Constipation in young children

Holistically addressing Chronic Constipation in Children
Related: What causes constipation?

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by Neva J. Howell unless otherwise noted

Addressing constipation in children, naturally

Health Question:
My nephew has had a problem with going to the bathroom for over 3 years now. Is there a safe colon cleanse that can be given to him?

Healing Facilitation Response:
The first thing I have to say is that having chronic constipation can be a signal that there is some intestinal or eliminatory health issue. I would suggest a trip to the pediatrician just to rule out medical conditions.

You didn’t say how old the child is but I’m assuming that, since you are writing on his behalf, he is still fairly young.

A child still young enough to be called a child should not need a colon cleanse. Although they might have parasites and experience symptoms like anal itching at night, restless sleep and alternating constipation with diahrrhea, parasites will not typically (by themselves at least with no other factors) cause the type of chronic constipation you are describing.

There are safe options for restoring intestinal regularity and normal bowel movement but, before I go into that, let’s talk about some other considerations.

I am not a doctor or psychiatrist, but I do know that children can develop a resistance to going to the bathroom which can cause them to hold stool until it becomes a chronic problem to be constipated. There are any number or reasons why this could be so, ranging from embarassment about going in public places like school to some type of subconscious or conscious fear of going.

I have no idea if you are open to alternative healing modalities like reiki, but even counseling with a mental health therapist might rule out this consideration. I would strongly advise exploring psychological factors. If a doctor did not find any medical reason for there to be backed-up stool, then the constipation may not be due to physical problems.

A child shouldn’t normally need probiotics either but I know that many children don’t get really good nutrition at school and if they don’t get enough fiber, good protein, veggies and low sugar foods at home, they may need a little help with a good probiotic such as yogurt. I’d choose a low-sugar or no sugar organic brand.

Dietary Changes in Cases of Constipation in Children:

Diet can be a huge factor in constipation, and particularly when children are constipated since most will eat junk food entirely if left to their own preferences, so I’d also look carefully at the child’s food intake. If he doesn’t eat fruits and vegetables, and eats a lot of fast food, processed food, sugary foods, or white flour products, that can definitely cause chronic constipation.

If he were my child, I’d do my best to get him off sugar and white flour, and get him eating more fiber-rich foods. In my experience, giving someone with chronic constipation fiber to take only makes it worse if they are not also drinking a lot more water and cutting back on the foods that hold waste in the colon (refined sugar is probably the worst culprit). Things have to be moving already for fiber to be a good idea, in my opinion.

Again, I am not a doctor and I don’t know if fiber is the thing with them. It is a good thing, but I just don’t experience that it’s when there is a chronic constipation problem until the backed up waste has been eliminated and especially if the person isn’t drinking enough water. Not drinking enough water is very big factor in many cases of chronic constipation and children are notorious for choosing cokes, juice drinks or other beverages instead of water if left to their own devices.

If he were my son, I’d try making sure he drinks water at breakfast and dinner, instead of other drinks for a while. If there is no problem with bedwetting, I would even try a little water before bed as well and you also might want to put him on a good multi-vitamin for children if he isn’t taking one already.

Finally, if changing his diet, increasing his water, and ruling out emotional factors don’t eliminate the problem, I would get another opinion. Another doctor might find something that this one is missing.

One resource I visited suggested setting specific bathroom times for the child, to get them used to the idea of going and sitting to see if they need to move their bowels. Over time, the body may get the idea. You can also try adding laxative-type foods such as prunes, pears, plums, and peaches.

Also, some doctors recommend flax oil and I would definitely use flax oil or flax seed before trying more harsh laxatives. Using flax seed oil regularly may help a great deal to correct the constipation, provided any emotional factors in holding off going to the bathroom are also addressed.

Suppositories can also be used, but since they may be a bit embarrassing for the child, I’d try all the other avenues first. As a last resort, enemas can relieve the constipation if it gets too bad.

In lieu of considering an actual colon cleanse which, again,
I think would be too harsh for a child, I’d suggest trying the dietary changes, dealing with any stress or fears that might be causing the child to avoid going to the bathroom and using a natural children’s laxative only when needed, and rely more on diet to take care of the situation.

One of the very best and safest options for relieving constipation that I know about is foot reflexology. Most children love it. Most adults too, as a matter of fact.

Foot reflexology is very easy to learn or you can find a reflexologist in your area and get an appointment for your nephew.

Here’s an article that covers
some questions about reflexology and reiki
, so that you can consider these options more fully.

Additional colon-related information:
Symptoms and help for celiac sprue

Addressing Severe Constipation in an Adult

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