5 Ayurvedic Remedies for Treating Constipation
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Nov 23, 2020
It’s a simple truth - bowel movements do not make for polite conversation. This is why we rarely discuss common problems like constipation and diarrhea, but spend so much time discussing conditions like diabetes and high cholesterol. While it’s true that constipation doesn’t pose the same threat as heart disease, it is a pervasive problem that can affect anyone at any age. It causes considerable discomfort and if not dealt with properly can even give rise to complications.
Severe or chronic constipation is known to increase the risk of painful conditions like piles or hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and so on. Fortunately, constipation can be easily managed with home treatments and dietary changes. Ayurvedic medicine for constipation are among the most effective and popular, so we’ll take a look at some of the main recommendations.
5 Ayurvedic Remedies for Constipation
1. Psyllium Husk
Psyllium husk is now a standard recommendation to deal with chronic constipation or sluggish bowel movements. This ancient Ayurvedic remedy is nothing but a natural fiber supplement – to be precise it is the husk of seeds from the plantago family of plants (includes plantains). As psyllium husk is nothing but pure fiber it poses no risk of side effects and is regarded as the safest supplement for routine use. It’s only important that you start in smaller doses as a sudden influx of fiber can also exacerbate constipation.
There is ample evidence to show that psyllium husk can relieve constipation as well as diarrhea because it adds bulk to stools. Due to its absorbent nature as a soluble fiber, it also creates a jelly-like mucilage. This has a lubricating and softening effect, easing the passage of stools, and speeding gastric transit time. A review of several studies also shows that psyllium husks is the most effective type of fiber supplement, especially when compared to others like wheat bran.
Ginger is naturally heating and is used widely in Ayurvedic medicine to strengthen agni or the digestive fire. Sunth is simply the dried powder form of ginger that is often used in Ayurvedic medicines in combination with other herbs. Today, the herb is best known for its anti-nausea effect and for anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial effects. However, there is growing evidence supporting the use of ginger as a remedy for constipation.
The anti-inflammatory properties of ginger can soothe the gastrointestinal tract and relax it, easing bowel movements. This may explain why studies show that ginger intake can reduce the buildup of intestinal gas, bloating, and tummy aches. The herb is believed to speed up gastric emptying or transit time, reducing the risk of constipation.
Jaiphal is best known for its incredible flavor and we often use it as an ingredient in beverages and mithais. Ayurvedic physicians had a much better appreciation and understanding of the herb, however, as they commonly used it as a herbal medicinal ingredient. The herb is believed to have a carminative effect and is said to ease a wide range of gastrointestinal symptoms, including constipation and bloating.
It is also claimed that jaiphal can stimulate the secretion of enzymes that aid digestion to lower the risk of constipation. Most of the claims are based on anecdotal evidence and more research is needed, but jaiphal is easy to add to your diet and does not pose any risk of side effects so it’s worth a shot
4. Matra basti
Matra basti is a therapy or procedure that is part of panchakarm, which comprises of five therapies. Typically, panchakarma is administered in a clinical setting, but there are some practices that can also be used at home. In the context of severe constipation, matra basti is most helpful. This is basically no different to a modern medical enema, but it is administered with herbal medicated oils like ashwagandha oil.
In Ayurved, conditions like constipation are commonly linked to vitiation of vata, which impairs the movement of stools. The main site of vata dosha is the lower gastrointestinal tract and this is also the main area that basti karma works on and it has proven efficacy. Make sure to seek guidance from a skilled Ayurvedic physician for more detailed information on the procedure.
5. Yoga Asanas
The lack of physical activity is now known to be a common cause of constipation, indigestion, and other gastrointestinal problems. This makes any exercise routine helpful as a natural intervention to treat constipation at home. Yoga goes beyond most exercise routines as it includes poses that are specifically effective at relieving constipation and bloating. Some studies even indicate that the practice of regular yoga may relieve discomfort from more serious gastrointestinal problems like Irritable bowel syndrome (IBS).
When trying out a yoga routine for constipation try to include asanas that massage and stimulate the abdominal organs. Twisting poses and forward bends are good choices for this purpose and some of the most recommended poses include Utkatasana, Pawanmuktasana, and Ardha Matsyendrasana.
In most cases, these Ayurvedic remedies should provide relief within just a couple of days. If the problem is severe and persists, you should seek a medical diagnosis and treatment as there could be complications. To minimize the risk of complications and the development of chronic constipation, it would also help to follow some traditional Ayurvedic recommendations. This means making changes to your diet and lifestyle, while also using herbal formulations to supplement your diet and for added health benefits.
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