Seek a homeopath’s advice. “Used in conjunction with diet and lifestyle changes, homeopathic medicines provide an extra little push in relieving constipation,” says homeopath Dana Ullman. Among the medicines he prescribes are Bryonia, as a stool softener; Calcarea carbonica, for those who don’t feel the urge to go; and Nux vomica, for those who feel the urge but don’t pass anything. Which medicine will work best for you depends on your individual symptoms.


Chinese Medicine

Stick to spicy stimulators. Among practicioners of Chinese medicine, it is thought that constipation develops when there is an imbalance in the Large Intestine and Stomach organ systems, according to Efrem Korngold, O.M.D., L.Ac.

When treating patients who have constipation, practitioners of Chinese medicine often prescribe spicy foods to stimulate peristalsis. These foods include ginger, radishes, orange peel, persimmons, and rhubarb. In cases of mild constipation associated with indigestion or a cold, practitioners may also prescribe Curing Pills, which contain 15 different herbs.

Point a finger at the problem. Acupressure has proved effective in stimulating a balky bowel. Michael Reed Gach, founder and director of the Acupressure Institute, recommends applying steady, penetrating finger pressure to each of the following points for 3 minutes.