CONSTIPATION …. through an Ayurvedic Lens!
I am sure we’ve all experienced constipation at some point of time in life! The struggle to eliminate!!
This is a very important topic as what comes out of our bodies is equally important as to what we nourish our bodies with! Regular elimination is a very important aspect in keeping our bodies cleansed!
Where conventional medicine defines Constipation as having fewer than three bowel movements a week. Ayurveda says, if you haven’t had a bowel movement within one hour of waking up, you seriously need to do something about it before it turns into a chronic issue! Though occasional constipation is very common, some people experience chronic constipation that can interfere with their ability to go about their daily tasks.
When we look at elimination from an ayurvedic lens, we say that elimination is governed by Vata Dosha! If you have been following my blogs, you must be familiar with the Doshas- Vata, pitta, kapha! You would know by now that Vata governs movement! Also, the home of Vata is the colon (the large intestine). So anytime we have elimination issues, we will have to look at the Vata Dosha! Vata also governs the bones, the joints, the nerves & the ears. So, any time we see problems in these areas, we can think of Vata’s involvement! There is a huge co-relation. For example, one of my clients came up to me with chronic back pain, and when I tried questioning her in other areas, she also had frequent headaches and constipation! Interesting! Isn’t it! All these are Vata related symptoms! So, I started putting all the pieces of the puzzle together! Instead of continuing with pain killers for her back pain, we started working on balancing her Vata! Especially, on elimination, and deal with her constipation issue first! So, you see in Ayurveda, we don’t use a band-aid approach towards symptoms, instead we try to reach to the root cause of the problem!
Constipation not only increases gas, bloating, flatulence, aches & pain & headaches, in fact, it may also cause acne, acidity, ulcers in the mouth, disturbed sleep and heartburn, and in some cases, it may cause depression. When we have constipation, it has an effect all over our body. It increases toxicity to the extent that we even start thinking negatively along with having all those signs of foggy brain, body aches, headaches etc. If the waste cannot move out of the body, it’s going to circulate in the blood and clog all the energy channels in our body! Isn’t it? And it would want to move out somehow, so it will start disturbing other channels of elimination such as your skin leading to skin problems like rash or itching, or it would want to move out via the kidneys and may create inflammation in the urinary tract, giving you problems like a burning sensation while urinating. Or it might increase the toxic load so much that it could affect the functioning of your liver and gall bladder.
So, the next time you feel anxious or have negative thinking or foggy brain, think of elimination first! Do you have regular elimination? Are you constipated? Are you detoxifying your body naturally on a regular basis?
What I am trying to say is, constipation if not corrected in time could lead to a host of other health issues in the long run!
Constipation is often caused by not paying attention to the call of nature in time. A sedentary lifestyle, irregular eating habits, an unhealthy diet, easy availability of ready to eat junk food which is devoid of nutrients and healthy fiber, over-eating, eating on the run, crash dieting, missing meals, raw-food trend, inadequate water intake and inadequate intake of healthy fats and oils, all contribute to this problem of constipation! Drinking too much tea or coffee adds up to an already sluggish digestion as well as dehydration, further causing chronic constipation.
Our modern lifestyle has equally contributed to this problem. We live in such a Vata dominated culture that our vata dosha can easily get vitiated!
Ayurveda recommends certain remedies to relieve constipation and help make the bowel movement smooth and uninterrupted. However, it does not take away the fact that you should always eat a balanced diet as per your Prakruti (your unique mind body type) and exercise regularly to keep the bowel movement going.
Here are some of the Ayurvedic remedies:
Follow A Vata Dosha Pacifying Diet
One of the best ways to prevent constipation is to follow vata balancing diet. Stay away from cold foods and drinks, cold raw salads, most beans if not properly soaked and cooked with the right spices and dried fruits. Favor warm foods, warm drinks and well-cooked vegetables. For more on Dosha pacifying diet and lifestyle, check out our self-paced online course “Health & Wellness with Ayurveda”
Milk and Ghee
Milk and Ghee is a time tested ayurvedic remedy to relieve constipation. Take one tsp. of ghee in a cup of hot milk at bedtime. Golden milk is also another good option!
Fennel seeds help in balancing Vata! You may chew on fennel seeds or make a fennel tea! A teaspoon of fennel seeds in a cup of hot water taken at bedtime may act as a mild laxative.
Figs are highly recommended due to its high fiber as well as nutrient content. You can eat figs every day in order to keep your digestion & elimination going. Remember to soak 1-2 dried figs in warm water overnight and have then early morning on an empty stomach. Also drink the water in which they were soaked.
Triphala has been used since ancient times as a natural remedy for digestive issues like constipation. It is a powerful herbal remedy that consists of a mixture of 3 fruits which have therapeutic qualities-Haritaki, Bibhitaki and Amalaki. But it is not for everyone – Triphala may cause diarrhea and intestinal discomfort in some people and can react with certain medications. Children, pregnant and lactating women and those with bleeding disorders should avoid it. Always consult an ayurvedic doctor before using it.
Here are some of my general and safe suggestions for all: –
- Start your day with a glass of warm water with juice of half a lemon!
- Regularly sip on herbal teas like CCF Tea (cumin, coriander, fennel tea), GLH Tea (Ginger lemon honey) that can help boost your digestion & elimination.
- Don’t be afraid of fats & oils! Include good quality fats and oils in your diet daily.
- Have a fiber-rich diet every day with lots of green leafy vegetables. Remember to always have them cooked with appropriate spices and ghee.
- Engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise that helps kick-start your digestion.
- Eat lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables to add up to the bulk.
To identify your true Prakruti (mind-body constitution) and learn all about the diet & lifestyle that’s right for your Prakruti, please go through our self-paced online course “Health & wellness with Ayurveda”.
Stay tuned for our next online course on “Strengthening Immunity by Improving Digestion”. Click on this link for the course overview!
To Book your very own private one-on-one ayurvedic & holistic nutrition consultation, CONNECT with me.
The content provided in my blogs are for knowledge sharing purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.