Constipation Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment, Home Remedies

Constipation can be much more than just slow bowel movements. As per Ayurveda, constipation is a signal of Vata imbalance and blockage of channels. A patient with depression or rheumatoid arthritis usually has constipation as associated symptom. A patient with migraine can also have constipation. Relieving constipation can contribute to relief in migraine and depression as well, in some cases. 

Even though it is a simple discomfort, if  not treated on time or if neglected, it may lead to a major problem. So there is a immediate need to look into this health discomfort, seriously.

The real problem with constipation:
Some people opine that with constipation, the waste products are stuck inside the intestines. Due to those stuck waste products, there will be complications. In fact, the reason is much deeper than that. The large intestine is designed to store feces for a certain amount of time. So, holding it for some more amount of time is not a big task for it. The real problem is, lack of bowel movements for a long period of time sends wrong signals to liver, brain, immune system etc, leading to migraine and such other complications (as explained below)

Ayurvedic synonyms for constipation: Vibandha, Vishtabdhata, Malabaddhata, Baddhavarchas, Stabdha Pureeshata, Varcho Vibandha etc.

Dosha responsible for constipation: Apana Vata is responsible for the free flow/expulsion of stool. When the functions of Apana Vata are significantly affected, it results in constipation.

constipation - diagrammatic representation

Causes

Causes for constipation – Vibandha
Intake of food possessing dry, light, rough qualities. Any food that causes dryness of mouth, lightness in the body and roughness in skin.
Excessive consumption of pungent, astringent and salt foods
Night awakening
Less intake of water
Working in strong sunlight, long walk, heavy travelling
Sitting at a same place for a very long time
Lack of sufficient fibers in diet
Neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s disease
Excessive use of antacids
Depression
Rheumatoid arthritis
Pregnancy – the fetus putting pressure on the intestines, causing lack of bowel movements
Colon cancer
Intestinal obstruction – structural problems such as twisting of intestines (volvulus).

Ayurvedic pathology

Pathology of constipation as per Ayurveda:
Due to the above said Vata imbalancing factors, Apana vata is aggravated and it is blocked in the lower part of the large intestine, which results in constipation. Depending on the grade of affliction, absolute constipation or hard stool are complained by the patients.

Complications

Complications of Constipation:
If the complaint is neglected for long and causative factors are further continued,
Hemorrhoids,
Fissure in ano,
Gaseous distention of abdomen, bloating,
Fecolith – hard, stone like feces ,
Headache, liver disorders and various metabolic as well as intestinal diseases may be originated.
In few of the individuals back ache, reverse peristalsis etc also found.

Line of treatment

Line of treatment in Constipation (Vibandha):
Mild oleation (Mridu snehana) –
Internal oleation – Abhyantara Snehana – administering 5 – 10 grams of ghee or medicated ghee such as Sukumara Ghrita
External oleation – oil massage with sesame oil / Maha Narayana oil

Laxatives-Sukha virechana and vatanulomana oushadha
Use of Suppositories – Guda Varti

Tips to prevent constipation

Include fibers in your diet. Lots of fruits, vegetables, legumes, corn (bran), cauliflower, raisins, cabbage, berries, green leafy vegetables, celery, beans, guava, figs, flax seed, spinach, orange, mushroom.
Consider eating fruit and vegetable salad mix as part of your lunch or dinner.

Drink good amounts of water throughout the day. Note that, in a normal person, Ayurveda advises to drink water only when thirsty. But in a disease condition, such as constipation, one can have good amounts of water. Water along with fiber rich diet softens bowels and prevents constipation.

Avoid excess of coffee and tea. Some people will not get bowel movement urges unless they have their coffee or tea. This advice is not applicable to them.

Milk and dairy products: If you are feeling constipated, consider cutting down on milk and dairy products.

Exercise: Do not sit at a place for a long period of time. Consider walking / jogging for at least 15 minutes in a day

Do not hold the urge: As per Ayurveda, a natural urge is a signal to the person to act. It needs to be attended immediately. Regular holding of urge eventually will lead to constipation.

Avoid excessive spicy food, heavy non veg, and fried food.

Tips to treat constipation

Drink two to four extra glasses of water a day (unless fluid restricted).
Try warm liquids, especially in the morning.
Drink a cup of warm water in the evening.
Consider getting an oil massage or do it yourself.

