DefinitionConstipation is derived from the latin word “constipare”, meaning “to press, crowd together”. It’s a condition of the digestive system due to incorrect lifestyle and poor eating habits. At some point in life, almost everyone must have suffered from constipation. Understanding of Constipation various with people. For many people, it simply means infrequent stools. For others, constipation means hard stools / small stools – quantity/difficulty passing stools (straining) / or sense of incomplete emptying after a bowel movement. The cause of each of these “types” of constipation is different, and the approach to each should be tailored to the specific type of constipation.Constipation also can alternate with diarrhoea. This pattern commonly occurs as in irritable bowel syndrome. At the extreme end of the constipation spectrum is faecal impaction, a condition in which stool hardens in the rectum and prevents the passage of any stool called obstipation. Although constipation is often looked upon as a common problem, if not treated or if treatment is delayed, it can lead to further problems such as fissures, fistulas, rectal prolapsed, piles, lack of appetite and indigestion.
Constipation treatment in Ayurveda:Constipation Treatment in Ayurveda, is correlated to Vit Vibandha / Mala Baddhata / Koshta Badhata, where there is impairment in the digestive system – Pachaka Pitta, Samana Vata, Kledhaka Kapha at the level of the stomach and intestines and majorly the Apana Vata – in the large intestine which causes dryness in the lower alimentary tract, slowing down the peristaltic movements and drying up of fecal matter leading to constipation
Causes:The causes of constipation can be divided as, all basically accounting for Vata increase.
- Congenital which is by birth – as structural and physiological defects
- Primary or functional constipation is ongoing symptoms for greater than six months not due to any underlying cause, there is no associated symptoms and is the most common cause of constipation as in Vata constitution individuals.
- Secondary constipation is due to any of the following causative factors as-
- Medications – Certain Medications/supplements as Iron, laxative abuse
- Diet – low intake of liquids, diet low in fibre, fasting
- Activities – lack of exercise / Sedentary Habits / altered sleep pattern
- Ignoring the urge to have a bowel movement
- Psychological causes – Increased stress, anxiety, fear, jealousy, and sorrow.
- Changes in daily routine – Travelling
- Physiologically – the age factor – elderly, pregnancy
- In infants, it is seen when introducing new foods and during toilet training.
- Incomplete evacuation of the bowel
- Passing of hard stools
- Abdominal pain, heaviness and distention of abdomen
- Pain at the anus while defecating, occasionally with blood
- Heaviness in body
- Lack of appetite
- Indigestion, nausea, and Belching
Line of Constipation treatment in Ayurveda:
- Balancing Vata and correcting the digestive system
Treatments:The treatment modalities include panchakarma, external therapies, internal medications, Activities, Advice of food and lifestyle changes.
- Panchakarma – Basti
- Externally – Chakra Basti, Abhyanga, Shiro Dhara
- Internally – Deepana (Carminatives)
- Pachana (Digestives)
- Vatanulomana – (Helps in balancing Apana Vata, acts as mild laxatives)
Activities:Specific Asanas, Panayamas, Pelvic floor strengthening exercises, Stiz bath with herbal decoction
- Improving on the intake of warm preferably warm water which helps digestion and easy balance of vata.
- Warm milk with melted ghee is considered as the best food medicine for correcting constipation
- Timely regular wholesome meals
- Lifestyle changes: specific to the individual’s constitution, nature of work and geographical conditions.