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Home remedies to ease constipation

June 26, 2014 15:06 IST

Home remedies to ease constipation

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Shameem Akthar

Here are five quick-fixes alternative therapies  for this common problem.

We all understand the medical reasons for constipation because at some stage in our lives, we have had to grin and bear the problem.

We are also informed enough to track the reason for it – late dinner, less fibre in the diet, travel and/or waking up too late to accommodate a leisurely visit to the toilet.

In alternative therapies, however, constipation has other reasons. According to the best-selling author and internationally renowned healer Louise L Hay, constipation occurs when we remain stuck to past issues and refuse to let go of them, including past hurts.

In her book You Can Heal Your Life, she mentionsa totally surprising trigger: stinginess!

Refusing to let go of old ideas is another psychosomatic cause for constipation, she says.

According to a book by Swami Shankardevananda of the Bihar school of yoga, Yoga For The Digestive System, constipation is due to our unwillingness to give.

The link between the excretory system and the mooladhara chakra means it could arise due to insecurities that concern material possessions – hoarding or an imbalanced relationship between oneself and the environment.

Shameem Akthar, yogacharya trained with the Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre, lists five quick-fix alternative therapies for this common problem.

Remember, these quick-fixes are not substitutes for medical treatment, but must be used to complement them.

Also read: 5 health risks of chronic constipation

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Photographs: D. Sharon Pruitt from Hill Air Force Base, Utah, USA/ Creative Commons

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Fragrant cure

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Aromatherapy works in a very scientific manner.

Plants are live beings, but because they are static, they have devised extremely smart and “intelligent” ways to protect themselves, through phyto-nutrients and phyto-chemicals.

Aromatherapy taps into this intelligence and uses the chemicals for human health and healing.

For relief from constipation, use these essential oils judiciously. They should not be used by pregnant women, very young children, the elderly or those with very high blood pressure.

Essential oils must be diluted with carrier oils to mute their strength. Only a few drops must be used. 

These oils are always used externally. You can use them as hot compresses, mixed with carrier gels like aloe vera gel (available in most beauty shops), lotion, or carrier oil (for gentle stomach massage).

Oils that may be used in this fashion are black pepper, camphor, hyssop, marjoram and rosemary.

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Image: For relief from constipation, use essential oils.
Photographs: Wikimedia Creative Commons

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Mudra magic

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Mudra therapy is a special branch of yoga and a complete science in itself. Unless you are well-versed in it, it is best not to self-prescribe.

Also, as soon as a problem has been sorted, it is best to discontinue the practice except in chronic conditions.

To use mudra, an understanding of your personality through Ayurveda (called ayurvedic dosha) would be ideal.  

The causes of constipation, according to mudra therapy and Ayurveda, could be varied and entirely dependent on your personality and your thinking.

Here are a few safe mudras that you could attempt for relief.

Apaan mudra: to do this, hold the tip of the middle finger and the tip of the ring finger with the thumb, extending the other fingers.

Do for each finger. Hold for about 15 minutes to 45 minutes (ideal during pranayama and meditation).  

Vata shaamak: To do this press down index finger and middle finger with the thumb (this controls the nervous excitement of the mind that often causes constipation).

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Image: Apaan mudra (Downward flowing energy hand gesture)
Photographs: Rediff Archives
Tags: Ayurveda

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Yoga pose

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What helps in yoga is any complete stretch, done first thing in the morning, in bed, or immediately after waking up and after consuming some water (to help with elimination).

Common poses used to fight constipation are yastikasana (stick pose), druta bhujangasana (dynamic cobra pose) and druta utkatasana (dynamic squat pose)

Druta Utkatasana (Dynamic squat pose): Stand up straight, ideally with feet together, though this may be tough if you are very stiff.

Palms over head, extending the arms straight. Inhale.

Exhaling, lower the hips as much as you can. Do this a few times.

After the body is sufficiently warmed up with this, for the final position, inhale, and as you exhale lower the hips as low as shown.

Continue normal breathing (if unable to keep feet flat, you may go up on the toes). Hold for as long as possible. Inhale, to stand up. Do this a few times.

Avoid if having knee or lower back problems.

Benefits: Tones the whole body, but here, specifically used for constipation relief.

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Image: Druta Utkatasana (Dynamic squat pose)
Photographs: Rediff Archives

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Acupressure fix

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Acupressure is one of the less contraindicated of alternative therapies. It is also empowering to be able to find relief without having to resort to external aids. Plus, it involves you directly in the healing process.

For constipation, there are several ‘points’. Here are a few:

At the chin, where it meets the jawline: Applying firm pressure with the thumb or index finger is said to provide immediate relief.

Three finger width below the belly button: It is also immediately effective. Pressure with the thumb would help.

Outer edge of the elbow: This helps relieve constipation caused by excessive heat and dryness within the body.

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Image: Applying thumb pressure on the point located three finger widths below the belly button provides immediate relief.
Photographs: Dan Conway/Creative Commons
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Diet does it

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Eating properly is an effective way to beat chronic constipation.

Sitting down at every meal instead of rushing through it, or eating on the go, is the first way to re-educate the digestive and its related excretory system to function effectively.

Chewing the food properly helps with digestion by exciting the right digestive enzymes.

Avoid drinking water with meals because this will dilute the gastric acids needed for proper digestion and absorption.

Avoid laxative abuse because it becomes addictive and psychologically one feels that it is impossible to eliminate without their use.

Eating foods rich in Vitamin B is a good way to keep the digestive system happy and functioning in peak condition.

Foods that are natural laxatives are figs, prunes, dried grapes (soaked in water), and dried plums. They all offer easy relief.

Some fruits that help with their laxative impact are guava, grapes and pears.

Salads and fruits, raw or boiled or juiced, provide the fibre needed to facilitate the colon.

Avoid processed stuff, all refined flour and excessive sugar-based or flavoured products.


Image: Eating foods rich in Vitamin B is a good way to keep the digestive system happy and functioning in peak condition.
Photographs: Rohan Tiwary
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