Last Modified: July 10, 2011
Are there any natural ways to treat constipation/diarrhea from chemotherapy? I don't want to take any more pills!
Karen Wagner, MS, RD, LDN, Registered Dietician at Penn Medicine, responds:
There are some great tips for treating constipation and diarrhea naturally, but it can depend on the reason for the bowel changes. In general, for constipation, increasing fluids is important and trying to be more active can help. Sometimes increasing fiber can help, but fiber intake may need to be increased slowly to avoid bloating and discomfort. Sometimes old remedies are the best, such as prunes, or prune juice. Additionally warm or hot beverages can be helpful for stimulating bowel movements. For diarrhea, staying hydrated is also important. Evaluating the cause of the diarrhea is key, if there could be an infection responsible for the bowel changes that needs to be addresses right away. When infection has been ruled out, some of the helpful tips involve increasing soluble fiber, which is present in oats, bananas and applesauce. Soluble fiber supplements may be helpful as well. Yogurt or other fermented dairy products may be helpful. Typically people will need to take 1-2 per day over a course of a week or two. Seeing a dietitian for a diet review may be a good place to start if diarrhea has been a long-term issue.
Wayne Mylin, Dipl. ABT (NCCAOM), AOBTA-CP is an Asian Bodywork Therapist specializing in Shiatsu and Acupressure at Pennsylvania Hospital, adds:
One option may be to try acupressure. There are acupoints and energy channels associated with the functioning of our digestive/elimination system. An acupressure therapist could help to regulate your system - and could also teach you which points to use for self-acupressure at home!
This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. See full archive of IntegrativeTherapies in Cancer Care.