Multiple Myeloma an incurable disease, but I have spent the last 25 years in remission using a blend of conventional oncology and evidence-based nutrition, supplementation, and lifestyle therapies from peer-reviewed studies that your oncologist probably hasn't told you about.
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I’ve survived an incurable blood cancer called multiple myeloma since 1994. I have scars and long-term and late stage side effects to prove the good, the bad and the ugly.
One of the more insignificant side-effects in all of cancer care is…constipation. Insignificant in terms of the life and death struggles that MM survivors live with but all-too significant when it comes to day-to-day living.
Constipation is one of the top 10 most common side effects of chemotherapy according to research.
The good news? The solution, for me anyway, for constipation is multi-pronged approach including:
You can buy ground flaxseed at your local grocery story or through Amazon. Likewise with Standard Process products.
I stir a couple of spoonfuls of flaxseed into my juice every morning.
If you are a newly diagnosed cancer patient, I would simply accept the idea that chemotherapy and/or radiation is a necessary evil and will cause a number of short-term side effects. My experience is that you may be able to manage long-term and late stage side effects but managing short-term side effects is more challenging because they come and go rapidly.
Hang in there.
ChemoRadiation-Induced Short-Term Side Effects-
Constipation refers to an inability to have a bowel movement or infrequent bowel activity — typically fewer than three stools a week. It’s a common gastrointestinal problem, and signs include hard, dry stools, abdominal pain, feeling sluggish, and bloating…
These shiny seeds are packed with other nutrients, too, like protein, potassium, magnesium, protein, and fiber. In fact, flaxseed is a rich source of soluble fiber…
Flaxseed Health Benefits-
Flaxseed is available as:
To relieve constipation, though, you’ll need to consume 1 to 4 tablespoons of ground flaxseed per day. Flaxseed oil and whole seeds might not be as effective.
You can stir flaxseed into oatmeal, soup, or cereal for added fiber. Or, add ground flaxseed to yogurt or smoothies. You can also add 1 tablespoon of ground flaxseed to a glass of water and drink one or two times a day.
“Psyllium is a widely used treatment for constipation. It traps water in the intestine increasing stool water, easing defaecation and altering the colonic environment.
While psyllium supplement had a small but significant effect on the microbial composition of healthy adults (increasing Veillonella and decreasing Subdoligranulum), in constipated subjects there were greater effects on the microbial composition (increased Lachnospira, Faecalibacterium, Phascolarctobacterium, Veillonella and Sutterella and decreased uncultured Coriobacteria and Christensenella) and alterations in the levels of acetate and propionate.
In summary, psyllium supplementation increased stool water and this was associated with significant changes in microbiota, most marked in constipated patients…”
“Constipation affects around 20% of people in the United States, resulting in 8 million doctor visits per year (1Trusted Source, 2Trusted Source)…
Constipation is characterized by the following symptoms (3Trusted Source):
Constipation can have a serious negative effect on quality of life, as well as on physical and mental health (1Trusted Source, 4Trusted Source, 5Trusted Source)…
Being dehydrated regularly can make a person constipated. To prevent this, it is important to drink enough water and stay hydrated (6, 7Trusted Source, 8).
When a person is constipated, they might find relief from drinking some carbonated (sparkling) water. This can help them rehydrate and get things moving again.
Some studies have found sparkling water to be more effective than tap water at relieving constipation. This includes in people with indigestion, or dyspepsia, and people with chronic idiopathic constipation (9, 10Trusted Source, 11Trusted Source)…
Bottom line: Dehydration can cause constipation, so be sure to drink enough water. Sparkling water may be even more effective at relieving constipation.
To treat constipation, doctors often tell people to increase their dietary fiber intake.
This is because increasing fiber intake increases the bulk and consistency of bowel movements, making them easier to pass. It also helps them pass through the digestive system more quickly (14).
In fact, one 2016 review found that 77% of people with chronic constipation benefited from supplementing with fiber (15Trusted Source).
However, some studies have found that increasing fiber intake can actually make the problem worse. Others report that dietary fiber improves stool frequency but may not help with other symptoms of constipation, such as stool consistency, pain, bloating, and gas (16Trusted Source, 17Trusted Source).
This is because different types of dietary fiber have different effects on digestion…
Non-fermentable soluble fibers, such as psyllium, are the best choice for treating constipation (18Trusted Source, 19Trusted Source, 20Trusted Source).
