SELF-MASSAGE of the abdomen can relieve constipation, according to research carried out at the Withington Hospital, Manchester. Thais de Lima Resende, a physiotherapist, says that exercise and abdominal massage can replace laxatives and enemas.

Her 12-week study, involving a dozen elderly patients who frequently suffered constipation, showed a significant increase in the number of bowel motions after a period of gentle massage and exercise. The number of enemas given was substantially reduced.

The massage could easily be taught for use at home, she says.