Q: I've suffered from constipation most of my adult life. I eat plenty of fiber and drink lots of water, so my doctor has just told me not to worry about it. Should I still be concerned, or am I making a big deal over nothing?
JVW: When fiber and water deficiency have been ruled out as causes of constipation, all too many mainstream doctors just brush off the problem as nothing to worry about. But the fact is, waste products aren't good for human cells, and it's best that our bodies get rid of them every day, rather than retaining them internally and giving more time for absorption back into the body.
One of the most widespread -- and overlooked -- causes of constipation is insufficient intake of essential fatty acids. Essential fatty acids are the precursor materials to hormones called prostaglandins, which help to regulate bowel function. Flax oil is the best option, and 1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons daily is usually enough to help. To help prevent the essential fatty acids from oxidizing too rapidly, you should also take additional vitamin E (400 units daily) along with them.
Additional folic acid may also be helpful in reducing constipation. Six to eight 800-microgram tablets per day, taken for several weeks can offer significant relief. Folic acid should be accompanied by 1,000 to 2,000 micrograms of extra vitamin B12 per day.
Two other common causes of constipation, especially as we grow older, are hypochlorhydria (lack of stomach acid) and insufficient production of digestive enzymes. For help in identifying the underlying cause of constipation and remedying it, contact a member of the American College of Advancement in Medicine (800-532-3688 or
or the American Association of Naturopathic Physicians (703-610-9037 or