In the Rambam’s book “Regimen of Health” (chapter 3, paragraph 1), he advises the Emir of Damascus, al-Afdal, the first born of Saladin, that the foundation for health, as acknowledged by all physicians, is soft bowel movements. Constipation causes harmful internal poisoning gas that will reach the heart and brain, damage some of the body’s essential fluids, cause emotional confusion and generate bad thoughts, fright, apathy, and exhaustion. The Rambam emphasizes the importance of the digestive system, its metabolism and its efficient function, and especially timely bowl movement, as one of the foundations of health.
Modern science and research has also found that soft stools are very important for good health because a well-functioning digestive system is essential to eliminate many poisons from the body. It was found that antigens and poisons from intestinal bacteria are contributing to the development of diabetes, meningitis, severe muscle weakness, thyroid disease and disorder, infectious ulcers in the large intestine, and other diseases.
The main causes for constipation include are not eating enough high fiber foods, like vegetables, grains and seeds), lack of fluids, lack of exercise, lack of folic acid for women, prescription medication, irregular metabolism, and – surprisingly –exposure to bug repellents.
To treat constipation, the Rambam recommends cooking a fat chicken in a large quantity of lemon, saffron, sugar, lemon water and mangold leaves. After eating, the Rambam advises drinking a cup of freshly squeezed pears, apples, or pomegranate (diabetics should consult a doctor).
The Rambam also advises to eat spinach dipped in olive oil to counter strong constipation and for someone with hard stool he suggests drinking tamarind juice to prevent negative gas, and herbal teas that contain strong peppermint, chamomile or fennel seed to ease discomfort from gas. French green clay (two teaspoons in a cup of water) will help absorb poisonous gas that develops in the digestive system.
Finally, Rambam recommends that a person suffering from constipation should sit in the bathroom at set hours of the day, even if he does not feel the need, so his body will eventually become accustomed to a regular schedule.