Constipation refers to the general difficulty in emptying the bowels. It is often accompanied by the passage of hard and dry stools, causing painful defecation, hemorrhoids, or tearing in the lining of the lower rectum or anus. If prolonged for a longer period of time, it can even become a cause of cancer, headache, plies, and serious digestion-related disorders.
Ayurvedic Description Of Constipation
Constipation in Ayurveda is known as Malsangha or Vibandha. It is a signal of Vata imbalance and blockage of channels. Apana Vayu is responsible for the expulsion of stool and when its functions are significantly affected, it results in constipation.
When Apana Vayu gets aggravated and blocked in the lower part of the large intestine, which causes constipation. Depending on the grade of affliction, absolute constipation or hard stool is complained by the patients.
If the complaint of constipation is neglected for a long duration, it can create complications like hemorrhoids, anal fissure, gaseous distention of the abdomen, bloating, fecolith(hard, stone-like feces), headache, liver disorders, and various metabolic as well as intestinal diseases.
Signs & Symptoms
- Passing fewer than 3 stools a week
- Hard stools
- Painful defecation
- Needs help to empty rectum
- Straining to have bowel movements
- Feeling of blockage in the rectum that prevents bowel movements
Causes and Risk Factors
- Low fiber diet
People who consume less fiber than 20 to 35 grams are more prone to be affected with constipation.
- Low liquids intake
Liquids add fluid to the intestine and make up a part of the stools. If there are not enough liquids, the stools may dry out faster.
- Sedentary lifestyle
Lack of physical workout, sitting idle leads to constipation as it impairs the process of digestion.
- Ignoring natural urge
By regularly ignoring the urge to have bowel movements, one may eventually stop feeling the need to defecate. This makes the stools harder in the intestine, and therefore tough to evacuate the bowel.
Certain medicines also cause constipation. This is very common with opioid pain relievers, antispasmodic like dicyclomine, and antidepressants like amitriptyline, etc. Using laxatives for a longer period of time often leads to constipation.
- Changes in daily routine
Life events such as pregnancy and aging, changes in daily routine also cause constipation.
- Intestinal disorders
Intestinal problems such as obstruction, tumors, irritable bowel syndrome, or pelvic floor dysfunction, may cause constipation.
- Medical conditions
Certain diseases such as multiple sclerosis, stroke, diabetes, hypothyroidism, and lupus, also may cause constipation.
Self Care Tips
- Exercise regularly as it helps in maintaining body metabolism.
- Drink adequate amount of water, sip by sip, at least 2 liters a day, warm water is highly advocated to relax the intestine.
- Eat fiber rich diet and maintain roughage in diets. High-fiber foods help in moving wastes through body.
- Add foods with fiber to diet slowly, because eating more fiber can cause bloating and gas.
- Avoid processed, junk and fast foods items, such as white breads, pastries, doughnuts, sausage, burgers, pizza, and potato chips etc. as they are difficult to get digested in conditions like constipation.
- Berries, peaches, apricots, plums, papaya, raisins, rhubarb, and prunes are just some of the fruits that help in constipation. Do not peel fruits that have edible skins, because a lot of the fiber is in the skin.
- Use brown rice or wild rice in place of white rice.
- Vegetables can also add fiber to the diet. Some high-fiber vegetables are asparagus, broccoli, corn, squash, and potatoes (with the skin still on).
- Salads made with lettuce, spinach, and cabbage help in getting rid of constipation by stimulating bowels.
- Only take a laxative as often as your doctor recommends. Do not remain dependent on laxatives, as they are habit forming in nature and can harm in longer run.
Ayurvedic treatment of constipation not only corrects the ApanaVayu but also improves digestion and appetite while treating the root cause of disrupted Agni.