Epsom salt as a laxative is a last resort (Continued from part 2)
Even if I were going to recommend it, we would have already tried many other things. Even if you were clinically diagnosed as constipated and this was an appropriate treatment we would have already tried several other things. Actually, fourteen other things, before I would do this. At best, I would recommend magnesium sulfate as the fifteenth possible alternative treatment.
Two Kinds of Constipation Disorder
There are two kinds of constipation. You must be aware, before any treatments, what type of constipation your client has. There is atonic constipation and spastic constipation. Atonic constipation is called lazy (lacking muscular tone) bowel syndrome and it could be a result of having ingested laxatives or antibiotics! Antibiotics can cause lazy bowel syndrome, leaky bowel syndrome, and those kinds of things. As a health care provider I have to understand this because what I am going to recommend to you as a solution is based on what kind of constipation you have. I would never recommend that someone take something for a disorder unless I knew what that disorder was.
It isn’t what the client says
Over 50% of the more than 20,000 people I have seen in my classes and clinical practice tell me their primary issue, and whatever they indicated was their problem or symptom, it turned out that it actually wasn’t the main thing. Had I just been like a western doctor, you would say, “Oh, I’m constipated,” and I would say, “Oh, well take 2 of these! I heard that these are helpful!” That’s what western doctors do and that’s what we are so critical of. We can’t criticize them and then do the same thing ourselves, right? I have to go through an assessment process and a conversation process and ask you some questions! I cannot be on a need to know basis, and if I don’t actually have confidence that I know what is wrong with you, then I shouldn’t make any recommendation at all. It is unethical to do so.
One thing that we like to say about nature cure, holistic health practitioners is that we are making every effort to have an ethical practice, so I cant accuse the medical doctor, the allopath, of being unethical because you come in and you say you have a problem and they just write down something on a piece of paper, tear it off the pad and give it to you, because they heard that was good for that problem. They heard it from the drug company representative, they heard it from the advertisement and saw it on the TV just like you did. I can’t say that they’re being unethical if I’m going to do the same practice, even if it is with natural things. There is no difference!
Spastic vs. Atonic Constipation
Spastic means the narrowing of the colon with small ribbon-like stools. Spastic constipation is most commonly caused by nervousness/anxiety. In order to properly diagnose or assess constipation if you are not a holistic health practitioner, naturopath, pastoral medical counselor, nurse, medical doctor, etc, you cannot diagnose a thing. You may be able to assess it. In that assessment of constipation you have to look at the poo (fecal matter)! Part of the assessment of determining if a person is constipated is if and when they do poo, any little thing, you have to look at it because that will tell you something. If it’s floater, then fiber is not the issue. If it’s ribbon-like and sinks, then that may indicate a spastic colon, and there are other reasons why that colon might be spastic. Spastic will show evidence of spasm, cramping, pain etc. Spastic colon is caused by unresolved negative emotions. Anxiety, fear, phobias, compulsions, neurosis-psychosis, all cause spastic colon style constipation. If I talk to you and I determine your constipation is actually a spastic constipation, then my treatment recommendations are all going to focus on the mental body, emotional body and energy balancing, coaching and counseling for mind and spirit. We are going to be working with how to handle and resolve your litany of unresolved emotional issues.
For atonic constipation, a high fiber diet with increased fluid is recommended. Basically we have two causes for constipation. It is either dietary, including ingestion of substances like antibiotics. This also includes having the wrong kind or insufficient bacterial flora in your digestive tract. What methods do you know and how are you using them? That is what is actually causing the constipation.
Treat the cause of the constipation not the symptom
Another defining characteristic of the nature cure doctor, the naturopath, and the holistic health practitioner, is that we want to treat the cause of the imbalance. We prefer to treat the cause rather than the symptom. In western allopathic medical tradition, it’s all about the symptoms, and all primary western medicines are based on treating symptoms. This is one of the differences between natural medicine and western medicine. That means that we have to determine cause, I can’t say your constipation as a symptom if I don’t know what caused it. In fact, I won’t unless it is life threatening.
If I don’t know the cause and I treat the symptom, what can happen? I can make it worse. That violates my ahimsa vow to no longer participate in the origination cycle of the creation of suffering for others. At the very least, do no harm! At the very least, let’s try in our counseling with each other to not make it worse! The only way to do that is to come to cause. If the cause is emotional, no amount of dietary changes, no amount of supplements, no amount of drinks and pills are going to have any effect on it. You will recreate it constantly, you will mask the symptom and what that means is that the symptom will go away so that you can’t see it anymore. You change the frequency of the appearance of the symptom so you can’t see it or feel it anymore, but the causative agents are still in force, the disease process is still in force, and will resurface at another time much worse. That is why masking is no good. That’s why we pick at the scab instead of putting a band-aid on it. It needs air and light. So you say, “Well why not? Look, I just have constipation, why do we have to get into all of this? Can we just handle it?” Well, no, you can’t because it is more complex than that. Sadly, because I am an expert, I am a professional, a knowledgeable person about this, I am sorry but I cant pretend to be stupid. I’m not going to just to make you happy. MY job is to be congenial in delivery of the hard truth to the best of my ability. Not to molly-coddle.
