Constipation and Ayurvedic approach:
Although it is a topic not openly spoken of, but it is believed that majority of the population may be suffering from constipation. 90% of my clients do present with this imbalance.
Ayurveda believes that constipation can be the root or main cause of many illnesses. The three elimination passages that need to be kept clear and functioning regularly are: sweating, urination and bowel movements. Among all these three once again bowel movement is of utmost importance as many primary toxins are eliminated via the gut.
One may ask: what is a healthy bowel movement? Ayurveda says that one has healthy bowel movement when upon waking up and within 30 minutes to an hour will go to the toilet and empty their bowels. The consistency is also important. The stools are soft, and look “banana – like” shaped on appearance. Any other form of stool elimination may indicate an imbalance.
One of the most common conversations with my clients:
Me: “Do you suffer from constipation?”
Client: “Oh no, I go to the toilet regularly. I don’t have constipation”.
Me: “So would you say you empty your bowels daily?”
Client: “Oh no, not daily perhaps every two -three days. But I go to the toilet regularly.”
The above clearly shows that there is constipation. An individual must empty their bowels regularly, and failure to do so indicates that there is an imbalance in the body.
Constipation is seen as a Vata imbalance. It has a dry and cold quality along with properties of lightness.
People suffering from sciatic nerve problems or lower back problem will most probably have constipation. In Ayurveda we believe that unless constipation is corrected these other imbalances will not be corrected.
Likewise other ailments where constipation should be first addressed are: Irregular periods in women, uterine fibroids, herniated vertebral disc, facial palsy, paralysis, difficult with conception, tinnitus, arthritis, osteoporosis, rheumatoid arthritis, eczema, psoriasis, acne. These are just some illnesses
- Drink plenty of water regularly. Focus on warm water more than cold water. Upon waking up drink at least two glasses of warm water. This can even be in form of herbal teas.
- Ginger lemon tea is also very good for people suffering from constipation. Ginger has fire like quality therefore will help to increase heat and warmth and lemon has cleansing qualities which helps to flush toxins out of the body.
- One can also consume Chyawanprash regularly. This jam can be mixed in hot water and taken as a herbal drink every morning.
- Triphala also known as one of the cornerstone herbs in Ayurveda is known for its cleansing qualities. Usually taken in capsule form, 1 or 2 capsules every evening around bedtime will help to relieve constipation.
- For a more gentle relief especially in children, older people or pregnant women the following remedy is most suitable: 1/4th cup of warm or hot milk with 1 teaspoonful of ghee and ½ teaspoonful of turmeric taken every evening around bedtime.
- For children the following can also be given: Half of a very ripe banana with 1 teaspoonful of ghee mixed together once a day.
- Soak 10-15 raisins in water over night. Then blend the raisins in the same water and consume it in the mornings.
- Castor oil is very well known for its purgative effect. 1-2 teaspoonful of castor oil can be taken in warm or hot ginger lemon tea every night for a gentle relief. Alternatively, one can also do a day long cleansing purgation with castor oil. For this kind of intense cleanse it always best to do it under the guidance of an Ayurvedic practitioner.
- Avoid drying foods like dry seeds, beans, cabbage, mushrooms etc
- Favour foods and spices like papaya, cucumber, water melon, asafoetida, cardamom, ginger, fennel.
The best yoga practise to help relieve constipation is regular sun salutations. Practise at least 2-3 rounds of sun salutations every day. This sequence helps to tone the abdomen and abdominal wall, therefore helping with relief from constipation.
Regarding breathing exercises, the best ones are Kapalabhati or Bhastrika Pranayama, as both these exercises once again work directly on the abdominal walls and the gut.
- Nabhi Abhyanga or abdominal massages are very effective to help relieve constipation.
- Alternative a whole body massage with hot sesame seed oil is also beneficial.
- Udvartana is also a very good technique to help relieve and prevent constipation.
- A classical Ayurvedic routine is the “oil pulling” This is also quite effective to relieve the imbalance when done regularly. Classically done with warm sesame seed oil, it helps to nourish the channels and systems of the body, removes dryness and hence helps to correct constipation.