Constipation - Causes and Remedies

Posted by Lala Naidu on

Proper elimination is foundational to healthy living – having energy and feeling vibrant.

What does a healthy bowel movement look like? According to Ayurveda, normal and healthy colon function is indicated by an easy bowel movement first thing in the morning. The stool should be the consistency of a ripe banana and brown in color, and float; if it sinks it indicates ama or the accumulation of toxins. Stools that are hard or difficult to pass, in the shape of separate hard lumps or sausage-shaped but lumpy indicate constipation.

Many suffer with an accumulation of toxins in the colon which is indicated by a coating at the back of the tongue. See for yourself, first thing in the morning, stick your tongue out and take a look in the mirror, what do you see? A thin white coating is normal, but a thicker coating with coloring indicates a toxic build-up. For more on this topic, please view > Tongue Diagnosis

Often the go-to-solutions for constipation are strong purgatives like senna or rhubarb, and colonics, although it can provide immediate relief these therapies can weaken the tone of the colon and create dependency, and aggravate vata.

What causes constipation?

All 3 doshas (vata, pitta and kapha) can cause constipation, however, when it’s a long-term condition it is often due to high vata.

For vata-type constipation, the main physical cause is eating foods that are difficult to digest with the gunas or qualities of dry, light, and rough, and unhealthy habits around eating like eating while stressed and on-the-go. Also, vata-type emotions like nervousness, worry, grief, fear and excessive stimulation contribute to constipation. In addition to:

  • Not drinking adequate amounts of water

  • Lacking fiber in the diet

  • Prolonged sitting

  • Inadequate rest and relaxation including interrupted sleep

  • Over-heating like working outdoors in strong sunlight

  • Traveling

  • Excessive consumption of pungent, astringent and bitter foods (vata aggravating)

  • Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease

  • Pregnancy: the fetus putting pressure on the intestines

  • Intestinal obstruction: structural problems such as twisting of intestines

  • Colon cancer

Also, many pharmaceuticals list constipation as a side effect like anti-depressants and anti-acids, but also iron supplements and herbs like guggulu can be a cause.

Constipation can seem like a simple discomfort, but if neglected and the underlying imbalance not treated, it may lead to more severe health challenges like:

  • Hemorrhoids

  • Anal fissures

  • Gaseous distention of abdomen, bloating

  • Stone like feces

  • Headache, liver disorders and various metabolic and intestinal diseases

  • Back ache

Prevention of Constipation

  • Eat predominantly vegetables, legumes, moist whole grains, fruits and fats. Many fruits have laxative properties like figs, prunes, raisins, apples, pears, peaches, guava, mango, kiwis, etc. Stewed apples cooked with digestive spices makes a satisfying breakfast that supports healthy digestion.

  • Drink ½ your body weight in ounces, this amount will vary, kapha types tend to require less water, however, if you eat a diet rich in fiber you will need to drink adequate water

  • Coffee and tea may make you “go”, but they are also diuretics and may cause dehydration and induce constipation

  • Avoid excessive spicy foods and processed foods including fried foods, crackers, popcorn, etc.

  • Walking for at least 15 minutes per day have shown in studies to prevent constipation.1

  • Yogasanas for constipation include Pavana Muktasana, Uttana Padasana, Yoga Mudra, and those asanas and exercises that put gentle pressure on the abdomen.

  • Ayurveda teaches not to suppress natural urges. If you feel the need to go, act on it.

Before I go into the remedies, as always, please consult with your primary care physician before implementing any of these.

General Remedies for mild to moderate Constipation

  • First improve digestion with the use of spices, particularly taking fresh ginger and hing before meals to support apana vayu, vata’s downward flow.

  • Take Triphala choornam or powder 5-15 grams in warm water before sleep.

  • Psyllium husk powder 1-2 teaspoons in warm water before sleep.

  • At night, boil 1 tablespoon of flax seeds in 1 cup of water for 2-3 minutes. Drink the tea and seeds.

  • Some fruit juices work well, particularly prune, grape and cherry

  • For more severe constipation take 1-3 teaspoons of castor oil added to a ¼ cup ginger tea before bed; or 1 tablespoon of a full-spectrum salt like Himalayan pink salt stirred into 1 quart of room temp water and taken in the morning first thing will act as a purgative too. Wait with consuming anything before you’ve had a bowel movement.

  • To relieve the problem immediate, do an enema with plain warm water, triphala or dashamoola tea. See the video I did on “How to do an Enema” for full details.




Ayurvedic Therapies Digestion Ginger Women's Health

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