Constipation: Medicines, Treatments and List of Foods
Constipation is a common digestive issue that can be best described by the following characteristic:
- Having dry and hard bowel movements
- Having less than 3 bowel movements in a week
- Having difficulty in passing the stool
- Experiencing pain while passing the stool
- Experiencing incomplete stool evacuation
There are many factors responsible for constipation. However, dietary and lifestyle habits generally play a significant role in causing this condition. Constipation must be treated effectively; otherwise, it may lead to problems such as discomfort, distension, flatulence, abdominal pain, gas, acidity and headache. It may also cause severe complications such as anal fissures, haemorrhoids, rectal bleeding, faecal impaction, and more
The best way to relieve constipation is by stimulating bowel movements and boosting the colon health of the person. One can try out home remedies in case of mild to moderate constipation. However, in the case of chronic constipation, proper treatment is often recommended. For long-term and holistic effects, Ayurvedic treatment may be preferred.
Causes of Constipation
The colon is known to be linked with absorption of water from the residual food and creation of stools. If the stool remains in the colon for a long period, it may become hard and result in constipation . Some of the common causes of constipation are listed below.
Having a diet with low fibre content can cause constipation. Both soluble and insoluble fibres are essential to stimulate bowel functions.
Inadequate water consumption
Intake of less water can also lead to constipation . Role of colon is to absorb water from food waste. Therefore, in the case of inadequate water content, it might soak up water from the residual food, making the stool dry and hard.
It can slow muscle contractions of the colon and lead to constipation
Functional gastrointestinal disorders
Conditions such as irritable bowel syndrome can also cause constipation
Blockages in the colon or rectum
Anal fissures, colon related problems etc. are the blockages that can retard bowel movements and result in constipation.
Weakened pelvic muscles can prevent the passing of stools and cause constipation.
Lack of physical activity can slow down the metabolism in the body and lead to constipation.
Ayurvedic Take on Constipation
According to Ayurveda, constipation or Vibandha is caused due to imbalance in the Vata Dosha in the body. Vata governs movement and elimination, and is associated with characteristics such as dryness and coldness. Therefore, aggravated Vata Dosha can lead to hard and dry bowel movements.
Symptoms of Constipation
Following is the list of some symptoms that generally indicate constipation according to Ayurveda:
- Passing fewer/ less than three stools in a week
- Having hard and dry stools
- Feeling strain in passing down bowels
- Experiencing the feeling of fullness/ abdominal distention even after having a bowel movement
- Needing to press your abdomen to release stool
Treatments for Constipation
Both Ayurveda and modern medical science have solutions to relieve constipation. If you have been experiencing persistent constipation, you should visit a physician immediately. Following is the list of all the available treatments and therapies for constipation.
In bowel training, the person is trained to produce a bowel movement at the same time every day. This helps to create regular bowel movements and alleviate constipation. The key to bowel training is to give yourself enough time to produce bowel movements and use the bathroom as soon as needed. In case you feel the urge to use the bathroom do not hold back.
Pelvic muscles play a major role in passing the stool. Sometimes, problems in these muscles can lead to constipation. In biofeedback therapy, the therapist trains to relax and tighten your pelvic muscles with the help of various exercises and devices. Relaxed pelvic floor muscles during the time of bowel movements enable your body to pass down the stool easily.
Your physician may prescribe you medicines that can stimulate bowel movements, soften your stool and increase the fluid in your digestive tract. There are also many over-the-counter medicines or laxatives to relieve constipation. Some of the types of laxatives available over the counter are:
- Supplements: Consider adding fiber supplements to your diet. It helps in adding bulk to your stool, thereby, making them easier to pass.
- Stimulants: Stimulants are laxatives that cause contraction in the intestinal muscles.
- Lubricating agents: They help in moving stool easily through the colon.
- Emollient laxative or stool softeners: They draw water from the intestines and moisten the stool, enabling improved bowel movements.
- Osmotic agents:These laxatives increase the secretion of fluids from the intestines and promote bowel movements in the body.
- Enemas:They help to produce a bowel movement in the body.
There are many over-the-counter laxatives available for each type. However, you must use them only when any other treatment has not been effective.
Ayurvedic treatment of constipation generally revolves around pacifying Vata Dosha in the body. Ayurveda mentions many herbs that can effectively alleviate the problem and boost digestion in the body. These herbs can be used as home remedies as well as to form herbal formulations that act as Ayurvedic medicines to relieve constipation. Ayurveda also recommends Yoga and Ayurvedic therapies for this condition. Ayurvedic treatments are usually preferred for constipation due to their long-term and holistic effects.
- Ayurvedic home remedies: Herbs such as ginger, Mulethi, Saunf, Ghee, sesame, etc. can be used to stimulate bowel movements. They can be easily used at home to relieve mild or moderate constipation.
