Commonly Recommended Remedies for Constipation

About using homeopathy for chronic constipation...

Homeopathic remedies indicated for constipation often work at a deeper level than nutritional supplements and most herbs because they target the mind and the emotions in addition to the physical body. (This is not to say that nutritional supplements and herbs don't also effect the mind and emotions - but that the emphasis with homeopathy is the mind and the emotions, whereas with nutritional supplements and western herbs it is usually the physical body.) Essentially homeopathic remedies assist in unlocking the stress that may be underlying the constipation symptoms, ideally leading to a permanent resolution of the problem.

Given this emphasis, and since constipation symptoms are often difficult to differentiate on a physical level (in other words, it's often difficult to differentiate one type of constipation from another), I usually focus my attention on the mental/emotional symptoms (e.g, the "story") of the individual and similarly, the mental/emotional symptoms (or story) of the possible homeopathic remedies.

Very often the mental/emotional profile of remedies that address chronic constipation include some type of control issue - there is usually some area of the individual's life in which they have a profound fear of letting go. So, in many of the profile summaries you'll see in the remedies listed below, you'll often see symptoms like perfectionism, obsessive-compulsiveness, fastidiousness, etc. If you suffer from chronic constipation, the key is to find the remedy that matches your particular experience of control - where does your issue of control show up, what triggers it, and how does it manifest?

Also know that with chronic constipation, you may need only one homeopathic remedy or a series of remedies as different symptom pictures emerge over time. Call me and/or come in for a consultation if you would like my professional assistance.

Finally, know that chronic constipation may be indicative of a greater disease process going on in your body. If your constipation is long term and severe, see an MD for a medical diagnosis.

Precautions about this information.....

  • Do not use homeopathy in place of needed medical help - Homeopathic remedies do not have side-effects. The real risk in using homeopathy is when it is chosen at the exclusion of conventional diagnosis and treatment - be conservative, when in doubt about any ailment, seek the advice of your M.D.
  • Retrace back to acute phase - Often times during the healing process, the body will retrace chronic physical and emotional symptoms back to the original acute state of the symptom - if this happens, your physical symptoms may be temporarily heightened.  This is often a necessary part of the healing process and should not be cause for alarm.  If you are concerned, call me or speak with another professional homeopath.  (For more information on what to expect from taking a remedy, see Frequently Asked Questions about What to Expect.) 

About self-prescribing....

  • Match determines result - This is a write-up of the symptom pictures of 12 remedies commonly recommend for chronic constipation - know that in homeopathy the goal is to find the remedy that most closely match your symptom picture. If you select the best match, the remedy will stimulate a healing response. If you select a match which is close, but not on target, you might experience some improvement, but it won't be optimal. If you select a remedy that doesn't match at all, you will most likely have no reaction whatsoever.
  • Your optimal remedy may not be included here - Also know that in homeopathy the remedy that most closely matches your symptom picture could be one of 1000 different remedies. I am only listing 12 of the most commonly recommended here. If you think you might need a remedy not listed here, call me or come in for a consultation and I'll use muscle testing and interviewing to identify it. You can also roll up your sleeves, do some self-study and try to select a remedy for yourself - although I don't recommend it for chronic constipation as selecting a remedy for this complaint is usually very difficult for beginners.
  • Focus on the feeling - In my case, I have lived through the "stories" of most of the remedies I work with, (including those for chronic constipation) and so I have a solid feel for what these are. I've attempted in the write-up below to give a brief description of 12 remedies - know that these are brief sketches to give you the gist of what these remedies feel like. When you match your feeling with the feeling of the remedy, you will almost always get a resonance response and the remedy works.
  • When in doubt, select a low potency - Most of the remedies listed below can be found at your local health food stores (if not, contact a homeopathic pharmacy or ask your health food store to order the selected remedy for you.) When in doubt, select the lower potency for a particular remedy (6X or 6C). When confident of your selection and when the discomfort is more intense, select the medium potency for the remedy (30X or 30C).
  • Reference - Many of the physical symptoms listed here are taken from Desktop Guide to Keynotes and Confirmatory Symptoms, by Roger Morrison, M.D.

