8 Natural Remedies for Opioid-Induced Constipation

  • woman-pushing-cart-through-grocery-aisle
    When You Just Can’t Go
    In a perfect world, you would never need a painkiller. Or at least, you could take an opioid painkiller prescribed by your doctor and you wouldn’t experience any unwelcome side effects at all. Especially not constipation, which is the most common and perhaps the most frustrating opioid side effect. In the real world, however, you may need to seek out some relief for constipation.

  • fruits-and-vegetables
    1. Eat more fruits and vegetables.
    Dietary fiber is your gastrointestinal system’s friend, as it can help bulk up your stools and help them pass through your system. Fruits and vegetables high in fiber should be at the top of your grocery list. Eating foods like spinach, asparagus, broccoli, apricots, carrots and other types of brightly-colored produce can boost your fiber intake, which helps boost your digestive system.

  • whole wheat bread
    2. Go with the grain.
    Fruits and veggies aren’t the only source of dietary fiber. Swap out your white bread and pasta for the whole grain versions, which are much higher in dietary fiber. Dietary fiber can help keep your digestive system healthy, which includes helping promote regular bowel movements, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

  • young man drinking water
    3. Drink plenty of water.
    It’s especially important to drink a lot of water if you’re eating those fiber-rich foods. Generally speaking, six to eight full glasses of water are recommended for daily consumption.

  • middle-aged-man-walking-dog
    4. Take a walk.
    Take a walk, go for a jog, do some jumping jacks. Exercise is good for a myriad of reasons, including its ability to reduce constipation. Exercise can shorten the amount of time that it takes for food to pass through your intestinal tract, so the stool doesn’t get dried out and hard to pass. It also helps stimulate the contraction of your intestinal wall muscles, which help to produce regular bowel movements, too.

  • smiling-woman-in-swimming-pool
    5. Go for a swim.
    Head for the pool to swim a few laps or participate in a water aerobics class. Low-impact exercise is good for your digestive system, as well as your joints.

  • woman-stretching-on-exercise-mat
    6. Stretch!
    Unroll that yoga mat and shake out your arms and legs. Stretching can stimulate your circulatory system, which can improve the flow of blood to your digestive system and get things moving a little faster. Stretching can also alleviate some of the pain and discomfort you might be experiencing in your abdomen as a result of constipation.

  • Diarrhea
    7. Give yourself some time.
    It’s okay to shut the bathroom door and just … sit for awhile. In fact, experts recommend you give yourself plenty of time (and privacy) for toileting if you’re experiencing constipation. Schedule regular times each day where you can sit on the toilet, but if the urge to go strikes at another time, go ahead and go! Waiting to defecate can make a stool get harder and drier, which will make it harder to pass later.

  • woman-in-patient-gown-listening-to-doctor
    8. Know when to ask for help.
    If you feel like you need to take additional steps to address your constipation, don’t be afraid to ask. The truth is opioid-induced constipation is not easily banished, not even if you eat bran and exercise every day. You may need to consider taking a laxative and stool softener to help stimulate your digestive system—or you may even need another type of medication.

8 Natural Remedies for Opioid-Induced Constipation

About The Author

Jennifer Larson has more than 15 years of professional writing experience with a specialization in healthcare. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Maryland and memberships in the Association of Health Care Journalists, the Society of Professional Journalists, and the Education Writers Association.
  1. Camilleri M. Opioid-Induced Constipation:Challenges and Therapeutic Opportunities. American Journal of Gastroenterology. 2011; 106:835–842. http://gi.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/media-ajg201130a_opioid-induced_constipation.pdf
  2. Constipation. Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/constipation/in-depth/laxatives/art-20045906
  3. Fiber. University of Maryland Medical Center. http://umm.edu/health/medical/altmed/supplement/fiber
  4. Laxative (oral route). Mayo Clinic. http://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/laxative-oral-route/description/drg-20070683
  5. Management of Opioid-Induced Constipation. UW Health Pain Care Services. http://prc.coh.org/pdf/OpioidIndConst9-11.pdf
  6. Stool Softeners. MedLinePlus. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a601113.html
  7. Swegle JM and Logemann C. Management of Common Opioid-Induced Adverse Effects. American Family Physician. 2006 Oct 15;74(8):1347-1354. http://www.aafp.org/afp/2006/1015/p1347.html#
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Last Review Date: 2018 Oct 27
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