10 Natural Remedies for Constipation That’ll Do You a Solid

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When you gotta go…you want to go. But sometimes you just can’t. Or you can’t as often as you’d like. Or you can, but it’s not that easy. Ugh.

Maybe you're constipated. While everyone’s bathroom habits differ—and there’s a big range of what’s considered healthy—having fewer than three poops per week with stools that are hard, dry, or lumpy, painful, or difficult to pass is considered constipation, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). Sometimes, you may feel as if the full BM hasn’t gotten out, either. (Honestly, so frustrating.)

Experts In This Article

Constipation isn’t just about trouble pooping—it affects so many aspects of your life, says Erika Jacobson, RD, a functional dietitian and gut health expert. “When I talk to clients who aren’t pooping, they tell me they feel sluggish, less motivated, bloated, and their clothing isn’t fitting properly,” she says.

While reaching for a stool softener or laxative can be helpful, there are natural remedies for constipation you can turn to first. Some of these stool solutions can work quickly, while others take time and regularity to…er...make you more regular. “Experiment with a few to see what works for you and what you’d like to make a regular part of your routine,” Jacobson suggests.

Below, learn about the home remedies for constipation that'll have you basking in that "poo-phoria" feeling more often.

1. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate

Research shows that even mild dehydration can lead to constipation for some people. Simply put: Not having enough fluid in your system can make pooping a challenge.

"If you’re dehydrated, your body will take up the water from your food as it passes through your GI tract,” says dietitian Maya Feller, RD. The result? Drier stools that are harder to pass. “When you are well-hydrated, your body won’t need to take up as much water from your food waste, resulting in a bulkier and softer stool that is easier to pass.”

So if you’re constipated and not sipping on enough H2O, fill up your glass (or reusable water bottle) and start chugging. Exactly how much water you should drink each day depends on factors like your body size, activity level, and what kind of climate you live in, but you'll know you're adequately hydrated if the color of your pee is clear or pale yellow.

2. Drink warm water with lemon and salt

Starting your day with a hot or warm beverage is an old-fashioned constipation remedy that actually works because the warmth stimulates gastrointestinal motility, Jacobson says.

First thing in the morning—before coffee—hydrate with warm water, a squeeze of lemon, and a pinch of sea salt, she recommends. The timing is important here: Most people are primed to poop in the morning (after a night of digesting), so you want to take advantage of that natural urge.

3. Eat a warm breakfast

The idea behind a warm breakfast is similar to sipping on a hot bev: It's a natural remedy for constipation that gets your gut moving.

Eating triggers the gastrocolic reflex, a physiological reflex that occurs post-meal. As your stomach stretches with food, the colon starts moving waste in your body toward your rectum (where you then get the signal that it’s time to head to the toilet).

This regularly happens when you eat, but you can promote the process with warm food, like oatmeal or another hot breakfast, Jacobson says.

4. Brew some coffee

You aren’t imagining things: A cup of coffee can help you poop. Coffee has a lot going for it. One, if you’re drinking it hot, you have the stimulation of the warm liquid. Two, if your coffee is caffeinated, know that people who consume caffeine have 40 percent lower odds of chronic constipation, according to January 2024 research in BMC Public Health. Caffeine stimulates GI motility, and it may also boost probiotic activity in your gut, which is also important for colonic movement, the researchers point out.

Lastly, if you’re drinking coffee at the same time each day, it can also get your body in the habit of having a post-coffee (or post-breakfast) bowel movement.

One caveat: “If you find that you can’t poop without coffee, then it’s time to look at other lifestyle factors, such as if you’re getting enough fiber and hydration during the day,” says Jacobson.

"The movement from exercise can mimic the squeezing that the GI does to create a bowel movement." —Maya Feller, RD, registered dietitian

5. Add chia and flax

Chia is packed with fiber—an ounce contains 10 grams, per the USDA. But more critically for your gut, chia is rich in a certain type of fiber called soluble fiber.

“Soluble fiber can soak up water in the gut for softer and easier bowel movements,” says Jacobson.

To avoid uncomfortable side effects (think: bloating, gas), start with lower amounts (try a teaspoon) and build up to two tablespoons per day, she recommends.

Of course, eating chia seeds straight from a spoon isn't all that appetizing, so try different recipes using chia seeds, like chia seed pudding or healthy pancakes, or toss them into your yogurt, oatmeal, or salad dressing.

Similarly, each tablespoon of ground flax boasts about 2 grams of fiber, according to the USDA. Along with chia, Jacobson also recommends her clients looking for natural remedies for constipation increase the amount of ground flax in their diet. That’s because these seeds also pack soluble fiber to get things going. Just like chia, start on the low end in terms of portion and increase slowly.

