Chronic Constipation is one of the most common digestive complaints today. And a lot of this is due to drastic changes made to our food and dietary habits and irregular and unhealthy lifestyle. Physical inactivity with sedentary desk jobs has also been added to the list of causative factors. Every year in the US, there are about 2.5 million constipation cases and visits to the doctor and is one of the most frequent gastrointestinal complaints in the US.
What is Constipation?
Having fewer than three bowel movements a week is a simple definition of constipation However it varies from person to person. Some people have bowel movements several times a day while others have it only three to four times a week. Whatever the pattern it’s normal and unique for you – as long as you stay close to the pattern.
Constipation is a disease condition closely resembling Vibhandha which is described in Ayurvedic texts. Symptoms include – passage of hard stools, abdominal pain/discomfort, bloating, straining while passing stool. It indicates a state of Sroto dushti (vitiation of channels) especially in the Annavaha srotas and Purishvaha srotas (Channels helping in Food digestion and Defecation).
Some very common causes of Chronic Constipation
- Any change in eating habits
- Lack of a good amount of fiber in the diet
- Not drinking enough water
- Increased intake of dairy products
- Resisting the urge to have a bowel movement
- Abuse of laxatives and stool softeners
- Indiscriminate use of medications mainly strong pain killer drugs
- Habitual intake of Antacids containing calcium or aluminum
- Diminished expulsive power due to weakness of abdominal muscle or of pelvic floor
- Tumors, inflammation, and Colon cancer associated with disordered motility
- Other conditions like Parkinson’s disease, hypothyroidism, Depression, hypocalcaemia
- Old age
- Low calorie and fiber intake
- Lack of physical activity
Symptoms of chronic constipation
- Three or fewer bowel movements on a weekly basis.
- Passage of hard and lumpy stools
- Abdominal pain, discomfort, bloating
- Straining while passing stool
- Feeling of incomplete evacuation even after a bowel movement
While constipation is rarely serious but in the chronic stage, it may lead to:
- Habitual and stubborn constipation
- Bowel obstruction
- Hemorrhoids and blood in stool
- Rectal prolapse
- Spastic colitis
Chronic Constipation Myth and the Truth
Chronic Constipation Myth: Chronic constipation does not affect that many people.
The Truth: Chronic constipation is a serious issue, affecting 15% to 20% of the U.S. population.
Ways to deal with Chronic Constipation:
Numerous types of dietary fibers are easily available today, and they majorly lie in two diversifications: insoluble fibers and soluble fibers.
Consumption of light and easily digestible high fiber diet often helps.
→ Insoluble fibers
The insoluble fibers are found in wheat bran, vegetables, or whole grains. You can add a good quantity of them to your diet the stools and this might help in passing that and with ease through the digestive mechanism.
→ Soluble fibers
The soluble fibers are mainly found in the oat brans, nuts, seeds, lentils, peas, and ample fruits and vegetables – help to absorb water and form a gel-like paste, which makes the stool soft and improves its consistency.
→ Non-fermentable soluble fibers
non-fermentable soluble fibers like psyllium, are the best fits for treating constipation. But must be taken with plenty of fluids to help them in their bulk-forming activity
→ Adequate intake of fluids
→ Avoid irregular food habits, unwholesome, excess oily, and spicy food, and preserved items
Stress: Stress is also known to interfere with our bodily functions and lifestyle, and the stress hormones thus secreted disrupt the normal pattern of bowel movement. Several doctors suggest doing some relaxation practices and deep breathing exercises
Exercise: Sedentary lifestyles are connected with some kind of risk of chronic constipation. Exercise and any form of physical activity is highly recommended and benefits the bowel movement→ Improved Daily habits
Avoid resisting the natural urge for defecation
Herbs that can be used are available over the counter
- Triphala- ( Three myrobalans ) Triphala churna is a very famous and safe Ayurvedic formula that includes three fruits that have been traditionally used in chronic constipation. These three fruits in combination help the biological units in our body and restore their balance. Nowadays one can get this formula both in powder and capsule or tablet form in OTC products.
- Psyllium Husk- Bulk fiber laxative
Increasing the amount of fiber in the diet of most people and drinking lots of water can undeniably give you relief from constipation. Psyllium husk which is also known as ispaghula husk, is a bulk fiber laxative that helps to cause movement in the intestines. It also works by increasing the amount of water in the stool making it softer and easier to pass. Psyllium has been used in the traditional medicine of Ayurveda to promote overall health and well-being. Research has shown some other benefits of psyllium and which include maintaining healthy blood sugar levels, helping lower cholesterol, helps you to feel less hungry between meals.
- Senna: Senna is a well-known natural stimulant laxative that is given to treat patients with constipation.
Senna can be used on a short-term basis to treat constipation. Better to consult a physician before taking Senna products
There are many combination products in Ayurveda that not only deal with constipation but other associated conditions like indigestion, loss of appetite, bloating, and feeling of discomfort and heaviness in the abdomen.
Yoga and Deep Breathing
Some simple Yoga Asanas and practices can be performed after initial guidance from a qualified yoga therapist.
→ Pawanmukta asana
→ Mayur asana
→ Surya anuloma viloma
→ Deep relaxation technique
Also, check out the blog on 9 ways to how to detox your body naturally (theayurvedco.com)