Ask The Herb Lady: Herbal Remedies For Constipation & Allergies

With Cathy Schram

Q: I have a problem with constipation. If I have a bowel movement three times a week, I feel lucky. What can I do to help?

A: Constipation is a serious problem in our society. Having only a few bowel movements per week is very unhealthy. At lease once a day is normal. If you do putrefying in your body, which can lead to gas, bloating, indigestion and other more serious problems. Most people end up reaching for a laxative, which they become dependent upon, only leading to more problems.

The natural approach would be to increase dietary fiber, exercise and drink plenty of water. A diet rich in fresh fruits and vegetables and whole grains is very important. Just by following these suggestions, you can make a big change in your bowel habits.
Another way to increase fiber is with Psyllium Hulls. The hulls have a remarkable ability to absorb water many times their own weight, which makes them swell. This exerts a gentle pressure on intestinal walls, stimulating them to contract normally. However, psyllium must be used with plenty of water, and it should not be used if someone has a bowel obstruction.

If you feel you still need to take a laxative, try an herbal one containing one or more of the following herbs: turkey rhubarb, cascara sagrada, dandelion root, or burdock. Senna is also a great laxative, however, you only want to use this on occasion, as it can be habit-forming. Cascara sagrada is probably the most popular natural laxative because of its mild nature and the fact that it is non habit-forming. It is even gentle enough for small children and the elderly.

Please see your health care professional if chronic constipation persists.

Q: I recently moved to St. Louis. Everything is covered with green dust! I can’t stop sneezing. What can I do?

A: Welcome to the allergy capital of the world. The green dust is simply pollen. Fortunately, it does not last forever. In the meantime, there are some things you can do to be more comfortable.

Respiratory allergies are caused by an overly sensitive immune response. As the immune system reacts to neutralize irritants, it causes mast cells to burst which releases histamine into the respiratory tissues causing symptoms such as congestion, sinus discharge, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, sinus pressure/pain, coughing and/or sore throat.
You want to stabilize the mast cells to counteract the allergies. Vitamin C, feverfew and burdock all help with mast cell stabilization. Antihistamines are great. I prefer one called “HistaBlock” which contains nettle, quercetin, fructus aurantia immaturi, and bromelain. To decrease symptoms, particularly itchy eyes and sneezing, I like “ALJ”. This product contains boneset, fennel, fenugreek, horseradish root and mullein.
I also highly recommend the Nasopure system which is a nasal rinse that washes away the pollutants.

This herb information is for health education purposes only. It is not intended to replace the services of licensed health practitioners. Consult with a physician for any condition that requires professional care.

Do you have questions about herbs or vitamins? Send them to Cathy Schram, CNHP and Certified Herbalist. Write to: Herbs & More, 16021 Manchester Rd., Ellisville, MO 63011.