Constipation: Ayurvedic perspective
In Ayurveda, Constipation is known as ‘Vibandh.’ It is a common condition which affects a person’s normal bowel movements. In this condition, the affected person experiences difficulty in passing stools and emptying the bowel. In severe cases, the person may be unable to pass stools altogether for some time.
According to Ayurveda
- According to Ayurveda, the occurrence of constipation is linked to poor eating and lifestyle habits. This discomforting condition develops due to a gradual build-up of undigested food in the stomach and occult stool in the large intestines. As a result, the body’s Vata dosha is impaired, leading to an obstruction in the digestive tract. When the digestive tract is obstructed, the body is unable to support a proper bowel movement. This leads to the problem of constipation.
- Hence, as per Ayurveda, the reason behind constipation is the improper functioning of the colon because of the cold and dry qualities of Vata energy. The excess of Vata in the body causes disruption to apana vayu, the downward energy which supports elimination and stability. Due to Vata imbalance, apana vayu flows in an upward direction rather than its usual downward flow.
Symptoms of Constipation
- Some of the symptoms of constipation are indigestion (dyspepsia), acid eructation (belching), nausea, flatulence, stomach ache, scanty faeces, pain at the anus during defecation, feeling of heaviness of the body, lower back pain, and lack of appetite.
- Ayurvedic approach to constipation relief involves the use of time-tested home remedies, use of herbs/herbal formulations, as well as dietary and lifestyle changes, in order to increase the regularity of bowel movements.
Constipation relief: Ayurvedic approach
- Ayurvedic remedies for relieving constipation are chiefly aimed at countering the effects of excess Vata in the patients, and restoring normal bowel movements. For this, Ayurveda recommends the addition of oil, warmth and hydration to the body’s excretory system.
Some useful Ayurvedic remedies which can be beneficial in managing constipation are:
Eat Vata-pacifying foods
- To address the root cause — that is, Vata imbalance — of constipation, it is important for patients to modify their diet pattern and include foods that pacify the Vata. Towards that end, the diet of a patient suffering from constipation should comprise of properly cooked vegetables, warm foods, and warm drinks. It is also important to avoid cold foods and drinks, salads, dried fruits, and almost all types of beans.
Drink plenty of hot fluids
- One of the best remedies that can normalize bowel movements for patients affected by constipation is to increase the daily intake of warm or hot fluids. Since warm water or herbal teas can effectively offset the cold quality of Vata, they should be taken frequently during the day. However, it must be noted that warm fluids should ideally be taken either 20 minutes before meals or one hour after meals.
Add organic oils to the diet
- Some beneficial dietary changes, like increasing the use of organic oils, can provide relief in constipation. Oils provide lubrication to the tissues, so that the stool comprises an appropriate amount of grease or fat. Although nearly all oils can be used to treat constipation, the most supportive oils for managing Vata excess include ghee, olive oil, and sesame oil.
Increase the intake of fruits
- The consumption of certain fruits is also useful in tackling the problem of constipation in a natural way. Fruits are fibrous and hydrating, and can pacify the Vata. The fruits that are believed to be especially beneficial in constipation include ripe bananas, papayas, peeled apples, soaked prunes, peaches, and soaked raisins.
Drink fruit juices
- The juice of fruits like prunes and pineapple is recommended for relieving constipation. These juices have the ability to move excess Vata in the colon. The juices can be diluted with water if needed, or can also be warmed slightly.
Take hot milk with ghee
- Hot milk, with ghee added to it, can be taken at bedtime to relieve constipation naturally. For this remedy, one or two teaspoons of ghee should be added to a cup of boiled milk. The combination of hot milk and ghee can treat the problem of constipation in patients who have a Vata or Pitta constitution.
Avoid foods that can cause constipation
- Certain foods are known to cause or aggravate constipation, and should, therefore, be avoided by patients affected by the condition. The foods to be avoided in constipation are: refined foods such as white flour, white rice, bread, pizza, and pasta etc.
- Moreover, ice creams and other colds foods, and high -protein food items like cheese, soybeans, and red meat should also be avoided. Furthermore, it is advised that the bran should not be removed from the flour because the bran is insoluble fiber. It has the ability to clear the obstructions in the intestines and alleviate constipation.
Other useful herbs for relieving constipation are
Use Triphala herb
- The use of Triphala is one of the most powerful natural remedies for pacifying Vata and managing constipation. Triphala is a potent Ayurvedic formula prepared from a combination of three widely-known herbs — Amla (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia bellirica), and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula). Triphala can balance the body’s Vata, Pitta and Kapha doshas, and is especially beneficial for the colon. Triphala can support healthy elimination when taken in the form of powder or tablets at night, preferably 30 minutes before sleep.
Use Psyllium husk
- Psyllium husk acts as a bulking agent in the colon and supports the elimination process. It can ensure the regularity of bowel movements because it is a natural source of soluble as well as insoluble fiber. For treating constipation, Psyllium husks should be soaked in warm milk or warm water. The intake of the husks should be followed by sufficient hydration.
- Constipation can also be relieved with the help Yoga, particularly an inverted posture like viparita karani (the posture in which legs are placed up against the wall). This posture can put Vata back in the balance because of the reverse the flow of prana in the body. Hence, this posture awakens the lower part of the stomach and promotes a regular functioning of the ‘stuck’ organs in the pelvis.
- The Ayurvedic approach for treating constipation involves the above-mentioned natural remedies which can rectify the Vata imbalance and normalize the stool movement. However, people suffering from chronic, recurring, or intense constipation should use Ayurvedic remedies under the guidance of a renowned Ayurveda practitioner.