Say Goodbye to Constipation – Ayurvedic Diet & Home RemediesDr. Surya Bhagwati
Constipation is an incredibly common problem and like most conditions that affect bowel movements, we tend to joke about it rather than take it seriously. Unfortunately, frequent and severe constipation is no laughing matter. Difficulty passing stools can cause severe discomfort and can even be painful, increasing the risk of complications like hemorrhoids, anal fissures, and so on. The severity of constipation can vary among individuals, but no matter how mild or severe the condition it is usually linked to dietary factors. This makes constipation one of the easiest conditions to treat naturally. While OTC laxatives may seem like the easiest solution, it is best to avoid these products because of the risk of developing laxative dependence. Instead, you should first try making simple dietary changes and using natural or Ayurvedic remedies for constipation.
Ayurvedic Diet for Constipation
The starting point for any serious effort to tackle constipation should be with your diet. Poor dietary choices are regarded as the primary cause of constipation in Ayurveda, as well as in modern medicine. The importance of proper nutrition is heavily emphasized in Ayurveda as digestion is regarded as the foundation of good health, with all diseases originating from faulty eating habits and poor food choices. Dosha imbalances and buildup of ama are at the root of all disease and these problems are exacerbated through modern dietary choices. According to Ayurvedic teachings, your diet needs to be overhauled to exclude and limit any intake of heavily processed and refined foods, while increasing consumption of whole foods – primarily fruits, vegetables, whole grains, pulses, and nuts and seeds. Ayurvedic diet recommendations for constipation can be broken down into a few simple points:
- Increase your fluid intake to ensure adequate moisture content. This allows the stools to remain soft, making it easier to pass stools. Water intake requirements can vary for individuals, depending on your lifestyle and environment, but it would be best to increase your fluid intake by drinking more water and consuming water-rich foods like cucumbers and watermelons.
- Both fresh and dried fruits are nutritionally dense and are packed with fiber. Poor fiber intake is a major contributor to constipation and is associated with highly processed diets. Consuming fruits like raisins, prunes, bananas, pears, figs, and apples will increase fiber intake, allowing for easier passage of stools.
- Cooked and steamed vegetables can also provide you with added fiber, along with various other nutrients. They should form the bulk of your food intake during lunch and dinner meals. When it comes to leafy greens and other veggies, there are almost no restrictions on what you can eat.
- Whole grains and seeds are a valuable source of dietary fiber, with oats, flax seed, barley, and wheat being great choices. Grains must only be avoided if you suffer from gluten tolerance.
- Limit and avoid your consumption of all processed foods, caffeinated drinks, dairy products with the exception of curd or dahi, and alcoholic beverages.
Ayurvedic Home Remedies for Constipation
In addition to dietary modifications, certain Ayurvedic herbs and supplements can also be helpful at supporting healthy bowel movements and may even be used to prevent or treat constipation. Here are some of the best herbs and ingredients to look for when choosing any Ayurvedic medicine for constipation.
Harda or haritaki is an important herb in Ayurveda that is especially noteworthy for its digestive health benefits. By supporting normal digestive functions, harda can lower the risk of digestive disturbances and imbalances that give rise to constipation and related conditions. The herb also has proven anti-inflammatory benefits that can reduce pain and discomfort associated with stool passage in case of severe constipation.
Better known to most of us as Sendha Namak or Mountain Salt, this is a common ingredient in some of the best Ayurvedic medicines for constipation. It is regarded as purifying and detoxifying for the body in Ayurveda, helping cleanse the intestinal tract and encouraging complete emptying of the colon. Sindhalun may also alleiveate constipation symptoms like abdominal cramps, as it contains several electrolytes that have been shown to reduce susceptibility to cramping.
This herbal ingredient is renowned in Ayurveda and is one of the best herbal remedies for constipation. It is believed to stimulate the production of enzymes that help with digestion, while also being a rich source of glycosides. These glycosides have a stimulating effect on the gut, which improves peristaltic and bowel movements. Powdered or dried leaves and pods of the herb can be steeped in water before consumption, but may not be easy to obtain. Fortunately, you can get these benefits from our very own Kabaj Capsules for constipation.
Although you may not be familiar with this herbal ingredient, you probably know the plant that it comes from. Lembodi is the name for the seeds of the neem tree and it is just as potent as the leaves of the tree. In addition to various medicinal properties however, lembodi is used as an ingredient in some digestive aids because of its high content of soluble fiber.
Psyllium husk or isabgol is a soluble fiber that works as a gentle bulk-forming laxative that passes through the gastrointestinal tract without being broken down completely. Instead, it adds bulk and mucilage to stools, providing relief from both diarrhea and constipation. Today, psyllium supplementation is not just recommended in Ayurveda, but also in mainstream medicine. Just make sure to begin with smaller dosages, as a sudden increase in fiber intake could exacerbate constipation.
In most cases of constipation, these dietary changes and home remedies should provide relief. However, constipation may also surface as a result of sedentary lifestyles or the lack of physical activity, frequently ignoring or suppressing the urge to pass stools, consumption of certain pharmaceutical medications like pain relievers, antidepressants, and others, as well as the presence of underlying conditions like diabetes and hypothyroidism. In such cases, you may not find adequate relief and could need additional medical care.
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- Lau, Wing Yin et al. “Water intake after dehydration makes muscles more susceptible to cramp but electrolytes reverse that effect.” BMJ open sport & exercise medicine vol. 5,1 e000478. 5 Mar. 2019, doi:10.1136/bmjsem-2018-000478
- Mascolo, N., et al. “Senna Still Causes Laxation in Rats Maintained on a Diet Deficient in Essential Fatty Acids.” Journal of Pharmacy and Pharmacology, vol. 40, no. 12, Dec. 1988, pp. 882–884., doi:10.1111/j.2042-7158.1988.tb06294.x
- Alzohairy, Mohammad A. “Therapeutics Role of Azadirachta indica (Neem) and Their Active Constituents in Diseases Prevention and Treatment.” Evidence-based complementary and alternative medicine : eCAM vol. 2016 (2016): 7382506. doi:10.1155/2016/7382506.
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