Digestive Upsets in Stress & Codependency

By Karta Purkh (KP) Khalsa.

Many people in codependent relationships experience constant stress and have chronic digestive issues. It turns out that there are many things we can turn to in the world of natural healing that can help.

You may have heard that good health starts with good digestion. Of course, your food must be transformed before you can use it, so the digestive system is as good a place to start as any. Constipation and diarrhea may not make your top ten list for agreeable party conversation, but they take on a different urgency when you are the one suffering. Digestion is one of those things you’d rather not think about—out of sight and out of mind seems best. Sure, food and diet are important, but just as important is what comes out of you. Food that doesn’t digest properly, or food waste that can’t get out, and your oh-so-perfect diet dims by comparison.

Impeccable digestion can still be yours, though, and if some troubles do come to pay a call, a handful of effortless and effective natural remedies can put you right in no time.

Comfortable, bulky, soft bowel movements are just the start for good health. For a person who eats a healthy, unprocessed, whole foods diet, 30 hours is an average transit time (the time it takes for a meal to go in the mouth and come out from the other end), but Asian medicine says the ideal transit time is 18 to 24 hours. In our constipation-prone society, 48 hours, or considerably more, is not unusual. The hitch with prolonged transit time is that the longer the end products of digestion stay in the colon, the more chance they will promote the development of gallstones and they may be implicated in colon cancer.  

Getting a gold medal in the bowel movement Olympics depends mainly on the three pillars of colon health, peristalsis, fiber and moisture.

Among the best to promote peristalsis (natural urging) are senna leaf, cascara bark and aloe leaf. They should be used only short term for brief episodes of acute constipation. Use them in capsules, and start with a very small dose (500 mg), and adjust the dose as necessary. To ease any potential discomfort, use warming herbs, such as ginger and fennel, along with the peristalsis remedy.

Natural bulk fiber laxatives provide soluble fiber, which regulates transit time by absorbing moisture and firming stool to regulate intestinal motility and enhance lubrication.. Think pectin from fruit, flaxseed, chia seed, and oat bran. Use these daily to create a soft, spongy stool. 

The third factor, moisture, is a common issue for constipated people. Magnesium, a natural mineral, is an osmotic laxative that draws moisture into the bowel and softens stool. Most people can tolerate up to about 1,200 mg of magnesium per day.

Psyllium seed, rich in bulk fiber, straddles the line between treating constipation and diarrhea.1 Psyllium’s capacity to absorb fluids means that it is useful for treating diarrhea. As it travels through the gut, the mucilage in psyllium creates a soothing benefit, which may relieve cramping. An English study revealed that constipation significantly improved in patients taking the seed. Eighty-two percent of the subjects had symptom relief.2 A study to determine the optimum dose recommended 20 grams per day.3

Diarrhea makes us face the opposite set of issues. Remedies for diarrhea dry out the stool and reduce the urging of peristalsis.

Turmeric has a wealth of benefits for the digestive system. With its ability to suppress inflammation, increase mucin content of the stomach, stop bleeding and astringe the stool, turmeric is a wonder for diarrhea. Use two heaping Tablespoons of turmeric powder, mixed into a paste with water or maple syrup, per day.

Caraway oil has similar properties, relaxing the gut wall and reducing gastrointestinal motility (diarrhea) episodes. A study from Germany used peppermint and caraway oils to test 223 patients. The combination brought about a significant reduction in pain.4 A separate German study again confirmed that a combination of peppermint and caraway oils effectively reduced the speed of intestinal movement.5

The carob tree is related to plants like beans and peas, and, like those plants, carob pods have been used as a food source for over 5,000 years. Carob powder, which tastes like chocolate, is most frequently used medicinally as a treatment for diarrhea.6 Carob contains chemicals called tannins, which astringe the gut wall and dry out the stool. Carob’s high soluble fiber content absorbs water for a similar effect. Researchers from Belgium found that children with diarrhea recovered substantially faster when they took carob.7

Children can take the powder mixed with applesauce or sweet potatoes to treat diarrhea. Adults can take at least 20 grams per day for diarrhea. Since carob tastes like chocolate, most people enjoy a “hot-chocolate” carob beverage, which certainly makes the treatment much more agreeable. 

Learn more about the courses and classes KP offers, as well as booking a health consultation, mentor session or Business consultation at https://internationalintegrative.com/. Use code FREEGIFT to get the webinar Ten Essential Ayurvedic Herbs for free!

  1. Hotz J, Plein K[Effectiveness of plantago seed husks in comparison with wheat brain on stool frequency and manifestations of irritable colon syndrome with constipation]. Med Klin 1994 Dec 15;89(12):645-51 ↩︎
  2. Prior A, Whorwell PJ Double blind study of ispaghula in irritable bowel syndrome. Gut 1987 Nov;28(11):1510-3 ↩︎
  3. Kumar A, Kumar N, Vij JC, Sarin SK, Anand BS Optimum dosage of ispaghula husk in patients with irritable bowel syndrome: correlation of symptom relief with whole gut transit time and stool weight. Gut 1987 Feb;28(2):150-5 ↩︎
  4. Freise J, Kohler S [Peppermint oil-caraway oil fixed combination in non-ulcer dyspepsia–comparison of the effects of enteric preparations]. Pharmazie 1999 Mar;54(3):210-5 ↩︎
  5. Micklefield GH, Greving I, May B Effects of peppermint oil and caraway oil on gastroduodenal motility. Phytother Res 2000 Feb;14(1):20-3 ↩︎
  6. Universitry of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/condition/diarrhea, WebMD. http://www.webmd.com/vitamins-supplements/ingredientmono-321-carob.aspx?activeingredientid=321&activeingredientname=carob ↩︎
  7. J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr. 1989 May;8(4):480-5.
    Tannin-rich carob pod for the treatment of acute-onset diarrhea.
    Loeb H1, Vandenplas Y, Würsch P, Guesry P.
    Department of Pediatrics, Academic Children’s Hospital, Free University of Brussels, Belgium.
    Infants aged 3-21 months with acute diarrhea of bacterial and viral origin were treated as inpatients with oral rehydration fluid and randomly received for up to 6 days either a tannin-rich carob pod powder (40% tannins or 21.2% polyphenols and 26.4% dietary fiber), 1.5 g/kg/day (n = 21) to a maximum of 15 g, or an equivalent placebo (n = 20). The duration of the diarrhea from admission was 2.0 +/- 0.27 days in the test group and 3.75 +/- 0.30 days in the placebo group (p less than 0.001). Normalized defecation, body temperature, and weight and cessation of vomiting were reached more quickly by the patients who received the test substance. The test substance was well accepted and tolerated. ↩︎

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