Q&A: Herbs for Constipation


Question: What herbs are used for constipation?

Answer: Constipation is an intestinal sluggishness that produces an inefficient bowel movement. Two causes are: hypothyroidism and obstruction of the intestinal tract; poor diet due to lack of bulk producing foods and failure to respond to reflex felling for evacuation. According to many herbalists, a remedy formula for constipation contains:

  • Butternut root bark(Juglans cinera) – increases bile secretion which increases the activity of glands in the intestinal tract.
  • Cascara sagrada (Rhamnus purshiana) – contains anthraquinone or A factors that act on the large intestine and are hydrolyzed by colonic micro flora. Without affecting the small intestine, it produces vigorous peristalsis in the large intestine. Produce a soft stool in 6-8 hours. Cascara  produces no discomfort, is not habit forming, and does not loss efficiency with multiple usage.
  • Rhubarb (Rheum palmatum) – mild laxative (good for kids) and it produces a soft stool in 6-10 hours. Should not be used by itself when the colon is evacuated as it may produce a feeling of constipation. Contains A factors and is absorbed by small intestine and later released into the large intestine. Avoid extended use as it may produce potassium deficiency.


  • Staying Healthy with Nutrition – Elson L. Hass M.D.
  • The way of the Herbs – Michael Tierra, L.Ac., O.M.D.
  • The Scientific Validation of Herbal Medicine – Daniel B. Mowrey, Ph.D.
  • The Herbal Medicine-Maker’s Handbook – James Green.

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