- Ayurvedic supplements:Many Ayurvedic formulations such as Zandu Swarnapatri Churna, Zandu Nityam Vati, etc. act as laxatives and stimulate bowel functions in the body. These supplements can help to prevent as well as alleviate constipation and its associated symptoms.
- Yoga for Constipation:According to Ayurveda, physical activity and stress management are the keys to preventing and relieving constipation. Yoga Asanas help in boosting the metabolism of the body as well as managing stress effectively. Some of the best Yoga Asanas for constipation are Mayurasana (Peacock Pose), Ardha Matsyendrasana (Sitting Half Spinal Twist Pose), Halasana (Plough Pose), Pavanmuktasana (Wind-Relieving Pose), Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose), Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose) and Dhanurasana (Bow Pose).
- Panchakarma for Constipation: Panchakarma is an Ayurvedic therapy that helps to detoxify the body and manage an array of ailments and health conditions. Basti, one of the Panchakarma procedures, is highly effective in treating constipation. In this therapy, medicated oils or decoctions are administered through the anal route . Basti helps to pacify Vata dosha and cleans the bowels in the body.
List of Constipation Relieving Foods
There are many foods that aid in relieving constipation. They are usually highly rich in dietary fibres and act as natural laxatives. Including these foods in the diet can vastly help in stimulating bowel movements and boosting digestive health. Some of these gut-friendly foods that can relieve constipation are:
Apples contain a high content of fibre that helps to alleviate constipation. Pectin, the dietary fibre present in apples, helps to stimulate stool movements and improve the symptoms of constipation.
Yoghurt is rich in probiotics, a type of good bacteria. They are highly beneficial in softening stools and boosting gut health.
Green vegetables such as spinach, Brussel sprouts and broccoli are highly rich in fibre content, making them one of the best foods to relieve constipation. They also add weight to the stools, helping them to pass easily through the gut.
Sweet potatoes contain a good amount of both insoluble and soluble fibre. Insoluble fibres add weight to the stools whereas pectin, the soluble fibre present in sweet potatoes, helps to stimulate bowel movements.
Pulses such as beans, lentils, etc. are rich in fibre and help to alleviate constipation. They also include other nutrients such as potassium, folate and zinc that further helps in improving the symptoms of constipation.
Prunes are considered one of the most effective foods to relieve constipation. They have a rich content of fibre that helps to accelerate the frequency of bowel movements and improve gut health.
Wheat bran contains a lot of insoluble fibre that helps to speed up bowel movements and reduce constipation.
Flax seeds are a natural laxative that helps to stimulate bowel function in the body. They are highly rich in soluble and insoluble fibres that help in adding bulk to the stools and increase the frequency of bowel movements.
Home Remedies for Constipation
Ayurveda mentions many herbs and remedies that can be effectively used to relieve constipation and ease its symptoms. These natural remedies for constipation usually have Vata pacifying abilities and can vastly help to boost gut health in the body. Following is the list of few Ayurvedic home remedies for constipation.
As constipation is caused due to aggravated Vata, a Vata-pacifying diet can be extremely useful in relieving constipation. Cold foods, cold drinks, dried fruits and salads must be avoided to reduce Vata, whereas warm foods and well-cooked vegetables should be consumed to pacify Vata.
Ginger generates heat and improves Agni in the body, aiding in the process of digestion. The laxative properties of ginger further help in reducing constipation by stimulating bowel movements. It also eases other symptoms of constipation such as nausea and bloating. One can also consider having a warm cup of ginger tea to alleviate constipation related issues.
Ghee and Milk:
Taking warm milk infused with 1-2 teaspoons of ghee during bedtime is known to be an effective home remedy for alleviating constipation. Both Ghee and milk help to pacify Vata Dosha in the body. Ghee also improves Agni without aggravating Pitta, further reducing constipation.
Lemon is a natural digestive aid that also helps to balance all three Doshas. It has a rich content of citric acid that stimulates your colon and reduces constipation. Consuming a glass of warm lemon water can also boost your overall gut health.
Fennel seeds or Saunf is known to balance all three Doshas. It helps to relax the muscles in the intestine and stimulate bowel movements, thereby alleviating constipation and boosting digestive health. Fennel seeds are best consumed roasted, usually after lunch and dinner.
Sesame seeds and oil:
Sesame is known to be highly beneficial in balancing Vata Dosha. It is a natural laxative that helps to boost digestion. Both sesame seeds and oil help to nourish the gastrointestinal tract and ease the passing of dry stools in the body.
Mulethi or liquorice is a mild laxative that stimulates bowel functions in the body and improves digestion. It helps to alleviate constipation as well as ease pain and discomfort caused due to constipation. The best way to use Mulethi is by making herbal tea using the roots of the liquorice.
