Definition: Constipation is derived from the latin word “constipare”, meaning “to press, crowd together”. It’s a condition of the digestive system due to incorrect life style 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 diarrhea. This pattern commonly occurs as in irritable bowel syndrome. At the extreme end of the constipation spectrum is fecal impaction, a condition in which stool hardens in the rectum and prevents the passage of any stool called obstipation. Although it 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.
Treatment in Ayurveda:
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
The causes 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 fiber, 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 treatment in Ayurveda: Balancing Vata and correcting the digestive system
Treatments – The treatment modalities includes panchakarma, external therapies, internal medications, Activities, Advice of food and life style changes.
Panchakarma – Basti
Externally – Chakra Basti, Abhyanga, Shiro Dhara
Internally – Deepana (Carminatives)
Vatanulomana – (Helps in balancing Apana Vata, acts as mild laxatives)
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.
- Constipation can be corrected by consuming warm milk with melted ghee.
- Timely regular wholesome meals
Lifestyle changes: specific to the individuals constitution, nature of work and geographical conditions.