I have read extensively about flaxseed oil and its health benefits. Many people have stated that it has helped relieve constipation problems, so I decided to have a look at this relationship, and see if that was actually the case.
The purpose was to see if I could find any real evidence that linked the taking of flaxseed oil to help relieve the dreaded problem of being constipated.
We all know that is far from a pleasant experience, and if this would help relieve that, then that would be a very good thing indeed.
I also know that this is a medical problem that people don't like to talk about. For those who suffer it though it can be both embarrassing and highly frustrating. For many people this is actually a very common problem. Most people will try some form of laxative to help deal quickly with the problem.
Constipation from time to time is something that will happen. On a regular basis though it will probably be down to a poor diet. By changing that, you can rebalance the body.
Definition of Constipation
In essence this can mean one of two things:
- Unable to pass a stool
- Unable to completely empty the bowel
It is a very common medical problem affecting all age groups. If this happens on a long term basis it can become quite a chronic illness. Understanding the specific cause for each individual can be quite a complex thing to do. It does tend to happen a lot more with older people, and also for people who have a really poor or fatty type of diet.
How Long Is Too Long?
Bowel movements vary widely across the population. Some people go 2-3 times a week and some may go 2-3 times a day. So there is no such thing as a right number of times to go.
Mainly diet dictates the frequency of our bowel movements. The medical definition of constipation is interesting. They consider you to be constipated if:
- Two or fewer movements a week
- You strain a lot during a movement around 25-30% of the time
- Your stools are hard more than 25% of the time
It is however generally accepted by the medical profession that certain behaviours greatly increases the risk of getting constipated.
These behaviours are:
- Not eating enough fibre in your diet such as cereals, vegetables and fruit
- Not staying hydrated by drinking enough fluids
- Ignoring or postponing going to the toilet
- Stress, anxiety and depression
- A sudden change in diet (Visiting a new country with different food)
- Fear of going to the toilet
As you can see from this non-exhaustive list, there are many reasons, and in a lot of cases, there are even combinations of the above. Many young children have a fear of going to the toilet, older people are 5 times more likely to be constipated due to use of certain medications and twice as many women as men are affected by constipation.
Can Flaxseed Oil Help Relieve Constipation?
The main population will take a laxative to help relieve the pain of constipation. For most people this will work for them and usually within 1-2 days. There are of course some natural ways to help alleviate this problem.
You will find natural laxatives in food items like a banana, prunes, and bran products. If you have those as part of your diet it is unlikely you will suffer that often from constipation. Now personally I detest prunes but luckily I really like bananas.
Evidence from Health Forums
I have read in many forums that people who take flaxseed oil state very clearly that it has helped a lot with relieving constipation. I saw many people state that so at least in their experience it has helped.
You have to dig a little deeper to see why that might be the case. In the case of flaxseed oil, it certainly does contain fibre and this helps with the overall digestion of food.
If taken with water then it should help loosen stubborn stools and make going to the toilet a great deal easier.
Like anything though, the oil has to be taken in moderation, and certainly never take a large dose than what has been recommended on the packet by the manufacturer. I have done an article here on the recommended daily dose which may be worth a read.
In days gone by castor oil was the standard treatment for constipation. As a child I certainly remember getting and tasting this vile tasting stuff. This was first used to help induce labour but today it is often heralded as being able to naturally cure all types of ailments.
In many ways the same hype surrounds flaxseed and what it can cure as well.
The video below is an interesting one to listen to as it certainly appeared to help with this lady's constipation.
When I read all the various claims about flax helping constipation, I saw enough to know that it helps people with digestion problems and also with constipation.
However if the constipation problem is a persistent one, please always seek medical advice. There are any number of reasons why we may become constipated. Generally they are because something is wrong in the diet and this oil can help with that.
However there are other medical conditions where it will be of little use. In those cases you simply need to find medical advice and get the problem sorted.