding or delaying going to the bathroom when you have the urge.


Abuse of Laxatives:

  • Overuse or misuse of laxatives can lead to dependence and worsen constipation over time.


Bowel Obstruction:

  • Physical blockage in the intestines due to various reasons, such as tumors or impacted stool


Neurological and Muscular Conditions:

  • Conditions that affect the nerves and muscles responsible for bowel movements can lead to constipation.


Hormonal Imbalances:

  • Hormonal changes, such as those related to the menstrual cycle, can affect bowel regularity in some individuals.




It's important to note that constipation can have various causes, and in some cases, multiple factors may contribute to the condition.






Common Symptoms of Constipation


The symptoms of constipation can range from mild to severe and may include:


  • Infrequent bowel movements (less than three times a week)

  • Straining during bowel movements.

  • Passing hard, dry, or lumpy stools.

  • Feeling like you haven't fully emptied your bowels after a bowel movement.

  • Abdominal discomfort or pain.

  • Bloating and gas.

  • A sense of fullness in the rectum.






Possible Complications from Constipation


Chronic constipation (defined as experiencing symptoms for an extended period, typically at least three months) can lead to several complications if left untreated, including:


Hemorrhoids:

Straining during bowel movements can cause swollen blood vessels in the rectum.


Anal Fissures:

The passage of hard stools can lead to small tears in the lining of the anus.


Fecal Impaction:

A severe case of constipation can result in a hardened mass of stool that cannot be passed naturally.


Rectal Prolapse:

Chronic straining can lead to the rectum protruding from the anus.


Bowel Obstruction:

In rare cases, constipation can cause a blockage in the intestines.






Potential Benefits of Acupuncture for Constipation


Now, let's explore how acupuncture may potentially help alleviate constipation and bring relief to those in need. Acupuncture has been used for centuries to address various health concerns, including constipation. Here are some ways acupuncture may potentially provide relief from constipation:


Stimulating Digestive Function:

Acupuncture may potentially stimulate the digestive organs, promoting more efficient bowel movements.


Reducing Stress:

By promoting relaxation and reducing stress, acupuncture may potentially regulate the nervous system, which plays a significant role in digestive health.


Balancing Hormones:

Acupuncture may help regulate hormonal imbalances that contribute to constipation.


Boosting Blood Circulation:

Improved circulation may enhance digestion and nutrient absorption, potentially aiding in bowel regularity.


Enhancing Gut Motility:

Acupuncture may encourage the muscles of the digestive tract to contract and potentially move stool through the intestines more effectively.






Important Lifestyle and Dietary Changes for the Treatment and Prevention of Constipation


Treating and preventing constipation also involves lifestyle changes and dietary modifications. These may include:


  • Increasing fiber intake through fruits, vegetables, and legumes.

  • Drinking plenty of water to stay hydrated.

  • Regular physical activity to stimulate bowel movements.

  • Establishing a consistent daily routine for bowel movements.

  • Addressing underlying medical conditions if necessary.




Constipation is a common and usually treatable condition, but it's important to address it to prevent potential complications and discomfort. Lifestyle changes and dietary adjustments are often effective in improving bowel regularity, but medical advice may be necessary in some cases. If constipation is severe, persistent, or accompanied by concerning symptoms (e.g., blood in stool, unintended weight loss), it's important to consult a healthcare professional for a thorough evaluation.




Constipation is a widespread issue that can affect people of any age, gender and background, but it doesn't have to control your life. Acupuncture may provide relief by potentially promoting digestive health, boosting blood circulation, balancing hormones, reducing stress, and enhancing overall well-being. Along with acupuncture treatment, making important dietary and lifestyle changes can help improve digestive function, resolve constipation and prevent it from reoccurring, and enhance overall health.




Remember, you're not alone in this journey, and there are paths for relief. So, if constipation is causing you discomfort, it’s time to explore the healing power of acupuncture. Don't let constipation hold you back any longer. Embrace the possibility of being free of digestive discomfort and rediscover the joy of feeling your best.




If you are interested in acupuncture for the treatment of constipation, we invite you to reach out to us at Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic. We strive to help you achieve relief and improved health. Our acupuncturist, Dr. Min K. Jeon, has years of experience providing effective relief for constipation. Dr. Min doesn't just address the symptoms, she focuses on treating the underlying causes and conditions to potentially improve overall health. Dr. Min's comprehensive approach combines the power of acupuncture with complementary therapies to achieve optimal results. Many of her patients have experienced great improvements in constipation symptoms as well as in their digestive health.




If you would like the opportunity to meet with Dr. Min to discuss your concerns and a potential treatment plan, please contact us at Acupuncture and Wellness Clinic to schedule a free consultation. During this consultation, Dr. Min will take the time to discuss your concerns, evaluate you and create a potential treatment plan customized to your specific needs. Don't let constipation hold you back any longer. Take that bold step towards potential relief and enhanced well-being by reaching out to us to schedule a free consultation. It’s time to relieve the constipation and let your life flow smoothly and naturally once again.


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