Yes, you read that right. Constipation.

Several of the responses to queries in the “She Had a Question” series refer to constipation as the source of more human ills than most of us have heard of. Every time we laugh about that, I threaten to post a certain article from the 1911 Young Woman’s Journal.

Well, here it is.

By Katie Grover.

Constipation is a serious condition, and if neglected often leads to dangerous and even fatal results. It is the cause of more sickness and disease than any other known source. Nowadays it is rather remarkable to run across a person who does not have to resort to laxatives or enemas.

The object of bowel movements is to discharge from the body poisons and ashes cast out from food, to remove bile, bacteria, remnants of digestive juices, and the residue or cellulose of food.

When the bowels fail to act, the bile is reabsorbed into the blood, there is putrefaction of the bowel contents, resulting in inflammation of the mucous lining of the intestines, which leads to appendicitis, and often ends in ulceration and perforation of the intestines.

Biliousness is usually caused through constipation, also auto-intoxication (self-poisoning) which is a poisoning of the whole body from the absorption of the mass of decomposing, foul-smelling feces. A healthy bowel movement should have no odor whatever, but when retained in the body for days after it should have passed off, what can we expect?

There are numerous reasons why people become constipated. One very common cause is error in diet. We become accustomed to the use of fine white flour, discarding the cellulose of the what which is necessary to form bulk for bowel movements.

Failure to respond to nature’s promptings is another prevalent cause. Again it may be due to irregular meals, fasting, meager diet in which there is not enough bulk, lack of fat in food, lack of water between meals, not enough raw food, sedentary habits (sitting too long), and tight corsets.

As a natural result of retaining this food refuse in the intestines day after day until it putrefies and ferments, is it any wonder that persons suffer with headache, nervousness, hemorrhoids, rheumatism, gall stones, and other diseases too numerous to mention?

The most important element in curing constipation is acquiring the habit of perfect regularity in the daily movement of the bowels. Choose the same hour each day, and make it a duty to keep that time, for that purpose, invariably.

Drink more water. As a rule, most people use too little water. Drink two glasses of water an hour before breakfast, which will wash out the stomach and carry its slimy accumulations down into the intestines.

Avoid fine flour products and milk, but use plenty of cream, buttermilk, nuts, and eat an abundance of raw food, such as fruits, bran, lettuce, celery, cabbage. Saccharin foods of all kinds, such as sugar, honey, syrup, malt honey, malted nuts, and fruit juices are laxatives. Fats encourage intestinal activity as do also acids.

There are some foods which have an especially laxative effect, such as figs, oranges, prunes, malted nuts, olive oil, acid fruit juices.

When constipation is the result of a dilated and prolapsed colon – a very common cause – use cold enemas, abdominal massage, abdominal and respiratory exercises, oil enemas, hot and cold sitz baths, and at night, on retiring, apply a cotton bandage rung out of cold water to the abdomen, (extending it clear around the body), and cover it with a heavy flannel bandage, binding tightly.

Unless the alimentary tract is completely demoralized it cannot help but respond to these treatments by a regular normal passage of the bowels each day. With some persons it is natural to have a movement after each meal, while others may have alternating periods of healthy normal stools. A constipated person often goes three and four days without a movement, or may have alternating periods of constipation and diarrhea. Strange as it may seem, diarrhea is often a symptom of the most obstinate form of constipation, feces which have been retained for days coming away in little hard lumps, being pushed and forced down by the engorged and over-packed colon.

I can heartily recommend the eating of raw bran as an excellent intestinal broom. Begin with a teacupful, eaten first thing in the morning, either dry or moistened with water or fruit juice, gradually taking less and less each day as the bowels become regulated, until finally one need not take more than two tablespoonfuls each morning. this forms bulk, and aids peristalsis.

Constipation cured, one feels younger, lighter, happier, sleeps and eats better, is capable of greater endurance, and is less liable to colds and infectious diseases. In short, health becomes more vigorous, decay less rapid, and death more remote.

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