Edie has been working in the alternative health field for over 11 years. She has experience with Ayurveda, natural medicine, and meditation.
Seven Natural Tips to Move Your Bowels
Do you have days when you don’t have a bowel movement?
What does it mean if you miss a bowel movement? If you miss having a bowel movement on the very rare occasion, I wouldn’t put any thought into it. But, if once or twice a month you miss having a daily bowel movement, or the number of days you miss seems to be increasing, you should really start paying attention. Also, if you can’t have a bowel movement without the use of a laxative or caffeine, then you should also pay attention to this article. I cannot say enough how important it is that your bowels move on their own every single day.
I used to suffer from constipation (less than one bowel movement per day), and I really didn’t think much about it. I also didn’t know how it was connected to my health, so I didn’t see any importance in making sure my bowels were moving. When I was quite young, I suffered from stiff and sore joints, a scattered, drifty mind, and extreme mood swings. What I learned later is that all of these conditions clear up once the bowels move.
Now, some people have regular bowel movements, and they still suffer from some of the above symptoms. If that is you, then your body is different, and there is another reason specific for you. But, if you are not having regular movements AND you are having health issues, then getting your bowels in good health will help clear up a lot of your health conditions.
How Do I Get My Bowels Moving Naturally?
This is the big question. I will give you some simple, natural ways to get your bowel health back on track. But remember, depending on how long the constipation has been going on, it may take a bit of time to reverse, and none of my suggestions include taking supplements.
The following suggestions are for those who aren’t obese. If you are obese or have a large amount of extra weight, then please skip suggestions 1-4 and go straight to suggestions 5-7.
1. Increase the Amount of Oil in Your Diet
Your bowels aren’t moving because you are dried out. You can replace the dryness by adding good, natural oils to your meals. This includes eating foods that naturally have oil in them, such as avocados, nuts, and seeds. If you are eating these foods but still not having regular movements, I would still suggest you need more oil.
2. Avoid Dry Foods
Dry foods require more moisture to digest, which means they take moisture from your body. Eat foods that are naturally moist or foods that are cooked but not dry. The worst foods to eat if your bowels aren’t moving are rice cakes, Ryvita, popcorn, dried fruits, granola, and muesli.
3. Oil Your Skin
If your skin is dry, this is a good indicator that, internally, you are dry. Oiling the skin will help bring moisture from the outside in. Sunflower oil is a safe oil to put on the skin. Don’t worry about pimples or skin eruptions; basically, if the oil is of good quality, it will be absorbed by the skin and used in the body.
4. Avoid Raw Food
If your diet is composed mostly of raw foods and you still aren’t having a bowel movement, then you should come off the raw food until the bowels are moving again and then start with the raw food in the summer. It takes a certain enzyme to digest raw food, which is completely different than the enzyme we need to break down cooked foods. During the warmer time of the year, we have an easier time adjusting our diets to raw. Make sure you educate yourself about how to eat healthy if you do want to stay on your raw diet. You should be having regular full movements if you do eat raw foods, and if you are missing bowel movements, then I strongly suggest you seek advice or stop and get your digestion back on track before you proceed.
5. Give Your Body a Cleanse
If you are heavy and have never cleansed your body, then my suggestion is that you do. Cleansing requires some willpower, and I'd recommend asking a friend to help, or getting yourself a health coach. You need to have someone you are accountable to in order for the cleanse to work. There are a few ways of cleansing the body:
- Juice fasting. Decide to only drink juice (that you make yourself) for a certain number of days. In the beginning, you may want to try one or two days at a time, and then once you know you can do it, you may want to increase it to a five-day juice fast. I suggest that the fresh fruits and vegetables you juice for your fast be all organic.
- Fasting: I know this isn’t going to be a popular choice, but fasting once a week has been proven to improve any health condition. Choose one day a week where you will drink only water, and eat nothing solid. This will allow your body a break. Choose the same day every week to make it simple.
6. Avoid Bread, Pasta, and Cereal
This is high on my list for getting the bowels moving again. These foods tend to be heavy and create stagnation in the body and make you put on weight. We become addicted to the “highs” we get from eating simple carbohydrates, but what happens is that after the high, we have a very deep low, and energy plummets. Avoid this by replacing your bread, pasta, or cereal with whole grains.
However, it is important to note that foods high in fiber can be very helpful for bowel movements. In moderation, pasta and bran flake cereals can be beneficial.
7. Eat More Whole Grains
Whole grains are complex carbohydrates that give us energy over time and are much more efficient fuel to burn. Whole grains include rice, quinoa, barley, millet, amaranth, and oats. Yes, I said rice, and I do mean white rice, but not Uncle Ben's or a quick-cooking rice. Rice only needs about 20 minutes to cook and is one of the simplest food items to digest.
There are my top seven ways to get your bowels moving naturally. Remember that we are all individuals, and you will get the best results working one-on-one with a health coach. If you have questions or comments, please feel comfortable leaving them here.
Sources and Further Reading
- Johns Hopkins Medicine: Foods for Constipation
- Medical News Today: Can olive oil be used to treat constipation?
- NIH: Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for Constipation
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.
Tra on October 22, 2013:
Wow! I started juicing and my bowels have been moving amazingly! Thanks!
Edie (author) on April 29, 2013:
Hello Mattk. Whenever there is worry for your health my suggestion is that you seek professional advice. You need to watch your food intake and make sure you eat plenty of cooked and uncooked vegetables. Starches and meat will clog you if you aren't eating enough vegetables. But most importantly get professional advice is you are worried.
mattk. on April 27, 2013:
I have been getting pretty bad stomach pains and I can't seem to take a dump for several days. This has got me very concerned for my health. What do I do to get more frequent bowl movements?
