There is an unspoken issue affecting most people.
An issue most people are afraid to talk about — poop and constipation!
If you are in this group suffering in silence from slow bowels, know that you are not alone. Many adults have constipation. (1)
The older you get, the more likely you are to suffer from it. Women are also more likely to have it because of fluctuating hormones. (1)
It might sound like a “fairytale” for you to have regular, easy bowel movements. Rest assured that this is an issue you no longer have to “bear.”
Some fantastic natural herbs cannot only help get your bowels moving well but can also offer other benefits for your digestive tract.
What Am I Aiming For?
First of all, let’s establish what is healthy. If your bowels are healthy, they should empty at least 2 or 3 times a day. There should be a bowel movement for every meal you eat.
Your bowel movements shouldn’t be too hard or soft. You shouldn’t need to strain to empty your bowels if you are effectively detoxing. That can lead you down the path to hemorrhoids and other challenges. (2, 3)
But your stools shouldn’t be watery with no form either. In between is the “gold” standard here.
If your bowels are moving too fast, you will lose too much water and risk becoming dehydrated.
If your bowels are moving too slow, you risk reabsorbing the toxins your body is trying to purge in your poop! You want to aim for right in between those extremes.
Let’s dive into the herbs that can help you achieve this “just right” movement and better digestive health!
1. Aloe Leaf
This "commonplace" plant has been used for millennia by many ancient civilizations. The ancient Egyptian upheld aloe vera as “the plant of immortality.” (4)
Queens Nefertiti and Cleopatra used aloe vera in their beauty routines. But it has amazing benefits for the inside as well as the outside of your body! (4, 5, 6)
Aloe vera contains 12 anthraquinones. These are compounds that help move your intestinal muscles. Anthraquinones also have antibacterial and antiviral properties, helping to protect the cells in your intestines. Two of these compounds also help to reduce pain. (4, 7)
Aloe vera may be dismissed as a gooey jell that soothes sunburns, not realizing how full of healing constituents it is for your insides as well. Aloe vera has: (4)
- 8 Anti-inflammatory enzymes
- Amino acids that are the building blocks for healing
- Antioxidant vitamins A, C, and E
- Fatty acids that help to cleanse and reduce pain in the digestive tract
- Hormones that trigger wound healing and lessen inflammation
- Minerals essential for healthy cell growth
- Mono and polysaccharides that are anti-inflammatory and antiallergenic
Not only does aloe vera help get your bowels moving, but it calms and nourishes it as well. It helps to restore the mucosal barrier lining your GI tract. (4, 8, 9)
Aloe vera has the 1-2-3 punch of: (10, 11)
- Helping you get rid of waste
- Reducing inflammation
- Leaving building blocks to repair the gut wall
The long list of multiple benefits for aloe vera makes it our top bowel moving herb.
2. Barberry Root
The barberry plant is an evergreen bush that is quite often planted for its beauty, not its health benefits. This plant does beautiful things for the body, not just curb appeal.
The barberry bush has a component called berberine that has multiple effects on the whole body, not just the intestines. (12, 13)
Barberry root helps to:
Act as an antifungal (fungal growth can also change bowel movements.) (14, 15, 16)
Increase your own natural antioxidants to lower inflammation in the gut. (17, 18)
Reduce the growth of cancer cells, especially liver and colon cancer. (19, 20, 21)
Stimulate bile production which makes your digestion and microbiome healthier, so your bowels flow more smoothly. (22, 23)
Suppress parasite growth and activity (sometimes our bowels are slow because of parasites clogging up the works) Berberine is toxic to them, but not to us. (24, 25)
Your gut microbiome loves berberine. They take the barberry root you ingest and transform it into a more absorbable form. This metabolized form gets into your bloodstream and lowers your glucose levels and cholesterol. (26, 27, 28, 29)
Barberry root is a powerhouse of a herb! The benefits for the intestines, as well as the rest of the body, make it another one of our favorites for digestive health. (30)
3. Black Walnut Hulls
Harvested from the black walnut, or Juglans nigra, this dry casing contains antioxidant activities used to treat a wide variety of infections. (31)
They are also high in tannins, which are compounds with antibacterial properties. The high tannin content may help with constipation to help you poop the way you should. (32, 33, 34)
In addition to its antipathogenic and antiparasitic properties, it also can be used to facilitate bowel movement and treat intestinal worms. This herb definitely packs a punch to help your gut! (35)
Along with using the bark, husk, leaves, and nuts medicinally, several Native Americans tribes — such as the Cherokee, Delaware, Iroquois, and Meskwaki — even used the hulls as a natural laxative! (36, 37, 38)
With all of its health properties, black walnut hulls are a helpful addition to aid regular bowel movements.
