Bowel movements are an indicator of ones health. A healthy individual should have at least two bowel movements a day. In fact, if your health is ideal, a bowel movement should occur a few hours after each meal. Not many people experience that. Most people have only one bowel movement a day. This is a clear indication of a sluggish digestive system and poor health.
The waste products are the final products of our body’s digestion, therefore the nature of those wastes can tell us a lot about what is occurring within the body. Constipation is never a good sign.
There are several causes of constipation and the most common are:
– Lack of fiber
– Lack of proper hydration
– Excessive consumption of junk foods & Caffeine
– Inactivity or lack of exercise
– Excessive Chocolate or dairy consumption
– Damage to the microbiome
– Lack of probiotics and prebiotics in diet
– Certain constipating foods such as unripe bananas, red meat, persimmon, white rice, and pomegranate.
Certain diseases can also cause constipation, for example:
– Inflammatory Bowel Disease
– Parkinson’s & MS
And certain drugs too, like:
– Pain Killers
– Iron & Calcium supplements
– Laxative Overuse
– Prozac & other Anti-depressants
It is important to find out what the cause of your constipation is, in order to correctly treat the condition.
My protocol for regulating the bowels:
This is a fruit (that can be taken as a supplement) that softens the stools. In my experience, I have found that it improves the appetite, regulates bowel movements, relieves acid reflux and improves overall digestive health. In clinical research, Amla has been found to be effective in conditions such as GERD (non-erosive type) (see study), metabolic syndrome (see study), iron-deficiency anemia (see study) and several other conditions. I generally recommend between 500mg – 1000mg thrice daily, before meals. Be careful as high doses can cause loose stools. Speak to an Ayurvedic doctor about how to dose Amla for your condition. Always use medicinal herbs and supplements with the supervision of a doctor.
Ghee is also known as “clarified butter”. It is basically butter without milk solids – thus it is general safe for those who are lactose intolerant. Given that ghee is a fat, it helps to lubricate the colon – hence, very high doses can actually cause loose stools. Ghee is rich in butyrate which is a compound that our colon cells depend on for energy and it linked to many health benefits (see study). Ghee also contains CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which has a wide range of health benefits. Its also a good source of fat soluble vitamins such as Vitamin A, D, and K2. Ghee can be used by adding it to your diet somewhat liberally. Again, its best to find out the best way to use it by speaking to an Ayurvedic professional.
Probiotics play a vital role in various aspects of health, however, their primary role starts with gut health. Probiotics make the various enzymes and nutrients that are needed for healthy colon function. In fact, probiotics make butyrate – which as I said earlier, is a compound that gives the colon cells energy. Probiotics also lower the pH of the colon which may also help with the flow of stools. In addition to the benefits in relation to constipation and colon function, Probiotics also help with nutrient absorption, anti-biotic related diarrhea, lactose intolerance and several other conditions (see study).
You do not always have to supplement with Probiotics. You can get them from foods such as:
Generally, one daily serving of any of these foods can give you a fairly good dose of probiotics.
Firstly, consume enough water (6-8 glasses minimum), eat healthy home cooked meals that include vegetables. Eat more fruit, and get enough sleep. Avoid refined flours and sugars.
1. Hydrate & laxate with Fruits.
– Grapes have been used for regulating bowel movements in both Ayurvedic Medicine as well as Naturopathic Medicine, and is a mild yet effective laxative. Grapes contain cellulose (Fiber) and organic acids which is how they are able to aid the digestive system. A bowl of grapes 2 hours before bed can assist in a proper bowel movement by the morning.
– Pears are extremely beneficial and contain around 6 grams of fiber each. That’s enough roughage to get your bowel in motion. Some people actually get diarrhea from Pears. 1-2 a day should solve your problem.
– Apples, contain around 5 grams of fiber each and are well known for assisting in bowel movements. 2 apples consumed at one is enough to move things along.
AVOID bananas and Jack fruit.
2. Flax seeds
Rich in fiber to add bulk to the stools, and rich mucilage which helps to lubricate the digestive tract. Flax seeds are an extremely effective remedy for constipation. The seeds should be crushed or ground in order to get the benefits.
3. Castor Oil
I think everyone knows the main reason to take castor oil is to induce diarrhea. Taking 1 teaspoon with warm water in the evening can assist in constipation, however this is only a temporary solution and should not be continued for more that 3-4 days or you may become dependent on it.
4. Sit ups
This exercise compresses the internal organs and increases circulation to the area, thus
aiding in the function of the those organs. Doing sit up daily can aid greatly in relieving both gas and constipation. Yoga is also very beneficial in relieving constipation – Wind relieving pose, Cobra pose, Locust pose, Plow pose and Sun Salutation are very effective.
5. Ghee & Milk
A glass of hot milk with a tablespoon of ghee taken first thing in the morning will surely induce a bowel movement. This has been used by Ayurvedic doctors for both bowel regulation as well as energy. Unfortunately, the milk found in most western countries are of poor quality and are resulting in negative effects in people. These conditions are not seen in people in the eastern countries. If you prefer not to use cows milk, you can use coconut milk. Note that ghee is not for everyone. People suffering from conditions like congestion, slow digestion, lethargy, and other mucus related illnesses should avoid ghee.
In Ayurvedic Medicine, once the condition is properly diagnosed, one of the following formulations are prescribed:
Some practitioners recommend Senna, but i personally do not. There may be unwanted side effects such as gastric discomfort, nausea, heartburn etc.
There is however, a herbal tea that has Senna together with Triphala (which counteracts many of the side effects). This tea is called “Get Regular” by a company called “Yogi”. Many of my clients have used this tea and find it quite effective. Yogi is known for making good quality herbal teas.
(Always use medicinal herbs under the supervision of a doctor)
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by Dr. Nishal R.
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