Summary of Remedies

  • Nux Vomica - fear of wasting time and money, great irritability, perfectionism at work.
  • Arsenicum Album - tremendous fear around health and money issues; miserly; fear of death, perfectionism at work.
  • Carcinosin - fear of reprimand; fear of letting go of anger, fear of upsetting others; guilt, perfectionism at work and in taking care of others.
  • Silicea - fear of making the wrong decision; fastidious about insignificant details, timid, overwhelmed.
  • Plumbum - fear of letting go of material goods; compulsive indulgence; holding onto what no longer serves you.
  • Aurum Metallicum - fear of self or outer abuse that comes from not living up to the gold standard; low self esteem; spiritual perfectionism; distorted self-perception; bi-polar tendencies.
  • Calcarea Carbonica - fear of letting go of protective structures (e.g. leaving a regular pay check or moving); insecure about health and finances; home body.
  • Rhus Toxicodendron - fear of one's child being harmed, compulsive worry about others, superstition.
  • Sepia - fatigue in taking care of others; worn out house wife, mother, or nurse.
  • Opium - dissassociation from great hurriedness and anxiety, somatized fear of being out of control.
  • Nux Moschata - spaciness and overwhelming sleepiness; endless curiosity or feeling compelled to satisfy the curiosity of others.
  • Alumina - dissassociation and loss of identity

Nux Vomica (from the plant poison nut)

Obsessive/compulsive about work details; organizes their desk or their home perfectly; highly industrious and fastidious; workaholic; places great demands on themselves and/or the people around them; highly time conscious, must use every moment productively; cannot sit and do nothing without feeling very anxious; an internal voice berates the person for being lazy.

Anxiety ridden, worries about work and money, stays awake at night thinking of all the work that must be done the next day; extremely irritable when people or situations (traffic, lines, slow clerks, etc) get in the way of them staying on the schedule they had in mind, interfering with their productivity, impacting their ability to make money; also extremely irritable at colleagues and co-workers who don't pay attention to detail, waste time or make mistakes that causes loss of money.

Work hard, play hard archetype - always has plans for what to do when not working, the sophisticated and accomplished city dweller.

Physical symptoms: chronic constipation, irritable bowel syndrome; muscle cramps and spasms; lower back pain; tends to run very cold; hypersensitive to noise; craves spicy food; likes alcohol.

Arsenicum Album (white oxide of arsenic)

Obsessive compulsive about money issues; extreme fear of poverty, and/or disease and death; fears that a minor mistake may cause them to be fired, lose the contract or become impoverished in some way, or, fears the a minor mistake will significantly worsen a health situation, or even cause death.

Driven workaholic; must be vigilant, works long hours for months on end in order to avoid financial ruin; miserly, very conscious of every penny spent; projects poverty onto others, sees the world and everyone around them as being poor.

Archetypes include: people in jobs that require extreme perfectionism (e.g., engineers, money managers, surgeons, anyone in the medical profession, etc); people who have suffered from years of chronic illness and feel desperate to get better, and people who may be in the last stage of their life (e.g. terminal cancer patients).

Physical symptoms - ice cold hands and feet; stiff neck; itchy scalp; sips their water in small amounts; burning pains that are better with heat; craves sour food; CFS, adrenal exhaustion, kidney disease. (often suffers from arsenic toxicity)

Carcinosin (from breast cancer tissue)

Fastidious in their work and in their behavior so as not to impose on others, cause any upset or stress or suffering; also fastidious so as not to create a backlash (e.g. another individual reprimanding them, becoming angry with them, blaming them for causing them grief, etc). This is often someone who grows up in a family in which they are reprimanded repeatedly in a harsh way and sent the message "you are the reason I'm unhappy - if only you would behave (conform), then everything would be all right."

People needing Carcinosin are often deeply suppressed emotionally - not able to attend to or even experience their own feelings as they are entirely focused on not rocking the boat and taking care of others. In particular, they fear their own anger and the anger of those around them.

Archetypes include: anyone in a savior role, martyrs, people who sacrifice themselves for others (mothers, doctors, nurses, non-profit directors, animal rights activists, soldiers, etc), any hero that is more concerned with the "cause" than being true to themselves.

Other keynote symptoms - chronic constipation, craves chocolate, loves to dance, craves travel, loves nature, moles, CFS, most symptoms worse 1-6pm, headache deep inside the brain, insomnia, and perfectionism (high achievers).

Silicea (from silica)

Fastidious about insignificant details, frets about making the wrong decision; timid and indecisive, overwhelmed, childlike; asks everyone they come into contact with "what do you think I should do?" These are often people who grew up without a lot of emotional support and so had to parent themselves at an early age. They disassociate from their feelings of vulnerability (held in the gut) in order to survive and then as an adult are chronically disconnected from their gut. This prohibits them from having a gestalt feeling that tells them what decision to make. (in holistic medicine, vulnerability -> small intestines -> right brain -> gestalt)

People needing Silicea are extremely detail oriented, but usually about items that are insignificant (e.g. what font should I use, should I sit on the left side of the room or the right?). The nervous system is overwhelmed by the anxiety of the indecision. Also, with the right brain compromised (due to the gut disconnect), their left brain becomes heavily taxed. The overall result is an extremely fatigued nervous system - hence it's also a leading remedy for CFS.

