"Nourish By Nature"
Ayurvedic Guide to alleviate constipation
Constipation - a very common problem nowadays rarely discussed as people are shy and reluctant to talk about it openly. There are many in society who discuss all these things in polite company and are even hesitant to explain it to the doctor while check-ups. Due to this hesitation, mistaken belief and lack of awareness about the consequences, causes and treatment, there is often seen a failure in getting effective relief.
What is Constipation?
Constipation or Vibandh (in Ayurveda) is a condition of digestive system in which a person passes fewer than three stools per week and severe like less than three stools per week. The sufferer has hard faeces (stool) that are difficult to expel. The slower the food moves through the digestive tract, the more the colon will absorb from food as a result, faeces (stool) become hard and dry. Consequently, defecation (emptying of bowel) becomes painful and in some chronic cases there may be symptoms of bowel obstruction. When the constipation is very severe, prevents the passage of faeces (stool) and gas then it is called obstipation. Although constipation is often looked upon as a common problem, if not treated or if treatment is delayed, it can lead to further problems such as fissures, fistulas, piles, lack of appetite and indigestion.Constipation is typically accompanied by one or more of the following symptoms: Fast facts on constipation –
The Ayurvedic Perspective –
According to Ayurveda, constipation occurs when vata’s cold and dry qualities disturb the colon, inhibiting its proper functioning. It is a signal of Vata imbalance and blockage of channels. Apana Vata is responsible for the free flow/expulsion of stool. When the functions of Apana Vata are significantly affected, it results in constipation. The remedy is to add warmth, oil, and hydration to the system in order to counter the excess vata.
3 Types of Constipation( Ayurvedic view )
Individuals with a vata-predominant dosha have a body-type that is dry, light, mobile and cold. They are more prone to constipation and require extra attention to their diet and lifestyle to keep the downward flow of apana in balance. Vata individuals should emphasize on foods that are oily, moist, heavy, warm and grounding. They should minimize foods that are pungent, astringent(tikta) or bitter(kashaaya). Meditation, slow walks and restorative yoga will help to ground deranged vata energy and promote regular bowel movements. Similarly, vata season (summer-chaya and rainy-prakopa ) and vata time of life (old age) will exert a drying influence on all constitutions (vata, pitta and kapha). At these times, individuals with vata constitution will feel the influences of dryness more strongly.VataDosha constipation symptoms :-
The first symptom is a browning of the tongue, which cannot be cleaned easily. These people also have occasional feelings of uneasiness in their stomachs with flatulence. Stools are hard to eliminate, and food takes a long time to get digested properly. But vata isn’t always the root cause of constipation. Sometimes, an excess of pitta (Agni) can dry things out and create constipation. Excess pitta can dry out your stool making elimination strained and painful. Constipation that is due to dryness caused by excess pitta often involves liver dysfunction with congestion or obstruction of the bile. In this case, hot spicy food and vigorous sweaty exercising should be avoided. Cool, moist, bitter, astringent tastes and meditating by a water fountain would all help to restore balance.Pitta Dosha constipation symptoms :-
The person will observe slightly yellowish stools and there will be a burning sensation in the anus as they are eliminated. Sometimes an excess of kapha (kleda) can create mucous congestion that clogs the colon and causes constipation. In this case, hot, spicy food and vigorous sweaty exercises would be beneficial in clearing the stagnation and getting things moving.KaphaDosha constipation symptoms :-
The colon feels heavy and there is low digestive fire. The person will feel lethargic most of the time. The person will also eliminate faint coloured stools which are almost white in colour. There is a strong feeling of gas and flatulence. Bad breath (halitosis) is also a common problem in this type. As you can see from these examples, it is important to identify the root cause of the constipation rather than blindly following home-remedies. Ayurvedic practitioners have an intuitive understanding on how to work with these energies and the individual doshas (vata, pitta and kapha). They use holistic techniques to successfully restore balance.
Causes of constipation -
The following are these environmental and behavioural factors :-
EFFECTS OF CONSTIPATION
Diet and lifestyle advices
- Increase intake of fibre, especially fruits and cooked vegetables.
- Drink 7-8 glasses of water each day, preferably lukewarm in winters and room -temperature water in summers.
- Have a mid-morning soup, preferably prepared with spinach and tomato.
- Take daily morning and evening walks for at least 20-30 minutes each.
- Eat whole grains and nuts.
- Avoid removing bran from the flour because the bran is an insoluble fibre that clears off the intestines and relieves constipation.
- Avoid refined foods like white flour, bread, pasta, pizza, white rice, etc.
- High -protein foods like cheese, red meat, and soybeans can cause constipation, so these must be taken with a bowl of salad and lots of liquids.
- Meat is constipating and should be avoided.
- Disturbing psychological factors should be removed, and meals should be taken in a relaxed and calm atmosphere.
- The food should be warm and freshly -prepared, as cold and stale food slows down the digestive power.
- Having excessively cold food like ice cream or chilled drinks reduces the bowel movement.
- Yogic practices: The following yogic practices are beneficial in constipation; however, these should be performed only under the guidance of qualified Yoga therapist.
Ayurvedic Cure -
- Develop a habit of drinking water in the morning. Start with 2 glasses of water, and increase intake up to 6 - 7 glasses. It is more beneficial if this water can be stored in a copper container overnight.
- Apply lukewarm sesame oil on the navel during taking bath and put towel (which is dipped in warm water) on the lower abdomen.Apply 3 to 4 drops of lukewarm castor oil over the navel at night in kids. It will help in clearing the bowel movements in kids (of age 1- 3 years) in the morning.
- Eat Plenty of Fruit - Fruit is hydrating, fibrous, and generally pacifying to vata. Especially supportive choices include ripe bananas(most preferred), peeled apples, soaked raisins, soaked prunes, and peaches. Be sure to eat the fruit at least one hour before or after other foods and chew them thoroughly to receive the maximum benefit.
- Take Milk with Ghee, or Soaked Flax Seeds - Before bed, try drinking either a cup of boiled milk with 1-2 teaspoons of ghee, or boil 1 tablespoon of flaxseeds in about a cup of water for 2-3 minutes, cool and drink the tea and the seeds.2 Allow at least one hour (preferably 2-3) between your last meal of the day and this bedtime drink.
- Vata Pacifying Herbs –
- Triphala - It is a blend of three herbs like Haritaki, Bibhitaki, &Amlaki. The combination helps in natural cleansing of colon in a natural way, clears the channel blockages, improves digestion, and hence improves functioning of digestive system.
- Haritaki - commonly known as Harad, acts as a mild laxative. This helps in reliving chronic constipation and improves digestion by increasing the digestive fire.
- Bibhitaki - commonly known as baheda, the fruit and kernel of the herb contains edible oil and gallic acid which has a laxative property. It acts on the Digestive system, lubricates and loosens up the accumulated mala/ fecal substance and propels it out of the body.
- Amlaki - Due to the presence of Tannin, Vitamin C present in Amla does not perish even if amla is boiled. It acts on the digestive system and helps in improving taste, appetite and removing constipation through its properties of digestion, laxation and rasayana.
- About half an hour before bed, steep ½-1 teaspoon triphala powder (churna) in a cup of freshly boiled water for 10 minutes. Cool and drink.