Treating the underlying cause:
In case of depression, apart from constipation, depression symptoms should also be treated.
In case of irritable bowel syndrome, where constipation is an associated symptoms in few cases, correction of digestion process should be given due importance.
In case of migraine, rheumatoid arthritis associated with constipation, the disease should also be given due attention in treatment.

Herbs used

Herbs useful in mild constipation:
Hareetaki -Chebulic myrobalan-Terminalia chebula
Aragwadha-Cassia fistula
Draksha-Raisins-Dry grapes-Vitis vinifera
Patola- Trichosanthes dioica
Katukarohini-Picrorrhiza kurroa
Castor oil – Apart from constipation, castor oil in combination with other herbs is used in many diseases. For example: Castor oil with Haritaki is used in treating rheumatoid arthritis. 

Herbs useful in sever constipation:
Jayapala-Croton tiglium
Danti- Baliospermum montanum
Trivrit-Operculina turpethum

Ayurvedic medicines

Ayurvedic Medicines for constipation: 
Avipattikara choorna A famous herbal powder mix, useful in gastritis, indigestion, urinary tract disorders, liver disorders, alcoholism
Abhayarishta – Useful in piles, hemorrhoids, relieves bloating, constipation. Improves digestion
Swadishta virechana choorna
Trivrit lehyam – Useful in constipation, diseases of heart. Also used in Virechana (Purgation treatment)
Abhaya modaka
Triphala choorna – Useful in eye disorders, liver and spleen related disorders, a natural anti oxidant.
Dantyarishta – used in the treatment of hemorrhoids, constipation, gastric, intestine and spleen related diseases.
Drakshadi avalehaused in jaundice, fatty liver changes, anemia
Icchabhedi rasa  – Very powerful purgative. Used only in severe conditions
Ashwakanchuki rasa – used in the treatment of cold, cough, bronchitis, asthma, fever.
Gandharvahastadi kashaya – used in the Ayurvedic treatment of Vata imbalance, bloating, constipation, lack of taste in food.
Anthrakutharam Gulika – Ayurvedic tablet used in bloating, constipation and such other abdominal conditions.
Sukha Virechana Vati – Also used in Panchakarma treatment
Pancha Sakara Churna – Famous medicine in North India, also useful in indigestion
Naracha Rasa – used in treatment of ascites and constipation.
Kayam Churna – a proprietary Ayurvedic medicine 
Erandabhrista hareetaki – Haritaki powder is fried in castor oil and is administered.
Aragwadharishta
Patoladyarishta
Padavaladi gana kashaya
Rectal suppository – Phala varti

Ayurvedic home remedies

Simple remedies for Constipation:
Soak 10-15 raisins in water in the morning and consume it at night.

1 teaspoon of cow’s ghee should be dissolved in one cup (150ml) of warm water. In non- diabetic patients, 1 spoon of sugar candy can also be added (in non diabetic patients) and taken during bed time. This is highly effective against mild constipation.

Those who pass the bowel like pencil (hard) or like pellets, Gulkhand is administered during night time along with milk.

The fruit pulp of Aragwadha is taken (10grams) along with water or milk. This helps to relieve even chronic kind of constipation.

The tender leaves of Castor (Eranda) (2-4) are taken and ground into fine paste. To this pulp of Aloe Vera is added. Consumption of this helps people, who frequently suffer from constipation.

Regular use of aloe vera pulp in diet prevents hard bowels.

Yoga for constipation

Yogasanas for constipation:
Pavana Muktasana, Uttana Padasana, and other Asanas and exercises that put pressure on abdomen are very useful in the treatment.

Factors causing constipation

Medicines that cause constipation:
Allopathic antidepressants
such as amitriptyline and imipramine, anti convulsants such as phenytoin, carbamazepine, Iron supplements, Antacids with aluminium may cause constipation.
Ayurvedic medicines containing Guggulu and Sallaki as ingredients may contribute to constipation. In such patients, usually Triphala Churna is administered to nullify the side effect.

