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.
Ayurveda, our ancient system of medicine, is a science for life. It provides us with life tools to stay healthy, vibrant and realise our full human potential. Ayurveda firmly believes that good health starts with proper metabolism of food and good robust digestion. It is based on the premise that food, when consumed according to our personal physiological needs, acts like a medicine balancing our metabolism and promoting vitality.Recognising that we are a part of nature, this system describes three basic energies that drive our inner and outer environment- Vata (Wind), Pitta (Fire), and Kapha (Earth). These are present in each one of us in unique proportions, so our dietary needs are also guided by them. Ayurveda does not believe that one size fits all.
here are some basic dietary rules that Ayurveda recommends:
1. Eat Food That Nourishes: Eating fresh is the best. We get the maximum nutrients from seasonal locally grown foods and our bodies are also made to process natural whole foods rather than processed foods. Choose whole grains over refined ones, whole fruits and lots of seasonal vegetables. Go organic for the maximum benefits.
2. Balanced Diet: A simple formula for this- include the six Ayurvedic tastes or Rasas: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, pungent, and astringent in every meal. It is believed that including all six tastes in every meal will ensure a balanced meal and a feeling of satisfaction preventing snacking and overeating.
3. Load Up On Fruits And Vegetables: Colour your plate deep blue, purple, red, green, or orange. These are the richest sources of antioxidants and nutrients that help boost immunity. Load up on fruits and vegetables, they are great internal cleansers too.
4. Make Nutrition Bioavailable: When we eat raw vegetables, the digestive system takes time to work through the layers to reach the core and release nutrients. Eating them cooked means more efficient digestion. Ayurveda recommends that eating sautéed, steamed and cooked vegetables help the digestive process. If you want to eat salads, then lunch is the time to do so.
5. Spice Up: Spices are an integral part of our daily meals. They add to the taste but very few realise that spices add to a meals' nutritional value too. They enhance digestion, promoting absorption of nutrients to the maximum. Spices also add to the Ayurvedic principle of including all the rasas in a meal.
6. Cleanse Out: Ayurveda staunchly believes that when our digestive energy- Agni is robust, we are in a state of balance and health. However, if our digestion is not good we build up Ama- an accumulation of digestive toxins. To avoid this, we must eat away from our computer or TV, in a peaceful atmosphere. Food is eaten when you are actually hungry, let the body set the time. Eat at a moderate pace, neither gulping nor too slowly. Ayurveda also recommends a complete cleanse in every change of season, especially at the start of spring.
7. Drink Up Water: The key is to keep yourself hydrated and energised with water, preferably warm to flush out the toxin. Ice cold water is a bad idea, cool or room temperature is healthy. The caffeine, aerated sodas and alcohols are not really the vitality boosting drinks! Go easy.
1. Total health come from a healthy mind in a healthy body. Emotional wellbeing is enhanced with eating in a happy atmosphere. Eating with your family/friends adds to your meals' nourishment. Adding variety to your meals by trying a new flavour, ingredient or a cuisine is always a good way to enjoy food. Eating should be fun not a task to be done.
2. The good habits that add health to your years according to Ayurveda include eating three balanced meals at the same time daily. Lunch should be the heaviest meal and dinner lightest and about 3 hours prior to your bedtime. Some form of moderate exercise daily is a must as is meditation. Sitting quietly during and after a meal are recommended.
Ayurveda says we metabolize with all our five senses. Everything we experience through our sense of touch, sight, taste and smell becomes a part of us. Let's consciously choose better for a life full of health and happiness.
This time of the year marks the transition in seasons and the human body tends to be more prone to viral attacks and bacterial infections. As per Ayurveda, this calls for an overhaul of our diet and lifestyle to stay healthy through the transition period. The diet during April days must also be changed to suit the changes in the climate. In Ayurveda, this time marks the transition from Shishir Ritu (extreme winter between mid-January to mid-March) to Vasant Ritu (spring from mid-March to mid-May).
According to Ayurveda, imbalance in the three bio-energies or doshas who get their identities from the five elements- vata, pitta and kapha over time lead to illnesses. The three doshas combine in differing proportions to make up an individual's constitution or prakriti. This includes all factors-- physical, mental and emotional-- that express an individual's uniqueness.
During Shishir or deep winters, the kapha dosha (earth element) tends to accumulate and then after the onset of spring, it tends to spiral into aggravation. So our diet must switch to kapha-balancing foods and recipes around this time.
