Constipation is one of the most common health problems these days. According to a latest survey, about 22 percent Indians suffer from constipation in today's time. As per Ayurveda, this condition occurs when vata's cold and dry qualities disturb the colon, inhibiting its proper functioning. A day without complete bowel movement can be very unsettling and sometimes painful. Our modern lifestyle is such that it has given a rise to this problem. Some of the most common causes are junk food consumption, alcohol drinking, smoking and over-eating. Most people affected by this problem feel bloated and uneasy with the inability to pass stool easily. Ayurveda recommends certain remedies to relieve constipation and help make the bowel movement smooth and uninterrupted. However, it does not take away the fact that you should eat balanced diet and exercise regularly to keep the bowel movement going.What Is Constipation And How Does It Affect The Human Body?
According to the book 'The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies' by Dr. Vasant Lad, "constipation is a vata condition that expresses vata qualities like dryness and hardness. It is caused by insufficient fibre in the diet, inadequate water intake, lack of exercise, heavy meat eating and numerous other factors."
Constipation may increase the chances of distension and discomfort, flatulence and pain, and headache and bad breath; in fact, it may also lead to absorption of toxin from the colon. It is best to keep vata in balance. According to the book 'Home Doctor, Natural Healing with Herbs, Condiments and Spices' by Dr. P.S. Phadke, constipation may also cause pimples, acne, acidity, ulcers in the mouth, disturbed sleep and heartburn, and in some cases, it may cause depression.
Causes Of Constipation
Constipation is often caused by not paying attention to the call of nature in time. A sedentary lifestyle, irregular eating habits, an incorrect diet, a disturbed and worried mind, and drinking too much tea or coffee add up to an already sluggish digestion, further causing chronic constipation.
Here are the remedies that Ayurveda suggests in order to cure constipation:
1. Follow A Vata Dosha Pacifying Diet
One of the best ways to prevent constipation is to follow vata balancing diet. Stay away from cold foods and drinks, dried fruit, salads and most beans. Favour warm foods, warm drinks and well-cooked vegetables.
2. Triphala Is Your Go-To Remedy
One of the most trusted and most effective remedies is Terminalia chebula or triphala, which is a fruit that helps cure constipation. You can have triphala tea or take one-fourth of a teaspoon of it, half teaspoon of coriander seeds and one fourth teaspoon of cardamom seeds. Grind them and have twice a day. Triphala has glycoside that has laxative properties. Cardamom and coriander seeds help relieve flatulence and indigestion.
3. Milk And Ghee
According to the book, 'The Complete Book of Ayurvedic Home Remedies,' "taking one or two teaspoons of ghee in a cup of hot milk at bedtime is an effective and gentle means of relieving constipation. This is especially good for vata and pitta constitutions."
4. Pulp Of Bael Fruit
Eating a half cup of bael fruit pulp and a teaspoon of jaggery every day in the evening before dinner may also help relieve constipation. You can also have bael sherbet along with tamarind water and jaggery added in it.
5. Liquorice Root
Take a teaspoon of powdered liquorice root. Add a teaspoon of jaggery and drink it with a cup of warm water. Liquorice or mulethi is known to promote your bowel activity. However, it is advised you consult an ayurvedic expert before taking it regularly.
6. Roasted Fennel
A teaspoon of roasted fennel taken at bedtime with a glass of warm water may act as a mild laxative. The volatile oils found in fennel seeds can help kick start digestion by promoting the production of gastric enzymes.
Anjeer, or figs, soaked in warm water also helps treat constipation, especially in kids. Figs are highly recommended due to the presence of high fibre content. You can eat figs every day in order to keep your digestion going.
8. China Grass
China grass, or agar-agar, is a dried seaweed, which is when cut into bits and cooked in milk, becomes a gelatinous substance.
Here are some important suggestions the book has in order to avoid constipation in the future:
- Drink more than four to five glasses of water in the morning. In fact, you can drink herbal teas like green tea, chamomile tea that can help boost your digestion.
- Have a fibre-rich diet every day.
- Engage in at least 30 minutes of exercise that helps kick-start your digestion.
- Eat lots of seasonal fruits and vegetables to add up to the bulk.
