Constipation and Ayurveda

Constipation is a common issue for those living in industrialized nations. It is a result of bowel becoming sluggish and therefore not doing its job properly. This usually happens due to a lazy bowel muscle which does not contract regularly and strongly. It can also happen when bowel muscle contracts but does so in a poorly coordinated fashion.

Ayurveda views constipation as improper stool evacuation. Constipation is caused because apana vayu ( one among five types of vayu in ayurveda responsible for downward movement) is out of balance. Constipation produces toxins that find their way into the blood stream and other bodily systems. In chronic cases, this problem can give rise to serious diseases like rheumatism, arthritis, hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, migraine etc.

constipation remedy

Constipation symptoms

When the bowels are working normally they are usually emptied daily, with one or two motions. People with constipation cannot seem to empty their bowel regularly. It may happen about once or twice a week or at even longer intervals. People seeking constipation relief even resort to laxatives.

Common symptoms are

  • Infrequent, irregular or difficult bowel movements
  • Coated tongue
  • Foul breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Nausea
  • Pimples
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Diarrhoea alternating with constipation
  • Varicose veins
  • Pain in the lower abdomen
  • Lower back pain
  • Acidity and heart burn
  • Insomnia

Causes of constipation

  • Lack of fibrous foods such as leafy greens and whole grains
  • Improper diet and irregular eating habits
  • Irritable or spastic colon
  • Excessive intake of meat
  • Food allergies
  • Lack of sleep
  • Emotional disturbances
  • Bowel obstruction
  • Lack of exercise
  • Reduced water intake
  • Excessive tea drinking
  • Some types of medication
  • Painful pelvic conditions like endometriosis, PCOS, Period pain and post childbirth pains

Constipation management in Ayurveda

Since each individual has a unique body constitution or an ayurvedic dosha combination, it is ideal to seek advice from an experienced ayurvedic practitioner. In most cases, constipation can be corrected by lifestyle adjustment. Certain cases may require ayurvedic management.

Therapies and Ayurvedic herbal combinations for constipation

The following are some of the most common Ayurvedic methods to manage constipation:

  • Enema or Ayurvedic colon cleansing ( to correct Apana vayu )
  • Ayurvedic herbs, herbal combinations and herbal home remedies
  • Ayurvedic herbal combination such as
    • Triphala – in powder form or in tablet form
    • Avipathy powder
    • Classical ayurvedic syrup preparations such as Abhayarishtam
    • A variety of medicated ghee dependent on dosha

Ayurvedic diet

A proper ayurvedic diet prescribed by an experienced ayurveda practitioner acts as a catalyst in supporting the main line constipation management techniques. An incorrect diet may even reduce the efficacy of the treatment. So, it is essential to support the treatment by a proper diet.

The following do’s and don’ts can be used a guideline only and not in a prescriptive fashion.

Include or increase the following

  • Green leafy vegetables,
  • Fruits such as orange, guava, grapes, papaya, pear and figs
  • Whole grains
  • Dairy products

Reduce or avoid the following:

  • Cheese
  • Hard boiled egg
  • Refined sugar
  • Red meat
  • White flour based products like cakes, pastries, biscuits and cookies
  • White flour based pasta
  • Frizzy drinks

Life style changes to mediate constipation

  • Don’t avoid natural urges like urination
  • Take regular exercise and brisk walks
  • Make sure you sleep well at night
  • Drink 8-10 cups of fluid including herbal teas

Yoga for constipation

Yoga is well regarded as a supportive therapy for many lifestyle issues. Yoga experts suggest the following yogic postures that support medical and dietary constipation cure.

  • Sun salute or surya namaskar
  • Pavanamukthasana
  • Vajrasana
  • Dhanurasana