Twelve percent of people worldwide report suffering from self-defined constipation. Women experience constipation three times more than men. Many people have used complementary and alternative medicine for constipation, but there is no qualitative research about this issue. The purpose of this article was to describe Korean women's experience of treating chronic constipation with complementary and alternative medicine. A qualitative descriptive approach used in-depth, semistructured interviews with 10 Korean women in the United States who had constipation. Four themes were identified: (1) subjective definition of constipation; (2) efforts to find the reason for constipation; (3) efforts to find solutions for constipation (subtheme: frequent use of enemas, laxatives, and suppositories; expectation and disappointment for complementary and alternative medicine; finding individually effective solutions for constipation); and (4) negative impact on quality of life (subtheme: mental discomfort, changed appetite, and difficult relationships with people).
Ten women reported that they had used exercise, massage, yogurt, vegetables, seeds of tangles (seaweed), mineral oil, milk with plums, mixed rice, walnuts, grapefruits, apples, oranges, aloe, oatmeal, soymilk, sweet potatoes, ground flax seed, and alcohol as a strategy for relieving constipation. Participants had also used herbs, acupuncture, acupressure, moxibustion, cupping therapy, hand acupuncture, senna tea, and soy bean past fomentation. In conclusion, living with constipation is an irritable and uncomfortable experience, and it motivated these women to select a variety of methods to reduce constipation.