Herbs that cause constipation:
Ripe Falsa fruit – Grewia asiatica
Fox nut – Euryale ferox
Jamun fruit
Kupilu – Nux Vomica

Caution for laxative usage

Overuse of laxatives for a long period of time eventually worsens constipation. Hence, when you are prescribed a medicine for constipation, be proactive to change your lifestyle and diet habits, as explained above, so as to prevent dependency on medications.
Article by Dr MS Krishnamurthy and Dr Hebbar

Addition by – Dr Raghuram

Effective decoctions and other formulations for constipation from Sahasrayogam

1. Chukkuchundadi Kashayam
Ref – Sahasrayogam, Parishishta Prakaranam, 76

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Ginger Zingiber officinale The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh 1. Constipation 2. Swelling
Bhunimba Andrographis paniculata
Apamarga Achyranthes aspera
Yavasa Alhagi camelorum
Punarnava mula Roots of Boerhavia diffusa

2. Virechana Kashayam
Ref – Sahasrayogam, Kashaya Prakaranam, 65

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Patola mula Roots of Trichosanthes dioica The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh with rock salt powder and jaggery 1. Good laxative, cures constipation
Castor Ricinus communis
Danti Baliospermum montanum
Triphala Fruits of – Terminalia chebula Terminalia bellirica Emblica officinalis
Ikshu Saccharum officinarum
Trivrit Operculina turpethum
Ginger Zingiber officinale
Guduchi Tinospora cordifolia
Putikaranja  Holoptelea integrifolia / Caesalpinia crista / Pongamia pinnata
Aragwadha Cassia fistula

3. Mala Shodhana Kashayam
Ref – Sahasrayogam, Kashaya Prakaranam, 64

Ingredients Botanical Name Method of using Indications
Katuka Picrorhiza kurrooa The decoction prepared with these ingredients should be served fresh mixed with jaggery 1. Expels the feces properly, cures constipation
Indian Gooseberry Emblica officinalis
Guduchi Tinospora cordifolia
Ginger Zingiber officinale
Aragvadha Cassia fistula
Hareetaki Terminalia chebula

Other Formulations
Arishtas – effective fermented herbal drinks / wine

  1. Draksharishta
  2. Abhayarishta
  3. Dantyarishta
  4. Duralabharishta

Avaleha – effective herbal jam

  1. Danti Haritakyavaleha

Taila – effective herbal oils

  1. Puvankuruntaladi Eranda Taila
  2. Swasari Taila

Gutika – effective tablets

  1. Rajavirechana Gutika
  2. Virechana Gutika
  3. Marichadi Gutika

Click to Consult Dr Raghuram Y.S. MD (Ayu) – Skype

32 thoughts on “Constipation Causes, Ayurvedic Treatment, Home Remedies”

  1. Dear Dr Hebbar, thank you for a very good article. Constipation is very common and root cause/associated cause for many serious diseases. Although so far modern medicine has not related constipation to diseases like depression or rheumatoid, as a allopath, personally I have seen many patients with such disorders having constipation.

    Reply
  2. It is good article but what method to choose is difficult to know. Like i have constipation and i have been taking softovac sugar free powder but the problem is i feel like going to the toilet at 12.30 in the afternoon with what ever method i try. Can you tell me a method by which i will be able to go to the toilet at 8.00 am in the morning any medicine without side efffects.
    Thanks
    Pujari

    Reply
    • Hi, you can try Haritaki powder- half a teaspoon in the afternoon and at night after food with water. The reasoning, I have added into the article. Please go through.

      Reply
  3. I by chance found this website. Very impressed by it . I am a patient of Rhuemotoid Arthiritis. I have been reading a lot on Ayurvedic treatment fir this disease . After reading this website , felt extremely energised and a sense of hope has come . I want to leave allopathic medicines and Ayurveda combined with yoga and a lot of common sense is going to be my approach for future .

    Reply
  4. Ladies finger,Carrot,Beetroot,Musk Melon,Butter Milk will also help in easing constipation right?

    Reply
  5. Thanks for the very informative article.Is usage of regular Aurvedic Laxative habit forming ?

    Regards,
    Krishnan

    Reply
  6. Sir, I am eating fruits and vegetables on regular basis. I drink about 5-6 glasses of water in a day out of which I drink two glasses of water early morning on empty stomach. I do not exercise. I have not been able to clear my stomach for the last three days. Pls let me know an Ayurveda medicine which would clear my intestines. I am irritated due to this. Pls sir help ASAP…….Regards….Rashmi

    Reply
  7. Hello, I am facing constipation since years. Have taken medicines, trifla, home remedies etc.. but whatever I try it works for 2-3 days and then I am back to Constipation. Can you suggest me something.

