Ayurvedic Medicine for Constipation
The long term solution for constipation is not to take medicines but to correct the imbalance that has led to this problem. This is where Ayurveda is helpful. The oldest medical system in the world prescribes a holistic treatment for managing all diseases. The Ayurvedic treatment for constipation focuses on correcting the imbalance in the body’s doshas (energies) that have led to this problem. The focus is on improving digestion and body metabolism so that bowel movements can be smooth.
Home Remedies for Constipation and Ayurvedic Treatment for Constipation require lifestyle changes to be made so that you can live a healthy and good life. This is a natural and safe way of treating diseases and disorders. The Ayurvedic treatment of constipation suggests the use of herbal formulations to treat this problem. These herbs have been sourced from nature and have been used for thousands of years. This makes Ayurvedic treatment for constipation effective and provides long-term relief. In this article, we discuss all about constipation relief through Ayurveda and how to cure constipation, naturally.
What is Constipation?
Constipation is a common digestive system disorder and it also indicates other major issues with the digestive tract. Unless elimination from the human body is efficient, it is difficult for individuals to be healthy, fit, and energetic.
Ayurveda suggests many ways to identify whether the colon is functioning at the optimum. The tongue is a major indicator of this; as there must not be a coating on the tongue apart from the usual thin white layer that is usually present.
It is also said that individuals must have easy bowel movements in the morning, and that the stool must float and not sink. Sinking stools often indicate poor digestion or an accumulation of toxins.
It is a regular occurrence for individuals to suffer from an accumulation of toxins. Constipation causing toxins in the colon should not be taken lightly as purgatives and colonics cannot always treat it effectively. These toxins can have detrimental effects on not just the colon but on a few other organs, particularly aggravating the Vata.
Ayurveda says that constipation usually grows due to poor dietary habits. Consuming foods that are difficult to break down and digest result in constipation.
Constipation refers to a situation where bowel movements are hard or become infrequent. Constipation can occur due to consuming a particular food item or can even be the side effect of medications. This is not a problem when it occurs rarely. If there are problems with bowel movements for more than three days a week then it is categorized as constipation. This is essentially a digestive problem. When we eat food, the food passes through the digestive tract where all the nutrients are absorbed into the body. The leftover waste material is referred to as stool and it is passed out from the anus.
In a normal person, bowel movement happens at least once daily. This is a normal process in the body’s metabolism and is referred to as egestion (the excretion or removal of undigested food from the body). Healthy individuals do not face any problems with bowel movements. When the bowels are full, there is an urge to pass stools. In a healthy individual, the stools are usually soft and pass out easily without any problems. For most people, this is a routine activity that happens at the same time every day.
When someone is constipated, they start facing problems in passing stools. The stools would be hard, making it difficult to be passed out. They may need to strain to pass out the stools. They may need to spend more time in the toilet as passing stools becomes a difficult process. Some people experience a feeling of an incomplete bowel movement and feel a blockage. When the stools are too hard, there is more strain on the muscles in the rectum. This can lead to fissures (cuts) in the anus or piles (hemorrhoids). A more troublesome problem is when it is not possible to pass out stools. This becomes a serious problem when it starts occurring regularly.
Constipation can affect people of all ages. Even children can be constipated, due to problems with their diet or lack of physical activity. A study estimates that nearly 22% of all Indians have faced this problem sometime or the other. This is primarily due to the drastic shift in lifestyles that has resulted in people consuming excess junk food and not involving themselves in optimal physical activities. Conventional treatment includes the use of laxatives to remove stools. The regular use of such chemical-based drugs can imbalance body metabolism and affect the digestive system. Constipation is a problem that should not be ignored and requires proper treatment.
For constipation that is not severe in nature, it is important to improve digestion using the right spices and ensure the Agni or digestive fire is in order. Most spices are good for digestion but Ginger is one of the most recommended to manage constipation.
What are the Causes of Constipation?
Occasional episodes of constipation can occur due to consuming food that is difficult to digest. Constipation episodes may even occur as a side effect of taking certain medications. Some people experience constipation when they travel or are away from their homes. Since these happen infrequently, these episodes do not pose a serious problem. When constipation starts to occur regularly, then it is a matter of concern. If you are constipated for more than three days a week, then a doctor is likely to diagnose that you are suffering from chronic constipation.
