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Medically Approved

Natural ways to relieve constipation

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Increase fiberRegular exerciseListen to your bodyHydrationProbioticsOTC medicationsSeeking medical adviceSummary
There are several ways you can relieve constipation naturally. These include increasing your fiber intake and exercising regularly to promote healthy bowel movements and ease discomfort.
Medically reviewed by Qin Rao, MD
Written by Rashida Ruwa, RN
Updated on

Constipation can be an uncomfortable and distressing condition, and finding natural ways to relieve it is important for maintaining your overall well-being.

You can effectively manage constipation with various natural remedies, such as increasing dietary fiber, exercising regularly if possible, and listening to your body cues. 

Over-the-counter (OTC) medications can also provide temporary relief, but consider talking with a healthcare professional if your symptoms persist.

Increase your dietary fiber

Fiber is an indigestible carbohydrate found in plant-based foods. It adds bulk to poop, absorbs water, and helps move waste through the digestive system.

There are two primary forms of fiber: insoluble and soluble. Insoluble fiber speeds up the passage of poop through the intestines by adding bulk to it, while soluble fiber helps soften poop.

According to a 2023 study, a high fiber, liquid diet increased dietary fiber intake significantly, leading to an increase in the number of regular bowel movements each week. It also reduced the need for constipation treatment, including laxatives and enemas, relieving constipation symptoms. 

When increasing your fiber intake, it’s important to do so gradually and drink plenty of water to prevent bloating and discomfort. Insoluble fiber, like potatoes, nuts, and green beans, tend to cause more bloating and gas, which might be painful if you have symptoms of irritable bowel syndrome.

Adults should aim for a daily fiber intake of 25–30 grams. However, other factors, like biological sex and weight, can mean you need more or less fiber.

If you have a medical condition that requires making dietary changes, like inflammatory bowel disease or diverticulitis, consider talking with a healthcare professional, like a nutritionist, before making significant changes to your fiber consumption.

Exercise regularly if you can

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In a 2019 review of research, exercise therapy — particularly aerobic exercises like qigong and walking — significantly improved constipation symptoms. However, more studies will definitively confirm the effect of exercise on constipation.

According to a 2017 study, exercise improves constipation by stimulating muscle contractions in the intestines, helping the movement of poop through the digestive system, and promoting regular bowel movements.

Listen to your body

Listening to your body involves being aware of and appropriately responding to your digestive patterns. It’s important not to ignore the urge to poop, as that can worsen constipation.

By paying attention to the regularity and quality of your bowel movements, you can spot any changes or signs of constipation. This awareness also helps identify possible triggers for constipation, such as dietary choices, stress levels, or medication side effects.

Being mindful of these signals also allows you to take prompt action and adjust your diet, lifestyle, or treatment plan. This proactive approach can help manage constipation naturally and effectively.

However, every person is unique, and constipation cases vary. Sometimes, you may need more interventions, like dietary changes, fiber supplements, or prescription medications.

Stay hydrated

Adequate hydration helps relieve constipation. This is because soluble fiber absorbs water, softening the poop and adding bulk to it, making it easier for the colon to propel waste through the intestines. This promotes regular bowel movements and helps prevent poop from becoming hard and difficult to pass, relieving constipation.

To stay hydrated and promote regular bowel movements, consider the following recommendations:

  • Drinking an adequate amount of water: Although there’s no recommended limit on water intake, healthcare professionals recommend at least 8 cups a day. If you exercise or live in a hot climate, you may need to increase your fluid intake accordingly.
  • Include hydrating foods in your diet: Fruits and vegetables with high water content, like watermelon, cucumber, and citrus fruits, can provide additional hydration and support regular bowel movements.
  • Monitor urine color: Pay attention to the color of your urine as an indicator of hydration. A pale or light yellow color is generally a sign of adequate hydration, while dark yellow or amber may indicate dehydration. 


Probiotics are a type of beneficial bacteria that naturally exist in your gut. You can also find them in certain foods and supplements. They interact with the complex ecosystem of microorganisms known as the gut microbiota, which helps maintain optimal gut health.

The main function of probiotics is to help maintain a balanced environment between beneficial and harmful bacteria in your gut. This balance is essential for promoting overall gut health. Additionally, probiotics can produce substances that help digestion and contribute to improved bowel movements.

Although research has yet to confirm this, incorporating probiotic-rich foods, like yogurt or probiotic supplements, may relieve constipation. However, consider speaking with a healthcare professional before starting any new supplement — including probiotics — to make sure it aligns with your condition.

OTC medications for constipation

OTC medications for constipation include:

  • Fiber supplements: Citrucel, FiberCon, and Metamucil are bulking agents that add bulk and moisture to poop, making it easier to pass.
  • Osmotic agents: Magnesium hydroxide (milk of magnesia) and polyethylene glycol 3350 (Miralax) are osmotic laxatives that draw water into the intestines, softening poop and promoting bowel movements.
  • Stool softeners: Docusate sodium (Colace) is a stool softener that helps add moisture to poop, making it easier to pass.
  • Lubricants: Mineral oil (Fleet) is a lubricant that coats poop, allowing it to pass through the intestines more easily.
  • Stimulants: Dulcolax (Bisacodyl) and senokot (Senna) are stimulant laxatives that stimulate the intestinal muscles, promoting bowel movements.

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When to contact a doctor, and what they may prescribe or recommend

OTC medications can provide temporary relief from constipation. However, if natural remedies and OTC options are not effective or you experience additional symptoms, consider speaking with a doctor or healthcare professional.

Symptoms to be mindful of may include:

  • severe abdominal pain
  • rectal bleeding
  • unexplained weight loss
  • nausea or vomiting

In cases where constipation is chronic or more severe, a healthcare professional may prescribe medications to help promote regular bowel movements and relieve constipation. Examples include:

You should also contact a doctor if you have a family history of colon cancer or are over 45 years and experience regular constipation.


You can help relieve constipation naturally with lifestyle strategies like increasing fiber intake, staying hydrated, taking regular exercise if you can, and listening to your body’s natural cues.

However, if these remedies do not provide adequate relief, you can use OTC medications to help relieve symptoms.

Consider speaking with a doctor or healthcare professional if constipation becomes chronic or severe.

Download the free Optum Perks Discount Card to save up to 80% on some prescription medications.

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