This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
By this is understood a collection of excrementitious matters in some part of the intestinal tube. It is marked by unfrequency of stool, and by the recurrence of fulness and tension in parts of the abdomen. It occurs in patients of a lax and weak habit of body, or it may arise from rigidity of the muscles. It may also be due to imperfect functional action of the stomach, liver, pancreas, etc., in which case the intellectual faculties are dull, the complexion is sallow, the skin dry, urine scanty, acidity of the stomach, and headache. Sometimes the accumulation of faecal matter is so great that the masses can be felt through the abdominal walls. It is frequently caused by an atonic condition of the muscular structure of the intestines, and in very many cases it results from neglect to attend to the calls of nature. These calls should be imperative, and whenever the desire arises they should not be disregarded, but obeyed as quickly as opportunity allows. I once knew a sea-captain who only evacuated his bowels when in port, and who remarked to me that when he "battened down the hatches of his vessel, he also battened down the hatches of his body, and no matter how long the voyages, no stools are made." The consequences were, that whenever he came to port he had a hard time to be relieved of his faecal accumulations. In many other cases no movement of the bowels was observed for ten or twelve weeks. Constipation is attended with various sympathetic affections, and finally deranges the blood, impairs the health, tone, and vigor of the whole system. It is frequently the cause of piles, strangury, dysmenorrhoea, amenorrhoea, leucorrhoea, apoplexy, epilepsy, dyspepsia, insanity, etc.
TREATMENT. -- The cause of the difficulty should be carefully studied, and the proper treatment resorted to. The diet should be composed of laxative articles of food, as fresh fruits, unbolted flour bread, etc. If dependent upon a lax state of the muscular fibres, golden seal, in combination with mandrake and blackroot are the proper remedies, and when due to vitiated sefcretions of the stomach, liver, etc., the American Columbo should be given. In atony of the bowels, nux vomica should be carefully administered with the cathartics. Cathartics and enemas are of course indicated for present relief in all cases, and those should be selected which operate sufficiently, without causing irritation of the mucous membranes. Kneading the bowels often overcomes habitual constipation. There exists no better remedy than my "Renovating Pills," they cure every case of habitual constipation. The bowels may become obstructed from other causes, Intussusception, or invagination of the bowels, or when one part of the bowel is drawn into another portion, produces complete closure of the canal. The bowels also bcome twisted. These conditions may be known by the vomiting of stercoraceous or faecal matter, and when this is observed, instant medical aid should be called for, as the condition is one of great danger, and requires intelligent treatment.