Constipation is horrible, especially if it’s chronic. From time to time, most people will experience constipation. It can be caused by dehydration, lack of fiber, an unhealthy gut, hormones (during pregnancy or before menstruation), a sedentary lifestyle, age, and even too little good quality sleep.
A lack of fiber and a sedentary lifestyle are the biggest causes. Your stools (poop) won’t have enough bulk and you may end up having more bad bacteria than good in your gut. Hormones also affect the fluid balance in your body so just as when you aren’t well hydrated your poop becomes hard and struggles to move through your system and out.
Sometimes there also more serious causes like irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Parkinson’s disease, diabetes, an underactive thyroid, and bowel obstruction. When your nerves or muscles don’t work correctly in the digestive system this can cause constipation (1).
When you search for natural remedies, lemon water for constipation frequently comes up. But is there any truth to this remedy?
Does Lemon Water Help With Constipation?
There is no scientific evidence that it does. Many claim that lemon can improve digestion and act as a laxative. While it’s most likely that when they use hot water and lemon for constipation the water is hydrating them and finally enabling a bowel movement to take place, it doesn’t necessarily mean that lemon doesn’t play a role in relieving constipation too.
Not all natural remedies are tested to see whether all the claims made about them are true. In recent years, bacteria have become more and more resistant to antibiotics, so lately there have been more studies on natural remedies for all sorts of ailments.
Bear in mind that if you find that lemon water helps you and if you experience no negative effects that you shouldn’t discount it just because of a lack of research.
Let’s see how lemon juice may help:
Lemon contains vitamin C, but the amount that you would get from a lemon juice laxative is very little. None the less, it can contribute to a better immune system which then allows the body to divert more of its attention to healthy digestion and in turn healthier poop.
Lemon contains pectin, a type of fiber. Fiber is very good for your gut bacteria and helps to sweep waste products along and out of your body. Most of this fiber is concentrated in the skin of the lemon which is very rarely eaten, but the pulp does contain some.
Studies show that the antioxidants in lemon can improve gut health and reduce inflammation both of which may help to relieve constipation.
You may find that lemon is helpful for you. Our bodies are all different and react differently to various foods, herbs, spices, and medications. Once you give it a try, you will know whether or not it works for you.
How to Use Lemon Juice for Constipation
1. Lemon Water
Warm water and lemon is the ultimate lemon laxative drink. You don’t want the water to be too hot as this can destroy the vitamin C. You can also use cold water on those hot days but warm water may stimulate your digestive system a little bit better.
Simply add the juice of ¼ to ½ lemon to a glass of water. Try to include as much of the pulp as possible.
Note: Add honey to sweeten it. Honey is a mild laxative and will make the lemon water remedy more effective.
People have said that it takes about an hour for this remedy to work.
2. Lemon Tea for Constipation
Basically, lemon tea is just tea to which lemon has been added.
You can as with the remedy above, try to include some of the pulp in your tea. If not, the lemon juice still contains the antioxidants and vitamin C.
Use ¼ to ½ of the lemon for your tea.
You can also add some honey or blackstrap molasses if you like sweet tea.
Some teas are actually quite helpful in relieving constipation. Here are a few (2):
Senna tea (not for long-term use)
Note: Don’t use milk when you use lemon as the lemon juice will make the milk curdle.
3. Add Lemon to Your Smoothies and Juices
Adding lemon juice to your smoothies and juices is a great way to get more nutrients. If you have one of those blenders that remove the pulp, most of them do, try mixing the pulp into your smoothie or juice so that you don’t miss out on the fiber.
You can also add a spoon of coconut oil, flaxseed oil, or olive oil. You can use other oils but they are very rich in omega 6 which most people already have a lot of. Having too much omega 6 and too little omega 3 can cause inflammation which you don’t want. The oil will help to lubricate your digestive system and help your stools to come out easier.
4. Lemon and Oil Dressing
You don’t always need to drink lemon juice for constipation, you can eat it too. Mixing oil and lemon juice together with a few herbs is a delicious dressing for roasted or steamed veggies and salads.
You can also squeeze lemon juice out onto foods like coconut curry or stir-fries to bring out the flavor. These types of meals are also a great way to include more vegetables in your diet which is important for nutrients as well as fiber.
Tips and Precautions
Lemon is highly acidic so rinse your mouth out with water after you’ve consumed lemon. You may also want to drink lemon water with a straw. Wait at least half an hour before brushing your teeth after consuming lemon.
If you have symptoms like nausea, vomiting, low appetite, or are losing weight without trying to along with your constipation, see your doctor as you may have an underlying condition.
If you have constipation regularly despite eating healthily, this can also indicate an underlying condition. If it appears to be triggered by certain foods, you may have IBS. See your doctor and get tests to rule out any health conditions and get proper treatment if you do have one. You can also avoid your trigger foods which will help.
Eat more fiber. Men and women need 38 g and 25 g of fiber per day respectively until the age of 50. After 50 years of age, the requirements change to 30 g and 21 g of fiber daily (3). Most people on a Western diet only eat around 15 g of fiber. Fruit, vegetables, whole grains, peas, beans, and lentils are all rich in fiber. Include them in your diet every day.
Get moving. Walk, dance, jog, do gardening, aerobics, lift weights, play tennis. Do whatever form of exercise you enjoy doing 3-6 times a week. This will help to keep you regular.
Drink 6-8 glasses of water or herbal tea. Even just being slightly hydrated can make it harder to poop.
Try abdominal massage, many people find that this helps. The easiest way to do this is to massage your abdomen in a large clockwise circle for 10-20 minutes (4).
If lemon hasn’t done the trick, you can try one of these other remedies for constipation. Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.