Before the recipes, here are a few Ayurvedic diet tips for the season:
1. Reduce your sweet intake, especially, white sugar in this season and take plain, easily digestible foods like Jawari Pops (recipe explained below), baked gram and dates and coconuts to your heart's content. This diet has the ability to dry up kapha, as they are non-greasy and kapha-destroying.
2. Foods ideal for the season according to Ayurveda include barley wheat, honey, grains like jawar or sorghum, bajra, pulses like green gram, brown-skinned lentil, pigeon pea, carrot, (Daucus carota), snake gourd, mustard, fenugreek leaf, spinach, coriander and ginger-all in moderated amount.
3. Avoid: new grains, cold, unctuous, sour and salty food, curd, black gram, potato, onion, sugarcane, new jaggery, buffalo's milk.
4. Avoid consuming sweet, oily and heavy to digest food.
5. Do not give peppermint, chocolate or ice-cream cones to young children, as they produce kapha. The kapha dosha is known for maintaining body resistance. Kapha is primarily responsible for anabolism, the process of building the body, growth and creation of new cells as well as cell repair.
6. Do not sleep during the day. It aggravates kapha.
7. Get a pulse diagnosis done and if you find you have excessive kapha, stick to an alkaline diet. Alkaline diet dilutes and dissolves cough, and is subsequently discharged. Steamed or raw vegetables could also be effective.
Now that you have your diet sorted, we share some extremely simple and easy-to-make recipes along with diet tips keeping in mind the change of seasons, and how it affects our body:
-Roasted Chana - 1 cup
-Dates - 1/4 cup
-Desiccated coconut - 1 tbsp
-Rub the chana on a plate to get rid of the brown skin.
-De-seed the dates.
-Grind chana and dates in a grinder.
-Take the mixture out on a plate.
- Make small balls out of it by rolling them in between your palms.
-Coat the balls with the desiccated coconut.
-The dish is ready to be served.
-Heat a deep non-stick pan, add the jowar puffs and saute them on medium flame for 2 to 3 minutes.
-Remove the puffs and keep them aside.
-Heat the oil in the same pan, add mustard seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida and saute on a medium flame for 30 seconds.
-Add the roasted chana dal, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 minute.
-Add the turmeric powder, chili powder and salt, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 10 seconds.
-Add the roasted jowar puffs and roasted chana, mix well and cook on a medium flame for 1 to 2 minutes, while stirring occasionally.
-Cool completely and store in an air-tight container. Use as required.
This is actually a Holi recipe and the the ultimate flavour of the dish comes from the traditional cooking process wherein the roots get cooked overnight on low heat in the Holi fire's burnt coal.
Alternatively, the other process could also be steaming the roots.
-Wash and cut the roots in big pieces.
-Steam ratalu for 25 to 30 minutes and sweet potatoes for 15 minutes.
-Peel and grate them.
-Obtain finely chopped green garlic and fresh coriander leaves.
-In a pan heat the oil, add mustard seeds and sesame seeds, then add green chilies and ginger. Cook for half a minute.
-Add raisins, mashed roots, green coriander leaves, green garlic and salt.
-Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.
-Turn off the gas and add lemon juice. Mix it well.
-Give round shape and serve.
-Roast spices lightly on a tawa.
-Soak all ingredients except milk in enough water to cover.
-Set aside for 2 hours. Grind it into a fine paste.
-Add milk to the paste and stir in a jar.
-Pour the liquid through muslin cloth in glasses.
-Decorate with rose petals and serve chilled.
So try these recipes to bring in good health and happy summers!
Aromatherapy is an ancient practice that dates back to ancient times across many cultures. This is a practice where concentrated oils are used to treat many imbalances and disorders within the body. The oils emit a fragrance or aroma, through which many important molecules enter your blood stream which have a healing effect. The oils can be applied on the skin and the aroma is then absorbed directly into the body through it. They can also be used as an aromatic agent where you need to sniff them in order for the molecules to get inside the body and then be absorbed into your blood.
What kind of oils are generally used in aromatherapy?
Aromatherapy uses essential oils similar to the ones used for massage in many other forms of alternative medicine such as Ayurveda and Chinese medicine. These oils have the organic compounds within the plants or respective sources concentrated into a small dose so it can pass on the benefits of those compounds to you, healing your body. Some of the types of oils used in aromatherapy are –
1. Peppermint oil
2. Tee tree oil
3. Lavender oil
4. Frankincense oil
5. Lemon oils among many others
How are essential oils made?
