Constipation is a condition whereby the stools become difficult to pass, or stop moving altogether for some time. However, constipation is typically accompanied by one or more of symptoms like straining during a bowel movement, a sense that a bowel movement was incomplete, a feeling of being blocked up or the stools themselves can be dry, hard, and pellet-like.
According to Ayurveda, constipation occurs when vata’s (Space and Air Elements) cold and dry qualities disturb the colon, inhibiting its proper functioning. Using the Ayurvedic principles of like attracts like and opposites balance one another, the remedy is to add warmth, oil, and hydration to the system in order to counter the excess vata and avoid cold and dry foods and activities.
Here are some strategies that specifically counter vata’s cold and dry qualities and can be very helpful in supporting the return of normal bowel movements.
• Drink Lots of Warm or Hot Water and Herbal Tea – Warm and hot fluids are best because they balance vata’s cold quality. It’s also important to drink the majority of these fluids away from meals—at least 20 minutes before, or 1 hour after eating.
• Increase the Quantity of Organic Oils in Your Diet – High quality oils help to lubricate the tissues so that an appropriate amount of oil or fat can remain in the stool. While most oils are generally supportive, the best oils for vata include sesame oil, ghee, and olive oil.
• Eat Plenty of Fruit – Fruit is hydrating, fibrous, and generally pacifying to vata. Be sure to eat the fruit at least one hour before or after other foods and chew them thoroughly to receive the maximum benefit. Seasonal hydrating foods will be best, think melons in summer and soaked raisins/prunes in the winter.
• Drink Some Fruit Juice – Pineapple juice and prune juice are particularly effective at moving excess vata in the colon. It is also fine to warm or dilute fruit juices with water.