This is definitely a nice herb to have to clear your gut and help you poop.
4. Cascara Sagrada Bark
This herb was first used by Native Americans who called it “sacred bark” due to its digestive health effects. (39, 40)
Cascara sagrada bark has one of the same components as aloe vera that stimulates the intestinal muscles — anthraquinones. This helps to gently get you to move the waste out of your body for that perfect in between “Goldipoops” level. Not moving to slow, nor moving too fast. (7, 41)
One of those anthraquinones in cascara sagrada bark is called emodin.
This compound stands in the way of colon cancer cells multiplying. Cancer cells don’t die at regular times like healthy cells. Emodin influences these cells to go into apoptosis, or programmed cell death. (42, 43)
Cascara sagrada bark may offer you cancer protection while it helps you keep your bowels moving regularly. (42, 44)
The bowel moving benefits, plus its effects on colon cancer cells, make cascara sagrada bark one of our favorite herbs for digestive health.
This red hot spice does more than make your eyes water when you eat a good chili. It has excellent digestive health properties too. (45, 46, 47)
Cayenne helps to stimulate your release of enzymes for proper digestion. It also helps as an antioxidant for your digestive tract. (48)
Cayenne is great for helping you fight fungal infections. Candida, in particular, can’t handle cayenne. It weakens their cell wall so your immune system can come and finish off the battle. This will help your good microbes take back their lost territory giving you better bowel movements.(47, 49)
Parasites aren’t big fans of cayenne either, but you should be. (50)
6. Clove Bud
This warming brown spice is so much more than a flavoring you put in your pumpkin pie. (51)
Clove bud contains an essential oil component called eugenol. (52, 53)
Eugenol is what gives you the clove bud’s powerful health benefits like:
Dissolving and breaking up biofilm so your immune system can come and clean up the infection. (54)
- Fighting parasites by causing them to lose their mitochondria. (55)
- Getting rid of dangerous bacteria and microbes in your gut (it can start to kill them in only minutes!) (56, 57)
- Increasing the glutathione activity in your intestines, lessening inflammation. (58)
- Preventing Candida from multiplying with its antifungal effects. (59)
Reducing gas, pain, and cramping in your digestive tract. (60)
The beautiful effects of eugenol will make you want to be close buds with clove bud!
7. Fennel Seed
The name of this strong, licorice tasting seed actually means “marathon.” Fennel seed really goes the distance in helping you with your digestive issues.
The essential oil in fennel seed has long been known to help with gas, cramping and all the pain that comes with it. (61)
Fennel seed calms the spasms in your intestines and helps the muscles contract smoothly. Cramping and inconsistent muscle contraction can cause constipation. (62, 63, 64)
Getting your intestinal muscles to work in concert rather than sporadically will make you and your bowels much happier!
Fennel seed can be especially useful if you have Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Only a few weeks of use can normalize your bowels whether they are too fast or too slow. (65, 66)
Fennel seed is another herb that is very effective at helping to evict your unwanted intestinal tenants. It is exceptionally helpful in getting rid of parasitic eggs and larvae. In fact, fennel came out as the top herb to help you with this amongst the herbs it was tested against. (67)
Besides having such a sound normalizing effect on your bowels, fennel seed is a potent antimicrobial. It also prevents your cells from “aging” so fast. (68)
All these advantages will make you a new fan of fennel seed.
8. Garlic Bulb
This savory, sulfur-containing herb isn’t just good for your Italian dishes or salad dressing. Garlic is robust in health benefits as well.
Garlic is a powerful detoxifier and anti-inflammatory food. It detoxifies carcinogenic substances to help protect you from cancer. It increases your body’s own antioxidants to help you fight toxins and disease. (69, 70)
Candida in your intestinal tract can put a damper on your bathroom habits. Garlic serves as a powerful Candida killer helping you get rid of this fungus. It breaks the cell wall of Candida to help you break free from this type of infection. (71, 72, 73)
If you have parasites, they don’t like garlic either. It does a number on damaging their cell wall as well, help you clear out these uninvited guests. They also aren't able to release as much of their inflammatory proteins helping to protect you from their toxins. (72, 73, 74, 75)
This pungent herb packs a potent punch when it comes to gut health. It helps to stamp out lousy gut inhabitants, while it is able to increase the good. Garlic helps your microbiome. (76, 77)
Goldipoops gives garlic 5 out of 5 stars for digestive health.
