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Myeloma- Constipation

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“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…”

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:

  • moderate exercise-
  • ground or milled flaxseed-
  • natural laxative- Standard Process- Whole Foods Fiber

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.

To Learn More About Side Effects of Chemo and Radiation- click now

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.

David Emerson

  • Myeloma Survivor
  • Myeloma Cancer Coach
  • Director PeopleBeatingCancer

Recommended Reading:

ChemoRadiation-Induced Short-Term Side Effects-

Can Flaxseed Relieve Constipation?

Yes! Flaxseed can relieve constipation

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-

  • may lower systolic and diastolic blood pressure
  • may reduce the frequency and severity of hot flashes in menopausal women
  • may treat ulcerated colitis, diverticular disease, and irritable bowel syndrome
  • may aid in weight management
  • may help manage blood sugar

How to use flaxseed to relieve constipation

Flaxseed is available as:

  • whole seeds
  • ground seeds
  • an oil

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.

The Effect of Psyllium Husk on Intestinal Microbiota in Constipated Patients and Healthy Controls

“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…”

13 home remedies for constipation

“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):

  • fewer than three bowel movements per week
  • hard, dry, or lumpy stools
  • difficulty or pain when passing stools
  • a feeling that not all stool has passed

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)…

1. Drink more water

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.

2. Eat more fiber, especially soluble, non-fermentable fiber

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.

3. Exercise more

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.

4. Drink coffee, especially caffeinated coffee

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.

5. Take Senna, an herbal laxative

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.

6. Eat probiotic foods or take probiotic supplements

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.

7. Over-the-counter or prescription laxatives

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.

8. Try a low FODMAP diet

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.

9. Eat shirataki noodles or take a glucomannan supplement

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.

10. Eat prebiotic foods

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.

11. Try magnesium citrate

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.

12. Eat prunes

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.

13. Try avoiding dairy”

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