6. Take a walk

The benefits of exercise keep racking up: In a meta-analysis of nine randomized controlled trials (the "gold standard" of studies), aerobic physical activity, like walking, was shown to improve the symptoms of constipation, per February 2019 research in the Scandinavian Journal of Gastroenterology.

“The movement from exercise can mimic the squeezing that the GI does to create a bowel movement,” says Feller. In other words, exercise promotes gut motility and stimulates abdominal muscles to move stool along.

While the authors of the study above point out that more research is needed to definitively prove the link between exercise and constipation relief, they suggest aiming for at least 140 minutes of aerobic exercise per week for the GI benefits.

That's close to the standard recommendation from the Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, which encourage adults to get at least 150 minutes of aerobic activity each week as part of a healthy lifestyle.

7. Consume more potassium

Increasing your intake of potassium helps support peristalsis (the contraction and relaxation of the muscles in your intestines), says Jacobson. “This won’t promote a rapid bowel movement, but it can help support regularity over time,” she says. We call this "playing the long game" when it comes to natural remedies for constipation.

Avocado, tomato, oranges, and spinach (along with other fruits and veggies) are all good sources of the mineral, she says. Plus, they're chockablock with fiber, which, as we've learned, is a tried-and-true natural way to relieve constipation.

Tip: Cook or toss your potassium-rich veggies with olive oil, which some research nods to as a dietary solution for constipation. (And hey, getting more healthy fats in your diet isn't a bad thing!)

8. Have a pooping routine

One of the best things you can do for your body is give it the opportunity to have a bowel movement, says Jacobson. “Have that warm beverage and breakfast and then leave time to have that BM before leaving the house,” she says.

This is what the NIDDK calls “bowel training,” whereby you try to train yourself to have a BM at a consistent time of day. (Before you pull up a seat, consider stimulating one of these acupressure points for constipation that may assist in the go.)

But, don’t sit too long–just provide your body with the chance to go. If the urge isn’t there, it’s time to get up–sitting for too long on the toilet can lead to hemorrhoids, per the Mayo Clinic.

9. Grab a toilet stool

Lifting up your knees by placing your feet on a toilet stool (like the popular Squatty Potty) puts you in a more poop-promoting position.

In fact, March 2019 research in the Journal of Clinical Gastroenterology found that those who used a toilet stool were four times more likely to be able to have a complete poop and were less likely to strain.

10. Try ginger tea

Ginger is known to be a digestion-friendly and zesty rhizome that’s beneficial for soothing symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and bloating. It may also be one of the best herbal remedies for constipation, says Jacobson.

She recommends a nice warm ginger tea, but you might also ask your doc about a ginger supplement. In one trial, people who took 500 mg of ginger (about the amount found in a quarter-teaspoon of ground ginger) experienced less frequent and severe constipation (as well as nausea and belching) compared to the placebo group, per October 2023 research in BMC Complementary Medicine and Therapies.

It's worth noting that trial was fairly small, though (including about 50 people total), and the participants all had relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis.

Constipation relief for children

If you’re a parent, you know how easy it can be for your child to get constipated. It’s a common problem for children, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).

Unfortunately, if stools are hard and dry and it hurts to go, they may make things worse by trying to avoid going. That’s why it’s important to treat constipation when it happens so it doesn’t get worse, the AAP says.

Proper treatment of constipation is via diet. Increase fiber by serving them fruit (think: apples and pears with their skin, raspberries), veggies (like broccoli and carrots), beans, and whole grains, aiming for the amount of grams of fiber that equates to your child’s age plus 5, the AAP says.

They should also drink water along with the added fiber intake. Giving them a kid toilet stool can help, too.

Stool softeners and laxatives can also be safe for this group, but talk to your pediatrician for advice about what type to use.

Constipation relief for pregnant people

A lot of changes are afoot when you’re pregnant. For one, you may be eating different foods (pregnancy cravings are real) that make constipation more likely. In addition, hormonal changes also tend to slow down your GI system, making constipation more likely, says the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).

All of the remedies listed above are safe if you’re pregnant. However, talk to your ob-gyn before taking any supplement and make sure to stick to a 12-ounce cup of caffeinated coffee if you’re pregnant, ACOG recommends.

Bulk-forming laxatives or fiber supplements (psyllium is one example) are safe types of laxative you can use. Stool softeners are also considered safe in pregnancy, according to the Mayo Clinic. If you think you may need something more—like a stimulant laxative—talk to your OB/GYN first.

Remedies to avoid

One of the most popular long-term home remedies for constipation is eating more fiber. But the problem is that too much fiber can make the problem far worse.