Ayurvedic Medicines for Constipation
Zandu Soumya Kostha Churna
Zandu Soumya Kostha Churna is an Ayurvedic laxative formulation that aids in relieving indigestion and constipation. The key ingredients of this Churna are Haritaki, Saunf, Mulethi and Senna, all of which enhance colon health and boost bowel movements.
How to use:Take 1-2 teaspoons of Zandu Soumya Kostha Churna, add it to milk or water and have it at bedtime, or as recommended by the physician. Make sure to verify the expiry date before consumption. Ayurvedic products should never be consumed after the expiry date.
Advisory (Legal):This product should be taken under the supervision of a medical practitioner or a physician.
Zandu Swarnapatri Churna
Zandu Swarnapatri is an Ayurvedic formulation that aids in improving digestive functions and managing moderate to chronic constipation. Enriched with the health benefits offered by Triphala, Senna Patra, Saunf, Eranda Oil and Mulethi, this Ayurvedic supplement acts as a laxative and aids in stimulating bowel functions in the body.
How to use:Take 1-2 teaspoons of Zandu Swanapatri Churna (3g to 6g), add it to lukewarm water and consume it at bedtime. Make sure to verify the expiry date before consumption. Ayurvedic products should never be consumed after the expiry date.
Advisory (Legal):This product must be taken under the supervision of a physician or a medical practitioner.
Zandu Swarnapatri Vati
Zandu Swarnapatri Vati is a herbal laxative formulation that aids in managing constipation and relieving symptoms associated with it. It helps to stimulate bowel functions and improve the overall gut health of the body. The key ingredients of this Ayurvedic supplement are Triphala, Senna Patra, Saunf, Eranda Oil, Mulethi and Sarjika Kshar, all of which help in boosting colon health
How to use:To relieve constipation, take 1-2 tablets of Zandu Swarna Patri Vati with water at bedtime, or as advised by the physician. The dosage of this tablet may vary from person to person. This product is best before 24 months from the manufacturing date.
Advisory (Legal):This product is not recommended during pregnancy. It should always be taken under the supervision of a medical practitioner or a physician.
Zandu Nityam Vati
Zandu Nityam Vati is an Ayurvedic formulation that can give immediate relief from constipation. It is rich in the health benefits of seven herbs: Triphala, Eranda oil, Sanchal, Mulethi, Svarnapatri, Haritaki and Saunf. These tablets for constipation also aid in relieving many associated symptoms such as gas, acidity and flatulence.
How to use:Take 1-2 tablets with water at bedtime, or as advised by the physician. This product is best before 24 months from the manufacturing date.
Advisory (Legal):This product must be consumed under the supervision of a physician or a medical practitioner.
Difference Between Constipation and Gas
Constipation is a condition in which a person experiences hard and dry bowel movements. The causes for constipation can range from eating an unhealthy diet to facing blockages in the rectum or colon. On the other hand, gas is a digestive condition in which the digestive tract gets filled with air. Too much gas can make the person feel bloated. The causes for gas include digestive ailments, unhealthy food, carbonated beverages etc.
Although constipation and gas are two different conditions, yet they are intertwined with each other. Constipation can cause gas, and gas can lead to constipation. Both of these conditions are Vata aggravated problems. Therefore, usually, the Ayurvedic treatment for one can also help to alleviate the other problem.
Frequently Asked Questions on Constipation
How can I relieve constipation quickly?
Drinking more Luke warm water can help to relieve constipation. Many home remedies such as lemon water, ginger tea, etc also helps to provide immediate effects depend upon severity of condition. Another way to relieve constipation is by taking Zandu Nityam tablet for constipation. However, this supplement must be taken under the supervision of a physician.
Which Ayurvedic medicine is best for constipation?
A few of the popular Ayurvedic supplements for constipation are Zandu Soumya Kostha Churna, Zandu Swarnapatri Churna, Zandu Nityam Vati and Zandu Swarnapatri Vati. All these products have natural laxative properties that help you relieve constipation and boost digestion.
How can I avoid constipation?
You can easily avoid constipation by eating a fibre-rich diet, drinking plenty of fluids, staying physically active and efficiently managing stress. By creating a regular schedule for your bowel movements, you can further boost your bowel functions and prevent constipation.
Which food is good for constipation in Ayurveda?
Ayurveda recommends a Vata-pacifying diet for constipation. In this diet, you have to avoid all cold foods, drinks, salads, etc and eat warm foods and cooked vegetables. Ayurveda also mentions some foods and herbs for constipation such as Ghee, ginger, fennel seeds, sesame seeds, liquorice roots, green and leafy vegetables, etc. All these foods can pacify Vata, boost gut health and stimulate bowel movements.
What helps constipation permanently?
An Ayurvedic approach will be useful if you wish to eliminate constipation permanently. By balancing the aggravated Vata in the body, Ayurveda helps to alleviate the problem from the root.