America is a nation of clogged colons. About 4 million Americans suffer from constipation each year, nearly half of which end up in the doctor’s office. Perhaps you’re one of these poor souls desperate for a bowel movement
If you go down Google’s rabbit hole, you’ll discover endless ideas to treat constipation, from over-the-counter medications to overnight colon cleanses. But some people claim the solution is in your kitchen cabinet.
Home remedy gurus tout baking soda as an easy way to unclog your gut. But is there any merit to this hack? And what exactly are you supposed to do?
Can Baking Soda Relieve Constipation?
Baking soda (also called sodium bicarbonate) is an alkaline compound that produces carbon dioxide when combined with acid. As the name implies, it’s normally used for baking. But some people swear by it for constipation relief.
Baking soda is a natural antacid which people have taken for decades to treat heartburn, indigestion, acid reflux, IBS, and constipation. The idea is that baking soda neutralizes stomach acid and relieves the symptoms of constipation like bloating and abdominal pain. However, there aren’t any scientific studies to back up those claims.
2 Ways to Use Baking Soda for Constipation
Let’s take a look at the two main ways people use baking soda to get their pooping patterns back on track.
Sip a Baking Soda Solution
The theory here is that baking soda pulls water into your digestive tract, essentially helping you poop on command. But before you guzzle a bunch of baking soda, make sure you get your ratio right.
Add one tablespoon of baking soda into a glass of water and mix it well. Once it dissolves, sip it slowly on an empty stomach. Be prepared for a weird taste: it’s a little bitter and a little salty. Some people even say it tastes like dish soap.
Take a Baking Soda Bath
If you’d rather not drink baking soda, try bathing in it. Alternative medicine practitioners claim soaking in baking soda can relieve constipation by relaxing the anal sphincter, AKA your butthole, so your poop can work its way out.
It’s a pretty easy process: just mix a few tablespoons of baking soda into a tub of warm water until it dissolves, then soak for about 20 minutes. Pro tip: don’t defecate in the tub.
What are the Side Effects of Consuming Baking Soda?
Baking soda is generally safe to consume in small doses, as we mentioned above. However, if you drink too much, it can cause issues like stomach pain, vomiting, muscle spasms, and frequent urination.
In rare instances, consuming baking soda can lead to a ruptured stomach. That can happen if too much gas is produced and it can’t escape.
Baking soda may also interact with medications you take, so it’s smart to get medical advice before you try this anti-constipation concoction.
Baking Soda Didn’t Make You Poop. Now What?
If baking soda couldn’t clear you out, don’t give up. Chronic constipation can lead to a medical condition called “impaction:” a fancy way of saying there’s poop lodged in your colon. Not to mention, straining on the toilet can cause hemorrhoids.
We’re guessing you don’t want to deal with any of that, so try these tips to kickstart a bowel movement.
Drink Enough Water
Dehydration can cause hard stools which are tough to pass. Try to drink about 15 cups of H2O every day.
Go for a Walk
Sitting around all day every day puts your bowels to sleep. Ideally, you should exercise every day. But even a quick stroll around the block can wake up your digestive system.
Coffee is a natural diuretic that causes contractions in the digestive tract and stimulates bile excretion—the perfect storm for a bowel movement. In fact, a study published in Gut found 30% of participants reported needing to poop after drinking a cup of joe.
Drink Lemon Juice
The citric acid in lemons is a natural laxative, plus the vitamin C can help treat indigestion.
To make a lemon juice colon detox drink, mix the juice of half a lemon into a cup of warm water.
Eat a High-Fiber Diet
A fiber shortage is one of the most common culprits of constipation. Fiber draws water into your digestive tract, which is basically lube for your poop.
If you’ve been subsisting on a diet of fast food and candy, switch to fiber-rich foods like fruits, beans, flax seeds, and whole grains. Prune juice juice is also high in fiber and sorbitol (sugar alcohol) which is a natural laxative.
Take a Stool Softener
If all home remedies fail, pick up a stool softener like MiraLAX or Dulcolax. You can get these over-the-counter at most drug stores and supermarkets. This stuff is like jet fuel for your dumps: all you have to do is mix the powder with water, then wait for the show to start.
Be Ready for the Aftermath
If you unleash days’ worth of poop in one sitting, things are gonna get messy. Make sure you’re packing plenty of DUDE Wipes in the event of a shart attack. And if you want to take your cleanup game to the next level, the DUDE Wiper 1000 bidet attachment will clean your b-hole with precision.