    I drink 7-8 glass water in a day, do workout in gym for min. 1 hr. 5 days in a week, Eat fruits and green vegetable (Not daily), I eat pulses more, Have a long hours sitting job.

    Reply
    • These are some remedies you can try:
      • Ginger tea is a great home remedy for constipation. It helps in starting bowel movements.
      • Gorge on Guava while on work.
      • Dissolve 1 tablespoons of honey in 1 cup of lukewarm water and drink on an empty stomach in the morning.
      • Add more fruits to the diet like pears, grapes, Orange juice & Papaya.
      • Eat 2 bananas a day
      • Water is very important to keep the intestines working well. Drink a glass of water early in the morning. For better results, keep the water overnight in a copper vessel and drink it when you wake up in the morning.
      • Take a glassful of warm milk with a teaspoonful of ghee in it when going to bed.
      • Avoid rice. Take wheat instead.
      • Avoid foods that contain white flour like maida, white sugar and other processed foods.
      • Eat light regular meals, and make sure you eat at least 3-4 hours before you go to bed. Regular meals not only keep constipation at bay.
      • Avoid excess of coffee and tea.
      • Do not hold the urge: As per Ayurveda, a natural urge is a signal to the person to act. It needs to be attended immediately.
      • Avoid excessive spicy food, heavy non veg, and fried food.
      • Soak 10-15 raisins in water in the morning and consume it at night.
      • Aloe vera juice is good.

      Note: As we all are genetically different with different constitutions and patterns, we respond to treatments in many different ways. The effectiveness of the treatment will also vary.

      Reply
    • Taking Isabgol to relieve constipation for many months may cause habit forming (dependence)

      Reply
      • For a Vata body type then what is the way out of constipation ? How Can a Vata person improve his ensure everything from mouth to rectum is healthy ?

        Reply
  8. Hi, Intestinal obstruction can be an emergency issue. Please go ahead with the advice of your surgeon. Do not take risk.

    Reply
  9. Very useful, doctor. Though a minor factor, constipation , if not treated, could lead to a major problem, as you’ve stated. Thanks for the suggestions.

    Reply
  10. Hi, a small dose of Haritaki or Isabgol can be tried for 15 days. If it starts working, then he can switch over or can alter between enema and isabgol / Haritaki.

    Reply
  11. Nice very informative article. What is the best and safe way to treat constipation for a person with parkinson’s disease?
    Do you know an ayurvedic doctor in Karachi, Pakistan. Thanks.

    Reply
  12. Dr. Hebber ji, Nameskar, It is very good article.I am really thankful and you are doing very good job .It is very helpful and I came to know some new things through this articles.I have grown Aloe-vera in my house garden sometimes I took fresh leaves in the morning and mix that in warm water and drink that water before going to be fresh.Pl advise it correct way or I have to boil the leaves in water and after that I should drink that water.As already conveyed to you that I am facing A vascular Necrosis hips joints femur head since 2010 in stage 3rd. Now I have taken fresh MRI in 2017 that is in same stage and having problems of Spine and Osteoporosis and Osteopenia .I think it is all due to constipation.So,I request you please advise correct way for removing constipation.

    Reply
  13. Hi, Grated raw radish, along with curd,roasted jeera powder,salt and coriander leaves
    Take a banana at night.
    Include fiber rich food in your diet – corn (bran), Cauliflower, raisins, cabbage, berries, green leafy vegetables, celery, beans, guava, figs, prune juice, flax seed, spinach, orange, mushroom.
    Drink a cup of warm water at bed time.
    Avoid excessive spicy food, heavy non veg, and fried food.
    Practice Pavana Muktasana – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1tN145t7tCU

    Reply
  14. When i start drinking milk,
    I get constipated badly
    Dont get bowel movements for 3/4 days what should i do as i want to drink milk daily and get bowel movements also daily???

    Reply
  15. AS ALWAYS A THOROUGHLY DETAILED STUDY OF CAUSES AND REMEDIES. AS AN ARDENT FOLLOWER OF AYURVEDA I AM THANKFUL THAT WE HAVE DOCTORS LIKE YOU IN INDIA.

    Reply

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