Childhood constipation.  It’s no fun for mama and certainly no fun for your little one.  As odd as it seems, our poop tells us A LOT about our heath.  And childhood constipation is another clue to an imbalance in the body.  Here on the Kula Mama website I’m doing a natural remedy series to help families heal naturally when possible.  If you missed them, take a look at my holistic remedies for ear infections, eczema and candida.  Now, let’s take a look at the condition of childhood constipation and how to treat it naturally.

What is constipation?

Constipation is a condition of slow moving, hard or compacted stools.  The NIH defines constipation as less than 3 bowel movements a week and/or stools that are hard and difficult to pass.  When stool sits in the colon too long, water is reabsorbed back through the intestinal wall and the stool becomes small and hard.  If your child is passing dark brown balls or small pellets into the toilet make sure you address this condition promptly!  When stool sits in the colon, toxins are reabsorbed through the gut wall and get released back into the body.  When it comes to constipation, quick action is needed.  Constipation is often painful for children and can make going to the bathroom a scary ordeal so resolving this issue gently and promptly is beneficial for emotional health as well.

What causes constipation in children?

Constipation is always due to an imbalance in gut flora.  The healthy probiotic flora in the gut is responsible for forming and eliminating stool.   Finding the root cause of a flora imbalance can be the tricky part for parents.  There are many reasons a child might have an imbalance of gut flora including;

Finding the root of your child’s specific imbalance is necessary to properly treat the condition.

What’s wrong with conventional treatment of constipation (like diuretics and fiber)?

Conventional medicine treats constipation usually with over the counter diuretics and also encourages an increase in fiber rich foods.  However, both diuretics and high fiber foods can irritate the gut lining, especially in children.  Diuretics also further disrupt the gut flora imbalance and will end up making the problem worse instead of better.  High fiber foods such as grains should only be consumed if they are properly prepared by soaking and sprouting first.

Natural remedies for childhood constipation.

Make sure your child drinks plenty of fluids, eats a well-balanced diet with probiotic-rich food and drink, and takes time to relax when visiting the toilet.  A holistic approach to treating constipation primarily includes re-balancing the gut flora as the first course of action.  To do this make sure your child is consuming probiotics in the form of a supplement or in food/drink.  In addition to probiotic-rich food and drink, the following treatments may be used to resolve constipation.

Herbs and Supplements

Aloe Vera juice:  Aloe is a gentle laxative that also soothes the gut lining.  It can be used in children to help move the bowels without irritating the digestive tract.

Magnesium: Magnesium can help get the bowel moving but supplementation can be hard on the tummy.  You can rub some magnesium oil on your child’s tummy, or give your child a magnesium-rich bath using epsom salts or magnesium bath flakes. Make sure to read my article about safely giving an epsom salt bath here.

Fermented food/drink:  The key to keeping a healthy, high functioning digestive tract is to keep the gut flora balanced and properly fed with probiotic-rich food and drink.  Once the gut flora is balanced, the bowels usually self-regulate.

Flax seeds: To get stubborn bowels moving a few teaspoons of flax seeds soaked overnight can help.  Add them to juice or hot cereal in the morning.

Probiotics:  Sometimes a probiotic supplement can help children with slow moving stools.  Use a high-quality brand (ideally dairy-free) that is backed by clinical trials like this or this.

Enemas:  For severely constipated children, when diet modifications are slow to take effect, an enema is a safe and effective way to get the bowels moving. It’s best to consult a holistic practitioner for guidance.

Do you have a child who suffers from constipation?  What natural remedies have you found effective?


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