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Most of us have faced a situation where we have visited a doctor for some ailment or the other, and the doctor has asked us a number of questions, including whether our bowel movement is regular. This is because a regular bowel movement signifies good health and an efficient digestive system. Infrequent bowel movement, or constipation, not only causes abdominal discomfort and bloating, but could also be a symptom of a deeper malaise. Constipation thus needs to be taken seriously and addressed. Ayurveda and western medicine concur that health and disease begin in the gut.
One is said to be suffering from constipation if one experience
Of course, the frequency of bowel movement varies from person to person. Some may “go” several times a day, and some not at all in a day. However, fewer than three per week is cause for concern. Constipation can occur due to a number of factors.
Ayurveda refers to constipation as vibandha, a condition where one experiences fewer bowel movements, hard stools, and painful defecation. Severe constipation (vistambha) can result in an inability to pass stool (malavibandha) and can become a life-threatening condition. While the causes of constipation can range from a poor diet to inadequate water intake, it can also (though rarely) result from serious conditions such as colon cancer.
According to ayurveda, vibandha results from vata (the air element) dosha. The undigested food is ejected from the body as purisha (faeces) with the help of apana vayu or vata which governs the movement of energy from the navel to the root chakra. When the role of the apana vayu is hindered, it causes constipation. While it is not listed as a disease in ayurveda, it is mentioned as a symptom of underlying diseases.
While primary causes of constipation range from slow colonic transit to outlet obstruction, often there are secondary causes like
Diet plays a huge role causing constipation. Our current lifestyle that is heavily reliant on junk and processed food does not provide our body with the adequate nutrients or fibre. We are also glued to the screen, be it our laptops for work, our television for entertainment, or our phones for social media. We lead a largely sedentary life that involves hours of sitting and no activity. This, too, causes constipation.
Apart from diet and sedentary lifestyle, factors such as stress, travel, age, medication like antacids, anti-histamine,diuretics, and other diseases like anal fissure, renal failure, or rectal or colon cancer can also have constipation as one of their symptoms.
Constipation can be extremely distressing and can adversely impact one’s quality of life. Here are some easy ways in which we can remedy the situation:Collins, Brigitte Rosemarie, and Lorraine O’Brien. “Prevention and management of constipation in adults.” Nursing Standard (2014+) 29, no. 32 (2015): 49.
Yoga is a holistic way of achieving wellness. There are several asanas that can help you obtain relief from constipation. Here are a few asanas that are known to be particularly helpful:
Avoid: Do not do this asana after surgery or if you are pregnant.
Avoid: People with back and hip injury and pregnant women should avoid this pose.
While yoga is extremely beneficial for strengthening your abdominal muscles and for holistic healing, it is always advisable to practice under the supervision of a qualified yoga instructor.
Ayurveda is a completely natural and holistic way of treating imbalances in our bodies. This ancient Indian system of healing and wellness recommends several treatments that one can reach out for to get rid of constipation. The most potent formulations to treat constipation are triphala (which contains haritaki, bibhitaki, and amla) and wheatgrass.
Triphala is a very commonly used ancient treatment for constipation. This detoxifying formulation is found to improve the frequency of bowel movement, restore regularity. It acts as a laxative and is useful for gastrointestinal concerns.
Tripahala, literally meaning three fruits (tri-three; phala-fruits) contains equal measures of amalaki (amla), harad (haritaki), and baheda (bibhitaki).
The benefits of triphala can be traced to its high antioxidant value which destroys the harmful free radicals in the body, restores gut health, and also has colon-cleansing and enteroprotective (protecting against intestinal damage) properties. A study suggests that triphala helps reduce constipation, abdominal pain, hyperacidity, and flatulence. It improved yield and consistency of stool.Peterson, Christine Tara, Kate Denniston, and Deepak Chopra. “Therapeutic uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic medicine.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 23, no. 8 (2017): … Continue reading
Let us delve deeper into the key ingredients of this potent formulation:
Wheatgrass is nothing but the young grass of the common wheat plant that is a powerhouse of nutrients. Wheatgrass therapy is recommended for people suffering from chronic ailments like TB, asthma, hypertension, and constipation. Wheatgrass therapy also helps patients experiencing serious conditions like rectal bleeding and ulcerative colitis.Mujoriya, Rajesh, and Ramesh Babu Bodla. “A study on wheatgrass and its nutritional value.” Food Science and Quality Management 2 (2011): 1-8.
Wheatgrass powder: You can consume wheatgrass powder by adding it into your smoothie or by simply mixing it with water. You can have this drink right after you wake up.
Wheatgrass juice: Mix approximately 30 mL of this juice with 30 mL of water and drink twice a day, preferably before breakfast and dinner.
Constipation is observed in infants when they switch from breast milk to formula. It is then again observed in toddlers during toilet training. Children also become constipated when they begin to attend school, in kindergarten. Constipation is exacerbated due to low water intake and consumption of junk food. Here are a few ayurveda-approved easy ways to tackle constipation in children:
Constipation is fairly common during pregnancy. Changing hormone levels, vitamin supplements, and the pressure exerted by the uterus cause constipation during this period. Since it is advised that pregnant women refrain from consuming triphala, here are some practices they could follow to get relief:
Many senior citizens are also plagued by constipation and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Elderly people are also at risk of suffering from an ischemic cardiac or cerebral attack while straining. Constipation may also be caused by other diseases that they suffer from such as diabetes.Gandell, Dov, Sharon E. Straus, Maria Bundookwala, Vincent Tsui, and Shabbir MH Alibhai. “Treatment of constipation in older people.” Cmaj 185, no. 8 (2013): 663-670.
Here is how senior citizens can cure constipation:
While ayurveda does not list constipation as a life-threatening condition, it can undeniably have a huge impact on one’s day-to-day life. Treating constipation is not merely about consuming one or two products, taking fibre supplements or reaching out for a laxative, it involves closely looking at one’s lifestyle and making modifications wherever necessary. A holistic approach is the best way to treat constipation and keep your gut healthy.
|↑1||Bharucha, Adil E., Spencer D. Dorn, Anthony Lembo, and Amanda Pressman. “American Gastroenterological Association medical position statement on constipation.” Gastroenterology 144, no. 1 (2013): 211-217.|
|↑2||Collins, Brigitte Rosemarie, and Lorraine O’Brien. “Prevention and management of constipation in adults.” Nursing Standard (2014+) 29, no. 32 (2015): 49.|
|↑3||Peterson, Christine Tara, Kate Denniston, and Deepak Chopra. “Therapeutic uses of Triphala in Ayurvedic medicine.” The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine 23, no. 8 (2017): 607-614.|
|↑4||Ratha, Kshirod Kumar, and Girish Chandra Joshi. “Haritaki (Chebulic myrobalan) and its varieties.” Ayu 34, no. 3 (2013): 331.|
|↑5||Mujoriya, Rajesh, and Ramesh Babu Bodla. “A study on wheatgrass and its nutritional value.” Food Science and Quality Management 2 (2011): 1-8.|
|↑6||Gandell, Dov, Sharon E. Straus, Maria Bundookwala, Vincent Tsui, and Shabbir MH Alibhai. “Treatment of constipation in older people.” Cmaj 185, no. 8 (2013): 663-670.|
Dr. Aswathy has 10+ years of experience as an Ayurvedic consultant and medical officer in different nursing homes and hospitals. She has a deep knowledge of classical texts, Ayurvedic treatments, and Panchkarma. Dr. Aswathy is proficient in diagnosis through traditional Ayurvedic means and plans treatment that is specific to an individual’s constitution.
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