4 Ayurvedic Herbs for ConstipationDr. Surya Bhagwati
Constipation may not be life threatening, but that doesn’t mean we should treat it any less seriously. It can cause considerable discomfort and if not dealt with appropriately can turn serious. Severe and chronic constipation can cause a wide range of complications, including painful conditions like anal fissures, hemorrhoids or piles, fecal impaction, and rectal prolapse. Fortunately, most cases of constipation are mild and sporadic, making it easy to treat them with home remedies, Ayurvedic herbs, and other Ayurvedic medicines for constipation. Here are 4 Ayurvedic herbs that can help.
4 Ayurvedic Herbs for Constipation
1. Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk is perhaps the most widely consumed Ayurvedic supplement in the world, but most people may not even realize it. The natural ingredient has long been regarded as therapeutic for constipation and this ancient Ayurvedic wisdom is now widely accepted. Studies have found that fiber supplementation is one of the most effective ways to deal with constipation and there are several reasons for this:
- Increasing fiber intake can help bulk up stools, allowing them to pass through the gastrointestinal tract at a faster rate.
- Psylium husk is a type of soluble fiber, similar to the fiber in nuts, seeds, beans, and some fruits and veggies. This type of fiber is excellent for relieving constipation as it absorbs water. This gives it the texture of a gel like paste, which is described as mucilage. It softens stools and allows them to pass more easily.
- In addition to giving you soluble fiber, psyllium husk fiber is non-fermentable, making it a better choice than other fiber supplements. Reviews have shown that psyllium husk supplementation can be more than 3 times more effective than other types of fiber like insoluble wheat bran.
Sunth is simply a dried and concentrated form of ginger that is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine. Today, the herb’s use extends well beyond Ayurveda and most of us also regard it as a digestive aid. It’s most popular use in modern medicine however, is as a natural anti-nausea remedy for pregnant women who cannot turn to pharmaceutical drugs. It becoming increasingly clear that Ayurvedic medicines for constipation that contain the ingredient can also be highly effective because of proven benefits of ginger:
- Studies have established that ginger can relieve gas buildup or bloating and related abdominal pain, which is often associated with constipation or sluggish bowel movements. The herb has a heating effect that enhances digestion, while it also soothes the digestive tract to ease bowel movements.
- Ginger or sunth can also help treat constipation because of its proven ability to accelerate gastric emptying. In other words it can speed up the time within which food is consumed and the waste eliminated from the body.
- The herb is also known to exhibit antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory effects, which can reduce gastrointestinal disturbances caused by infection.
Saunf is an ingredient that is familiar to almost every one living on the Indian subcontinent. Long used as a digestive aid in Ayurveda, saunf is still served after meals to ease digestion, although the practice has seen a decline in recent decades. This is unfortunate, as research shows that there is a clear scientific basis for ancient Ayurvedic recommendations for the use of saunf. Here’s how it can help treat constipation:
- Saunf or fennel seeds are a rich source of dietary fiber – just one tablespoon of the seeds would give you about 2 grams of fiber. That’s roughly the same amount of fiber that you would get from eating a small banana. Not surprisingly, saunf consumption aids digestion and reduces gas buildup.
- Research shows that saunf contains natural compounds that exhibit antibacterial, antifungal, and anti-inflammatory properties. This can lower the risk of gas, bloating, and constipation that could be caused by contamination of food.
- Anti-inflammatory effects of saunf can not only ease intestinal inflammation and swelling to improve digestion, but it can also relax the muscles to relieve constipation. Some studies have also indicated that the herb may enhance protection against gastric ulcer formation.
Sonamukhi is an important herb in Ayurveda’s arsenal of medicinal herbs, but it’s also familiar to much of the world as senna. Sonamukhi is simply the Indian variant or strain of this herb. Today, some of the best herbal and Ayurvedic medicine for constipation contain sonamukhi as a main ingredient. This is not surprising when you look at the herb’s main features:
- The herb is rich in glycosides, which have a stimulating effect on nerves in the gut. This helps accelerate digestion and bowel movements.
- Senna is also believed to stimulate the production of certain digestive enzymes improving or speeding up the breakdown of ingested food and the absorption of nutrients. This can lower the risk of constipation.
- Senna is used as a herbal laxative in mainstream health care too and is regarded as safe for adults. The herb should only be avoided if you suffer from certain preexisting conditions like IBS or are pregnant.
It’s worth noting that these are not the only Ayurvedic herbs that can help with constipation, but they are the most effective. Triphala is another effective formulation, but is a blend of three herbs, which is why it was not included here.
You should also keep in mind that recurring or chronic constipation is indicative of dietary imbalances. To find a permanent and sustainable solution, make it a point to consume more fresh fruits and vegetables while limiting the intake of processed foods.
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