Keep these points in mind and bid goodbye to constipation. Also, before consuming any of the foods mentioned above, we suggest you consult your Ayurveda expert first.
Everyone has heard the advice 'drink eight-ounce glasses of water a day', which is popularly known as 8 by 8 rule. Another popular advice is 'drink 4 glasses of water empty stomach', aka Usha Paana Chikitsa, a term used widely in Ayurveda.
People advocate intake of water on an empty stomach, describing how it cleanses the body and cures a wide range of diseases starting from allergies to cancer. Messages regarding its benefits are forwarded in WhatsApp groups and on Facebook as if it’s the elixir of life as described in the world-renowned book 'The Alchemist'.
Usha Paana in Ayurveda
Originally described in Rasayan Adhyaay of Ashtang Hruday, it has been stated that a person who drinks Sheetodak i.e cold water early morning will continue to remain young. Many people start following this process
blindly without understanding the fine details involved.
-First of all, this has been described as a rasayan and hence, it should be only followed by a person who has underwent detoxification through Panchkarma. Even if detoxification is not possible for everyone in today's era atleast the concerned person should be devoid of any illness.
-Secondly, according to Ayurveda, a person should get up at Brahma Muhurat i.e around 5.30 am. So even if without detoxification a person has to practice Usha Paan as a routine then he should consume it at around 5.30 am in the morning after passing stool because that’s the first thing that has been advised after getting up.
Half the people who practice Usha Paan Chikitsa, drink water to help them get relieved of constipation, which is actually bad for their health. It is as if they try to push the stool out from their body by drinking excess water.
A simple sutra mentioned in DravDravyadi Vidyaaneya Adhyay describing effects of water intake while having food, after intake of food and before intake of food.
1. It is clearly stated that a person who drinks water while consuming food continues to remain in same state of health i.e swastha (Healthy).
2. If a person wants to gain weight, then he should drink water just after consuming his meal. (Max 160ml)
3. If a person wants to lose weight, then he should drink water just before consuming his meal.
Here drinking water just before meals will make the person get a feeling of fullness and hence, automatically his food intake will decrease. Of course, he has to stop eating as soon as his hunger is satiated. He should not eat food just because he eats that much quantity everyday.
To know the quantity of appetite a person should have just consider to divide your hunger/appetite in four parts. Consume food, which will fill two parts. Have one part water and keep the remaining one part of your appetite empty.
Another advice we get from many people, especially from Naturopathy is to not have any water during meals Have a jug (450 ml and above) full of water after 40 Mins of consumption of food.
Firstly this advice has nothing to do with Ayurved. Naturopathy and Ayurved are not even closely related.
Ayurveda practitoners follow the sutra given below :
1. If a person suffers from indigestion then he should consume Ushnodak Jal (warm water) as medicine.
2. Water consumed after the food is digested (Minimum 6 hrs after meal) will increase Bala (Body Strength).
3. Water consumed during consumption of meals will act as Amrut (Elixir of Life).
4. Water consumed in large quantity after meals will act as a Visha (Extinguishes the Agni of Body).
5. Here large quantity is important because bahu ambu paan (Very HighWater Intake) is responsible for initiation of many diseases according to Ayurved.
6. Water to be drank after meals to increase weight is not in large quantity but around a glass only 160ml max. So no question of conflict arises between the two sutras.
How much water intake should be considered necessary?
A very tricky question as it has got no straight answer. Every person's need varies according to their body needs as well as their line of work. This can be easily explained by an example, A businessman, a farmer, an army man all work for eight hours. Businessman is sitting in an A.C office. The farmer is toiling in the sun. The Army man is guarding our border in the Desert. Will each of them require the same quantity of water? The answer is definitely NO. The same way, even if you are living together in the same family, every member's water intake need will be different. To come up with a general statement which can be useful for everyone, it can be said that instead of having 8 ounces glass of water a day, kindly - 'Remember to have 8 ounces of fluid (liquid in any form) a Day''
Maximum researchers/doctors agree with the above statement. Fluid means any liquid. It may be soup, juice, dal, etc. Next time you come across advice regarding water intake, I hope information shared here will help you take the correct step.