One might have experienced this very "Easily" treatable or "Common" digestive problem at least once in the lifetime, but constipation is a very "Serious" problem for around 25% of population. This means that every 1 in 4 individuals is dealing with strained bowels regularly. And, this strain is not limited only to the toilet seat or does not end with dropping the toilet seat cover; it affects the individual mentally, physically and economically.
Americans spend $800 million annually to ease down their bowels. This roughly is equal to every patient spending whooping $7522 every year, just on treating constipation.
If a person has bowel movements 3 times or less within a week, doctors term the condition as constipation. However, the discomfort varies form person to person from stool inconsistency to feeling of incomplete evacuation to straining while pooping to constant urge for defecation.
The good news is that if the underlying cause is known, this condition is easily treatable. However, if ignored for long, it leads to development of chronic constipation, which may lead to other health complications.
Apart from ignoring initial symptoms, few more factors worsen the bowel health:-
- Age- As age increases, bowel health goes for a toss and chances of constipation increases.
- Winters- With drop in mercury, bowel health tends to drop, leading to constipation.
- Travel- Change in daily routines while traveling changes the bathroom routine too.
- Urban lifestyle- Yes, the more we are shifting towards modernity the more we are experiencing bowel related problems.
However, looking at the above factors critically, we realize that nothing happens overnight or without prior notice. Similarly, constipation does not happen overnight, and hence few changes can help making the bowels happy. These little changes, which might sound intimidating at first, gradually become part of our life that we do not realize observing them consciously.
1) Hydrate:- One must ideally drink 1/2 Oz of water for every pound of body weight, or drinking 80 oz of water everyday helps in cleaning the whole system. Insufficient water inhibits the digestion process and cause unnecessary bowel problems such as constipation. Well, don't you feel that a little extra amount of water in your dry and hard stool can actually ease its way to the toilet bowl??!!
2) Lubricate:- Lubricate the bowels and stool by consuming bowel- friendly lubricants such as Sesame Oil, Olive Oil or Ghee. Ayurveda distinguishes constipation as Vata disorder i.e the disease with air like qualities- dry, harsh, cold etc. And, in order to treat dryness, one needs lubrication.
3) Feel the hunger- These days we eat when its time to eat and not when we feel hungry. Allow the previous meal to digest, let your stomach release enough digestive juices for the next meal. Feeding our bodies when the stomach is not ready creates tension in the stomach, leading to digestive problems such as constipation. Allowing adequate time difference between two meals help with generating natural hunger and fighting the irritating bowel symptoms.
4) Excess fibers- Good or Bad? :- Generally, people believe that consuming excess fibers solve the problem of constipation. But, in many it can actually be opposite. According to Ayurveda, if your body has excessive Vata, consuming fibers (Physillium husk or extra Salads) might will dry up in the intestine, leading to severe constipation. It is always better to know the body constitution before deciding on consuming extra fibers.
5) Clear the confusion:- Many people confuse hyper-acidity with constipation, or constipation could be the side-effect of hyper-acidity. If that is the case, treating hyper-acidity will correct constipation automatically. Similarly, few other diseases or their treatments could be the cause of hard time in the morning. Discuss all the problems with your Ayurvedic consultant to get appropriate customized solution.
6) Digest the toxins:- In conditions such as constipation, Ayurveda strongly believes in digesting the toxins (or Ama) by stimulating digestive fire with the help of some herbs such as Pomegranate seeds, Triphala, Trikatu, Clove, Asafoetida, Pepper, Ginger etc. Do not forget to check with the Ayurvedic consultant to know which herb is best for your body type.
7) Eliminate toxins:- It is beneficial to treat our body with regular detoxification and continuously work on eliminating accumulated toxins. Based on your body constitution, Ayurveda offers some beautiful herbs to assist in this process- Triphala, Haritaki, Amla, Aloe Vera, Dandelion, Fenugreek, Senna etc.
Did you, just like me, realize that we can actually address our "tuff" and "hard" times with "soothing" and "mild" nature instead of spending thousands of dollars, if not required. The gist is to know that everyone is different and hence, treatment given to everyone can not be the same. Knowing your body constitution and getting an expert opinion can save a lot of time and money while providing mental and physical relief.
Wishing you all a good health!