Constipation is a frequently encountered gastrointestinal disorder all over the world, and it’s something many people turn to Ayurveda to help resolve or improve.
Globally, about one out of eight people face constipation on a frequent basis and rely on over-the-counter laxatives for their bowel movements and ease from the tension and uncomfort it can cause. Women and the elderly are more affected than others, but it’s something that people of all sexes and ages can experience.
Constipation is defined as “infrequent bowel movement, difficulty to pass stool, incomplete elimination, hardening of stool, and painful evacuation”.
While occasional constipation leaves people feeling uneasy and bloated, it does not present a big health issue and can often be treated with home remedies. However, if left untreated for a long time, constipation can become a chronic issue. Ayurveda views constipation as an effect of a disorder rather than a disease itself, and there are many methods and techniques with the Ayurvedic lifestyle that can help improve constipation or help ease the discomfort constipation brings.
Read on to find more about how Ayurveda helps with constipation.
How does Ayurveda help with constipation?
Constipation is defined in Ayurveda as an imbalance of Vata dosha. Vata dosha has cold, dry, rough, irregular, light qualities of air and space. When too much of these conditions are accumulated either due to seasonal change or poor diet, this leads to an excess of Vata in the body – which leads, in turn, to constipation.
Ayurveda tries to correct this imbalance of Vata in the body, by bringing in more of opposite qualities like warm, moist, smooth, regular, and grounding. Since the large intestine is the seat of Vata, it is the first organ that gets affected in case of aggravation. An excess Vata is considered harmful for the optimal functioning of the colon and results in incomplete elimination, hardening of stool, bloating, and abdominal pain. Here are some of the lifestyle changes and ayurvedic remedies that can help with constipation.
The first port of call when looking to Ayurveda to help with constipation, is Triphala.
Triphala, literally translating as three fruits, is a wondrous ayurvedic herb made from the synergizing combination of three fruits – Amla, Haritaki, and Bibhitaki. It is a highly esteemed herbal formulation that acts both as a potent laxative and a tonic for the digestive organs.
Some recent studies also suggest the efficacy of Triphala in promoting regular bowel movements and supporting healthy digestion. In a 2017 study published in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine, Triphala was found to be an effective remedy for constipation, flatulence, and abdominal pain.
Castor oil is also a good Ayurveda method for helping with constipation. Castor Oil is being used to treat occasional constipation since ages. It is considered stimulating and warming in Ayurveda, and therefore perfect for treating Vata disorders. All you need is one or two teaspoonsful before bed for a complete elimination the next morning. You can buy Castor Oil from Amazon.
The only downside is that it works like a laxative for the system, and therefore not considered safe for long-term use. If your constipation is coming back again and again, you may want to look for long-lasting solutions or a permanent diet change.
To bring Vata back to balance, you need more of warm, moist, oily, and nourishing foods in your diet. Stay away from frozen food, dry veggies, salads, beans, dry fruits, and raw vegetables as they may worsen constipation. Instead, try steamed vegetables, cooked grains, sweet potatoes, beetroots, carrots, yogurt, dairy products, and foods that are enriching and grounding.
Go for high-quality oils like ghee (clarified butter) for your cooking and always eat freshly prepared meals. Ayurveda believes freshly prepared warm foods to be full of prana (life-force) and intensely pacifying for Vata. Processed and canned foods, on the other hand, lack prana and worsen constipation as well as other Vata disorders.
Routine for consistent elimination
One of the qualities of Vata is irregular, which can be balanced with routine and discipline. Try to fix a time in the day for bowel movements and make it a habit to visit the bathroom at that time every day. This trains your body for consistent elimination and prevents the constipation problem from becoming chronic.
Ayurveda recommends waste elimination as the first thing to do in the early morning, right after drinking a glass of warm water. Warm water hydrates the body and helps in flushing out the digestive tract of waste products. Routine is considered as the most effective and long-lasting remedy for constipation in Ayurveda.
Try specialist yoga positions
Certain yoga poses are hugely beneficial for constipation, so making time in your routine to spend 15-30 minutes practising constipation-focused yoga poses could be a real help to you. Remember – yoga is a discipline too, so it may take time and practise to get these right. Here are some suggestions for yoga poses to help with constipation.
If you are dealing with frequent constipation
If you are dealing with frequent constipation, it might be a sign that you are doing something seriously wrong with your eating or lifestyle pattern. Try to eat loads of fiber-rich foods (as long as they are cooked) and include some warming yoga poses in your routine. Avoid alcoholic beverages while eating and replace it with warm water. You may also want to visit an ayurvedic physician if the situation persists.