It is important to understand the factors that cause constipation. Before looking into the causes, we must understand how stools are formed. When residual food passes into the colon, it absorbs water and the remaining waste is formed as stools. The muscles of the colon then cause the stool to be moved down to the rectum where it is passed out of the anus. If this stool remains in the colon for long, then it starts to become dry and hard, which makes it difficult to pass the stool.
When we drink sufficient water, it ensures that the stools have water content making them soft and easy to pass out. The food that we eat needs to contain fiber. The benefit of eating fiber-rich food is that fiber increases the bulk of stools and softens it. This makes it easier to pass out stools. Lack of fiber can make the stool hard.
Some of the common causes of constipation include:
Problems with the muscles of the colon leading to slow contractions that delay the passage of stools. This may be due to stress or change in your daily routine.
Eating a diet that is low in fiber makes the stool hard causing constipation. Lack of fiber also makes the stool too small in size and consequently, the colon muscles do not contract causing constipation.
Not drinking sufficient water makes you dehydrated. The colon then completely absorbs water in the food leading to hard stools.
Lack of physical activity disturbs body metabolism and leads to constipation.
Delaying bowel movement and avoiding passing stools even when there is an urge can lead to constipation.
Change in daily routine like having to travel or being under stress can cause constipation.
Medications like pain killers and antacids can sometimes cause constipation.
Constipation can occur during pregnancy due to hormonal changes.
Constipation can occur due to an underlying medical condition like Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), Diverticulosis, or any other problem in the colon.
Coffee or tea in the morning could promote constipation as it tends to be diuretic and includes drying agents.
Psychological factors can also promote constipation. Insomnia, nervousness, stress, worry, grief, fear et cetera are a few of the conditions that could directly lead to constipation.
Constipation in Children
Children can also face constipation problems. It commonly occurs when they start using formula food. A change in diet can cause constipation in some children. When toilet training is commenced, some children may deliberately avoid passing stools due to fears. This can lead to constipation. Some children face constipation problems when they start going to school, which is usually psychological in nature. The lack of exercise in children and improper diet can cause constipation, which can affect them severely causing stomach pain and bloating.
What are the Consequences and Complications of Constipation?
Constipation disturbs the body metabolism. This can affect a person’s general state of health. Not being able to pass stools can create a feeling of a blockage in the colon. This can be disturbing and can cause abdominal pains. There are psychological effects of constipation. The constant worry about this condition can increase stress levels and cause other problems. Those who suffer from constipation experience headaches and a general feeling of malaise. It can seriously affect a person’s quality of life.
There are serious complications that can occur due to constipation -
Straining to pass stools can lead to swelling in the veins surrounding the anus. This can lead to hemorrhoids (piles). These hemorrhoids can start bleeding, which is a serious issue.
When straining becomes excessive and regular, there is a risk of rectal prolapse. The rectum may protrude and come out of the anus requiring medical attention.
When the stools are too hard, evacuating it puts pressure on the anus and can cause cuts or anal fissures. This can be extremely painful and may even cause bleeding.
When constipation occurs for long periods, stools are stuck in the colon. This can cause pain, swelling, and if untreated can even lead to serious health problems. In extreme cases, it may even require surgical intervention to remove the stools.
To avoid these complications, it is important to get proper and timely treatment for constipation.
Ayurveda and Constipation
Ayurveda looks at diseases from the viewpoint of Doshas (bio-energies in the body). According to Ayurveda, there are three doshas – Vata, Pitta, and Kapha. The Vata Dosha is essentially cold and dry in nature and it governs movement and elimination. When it is imbalanced, it causes constipation. It is referred to as Vibandha. According to Ayurveda, constipation can occur due to:
Consumption of dry and cold food that imbalances Vata dosha.
Not drinking sufficient water.
Spending a lot of time under sunlight.
Being physically inactive and sitting in the same place for a long time.
Apana Vayu is a type of Vata that regulates downward movement. The excretion of feces is regulated by Apana Vayu. Imbalance in the Apana Vayu can affect the colon and impact the working of its muscles causing constipation.