In terms of colon symptoms, Silicea includes the symptoms "constipation with no urging", and "bashful stool", in which the stool starts to come out but then retreats back into the rectum. This is representative of the Silica personality. They are out of the "mix", separate from the group. When they try to move out of their isolation, reconnect, take on some greater responsibility their timidness becomes heightened - often they retreat back to their isolation.

Other physical symptoms - Silicea is also one of the main remedies for scoliosis (curvature of the spine), lack of nutrient absorption, coldness, craving for milk, milk intolerance, sour perspiration, chronic sinusitis, and failure to thrive amongst infants and small children.

Plumbum Metallicum (from metallic lead)

Extreme difficulty in letting go of material goods that are no longer serves the individual; may be a high paying job or career that the individual knows within their heart is not their true calling, or may be a relationship that provides material comfort but that they know is not in their highest good. Overall, people needing Plumbum have an overly materialistic view of the world and their lives, and don't trust the non-material (e.g. intuition, spirituality, decisions based on what their heart wants, etc). Alternatively, someone needing Plumbum may be the opposite - that is, placing too much emphasis on the non-material world and disowning the part of themselves that is indulgent and materialistic.

The Plumbum personality may also be impulsively indulgent and selfish - archetypes include the impulsive shopper, the impulsive overeater, the impulsive drug addict, gambler or stock trader. Plumbum physical symptoms include chronic and obstinate constipation, (may have bowel obstruction), atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries), heart disease, painter's colic (better from leaning backwards), poor memory; tremor, spasm or twitching of the musc les; wrist drop and ankle drop, and progressive paralysis. Overall, the individual feels heavy, like lead. (and often suffers from lead toxicity)

Aurum Metallicum (from metallic gold)

Obsessive compulsive in their efforts to be "good enough". People needing Aurum Metallicum often have an internal voice that tells them they're not good enough, no matter how many awards, trophies, championships, medals they win, no matter how elegant, graceful, thin, and beautiful they are, and no matter how accomplished, wealthy, etc.

This is the Olympic ice skater or gymnast who strives for the gold medal and then makes one minor mistake and instantly drops out of medal contention. For months and years afterward the athlete suffers self-condemnation about the mistake. This is also the minister who strives to be "good" at his job and then one day says just the wrong thing to a parishioner. For weeks and months afterward he feels apologetic about the mistake. This is also the anorexic woman, who, although having a gorgeous figure looks in the mirror and finds fault. No matter how perfect, the Aurum individual always finds a reason to feel not good enough. Guilt is also usually a predominant emotion.

People needing aurum are usually serious and melancholic and often has a strong spiritual inclination (e.g. they spend a great deal of time praying, meditating, doing yoga, etc.) They may even be spiritually arrogant, haughty, above having or expressing the more negative emotions.

Physical symptoms - constipation, colitis, irritabl e bowel syndrome, hyper tension, heart disease, anorexia, depression, suicidal states, bi-polar disorder, CFS, insomnia, bone pains worse at night, and connective tissue disease. (often has gold toxicity)

Calcarea Carbonica (from calcium carbonate)

Holding onto structures that may no longer be serving the individual, as a compensation for deep insecurities about finances, and/or health. This is the individual who clings to the security of job that gives them a paycheck on a regular basis, even though it may be holding them back from their true calling. They may have everything necessary to make it doing their own business, but the thought of giving up the weekly paycheck terrifies them.

This may also be the individual who clings to the security of their home environment, so much so that they might be considered a "home body". They sit on their couch with a blanket, nestled in the safety of their own protected environment. When their home becomes threatened (e.g. earthquake, or they're forced to move for some reason), it creates tremendous insecurity and heartache. This has proven to be an excellent remedy for people who for some reason were forced to leave their home town years ago and are still grieving the loss.

Physically, Calcarea Carbonica is an excellent remedy for arthritis, spinal curvature and osteoporosis. It's as if their attachment to their current external structures prevents them from letting go and moving onto structures that are truly in their highest good - and this lack of alignment is reflected in their own skeletal system.

Other physicals: constipation without an urge for stool; CFS, poor stamina, difficulty breathing, especially while walking up stairs or ascending a hill; sensation of inner trembling; tendency towards obesity; all symptoms worse in the damp and cold; craves sweets, eggs, olives, and indigestible items.

Other mental/emotional symptoms: highly industrious, strong sense of duty and responsibility, works to exhaustion and then must give up the job altogether, fears: mice or rats, insects, spiders, insanity, poverty, earthquakes, storms, cancer, diseases, dogs; despair of recovery; fears that his mind is weak or that he may go insane.

Rhus Toxicodendron (from the plant poison oak)

Obsessive/compulsive worry, especially about the well being and safety of one's children. As an example, this might be the parent whose three year old walks toward curb. The parent is gripped with fear that the child will go into the street and so runs over and stops the child from going any further. Another example is the parent whose 15 year old hasn't come home yet, and it's 11pm at night. The parent paces back and forth, worrying about the child's whereabouts. This could also be the parent of a special needs child, who requires constant attention to ensure his/her safety.

