Probably the most important imbalance commonly found in the human body falls into the category of constipation. It is not just the lack of, or difficulty in, elimination that supports the diagnosis of constipation.
Likewise many patients will report good elimination when they are in fact constipated. In fact some people have no idea what bowel health is and will think eliminating once a week is good enough. This article discusses constipation remedies from the perspective of Yoga and Ayurveda for bowel health.
According to the classic Ayurvedic definition, constipation occurs when elimination does not take place naturally, first thing upon rising. If our body is not eliminating properly then toxins form and our immune system is compromised.
Suppressing natural urges and bowel health
Most people develop constipation and poor bowel health after years of either an imbalanced lifestyle or diet. In general, there are a few contributing factors.
The most common is the suppression of natural urges. This results in the disappearance of the normal eliminative urges similar to losing ones thirst due to not enough fluids.
We often find this natural urge inappropriate or inconvenient at certain times and force ourselves to suppress them. This habitual suppression can lead to a kind of psycho-social form of constipation, whereby elimination may be regular but is not complete. Ayurveda provides natural constipation remedies.
Diet – what you eat effects your body
Diet can also be a leading factor in bowel health. First and foremost is the lack of water consumption. People drink soft drinks, juices, and other beverages which may quench the thirst but do not properly nourish and lubricate the intestinal tract. Without enough water in the diet, ama, or toxins, accumulate in the colon. This will create a toxicity that is absorbed into the blood via the enteric cycle. The lack of water will also allow toxins to dry out and constipate the colon.
Yoga is an internal massage for bowel health
Exercise is one of the simplest cures for a non-complicated constipation. Eighty percent have a sedentary lifestyle looking at screens, can be a primary factor in the aetiology of constipation. From the Ayurvedic perspective, exercise is primarily an activity to pump prana into every cell of the body.
In Ayurveda elimination is controlled by Vata, the principle that governs movement in the body. The particular aspect of Vata (or sub-dosha) is called Apana Vata that controls the vital force moving into the pelvis, elimination and reproduction.
Typically when Apana Vata gets out of balance it will first become dry. This dryness can cause the classic Vata-based constipation. As a result the colon is too dry and the stool can become hard and impacted. Treatment for this condition will be focused on removing the dryness. Ayurveda home remedies can treat this through your diet and by using oils to re-establish the naturally moist and unctuous environment of the colon.
The next general form of constipation is caused by excess pitta or too much heat. An over-abundance of heat in the colon can also dry out the colon and lead to constipation. The digestive functioning of the stomach, liver and small intestine can also generate an excess amount of heat.
The Apana Vata can provide additional air, or Vata, to this fire of digestion, stoking the fire. Treatments for the pitta based constipation will first cool as well as lubricate both the upper and lower digestive tracts.
When there is excess Vata or dryness in the colon, the body will defend itself by producing more colonic mucous to combat the dryness. Often this happens in excess, then the colon can get clogged with mucus and cause kapha-based constipation.
Likewise when this imbalance is combined with a mucous-forming diet, this condition could become chronic resulting in poor bowel health. Treatment for kapha-based constipation will be geared to removing the mucous with drying, astringent, and pungent herbs – the exact opposite cure than the Vata-based version.
Special Note: In all therapies for Vata, Pitta, or Kapha constipation there should not be a continuous laxative effect. If there is such an effect, then take less of the recommended therapy. If after two weeks of the therapy there is no natural improvement then review the treatment.
Vata Constitution – Ayurveda constipation remedies
Avoid cold and dry foods. Eat heavier warm foods, emphasising more oily, watery foods like nuts, oils, and cooked grains. Use a mixture of warming spices. Peal all vegetables and refrain from eating the skins of nuts and tomatoes. Notice how food sits in your body and your bodies reactions.
- Fennel, ginger and liquorice tea provide a lubricating and downward-balancing effect
- Ghee with warm milk, cardamon and nutmeg before bed
- The juice of raisins and prunes soaked in water overnight will also provide both a mild eliminative and unctuous effect
- 2 capsules (or 1 teaspoon) of Triphala taken three times per day in combination with castor or flaxseed oil. Make sure not to promote a laxative effect
- The Lavanbhaskar powder is a combination of Ayurvedic salts to promote a mild laxative and carminative effect. Take 1 to 2 grams, 3 times per day.
- Hing or asafoetida can also be used as a spice with meals or during cooking
Pita Constipation – bowel health remedies
Avoid spicy and steaming hot foods. Eat lighter cooling foods with a bitter and astringent taste. Vegetarian foods, in general, are the best for Pittas, as consuming red meat tends to heat the body from the fat. They should consume abundant amounts of milk, grains, and vegetables.
- Favour foods that are slightly oily and cooked.
- Avoid hot-spicy and pungent foods
- Discover the foods, spices and stimulants increase heat and limit their intake
- 1 to 2 teaspoons aloe vera gel, 3 times per day
- Take 2 capsules (or 1 teaspoon) of Triphala mixed with ghee to make a paste, 3 times per day
- Liquorice, fennel, and coriander tea, 3 times per day
- 1 teaspoon psyllium husk with 8 oz. water before bed
- For severe cases, rhubarb root and senna leaf
Kapha Constipation bowel Ayurveda health remedies
Avoid pastries, sweet and heavy foods minimising dairy products and be cautious with salt. Include grains such as barley, buckwheat, dried fruit, apples and cranberries spices and herbs. Favour low or nonfat milk and minimise cultured dairy products.
- Avoid mucus-producing foods including cheese, sugar, yogurt, bread, and pastries.
- These foods should be particularly avoided at night.
- Include foods rich in hot and more pungent spices such as ginger, black pepper, and cayenne.
- 1 to 2 teaspoons psyllium husk taken with 8 oz. water, 3 times per day
- 8 to 10 glasses of warm honey water each day
- Take 1-2 Capsules (or 1/2 to 1 teaspoon) of Triphala taken with honey, 3 times per day
- Aloe vera, rhubarb, and senna are bitter laxatives that will combat the intestinal Kapha as well as provide an eliminative effect
Yoga and Ayurveda combined
At Yoga Works for Over 40s we combine both Yoga and Ayurveda as traditionally taught. We currently run three live online classes to show you how to easily integrate these tools into your daily life. For more information call Zoe on +61 407 956 071