Ayurveda recommends a holistic approach to treat constipation. While conventional medical systems prescribe laxatives, Ayurveda recommends a host of measures to treat constipation. The best Ayurvedic treatment for constipation recommends lifestyle changes to improve body metabolism. This not only treats constipation but leads to a general improvement in health. The constipation remedies Ayurveda recommends are made from herbs. They are safe and gentle on the body. They correct the Vata imbalance allowing the digestive system to function normally and this ensures normal bowel movement.
Ayurveda Treatment for Constipation: An Overview
The Ayurvedic treatment for indigestion and constipation involves a multi-prong approach. It focuses on the diet, as it is the food consumed that affects bowel movement. Ayurveda also recommends making a change in lifestyle for healthy living. This helps in strengthening the digestive system. An overview of treatment for constipation as per Ayurveda is presented below:
Ayurveda recommends the use of herbal formulations to treat constipation. These formulations are as per the ancient Ayurvedic texts and have been used for centuries. They are time tested remedies that can help treat constipation. The constipation Ayurvedic tablets and capsules can help in providing relief from this condition.
Dietary changes are a must to treat constipation. The diet to be consumed must pacify the Vata dosha. Ayurveda recommends the use of warm and cooked foods to be consumed. Cold drinks and cold food should be strictly avoided. Some of the dietary recommendations that Ayurveda has are:
Wheat, green gram, fruits and vegetables rich in fiber content, and green leafy vegetables should be consumed. Apples, bananas, guavas, figs, oranges, and spinach should be a part of the diet to treat constipation.
Food prepared should be warm and freshly cooked. The use of spices like garlic, turmeric, cumin, and asafetida is recommended. It is suggested to use ghee or organic oils while cooking.
Fried food, processed food, spicy food, and non-vegetarian food must be avoided.
Warm water should be taken frequently. It is very important to drink a lot of water so that the stools turn soft and can be easily passed out. You need to start your day with a glass of warm water and lemon.
Warm soups should be consumed. The warmth can help pacify Vata dosha and the fluid content helps in passing out stools easily.
Some people find it difficult to pass stools if they don’t drink coffee/tea. It is advised to avoid an excess of coffee/tea as it can disturb the digestive system.
A warm glass of milk should be taken before going to bed. Mixing a spoon of ghee with milk can be beneficial.
It is important that you eat at regular times and avoid overeating.
Chemical-based laxatives should be avoided. Instead, natural laxatives can be tried. If you wanted to know how to cure constipation fast, then the answer is to use natural laxatives. Roasted fennel seeds with warm water work as a laxative and can help in easy bowel movement. Castor oil has been used for centuries as a natural laxative. It is suggested to take a spoonful of this oil before going to bed.
Physical activity is important to improve body metabolism. Avoid sitting in one place for a long time. Exercise regularly and take a short walk after a heavy meal. Yoga can be very helpful in the treatment of constipation. There are a number of Yogasanas that can provide a lot of relief for those who suffer from constipation. It provides relief from gas and bloating. It can also help in correcting imbalances and allowing smooth passage of stools. It is advisable to consult a Yoga practitioner before trying out any of these asanas (postures). Some of the Yogasanas helpful in constipation include:
Bhujangasana (Cobra pose)
Trikonasana (Triangle pose)
Viparita karani (Upside down pose)
Pavanamuktasana (Wind relieving pose)
Shalabasana (Locust pose)
Ardhamatsyendrasana (Half spinal twist pose)
Sleep is very important to treat any disease since sleep rejuvenates the body. A good night’s sleep for six to eight hours is recommended to feel refreshed and stimulate body metabolism.
Try to follow a regular routine for waking up, sleeping, eating food, and passing stools. This can be helpful in solving the problem of constipation.
One must never hold back when there is an urge to defecate.
Ayurveda recommends Abhyanga or massage to treat imbalances. This can even be done as a self-massage. Panchakarma is a cleansing therapy, which can be undergone to cleanse the body and rejuvenate body metabolism.
