Constipation is a vata condition in which the individual has difficulty passing stools because they are dry and hard. Causes can be varied – inadequate water intake, inadequate fiber in the diet, travel, sedentary lifestyle, cold foods, inadequate oil intake, excessive meat intake etc. The inability to pass stools can lead to headaches, flatulence, abdominal distension and pain, bad breath etc.
- Follow a vata pacifying diet – avoid cold, dry foods, raw salads, legumes like garbanzo beans and kidney beans (especially at night) since they are gas producing. Eat enough warming, moist foods and incorporate adequate ghee/oil in your diet.
- Follow a vata pacifying lifestyle – keep regular timings for eating and sleeping. Do abhyanga (self massage) whenever possible.
- Eat more fruit, but avoid eating them with a meal. Eat the following fruit, approximately one hour after a meal to aid in digestion – handful of raisins, apple, ripe banana, peaches, prunes, pears.
- Incorporate more fiber into your diet – whole grains like oatmeal, whole wheat, ragi (finger millet), brown rice etc., fresh leafy vegetables like spinach, kale, swiss chard etc. and other fresh vegetables like carrots, peas, beans, cauliflower, zucchini etc.
- Drink adequate water and other fluids throughout the day.
- Get adequate physical exercise, depending on your constitution.
- Yoga asanas like chest-knee (pavanamuktasana), sun salutations (surya namasakar) are beneficial.
- Soak 2-3 figs in warm water and eat it ground or as is. You can also do the same with raisins.
- Drink a cup of warm milk with 1-2 teaspoons of ghee at bedtime. This may not be good for kapha constitutions, but is great for vata and pitta types.
- Steep 1/2 teaspoon of triphala in warm water overnight and drink it first thing in the morning. This tends to have a diuretic effect in some people, so don’t fret if your bathroom trips increase after this.
- At night, boil 1 tablespoon of flaxseed in a cup of water for 2-3 minutes. Drink the mixture of the tea and seeds.
- For obstinate constipation, try drinking a cup of warm milk, mixed with 2 teaspoons of castor oil.
Constipation during Pregnancy:
Use 1 tsp of isabgol (psyllium husks) with 1 cup of warm milk. Do NOT use the triphala or castor oil remedy suggested above since it will make the baby hyperactive.