IBS: What can I do about chronic constipation?


IBS-C and chronic constipation
If you are suffering from chronic constipation, you are really suffering. And traditional treatment may not getting you far. So here is what you can do for your IBS-C instead.

The physical route to relieve chronic constipation

For many of you, you have already been the traditional physical route. And if you are reading this article, you probably didn’t find long-lasting answers there.

As I explained in my previous article, one of the 3 mistakes you can avoid with your IBS is only concentrating on symptoms. This is because the cause of symptoms is often not where we think it is.

I’m including the usual list for anyone still finding their way (but you can scroll down to the next section):

  • Chances are that your doctor has already prescribed a colonsocopy or similar to check there is no major physical cause to your chronic constipation. This is always a good starting point.
  • You may have found some relief from laxatives or suppositories. If you use these all the time, your body is likely to get used to this way of functioning. And they will work, until they don’t any more.

So it is worth exploring these natural alternatives first:

  • A reasonable amount of moderate exercise can improve bowel motility.
  • Making sure you drink enough water (a glass an hour in hot weather is recommended),
  • Consuming more soluble fibre that absorbs water as it passes through the digestive system and improves the consistency of stools (as opposed to too much soluble fibre that tends to further irritate the gut lining in IBS sufferers). Soluble fibre can be found in low fodmap foods such as oats, carrots, potatoes without skins and strawberries.
  • Adding coconut oil to your diet is also said to improve the consistency of stools and ease  their elimination.
  • A special mention for magnesium if you tend to be stressed.
  • And as ever, reducing processed foods to a minimum and eating a nourishing diet is also champion.

Tried all of these and nothing seems to work for your chronic constipation?IBS-C and chronic constipation

Maybe it’s time to consider other parts of you that are often ignored and how they can be influencing your IBS-C.

We are not just a body. Our mind, body and emotions and energy all interact with each other. And these interactions can get set into trigger loops.

How trigger loops set in

My particular specialisation is looking for the triggers behind IBS symptoms. The associations the mind makes between an event, a feeling and an impression that can wire reactions and unwanted behavior patterns that we just can’t seem to shake.

We interact with the world via our 5 senses. Based on our beliefs and our previous experiences, our mind interprets and labels each event. We will have an emotional reaction, a physical reaction and an energetic one too. And resulting behaviour.

When we have reactions and don’t express them emotionally, physically or energetically, over time they become lodged in the body. This can include events back from childhood that we were not allowed to express, or even stress situations you are having at work or at home on a regular basis.

They can turn into neuro-muscular spasms and trigger patterns that start interfering with normal body function and the natural circulation of energy in the body. In this article In this article I presented a relationship between chronic constipation, pain and diarrhea.
learning reactions to stress

A trigger loop in action

Back when I had IBS-C, I was actually “lucky” enough to see a trigger loop establish itself. I was using paint stripper and paint while fuming about not having been accepted for a marketing job – again and feeling excluded from the job market in France in anything other than a teaching role. While I was painting over the space of several my brain set a negative association between the products I was using and the deep emotions I was feeling. I was fuming inside but not letting that feeling out, trying to control it and keep it in – as I learned to do from a very early age.

The result: I became intolerant to fresh paint, but also perfume, nail varnish and air fresheners.

I had unconsciously wired in that association and behavior pattern. And because any of these products would set of a major IBS flare-up, make me bloat up, vomit and give me migraines within a short space of time, I went around in a state of fear, trying to avoid them. And this reinforced the trigger loop.

Undoing this was hard – but possible. But to do so I had to understand what was going on. And seek outside help.

If you suffer with IBS-C with chronic constipation, ask yourself this:

If you have looked into all the potential physical causes, could there be associations and triggers from the past that are keeping  IBS-C?

Are you aware of triggers of your IBS-C symptoms? Can you relate current triggers to any past situations that marked your life?

In the case of chronic constipation these triggers may well be past situations in which you learned to hold back – through fear of others, yourself, or to defy authority. 

Some of those triggers may be so familiar to you that you cannot see them.  If you have been living with them as the norm for so long, they may be in your blindspot. So you may need some help finding them. From a trusted friend, a family member, or from me.