Herbal Formulations for Constipation
The Ayurvedic treatment for constipation in adults requires the use of herbal formulations. These herbal formulations have a combination of herbs that help to correct Vata imbalance, improve digestion, and make the colon work normally. This can be helpful in treating the symptoms of constipation and allow normal bowel movement.
Triphala is one of the most common herbal formulations used to treat constipation. It is a formulation made from three fruits Amalaki, Bhibhitaki, and Haritaki. Triphala can be taken in capsule or powder form. It works as a natural laxative and helps improve the working of the digestive system.
Sukumara Ghrita is a medicated ghee that is prescribed for good digestive health. It is very helpful in treating constipation.
Eranda Oil is made from castor oil, which is a natural laxative. It is helpful in ensuring smooth bowel movements.
Dashamula is a classical formulation made from the roots of ten herbs. It offers multiple health benefits, including better digestion and easy elimination of stools.
Abhayarishta is made from grapes and other herbs. It promotes better digestion and helps in ensuring smooth and regular bowel movement.
Apart from these formulations, the use of herbs like Haritaki, Isabgol, and Patola can be helpful in treating constipation.
1. Which Ayurvedic medicine is best for constipation?
Constipation or Vibandha is the result of improper digestion and underlines the cause for many other diseases too. Ayurveda emphasizes not only to relieve the symptoms but treat the disease from the root. Aggravated Vata is the cause of constipation.
The most common and effective Ayurvedic medicine for constipation is the combination of the three fruits called Triphala; the three fruits are Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Bibhitaki (Terminalia belerica) and Haritaki (Terminalia chebula). This mixture helps and supports optimal digestion and is useful as a laxative in traditional medicine. Other effective Ayurvedic supplements are castor oil ( Eranda Thailam), Avipati Choornam, Sukumara Gritham, and Abhayaristam.
Psyllium husk (Isabgol) and castor oil are also popular home remedies that are preferred for constipation issues.
2. What is the treatment of constipation in Ayurveda?
Ayurveda does not address the individual symptoms of a problem. As per Ayurveda, the imbalance of the Doshas from the person’s normal state causes health issues. So, the causes of the imbalance are addressed to help restore the body’s natural balance.
The person is advised to make lifestyle changes and take Ayurvedic medicine for constipation that supports good digestion. Some of the suggested lifestyle changes would be:
- Adequate water intake
- Active lifestyle
- Always follow the natural impulse to pass stool without ignoring it
- Eat a wholesome fibre rich diet
- Perform Yoga Asanas like Pavanamuktasana, Vajrasana and Suryanamaskara
3. What helps reduce constipation in the long-term?
Maintaining optimal digestion helps ensure that there is long-term relief from constipation. One would have to eat meals on time. Wholesome freshly cooked food eaten warm and in relaxed surroundings helps ensure optimal digestion. Fresh fruits that are rich in fibre are suitable for those who suffer from constipation. Besides Ayurvedic supplements, one should also include certain herbs and spices such as garlic, turmeric, cumin, and asafoetida in daily food preparation.
One should avoid eating food that aggravates the Doshas. Extremes such as very hot or very cold food as well as very spicy or very bland food are to be minimized. Processed food should be at a minimum with more preference for fresh and fibre-rich foods. Prunes and figs are also good sources of fibre.
Excessive consumption of tea and coffee is not good for digestion and should be minimized. Warm water and soup are a good substitute to be sipped on through the day. An active lifestyle with adequate exercise keeps the bowels moving normally. There are certain Yoga poses or Asanas that are particularly good for digestion. Regular sleep and meal routines are also conducive to and helpful for optimal digestion and good health.
4. What drinks help with constipation?
- Plenty of water that is 8-10 glasses of water a day will help relieve constipation.
- Warm lemon juice will help digestion and relieve constipation.
- Warm ginger and jeera water also help.
5. Does drinking hot water help constipation?
Yes, warm water is helpful for digestion and to help relieve constipation. It is good to maintain a good water intake throughout the day and start the day with a warm lemon water drink. Adequate hydration is essential for proper bowel movements.
Nevertheless, if you are facing major issues of constipation it is best to consult an Ayurvedic doctor who will be prescribing you the correct Ayurvedic medicine for constipation and other remedies.