9. Ginger Root
This warming herb has been used for thousands of years in many civilizations. Ginger root has more than 100 active compounds to help your body! It's no wonder it has many benefits for your digestive system. (78, 79)
Ginger root’s most popular application IS for digestive issues. It can help you in the following ways:
Changes your gene expression to inhibit cancer growth (80)
Fights parasites (81)
Helps relieve constipation and cramping by increasing smooth muscle contraction (78, 82)
Increases bile secretion directly (83)
Lowers inflammation in your gut (84)
Protects your GI tract as a potent antioxidant (85)
- Reduces gas in the digestive tract (and all the discomfort that gas brings with it!) (86)
Your microbiome thinks ginger is fantastic. They soak up the compounds in ginger which strengthens the good microbes to keep the bad ones to a minimum. A healthy microbiome is a healthy you! (87)
It will also help you to have those perfect “Goldipoops” rather than alternating between constipation and stools that are too loose.
Ginger roots effect on bile production, easing constipation and a better microbiome makes it a solid winner for digestive health.
10. Rhubarb Root
It might surprise you that this herb is classified as a vegetable! It’s been used for thousands of years by the Chinese and has some great bowel benefits. (88)
Rhubarb root helps your intestines to have better peristalsis. This gets everything moving the right direction. (89, 90)
But what is a more impressive benefit of rhubarb root, is the effect it has on your microbiome. (91)
Rhubarb protects the good guys in your gut and helps eliminate the bad guys. It actually helps prevent the spread of harmful microbes. It can also help to repair and protect your intestinal villi from damage, especially after antibiotics. (92, 93)
Goldipoops roots for rhubarb root when it comes to your intestinal health!
11. Senna Leaf
This member of the legume family has a long history of helping with constipation. Used by ancient Egyptians because of its laxative effects, it was used to ease constipation and stomach pain. (94, 95)
Senna leaf helps you with regular bowel movements much the same as aloe vera or cascara sagrada. It has anthraquinones that increase the rhythmic movement of your intestines. This helps you detox and get rid of wastes. It will also help you avoid the hemorrhoids associated with constipation. (96)
This age-old constipation solver also helps you fight harmful bacteria in your gut so the good guys can dominate your microbiome. (97, 98)
Senna leaf also helps you lower inflammation by reducing inflammatory enzymes. (99, 100)
The detox, anti-inflammatory and gut health effects of senna leaf make it a great addition to your arsenal of constipation fighting herbs.
The use of this herb goes all the way back to Hippocrates for — you guessed it — expelling worms. Science has caught up with what Hippocrates already knew. Studies show that wormwood can cut your parasitic load in half. (101, 102)
Besides helping get rid of worms that might be affecting your bowel movements, wormwood has other digestive health benefits.
One of its top benefits is reducing inflammation in your colon. Studies show that 100% of people with inflammatory bowel diseases had lower inflammation when taking wormwood. (103, 104, 105)
Because of how bitter wormwood is, it is another herb that stimulates your production and release of bile. This helps you detox as well as digest and absorb food more efficiently. It helps to reduce your production of gas and lessens your bloating. (106)
Having SIBO (small intestine bacterial overgrowth) has a substantial negative impact on how well your bowels work.
It can cause you severe discomfort and make your stools move way too fast or way too slow. Wormwood can help you get rid of SIBO and make your bathroom visits more comfortable. (107)
Herb Herb Hooray!
You’ve got a lot of options to help your bowels behave beautifully. You can choose from:
- Aloe vera
- Barberry root
- Black walnut hulls
- Cascara sagrada bark
- Clove bud
- Fennel seed
- Garlic bulb
- Ginger root
- Rhubarb root
- Senna leaf
Each of these herbs increases your digestive health in numerous ways.
Not only do these intestinal moving herbs work well on their own, but they also work wonderfully together.
Consider a formulation that combines these beautiful herbs to give you multiple benefits at once. Cover all your bases by uniting the herbs together.
For example, you can harness wound healing from aloe vera and parasite protection from wormwood. Don’t forget the ones that help your microbiome.
The more bases you cover, the more thoroughly you’ll eradicate constipation form your life!
No matter how long you’ve been suffering from constipation, these herbs can help get you moving and detoxing. Living without illness isn’t a fairytale — it can be your reality!