Actually, none… It is all the same, and this distinction only came out recently.
According to the authors of the Merck Manual Of Diagnosis and Therapy — the number one medical reference in the United States — you are regular if you move your bowels at least once every three days. Constipation comes only on day four.
The publisher of the Merck Manual — Merck & Co. — happens to be one of the world‘s largest drug makers, with close to $27.4 billion annual revenue in 2009.
Persistent chronic constipation happens to be one of the most prominent side effects of almost all contemporary prescription drugs, particularly antibiotics, cholesterol reducers, proton pump inhibitors, and blood pressure reducers, the product categories that bring Merck most of its billons.
By stretching out the definition of “constipation” to the fourth day, Merck was able to overcome this intractable obstacle while pushing their drugs through clinical trials and FDA approval.
If you take prescription drugs that may contribute to constipation or are simply concerned over irregularity, please visit this page to learn about big Pharma‘s effort to hide the side effects of prescription medication, and, in effect, to hook you up on even more drugs.
But most importantly, you will learn how to restore regularity without any complication-prone fiber supplements and addictive supplements.
The transformation of honest-to-God constipation into benign irregularity isn‘t that difficult to accomplish. Pharmaceutical companies, such as Merck, control directly or sponsor indirectly the publishing of most medical textbooks and reference books, the curriculum of continuous education courses for doctors, the content of licensing exams, and practically almost all clinical research in academia.
Here comes the definition of constipation in the Merck 18th edition:
“Many people incorrectly believe that a daily defecation is necessary and complain of constipation if stools occur less frequently.” [link]
In other words, according to Merck, moving your bowels daily isn‘t necessary. And if you still believe this is wrong, and not moving your bowels daily bothers you, according to the same Merck, you are simply a psycho:
“Obsessive-compulsive patients often feel the need to rid the body daily of “unclean” wastes. Such patients often spend excessive time on the toilet or become chronic users of cathartics.” [link]
In other words, it isn't the side effects of the drugs you may be taking, but it‘s all in your head, and it‘s all your fault…
When doctors diagnose you as “obsessive-compulsive,” they can put you on anti-psychotic drugs for constipation or constipation-dominant irritable bowel syndrome. Unfortunately, pretty much all anti-psychotics, sedatives, and antidepressants make constipation even worse, because they diminish muscle tone and nerve function.
This coincidence opens up a treasure trove of income opportunities to prescribe fiber to bulk up stools, antibiotics to relieve inflammation and bloating from fiber fermentation; blood thinners to prevent clotting because the heart is also one big muscle, and clots form on the periphery when it isn‘t pumping the blood efficiently. And so it goes on, until you die from the ensuing treatment, medical errors, drug side effects, cardiac arrest, blood clots, or cancer.
At this point some people say:
— Oh, come on, Mr. Monastyrsky, all of this is a fantasy… You have a propensity for seeking out medical conspiracies…
Well, to make sure that I am as sane as the Pope, I consulted my collection of out of print Merck Manuals, going back two generations ago. Here is what the 9th edition (1956) had to say about stool frequency and constipation treatment:
“Constipation: difficult or infrequent passage of stools” (p. 644)
And when constipation was related to what they called “Irritable Bowel:”
“(1) Eat regularly and follow a moderately bland diet containing, however, some fruit and low-roughage vegetables. (2) Try to have the bowel move at the same time daily...” (p. 646)
By “bland” and “low-roughage” they, of course, meant “low-fiber.” They didn‘t say it that way because back then the concept of “dietary fiber” in connection with health and nutrition hadn‘t really existed, and the word fiber isn‘t mentioned once in all the 1870 pages in the 9th edition of The Merck Manual.
So, as you can see for yourself, just two generations ago, the recommendations from the same Merck manual were the complete opposite of today‘s:
— Infrequent passage of stools, meaning not every day, was still “constipation” around the time I was born.
— A low-fiber diet was preferred for constipation, particularly in case of constipation-dominant irritable bowel.
Interestingly, an Internet search of the current 18th edition hits the term “dietary fiber” 184 times. Since Merck Co. can‘t change basic human physiology to sell more and more drugs, it keeps changing the medical references. So much, ladies and gentlemen, for my propensity to seek out medical conspiracies…
In this context, entrusting your health to the Merck Manual-educated physicians is pretty much the same as asking a registered sex offender to baby-sit your precocious child. Nonetheless, the Merck Manual is considered the “gold standard,” and relied upon by practically all medical doctors for what they call “trusted” information. Good Lord!
Let me conclude: If you are irregular according to the Merck 18, or constipated according to the Merck 9, then start learning how to become regular without fiber and laxatives from here: No Downsize, Just Upside-down.
These sections address all kinds of constipation — from sporadic and functional to chronic and organic, and for all age groups — infants, toddlers, pre-teens, teens, young adults, middle-aged, and seniors.
They also provide a great deal of professional information for doctors, so they don‘t freak out when you tell them that according to Merck 9, fiber makes constipation worse, not better, and that their 'trusted' Merck 18 may be dead wrong!
Good luck getting regular!