So remember to do two things: One, increase your fiber intake slowly. It’s possible to start eating high-fiber foods (like broccoli and beans) along with a fiber supplement and then find you feel worse due to bloating, gas, and other unpleasant side effects, says Jacobson. And two, make sure you’re staying well hydrated as you increase fiber intake. “Without proper water intake, the fiber will sit there like a brick and can worsen your constipation,” she says.

How to prevent constipation

To get into a nice routine of regularity, Jacobson says the main digestive health tips to follow are:

  • Eat 25 to 30 grams of fiber per day.
  • Hydrate throughout the day, especially with water.
  • Use stress-relieving strategies, as stress can contribute to constipation.
  • Chew your food well and eat slowly.
  • Avoid or limit foods that cause constipation, including red meat and dairy products for those who are lactose intolerant.
  • Stay active in ways you enjoy every day.
  • Try to maintain a routine where you poop during a certain time of day, such as in the morning.

When to see a doctor about constipation

If you’ve tried the at-home constipation remedies above and nothing is moving the poo for you, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor. Three out of five Americans who have constipation haven’t told their doctor about it, according to the American Journal of Gastroenterology. You don’t have to figure this out on your own.

If you have red flag symptoms along with constipation, such as blood in your stool, unexplained weight loss, or new and persistent constipation, contact your doctor to schedule an appointment sooner rather than later, recommends Cedars-Sinai.


How do you tell if it’s constipation or a blockage?

You may be asking about a fecal impaction, which is when there’s a large amount of hard, dry stool that you can’t pass, according to Mount Sinai. This can happen if you have chronic constipation, and symptoms include abdominal cramping and bloating, straining, rectal bleeding, and fecal incontinence. If you have any of these symptoms, contact your doctor and also tell them that you’ve been dealing with constipation for a long time.

How can I loosen my bowel blockage at home?

This is a job for a medical professional, who may recommend an enema or manually break up an impaction, per Mount Sinai. You’ll also likely need after-care to reteach your body to have BMs regularly again. While treatments like enemas may be done at home, the Cleveland Clinic recommends talking to your doctor before using one to treat constipation.

What works the quickest for constipation?

If you've ever watched a video on social media that talks about magnesium powder and wondered, "does magnesium make you poop?," the answer is: it can. Opt for a type of saline laxative called magnesium citrate, which is one of the natural laxatives that work fast, says Jacobson. “It helps pull water into the gut to soften stool so it’s easier to pass,” she explains.

If you’re looking for how to stimulate a bowel movement immediately, you may have a bit of a delay to wait—but it’s still quick and effective. According to the National Library of Medicine, magnesium citrate should produce a poop within 30 minutes to 6 hours.

—reviewed by Jennifer Gilbert, MD, MPH

Well+Good articles reference scientific, reliable, recent, robust studies to back up the information we share. You can trust us along your wellness journey.
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  2. Kang Y, Yan J. Exploring the connection between caffeine intake and constipation: a cross-sectional study using national health and nutrition examination survey data. BMC Public Health. 2024 Jan 2;24(1):3. doi: 10.1186/s12889-023-17502-w. PMID: 38167025; PMCID: PMC10759350.
  3. Gao R, Tao Y, Zhou C, Li J, Wang X, Chen L, Li F, Guo L. Exercise therapy in patients with constipation: a systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Scand J Gastroenterol. 2019 Feb;54(2):169-177. doi: 10.1080/00365521.2019.1568544. Epub 2019 Mar 7. PMID: 30843436.
  4. Modi RM, Hinton A, Pinkhas D, Groce R, Meyer MM, Balasubramanian G, Levine E, Stanich PP. Implementation of a Defecation Posture Modification Device: Impact on Bowel Movement Patterns in Healthy Subjects. J Clin Gastroenterol. 2019 Mar;53(3):216-219. doi: 10.1097/MCG.0000000000001143. PMID: 30346317; PMCID: PMC6382038.
  5. Foshati S, Poursadeghfard M, Heidari Z, Amani R. The effects of ginger supplementation on common gastrointestinal symptoms in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis: a double-blind randomized placebo-controlled trial. BMC Complement Med Ther. 2023 Oct 27;23(1):383. doi: 10.1186/s12906-023-04227-x. PMID: 37891539; PMCID: PMC10605938.
  6. Oh SJ, Fuller G, Patel D, Khalil C, Spalding W, Nag A, Spiegel BMR, Almario CV. Chronic Constipation in the United States: Results From a Population-Based Survey Assessing Healthcare Seeking and Use of Pharmacotherapy. Am J Gastroenterol. 2020 Jun;115(6):895-905. doi: 10.14309/ajg.0000000000000614. PMID: 32324606; PMCID: PMC7269025.

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