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Herbs That Stimulate Peristaltic Action

author image Melissa Lind
Melissa Lind holds a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Texas College of Pharmacy. She has over 20 years experience as a health-care professional, including pharmacy practice as a registered pharmacist, and experience in clinical research management and community college instruction in pharmacology and health topics. Lind has been a freelance writer and independent content provider since 2006.
Herbs That Stimulate Peristaltic Action
Herbal supplements have been used to treat constipation but may not be safe. Photo Credit Iromaya Images/Iromaya/Getty Images

Peristalsis, or rhythmic intestinal movement, is needed to promote proper digestion and avoid constipation, which is an embarrassing and sometimes painful problem that happens to most people occasionally. While there are many over-the-counter medications available to treat constipation, some herbal remedies also promote peristalsis and relieve constipation. As with all natural remedies, consult a health care professional before using herbs for constipation.


Herbs That Stimulate Peristaltic Action
Senna is considered more gentle than aloe and cascara. Photo Credit ChViroj/iStock/Getty Images

Senna is a naturally occurring stimulant laxative. Along with being available as an herbal supplement in most health food stores, it is also the primary component in many over-the-counter laxatives. Senna is generally considered more gentle than its counterparts aloe and cascara, but should only be taken for occasional relief of constipation without the advice of a physician.


Herbs That Stimulate Peristaltic Action
Aloe's leaves can be used to relieve constipation. Photo Credit ChViroj/iStock/Getty Images

Aloe vera is a succulent plant that is most widely known for its skin soothing properties. In addition to gel -- used most often for skin disorders -- the aloe's leaves are lined with a bitter, waxy substance that is used to relieve constipation. The University of Maryland Medical Center reports that aloe may produce cramping and discomfort and instead recommends the use of other gastrointestinal stimulant herbs.


Herbs That Stimulate Peristaltic Action
Cascara shouldn't be used by pregnant or nursing women. Photo Credit Creatas/Creatas/Getty Images

Cascara sagrada, also known as buckthorn, is made from the dried bark of the cascara tree and was available for many years as a laxative in liquid form. Though it is still available as an ingredient in some herbal remedies, it was removed from the market as an over-the-counter agent by the Food and Drug Administration in 2002 due to concerns over safety. Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center also states that cascara should not be used by those with intestinal obstruction or undiagnosed gastrointestinal problems. It also should not be used by pregnant women or nursing mothers.


Herbs That Stimulate Peristaltic Action
Bulk fiber is usually the first line of treatment in cases of constipation. Photo Credit Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images

While not a traditional herbal medication, the use of bulk fiber is often the first line of treatment in cases of constipation. Fiber works to promote peristalsis by holding water in the intestines and ensuring that there is plenty of bulk in the stool to produce natural intestinal movement. Psyllium husks are the primary component in most fiber laxatives. Kelp is another bulk-producing agent that may help to relieve constipation. Bulk laxatives should always be consumed with plenty of water or otherwise they may actually trigger constipation.

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