Primary causes of constipation
1) Trace mineral imbalance or deficiency. This may also contribute to the emotional, because we know that certain mineral deficiencies can cause mental issues. This is contrary to the psychiatric model that says that there are chemical imbalances that cause mental illness and there is no scientific evidence to support this. There are scientific reports to say that nutritional deficiencies, toxicities and allergies can cause mental problems. There is science for that, but there is no science for chemical imbalance. We try to make those distinctions. There are 92 essential trace minerals that you should have in some rotation in your diet on a daily basis.
2) Insufficient water, dehydration. Chronic constipation is always a primary symptom of chronic dehydration. Remember that magnesium sulfate can cause dehydration, so if your constipation is a symptom of dehydration and you take a laxative that is a diuretic and also causes dehydration, you drink more water to become more hydrated but you’re taking a dehydrating agent, which causes more constipation and puts you into what? It puts you in a loop. You are now on the gerbil wheel of constipation/dehydration.
Too little fat in the diet is a sustainable cause of chronic constipation.
By fats, I don’t mean animal fats. I mean EFA’s or essential fatty acids like omega 3 and 6 found in flaxseed oil, borage, fish-derived oils, grape seed oil, and other oils that are high in essential fatty acids. One of the reasons that we need EFA’s is that they reduce distress in the nerves and they enhance nerve synapse because the myelin sheath or the coating of the neuron is entirely made up of fatty acids. When you are depleted in fatty acids, then the sheath that protects and makes the neuron a conduit of information begins to become too thin or have breaks in it at different points and you start to have erratic synapse, short circuitry. That can cause a whole bunch of problems!
Most people don’t understand is the role of EFA’s in electrolyte balance. For example, in the blood system, it is the EFA’s that provide the coating on the inside of the arteries and veins to keep the blood in the arteries and veins. When you are deficient in EFA’s, they become leaky. What do they leak? They leak plasma. Plasma is a protein-based substance. When there is loose protein in the interstitial places or directly outside of the blood system the body attracts water to that area, pulling water out of tissue to flush the protein. That causes edema. Edema may also be a symptom of dehydration, but it is not what you would think of as classical dehydration. You may have plenty of water in your system but the problem is that it is pooling more in one area…robbing Peter to pay Paul. You will have an imbalance of the water metabolism. You are drinking enough water; it just isn’t going where it is supposed to go. This is caused by a deficiency in EFA’s. So if you have chronic constipation, you might have to take an EFA supplement.
3) Too little folic acid, lack of exercise, sedentary lifestyle, lack of or insufficient fiber can all cause constipation. You might think that you have lots of fiber in your diet, but it still might not be enough for you, because it is determined on an individual basis. Fiber adds bulk, and in addition to more fiber you have to have a higher water intake. Another thing that causes constipation is the use of laxatives and I’ve already gone over why that is. Anything that kills or does not support the healthy gut bacteria can cause constipation. For example, if you’ve ever taken antibiotics, it is possible that you could have problems. We know now that there is an issue with GMO’s, which are not supposed to be able to survive the hydrochloric acid and pepsin bath of the stomach fluids. In GMO corn, soy, and other crops there is now research which suggests that they not only survive but they can actually infiltrate, duplicate, replicate, supplicate and replace the original healthy human flora of the intestinal tract. In 25 words or less, you eat GMO corn or soy, there may come a point where you don’t actually have any non-GMO healthy bacteria in your gut and your gut will be producing a pesticide called Roundup. Of course, like all pesticides, this is toxic and the bacteria has been genetically modified to produce the pesticide can survive and duplicate in your gut and replace the natural healthy bacteria in your gut. So that means that if we have the possibility of ingesting GMO’s we have to supplement the gut bacteria.
Q: Would coffee enemas have any effect on constipation?
A: That is unrelated. We do coffee enemas for the liver, not constipation. (Continued in Epson Salts and Constipation: Part 4)
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Copyright© 2011, Dr. Anthony B. James DM(P), ND, MD(AM), SMOKH All rights reserved under International and Pan American copyright conventions. World rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying and recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the publisher. Inquires should be addressed to: Dr. Anthony B. James DM(P), ND, MD(AM), SMOKH, 4715 Bruton Rd. Plant City, FL 33565 · http://www.ThaiYogaCenter.Com