Which Dosha Leads to Constipation?
by Dr. Surya Bhagwati on Jul 14, 2020
Not being able to pass a stool even though you can feel that pressure building up inside can be incredibly frustrating. As if that weren’t bad enough, constipation is often accompanied by other symptoms like tummy pain, gas, and bloating. While all of those symptoms may be tedious and discomforting, they are not threatening. Unfortunately, when constipation isn’t dealt with properly, the problem can become severe enough or frequent enough to give rise to more serious complications like anal fissures and piles.
So, how exactly do you treat constipation properly? OTC laxatives may seem like the best solution, but it’s a quick fix with serious side effects when used regularly. Any sustainable solution for constipation requires dietary changes and natural treatments that get to the root of the problem. Ayurved’s ancient wisdom gives us greater insight into these underlying causes through the interaction of doshas.
The Role of Doshas in Constipation
If you’re looking to narrow down the causes of constipation to a single dosha, your best guess would be vata dosha. In most cases, a vata disturbance is responsible for constipation as this causes an increase in dryness through the body. This includes drying of wastes or fecal matter, which increases bowel and colonic transit time. It can also lead to hardening of the stools, which can make the problem painful and also put you at higher risk of complications. However, the role of doshas is a little more complicated than this and pitta and kapha dosha can also have a role to play. We’ll get to that later.
How Constipation Causing Dosha Imbalances Arise
Disturbances of vata dosha do not occur without some dietary and lifestyle causes. Dietary factors are the main culprit, with Vagbhata and Kashyapa pointing to an excessive intake of pulses and legumes such as Mudga (green gram), Chanaka (bengal gram), and Adhaki (toor dal). This is mainly because of their water absorbent nature, which is believed to have a drying effect. This can result in vitiation of apanavayu or vata in large intestine and rectal canal. This region is in fact regarded as the seat of vata, described as Pakwashaya. When this happens, it can obstruct the adhovaha srotas or gastrointestinal tract by stripping the tissues of moisture and restricting the movement of feces.
Since vata disturbances are the main cause of hardened stools and delayed evacuation, it is the main dosha associated with the problem. However, other doshas can also have a role to play as the disturbance of any dosha can also lead to vitiation of other doshas. Vitiation of pitta dosha is known to play a possible role in some types of constipation. The obstruction and accumulation of hardened wastes caused by vata disturbances can increase pitta aggravation, which will only worsen the problem. The increased pitta in combination with vata strengthens the drying effect and increasing the severity of constipation. In some cases a pitta aggravation may in fact lead to the vata disorder, but this is more likely in individuals with dominant pitta dosha.
Aggravation of kapha dosha can also influence and contribute to constipation, but this is less common. In some individuals, the buildup and accumulation of kapha can hinder the downward flow of apanavayu, which leads to delayed evacuation of the bowels and an increase in the levels of ama or toxins.
Sustainable Cures for Constipation
When constipation is the primary disorder and not symptomatic of other conditions, the main approach in Ayurved is to restore the natural dosha balance. This is best achieved by adopting a diet and lifestyle that avoids aggravating vata. This means that you should avoid eating raw foods like fruit or vegetable salads and green smoothies. Cold foods like cold soups, ice creams, and drying foods like peas, lentils, and beans should also be limited. For thorough and personalized diet recommendations it is advisable to consult a skilled Ayurved practitioner. Herbs, spices, and other natural ingredients may also be used in home remedies or as Ayurvedic medicines for constipation.
When looking for any Ayurvedic medicine for acidity and constipation it is advisable to look for products that contain ingredients like guggulu, sunth or ginger, sonamukhi, haritaki, and nagkesar. All of these herbs work to strengthen digestion, supporting healthy bowel movements. Sonamukhi is particularly effective at supporting peristaltic movement of the intestines, improving transit time. It will also help to use home remedies like milk with ghee, flaxseed, fennel seeds, and figs soaked in warm water. Keep in mind that when you are using home remedies or Ayurvedic medicine for chronic constipation, you need to use these herbs and medications consistently over a long period of time. In addition to treating cases of acute constipation, they can also help regulate digestion and bowel movements on a regular basis to lower the risk of chronic constipation.
In addition to dietary changes and the use of herbs and Ayurvedic medicine for constipation, it is important that you also make other changes to your lifestyle for a sustainable solution and to preserve the balance of doshas. This includes following a disciplined daily routine with regular times for meals, sleep, and bowel movements. An irregular routine can increase the risk of constipation significantly. Similarly, it is important to be attuned to your body’s needs and you should never suppress or delay the urge to pass stools. If you deal with frequent constipation it is also advisable to avoid fasting and to try mindful eating. Physical activity is another aspect of lifestyle that is often neglected, but there is plenty of evidence to show that constipation increases with a sedentary lifestyle. Yoga is the most effective form of exercise for constipation as some asanas are known to relieve indigestion and encourage bowel movements.
If you do not find any relief from constipation despite following all of these recommendations, it would be best for you to consult a doctor at the earliest. Constipation that does not resolve with these interventions could be linked to an underlying disorder, as these treatments are effective when constipation is the primary condition caused by vata disorders.
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