Essential oils are made from natural ingredients such as herbs and resins of different plants. These can be extracted from the following sources of a plant, tree or herb:
7. Stems etc.
Aromatic oils tend to be powerful as a lot of ingredients go into the making of a small quantity of oil. It is estimated that it takes multiple kilos of an ingredient to make only a few milliliters of an essential oil. Due to the immense concentration of the powerful organic compounds created by this, organic oils are very effective and thus potent in curing ailments. The compounds are separated through a distillation process that separates the oils from the other components.
How and where are essential oils in aromatherapy effective?
Aromatherapy is very effective in dealing with lesser ailments and also as a supplementary form of treatment for other larger problems such as recovery form surgery and pain relief. Some of the more common areas where aromatherapy is very helpful are:
1. Relieving and reducing stress
2. Relief from joint pain
3. Resisting Cold and flu like infections
4. Building the immunity of the body
5. Improving the appearance and health of your skin by fighting wrinkles, skin infections and inflammation
6. Reduce pain from inflammation and other disorders
7. Corrects and properly regulates hormone production within the body
8. Helps with gastrointestinal problems as well as improving digestion among many other such benefits
Certain specific types of essential oils and their benefits in aromatherapy
1. Lavender oil: Helps heal burns and cuts quicker, relaxes your body and improves your mood
2. Peppermint oil: Helps with digestion, builds up immunity, and helps with the ability to focus among others
3. Rosemary oil: Helps build hair strength, improves memory and brain function in general
4. Sandalwood oil: Improves skin quality, fights inflammation and wrinkles and also acts a as a libido booster
5. Rose oil: Extremely effective for combatting skin problems as well as for natural glow of the skin
6. Tea tree oil: An excellent immunity booster, Tea tree oil also has antifungal and antimicrobial properties which can fight off infections and cure the ailments much quicker.
Kapha is responsible for governing all body functions related to lubrication. Some of the typical body functions that Kapha has a direct impact upon includes lubrication of lungs and joints, body weight, growth, and formation of the seven tissues- fat, bone marrow, nutritive fluid, reproductive tissues and fat. There could be several symptoms indicating an imbalance of Kapha in the system.
Some of them include the following:
Mind: An increased Kapha of the mind is characterised by symptoms, such as a feeling of lethargy, drowsiness, and sluggishness, excessive sleep, feeling of depression and melancholy, laziness and brain fog. An accumulation of Kapha in the mind can lead to severe depression, withdrawal symptoms, diabetic coma and frequent loss of consciousness.
Digestive tract: Kapha can wreak havoc on the digestive tract. Some early signs of Kapha accumulation in the digestive tract include a heavy feeling in the stomach, indigestion, excess salivation, poor appetite, nausea, slow metabolism etc. As a result of excess Kapha, the stool can be sticky, pale, heavy and oily. This can lead to diabetes and mucoid diarrhea. If not treated early excess Kapha can lead to hyperglycemia, anorexia nervosa, and blood in the stool.
Kapha accumulation in skin, adipose tissue, muscles and circulatory system: An accumulation of Kapha in other parts of the body can lead to hypertension, itching, lipoma formation, cold sweat, swollen lymph, pallor, low strength of the body, itching etc. In the case of long standing Kapha accumulation some serious aggravation from the present condition can lead to obesity, thrombosis, leukaemia, malignant tumours, edema, high cholesterol, blood stagnation, hypertrophy, heart failure etc.
Kapha in respiratory system: Kapha in the respiratory tract can lead to coughs, hay fever, sinuses, nasal crust, chest pain, runny nose, excess mucus and frequent cold. If the existing condition becomes serious and treatment is not done on time, some serious complications can lead to cystic fibrosis, sinus infections, excess phlegm in the throat, chronic sinus etc.
Other parts of the body: If Kapha accumulates in other parts of the body it can lead to symptoms such as excess urination, low libido, premature ejaculation, heavy testicles, swelling of the joints, dental tartar, sex desire, fibrocystic lumps, goiter, enlarged spleen, gallstones, endometriosis, cystic ovary, lordosis, protruded eyes, heavy feeling of the eye, prostate enlargement, white urine, neurofibromas, hydrocephalus, gangrene , prolonged menstrual cycle osteoma, kyphosis, prostatic calculi, bone spurs etc.
Food to avoid Kapha symptoms: Some foods that need to be avoided include carbonated drinks, oily food, chilled food, deep fried snacks, red meat, foods which are heavy to digest, milk especially buffalo milk, sweets, Ghee, fruits like Banana, Mango etc. excess salt and sour, all forms of alcohol except red wine, the latter can be consumed no more than once in a week.