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Hard Stool Remedy

Those in need of a hard stool remedy can choose from synthetic or natural stool softeners. Hard stools can be uncomfortable to pass. They may cause constipation and straining during bowel movements. Straining during bowel movements may be problematic for cardiovascular health or hemorrhoids. Choose your hard stool remedy carefully. Synthetic versions, in some cases, should only be used occasionally. Other natural hard stool remedies can be used more frequently.

Conditions Associated with Hard Stool
Constipation is defined as infrequent or absent bowel movements. It is usually associated with dry, hard stools. Bowel movements are sometimes painful and require straining as a result of constipation. Constipation can be both a cause and a result of hard stool. When constipation causes waste to remain in the large intestine for longer periods, a larger portion of water is absorbed from it. This makes the stool drier and harder.  A harder stool is more difficult to pass through the large intestine, which is why hard stool can lead to constipation. Lack of exercise and insufficient fluid intake can also contribute to constipation. Certain medications have constipation as a side effect. Constipation is most often treated with diet adjustments, life style changes and laxatives.

Cardiovascular conditions are common in elderly Americans. Straining during bowel movements can be serious for people with existing heart  concerns(6). The pressure in the thorax from the straining lowers blood circulation to the heart, brain and the periphery of the body. Constipation is associated with higher incidences of transient ischemic episodes and coronary insufficiency.

Hemorrhoids occur when the veins around the lower rectum or anus become inflamed and swollen. They can result from straining during bowel movements and from other causes. Internal hemorrhoids are inside the anus while external hemorrhoids are under the skin around the anus. Most of the time, hemorrhoids go away in a few days and are not dangerous; however they can be uncomfortable for those suffering from them. A protruding hemorrhoid or a thrombosed external hemorrhoid can be painful. Treatments for hemorrhoids include sitting in a warm bath a few times each day, applying hemorrhoidal creams, or using hemorrhoidal suppositories. Once the hemorrhoids disappear, it is necessary to address any constipation a patient has to prevent them from returning.

Choosing a Hard Stool Remedy
Fiber is a dietary solution to hard stool, but not all types of fiber act as stool softeners. Soluble fiber will soften stool, because it readily brings water into the stool. Beans, blueberries, grapes, peaches, figs, apricots, prunes and cranberries all provide soluble fiber. Carrots, cabbage, citrus fruits, apples, beets, okra, dried peas and ripe bananas are good sources of pectin, a type of soluble fiber. Always remember to drink plenty of water along with fiber.

Some supplements can act as a hard stool remedy. Thistle milk (Silybum marianum) is indigenous to Europe. Extracts from thistle milk are reputed to increase the amount of bile released into the digestive system. Bile breaks up fats in food and makes stool softer. Mineral oil also acts as a stool softener, but mineral oil reduces the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins as a side effect.  Aloe is believed to come from Sudan and the Arabian Peninsula. Aloe barbadensis, Aloe capensis, and Aloe vera are all used as supplements. Compounds from aloe inhibit the large intestine from absorbing water from its lumen. This means more water stays in the stool, making it a reliable hard stool remedy. H2Go, a  hyperosmostic natural supplement, may complement hard stool remedies, by increasing water in the colon.  

A difficult to pass stool can contribute to a range of health concerns. It is associated with constipation, cardiovascular stress and hemorrhoids. Soluble fiber is one hard stool remedy. Other stool softeners include thistle milk, mineral oil and aloe. Patients should carefully weight the pros and cons of any hard stool remedy regardless of whether it is natural or synthetic.

References:

1. Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis A. Balch and James F. Balch

2. Mayo Clinic
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/pregnancy-constipation/AN01103

3. PDR for Herbal Medicines from the Medical Economic Company

4. National Digestive Disease Information Clearinghouse
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/constipation/
http://digestive.niddk.nih.gov/ddiseases/pubs/hemorrhoids/

5. Medline Plus
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/druginfo/meds/a601113.html

6. National Center for Biotechnology Information
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2561512/pdf/jnma00232-0068.pdf