The Rhus Tox picture might also show up in supervisor/employee relationships, or coach/athlete relationships - basically, any relationship in which one individual feels compelled to worry about and track the actions of the other, and the other individual feels a restless drive to break free of the supervision. For some people, this scenario can even take place within their own psyche, in which part of them is the restless child and the other the worrisome, anxious parent.

Physicals: Traditionally, Rhus Tox is best known as a remedy for stiffness and arthritic pains, which are better from stretching and warming up, and better with warmth. Other physical symptoms include: constipation, restless sleep, restless legs in bed, arthritis worse in the cold and damp, worse sitting, low back pain and sciatica, eczema, shingles, genital herpes, fever blisters about the lips, craves milk, and red tip of the tongue.

Other mental symptoms include: joking, restless, cheerful behavior; restless mind, depression, superstitiousness, ritualistic behavior, irritability, and impatience, and hurriedness.

Sepia (from ink juice from a cuttle fish)

Indicated for the conscientious mother and housewife who stresses about doing a good job as a mother. Initially she puts high demands on herself to do a good job, maintain her cool and ensure that everyone's needs are taken care of. She never takes time for herself, however, and receives no help from family members. Eventually she grows weary and becomes increasingly irritable and resentful. She snaps at her children when they bother her while she's preparing dinner - and then feels tremendous guilt and remorse.

In the advanced stages of Sepia, the woman falls into a state of chronic fatigue and resentment. She may become totally indifferent to the needs of her family and fantasize about running away to a deserted island to be by herself (although she dreads being alone). She weeps easily for no apparent reason, and may have biting sarcasm. She may also have mental dullness and confusion.

I think in the later stages of Sepia, the exhaustion is so pronounced that the woman tries to guard herself against further giving. The body mirrors this mindset by guarding the pelvic area. Essentially, the hips tilt and the uterus becomes prolapsed - almost as if the mothering part of the woman (in holistic medicine held partly in the uterus) goes into hiding. It's as if the woman is saying "I won't let go of another ounce of my energy. I am tired of being a mother. " I think this also contributes to the constipation pattern - the extreme fatigue and stasis that sets in, and the resistance to giving any more of herself to those around her.

People needing Sepia derive great benefit from dancing and rigorous physical exercise. The exercise seems to help to offset the stasis of the state.

Sepia may also be appropriate for people that don't have children, but that have creative projects that they are constantly mothering. Another scenario may be someone in a caretaking profession (nurse, therapist, pre-school teacher, etc).

The physical symptoms of Sepia include: CFS, menopausal symptoms, periodicity every 28 days (even in men and non-menstruating women), left sided headaches, cracking of the lips - either at corners or middle of lower lip, lump sensation in the rectum or prostate, vaginitis, PMS, infertility, genital herpes, uterine cancer, painful urination, stress incontinence, and thickened and parchment like skin.

Keynote mental symptoms include: aversion to sex (all symptoms worse from sex), involuntary weeping, irritability, feeling overwhelmed, aversion to company (yet dreads being alone), and sarcasm.

Nux Moschata, Opium, Alumina

These three remedies are excellent for stubborn constipation (constipation with no urge, may require mechanical removal), but are indicated much less frequently than the other remedies listed above, so I'm not including a lot of information on them. If you think you might match one of their profiles, call me for more details.

Nux Moschata (from the plant nutmeg)

Overpowering sleepiness, feels "spaced out", extremely forgetful, extremely dry mouth, "cotton mouth", tongue so dry it sticks to the roof of the mouth. The personality is either someone who has an endless curiosity and asks questions continually - essentially "grilling" the individual they're interviewing to the point of exhaustion - or, its the opposite, someone who feels like they've been put on the witness stand and has to respond to a seemingly endless list of questions.

Opium (from the plant opium)

Disconnected and blissed out, often the individual becomes disassociated from their feelings and their physical body following a fright and/or head injury, it's as if they're floating above their body, not really dealing with reality. They may suffer from narcolepsy, and/or painlessness from complaints that are normally painful. Alternatively, the individual may also be a workaholic that is hurried and impatient and has great mental clarity.

Alumina (from metallic aluminum)

Great mental dullness, a leading remedy for Alzheimer's disease; the person is slow to answer questions and gives vague replies; great aversion to or aggravation from potatoes, cob-web sensation on the face.

The personality is someone who loses their own identity easily in the presence of others. They have a sense of who they are and what they want to do, and then when they interact with others it's as if they become caught in the other person's web. Soon they become disoriented and forget what they were feeling and thinking, and yield to/adopt the feelings and thoughts of the other person. (often suffers from aluminum toxicity)

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