Edie (author) on April 17, 2013:
Make sure you are drinking a lot of water and include natural oils in your foods. The sharp pains can be due to a dryness inside your body. Try to favor fresh fruits and vegetables in addition to the water and oil. Never strain and relax when you are trying to go. If you aren't in a relaxed state then bowel movements don't come easy.
dequasia on April 15, 2013:
Im having a hard time moving my bawls and im having shark pain when i dodo why is that and wat can i take for it to make the pain go away
yoginijoy from Mid-Atlantic, USA on August 26, 2012:
Great Advice! My husband is from Spain and is used to eating a lot of olive oil in his diet. Here in the USA he has had to consciously eat more of it since he was becoming constipated. So I agree wholeheartedly on how useful oil can be. Like other Spaniards we know, he uses olive oil where a lot of folks use butter or margarine, on his toast for example. It seems to help! Thanks for the information. Voting up and useful.
susan on July 01, 2012:
I discovered drinking a glass of water first thing in the morning then add milled flaxseed to cereral helps me.
ellijaygal on June 26, 2012:
Try vitamin C. You can't have too much because your body removes excess through your kidneys. If you don't want to try harsh laxatives for medication induced constipation Vit C is a great way to kick start your body to start on this protocol. Great tips you have given. I disagree that not having a bowel movement daily or twice daily constitutes constipation. Otherwise this is great info.
doug on May 31, 2012:
Joeann - go to CVS or Walmart and get a Gentle Laxative Tablets.. Take 2 or 3. and You should have a bowel movement in 6-12 hours.
joeann on May 29, 2012:
I don't know it I should be worried because I haven't had a movement in six days I'm really scared should I be scared? Please reply someone...
giavonna on May 15, 2012:
i do mma and that's just not enough for me to loose weight and it sucks because i need too poop and i dont know what to do
Lauren on May 03, 2012:
Thank you so much! Just went 3 weeks without a movement, felt like a softball size rock in my rectum had to result to more drastic measures. I recommend mineral oil enemas. Worked for me. I wouldn't wish that feeling on my worse enemy!!! Good luck everyone :)
Nikki on March 25, 2012:
Paige...I have trouble even having a bowel movement.
A friend suggested Miralax but it didn't work as well for me as it did for her. I decided to come off of it, and now I cannot have a bowel movement at all without enemas.
confused on March 12, 2012:
Some of this other sites says to have because of fiber, Lord, please let me be the same again.
ALTAMIMI FAHAD on January 21, 2012:
Thanks for good article and information about bowels, I like this it is good for my problem, once again I am thankful to you.
Paige on January 17, 2012:
I use this stuff called miralax. It works, but my bowels take a long time to move. I can't stand it! Every minute of the day you see me on the floor, in pain because of my bowels!
Maureen on December 04, 2011:
I agree about the medication connection to constipation. I'm having trouble with Imipramine (a tri-cyclic anti depressant) But I also find cold weather brings on constipation, & we have freezing winters where I live. (-20 below F*) This cold weather also changes your Ph balance to run toward the acid side, and THAT has an effect on the bowels, I have been told. Anyone understand that, or have ideas how to fix it? I'm trying simple baking soda to bring some alkalinity back in. We'll see. I know that calcium is a constipating type of supplement. I need it tho, because I'm on the cusp of osteoporosis. So....I like the idea of cleansing, and also, fasting. I think the body needs to rest-the bowels particularly, & when I have the will power to do this, my bowels straighten right out. Another trigger for constipation for me is SUGAR. Anyone else notice this? So that might be related to yeast?? Any thoughts? I feel my colon stay cramped, and my lower belly filled with waste, but it won't move downward. I do attempt massaging, but once I'm really tied up, nothing works but a colonic. So, I bought a colonic board. What a revelation those things are! The cleanse msp-health is talking about is helpful too. I went on a cleanse some yrs ago where your body starts sloughing off the rubbery lining of the bowels! It's a build-up of waste products that line the bowels, & with a certain cleanse I used, it starts coming out. Unbelievable what shows up! AND your bowel is THEN CLEAN, & can absorb the nutrients & supplements you put in there. This rubbery lining keeps nutrients from getting through to the rest of your body. I suspect that's why we poop out much of our supplementations. OK, that's all I have for now. Thanks
Monica on November 08, 2011:
Another common problem for bowel movement problems is the type of medication you are on, I know because I have that problem, the way that help me is I eat cereal with a high concentration of fiber and I also eat yogart every single day, since I start doing this I have started having a bowel movement everyday sometimes twice aday, my bowel movements are very hard, but at least they are there. there have been times when I was going 2 weeks without a movement. I also take Acia berry and CoralCalcium as well as vitamin D every day and it also help a great deal and gives me the energy that I needed to get off the couch and start moving again after 16 years of diability. So I hope that also helps I like your post it is very helpful Thank you. Monica
Jen on November 02, 2011:
Thank u I hope it works... I deal with severe pain for 3 days every month bc of constipation I've been deal with this for over 2 years! What can I do during a flare up... When I have a flare up I'm completely immobile ... I've gone to specialist doctors and no one noes what to do!
Ziamond on September 04, 2010:
Oh my lord, thank you soooo much for this. i think this will help a lot i was looking for something to help me i been every where. i was going to go to the doctor to get checked out so i can be sure there is nothing wrong with me. omg thank you so much this really helps a lot = ) your a life saver!!!!
Wendy Henderson from Cape Coral on July 22, 2010:
Very well writing article with great tips.