Functional constipation is one of the most common conditions seen here at the Plymouth Naturopathic Clinic and Hamish has studied this condition in considerable depth from a nutritional, psychological and an osteopathic approach.

Functional constipation; constipation that does not have a known underlying physical or pathological cause is common. Across all European population groups the mean prevalence is 17%, with women up to 2.2 times more likely to report constipation than men.

Functional constipation impacts significantly on quality of life. Whilst laxatives are the primary recourse for the condition, tolerance can develop. The long-term use of laxatives is also associated with harmful side effects; including increased constipation and the risk of fecal impaction and in some circumstances have the potential to cause colorectal cancer.

Functional constipation therefore places a significant burden on the individual. In chronic cases functional constipation is not well managed. The latest available pharmacological interventions are still to prove their benefits and efficacy is not established with the modern generation of laxatives, especially for periods of use over six months.

The treatment of functional constipation is well suited to a naturopathic and osteopathic approach as the condition often encompasses dietary, behavioural, postural, physical and psychological aspects of health in its manifestation.

A naturopathic approach to constipation is unique to the patient. As a patient you will receive a detailed and lengthy consultation which is used to determine the often interrelated factors that may be causing your constipation. A plan will be discussed with an outline of the various options available depending again on your unique presentation.

Since many factors appear to have a role in poor bowel function, a sustainable approach will be taken to allow for change to occur. Obviously your food is important but it is not just about what you eat but also very much about how you eat. The foundations for your future wellness will always be built of sound (and simple) nutritional foundations focusing initially on how you are eating as opposed to what you are eating.

There is emerging evidence that helping to balance the part the nervous system responsible for bowel movement can be beneficial in improving outcomes for functional constipation and osteopathy is a perfect modality for this.

Some patents also find benefit from a course of colon hydrotherapy as part of a wider naturopathic approach to their treatment of functional constipation. Rarely are more than five treatments (often fewer) are needed over three months to affect positive change.

Emotional challenges (stress, anxiety and depression) can all impact negatively on bowel function and these too may benefit from a more naturopathic approach to health. Patients often report symptoms as worse during periods of stress and female patients can find symptoms worse at certain time of their menstrual cycle.

Therefore if you are suffering from functional constipation or with any of its associated symptoms such as bloating, flatulence, diarrhoea or irritable bowel syndrome and the symptoms are only just being managed with medication, a consultation at the Plymouth Naturopathic clinic may well be to your advantage.