Clearing of bowels is a step towards good health. There is a feeling of being uncomfortable and routine work is hampered when the bowels of a person are not cleared. Constipation is a common problem in today's world mainly due to present day lifestyle. Constipation may manifest in different ways - not passing bowels even once a day or a sense of incomplete evacuation.
Though the disease of constipation has not been discussed separately in Ayurvedic texts, its occurrence as a symptom of various diseases and ways to tackle it has been described. Constipation is mentioned in Ayurvedic texts by the name of Vibandha meaning obstructing or binding of stool. Vibandha occurs when something is wrong somewhere in our food habits.
Ayurveda treats constipation as a problem arising due to the predominance of Vata dosha. In fact all people with Vata constitution have this problem to some extent or the other. From Ayurvedic point of view, dietary habits are the main cause of constipation. Following are some of the dietary factors that lead to constipation – eating at different time each day, eating too late than the normal time, eating food that is difficult to digest, eating food without roughage or food that contain fiber content, eating mostly dry foods, drinking too many beverages like tea and coffee, drinking too many cold drinks, not drinking enough water. Apart from these Ayurveda has also pinpointed various environmental and behavioral factors that can lead to constipation – vices like smoking, staying awake till late at night, sleeplessness or insomnia, mental worries and tensions, feelings of guilt and fear and age.
Causative factors lead to Ama (Metabolic toxin formed due to improper digestion) formation and abnormal movement of Apana vata (One of the 5 subdivisions of Vata dosha and one of the functions of Apana Vata is to facilitate proper evacuation of faeces), the seat of it is mainly rectum, bladder and reproductive organs). This makes the stool dry, peristalsis is slowed and stool is retained in pakvashaya (colon). Hence there is difficulty in passing stools leading to Vibandha or Constipation. The first symptom is a coating on the tongue which cannot be cleaned easily. People also have occasional feeling of uneasiness in stomach with flatulence. Stools are hard to eliminate and food takes longer time to get digested properly.
Types of constipation
1. Casual or temporary – This can be caused by indigestion, overeating, contaminated food or bacterial infection.
2. Chronic or habitual – This occurs largely in the elderly usually due to loss of tonality in the sphincter muscles. It is also presented by persons suffering from piles or haemorrhoidal tissue.
Constipation is not the threatening disease it's just a change in bowel due to sedentary lifestyle, improper diet, creating unnecessary mental stress, worries etc. Ayurveda has high ethos approach in treating the ailment in authentic manner and quiet possible to manage with above mentioned remedies.
Simple tips to relieve and prevent constipation
• Take ample fruits, fruit juices, leafy vegetables and water.
• Reduce excess intake of fried foods, beans, cabbage, cauliflower, broccoli, nuts and dry fruits.
• Regular physical exercise is important.
• One should try to have a relaxed mind, free from anxiety, stress, etc.
• One should not suppress the natural urges especially feces.
• Staying awake late in night and rising late in the morning also affects bowel movement. So one should try to go to bed before midnight and wake up early.
Constipation is a symptom, not a disease but it can be the forerunner of serious diseases including Colon Cancer. Timely treatment is very much essential. Constipation can be successfully manageable through Ayurveda. Ancient Ayurveda texts have mentioned several classical Ayurveda herbal formulations which help relieve constipation by establishing equilibrium of all 3 doshas, mainly vata dosha. In Ayurveda each and every person is an individual entity and so the treatment and herbs administered also differs from person to person. One must take the Ayurveda medicine only under the guidance of an Ayurvedic physician.