One 2020 review found psyllium to be 3.4 times more effective than insoluble wheat bran for constipation (18Trusted Source).
Various brands of psyllium fiber are available online.
Studies examining the effects of insoluble fiber as a treatment for constipation have yielded mixed results…
To prevent constipation, people should aim to consume a mix of soluble and insoluble fibers. The total recommended fiber intake per day is 25 grams (g) for females and 38 g for males (14).
Bottom line: Try eating more high fiber foods. Supplementing the diet with soluble non-fermentable fiber, such as psyllium, can also help.
Various research studies have reported that exercise could help improve the symptoms of constipation (23, 24Trusted Source, 25Trusted Source, 26Trusted Source).
Try doing some gentle exercise — such as going for regular walks, swimming, cycling, or jogging — to see if it helps.
Bottom line: Exercise may reduce the symptoms of constipation in some people.
For some people, consuming coffee can increase the urge to go to the bathroom. This is because coffee stimulates the muscles in the digestive system (29Trusted Source, 30Trusted Source).
In fact, one 1998 study found that caffeinated coffee can stimulate the gut in the same way that a meal can. This effect was 60% stronger than drinking water and 23% stronger than drinking decaffeinated coffee (31Trusted Source).
Bottom line: Coffee can help relieve constipation by stimulating the muscles in the gut. It may also contain small amounts of soluble fiber.
Senna is a popular safe and effective herbal laxative that helps treat constipation (34, 35Trusted Source). It is available over the counter and online, in both oral and rectal forms…
Bottom line: The herbal laxative Senna is a popular remedy for constipation. It stimulates the nerves in the gut to speed up bowel movements.
Probiotics may help prevent chronic constipation. Probiotics are live, beneficial bacteria that naturally occur in the gut. They include Bifidobacteria and Lactobacillus.
A 2019 review found that taking probiotics for 2 weeks can help treat constipation, increasing stool frequency and stool consistency (37Trusted Source).
They could also help treat constipation by producing short-chain fatty acids. These may improve gut movements, making it easier to pass stools (38Trusted Source).
Alternatively, try a probiotic supplement. Some studies have found that people started to feel the benefits of these supplements after 4 weeks (39Trusted Source).
Try taking probiotic supplements, which are available online, or eating more probiotic-rich foods to see if this helps with constipation. Prebiotic foods include:
Bottom line: Probiotics may help treat chronic constipation. Try eating probiotic foods or taking a supplement.
A person can speak to a doctor or pharmacist about choosing an appropriate laxative. Different types have varying methods of action, but all are effective for constipation (40Trusted Source, 41Trusted Source).
Bottom line: Laxatives are effective for relieving constipation. Speak to a doctor or pharmacist about the best ones to use.
Constipation can be a symptom of IBS. The low FODMAP diet is an elimination diet that helps treat IBS and may relieve IBS-related constipation (42Trusted Source, 43Trusted Source, 44Trusted Source).
FODMAP stands for fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides, and polyols…
Bottom line: A low FODMAP diet may help relieve IBS-related constipation. However, that alone may not provide sufficient relief.
Glucomannan is a type of soluble fiber from the roots of the konjac plant. Some research suggests that it is effective against constipation (48Trusted Source, 49).
As well as improving bowel movements, glucomannan may act as a prebiotic to improve the balance of good bacteria in the gut…
Bottom line: Glucomannan may help treat constipation in some people. Sources include supplements and shirataki noodles.
Prebiotics are an indigestible carbohydrate fiber. Prebiotics include oligosaccharide and inulin.
Prebiotic foods include:
Bottom line: Foods that contain prebiotic fibers can improve digestive health and the balance of beneficial gut bacteria. Prebiotics may help relieve constipation.
Magnesium citrate is a popular home remedy against constipation. It is a type of osmotic laxative that people can buy over the counter or online…
Bottom line: Taking magnesium citrate, an over-the-counter supplement, can help relieve constipation.
People often tout prunes and prune juice as nature’s remedy for constipation — and for good reason. Prunes may be the most accessible natural solution available.
The effective dosage may be around 50 g, or seven medium prunes, twice per day (59Trusted Source).
Bottom line: Prunes contain the sugar alcohol sorbitol, which has a laxative effect. Prunes can be a very effective remedy for constipation.