Prunes and Constipation

Published on January 8, 2016

Most people rarely have chronic constipation. Yet, as many as 20 percent of people over the age of 30 experience it during their lifetime. While everybody has their own unique bathroom habit, having no more than three or fewer bowel motions a week could be an indication of a problem, according to experts.

Although the main constipation causes are medical conditions (inflammatory bowel disease (IBS), hypothyroidism), medications (antidepressants, painkillers) and other factors, for many people, it is caused by the foods they eat and the foods they are not eating.

Constipation is an issue because:

  • Pushing hard stool can weaken the muscles that hold in your faecal matter and urine. Weak muscles can cause your bowel and bladder to leak.
  • Pushing can lead to haemorrhoids that can become sore and bleed.
  • Hard stool in your bowel presses on your bladder and can upset it. This can often have you rushing to the bathroom to urinate frequently. In some cases, it can stop your urine from being expelled.

Due to their well-known mild laxative effect and sweet flavour, prunes are thought to be the quintessence of functional foods.

How Prunes Help with Constipation

Prunes provide a great source of dietary fibre.  There is approximately 6.1 grams of fibre in 100 grams of prunes. Your body’s enzymes are unable to digest dietary fibre and therefore it’s not absorbed into your bloodstream. This results in the fibre remaining in your colon where it softens your stool by absorbing water. This is why fibre is a natural remedy for constipation.

In a clinical trial study which was aimed to evaluate and compare the effects of psyllium and dried plums (prunes) in patients who suffered with chronic and severe constipation, researchers found that prunes were indeed a safe, acceptable, and more effective constipation treatment than psyllium and should be chosen as a first line remedy.

The study included 40 constipated subjects were some were given prunes and others psyllium. This eight-week study assessed the number of spontaneous bowel motions each week, stool consistency, tolerability, taste, straining, and global constipation relief.

Prunes and Nutrition

Prunes often referred to as “nature’s remedy,” contain sorbitol, which provides the body with a natural, laxative effect. Dried plums (prunes) are loaded with antioxidants that contribute to digestive comfort and health and fight free radicals. They also contain both soluble and insoluble fibre. A single cup of uncooked, pitted prunes offers 12 grams of fibre.

Prunes also provide a good source of Vitamin A, trace mineral iron, and iron that converts the stored iron in the body into haemoglobin. They are high in phytonutrients, which neutralize free radicals, are shown to be anti-cancerous, and contain Vitamin C, which is needed to properly absorb iron.

Laxative Use

Normally, a proper diet can prevent constipation symptoms and therefore, constipation medicine is not needed. However, if needed, occasionally using a stimulant laxative like Dulcolax® is helpful. Keep in mind though, that using laxatives on a regular basis could lead to dependency on them.  Few people have had to use laxative tablets on a regular basis and if needed, consulting with a physician is recommended.

Prunes are your grandmother’s way of relieving constipation — and still work today. Consuming 50 grams of dried prunes a couple times a day is recommended for naturally relieving constipation. This is a serving size of around seven medium-sized prunes.

Always read the label and follow the directions for use.

Learn about which Dulcolax product may be appropriate for you.


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