Elimination of waste is equally as important as intake of healthy foods. That is why care is taken for proper evacuation right from birth. A newborn is watched for passing the meconium (first stool) within 36 hours of birth. Even in breast-fed infants, the passing of stool, at least once in three days, is essential.
Constipation is infrequent and inadequate defecation without satisfaction. Simply, it means difficulty in passing stool either in evacuating or act or time or in getting satisfaction. Some find difficulty in passing stool and take a long time in the toilet, due to hardness, bulkiness and dryness of the stool. Some may go many times to the toilet, but they may not succeed in emptying their bowels even though the stool seems to be soft. They constantly feel the urge and crumbling of stool in the rectum. All these will lead to lack of concentration and various health problems. Mostly, constipation occurs as a functional disorder, but people, due to carelessness and ignorance, make it a chronic problem. Also, many resort to self-medication and complicate it without finding the cause.
Easy defecation is close to good digestion. Good digestion starts from the mastication of food in the mouth. Our stomach and duodenum work more with digestion of food particles with gastric acid and bile. Coiled small intestines and large intestines work more with absorption. Nutrients and water are absorbed in the intestines as food passes slowly through this coiled long route with swaying motion of the intestines. As food loses nutrients and water while passing through these roller-coaster intestines, it becomes solid stool. In case of dehydration or increased absorption of water, the stool becomes dry and hard and gets stuck/impacted to the walls of the intestines to resist further movement, causing constipation. Water absorption from digested particles in the intestines plays a major role in constipation. The longer it remains, the more it becomes hard and dry.
Spastic constipation – due to irritability of intestines from foods, medicines, stress and strain, nervous disorders, etc.
- Failure in developing habits
- Controlling or suppressing the urge for a prolonged time
- Making changes in routines
- Habits of sedentary, being busy, long distance travel and alcohol
- Irregular food habits at irregular time
- Low fibre food, highly-refined food, food with more spices and chillies
- Less intake of water and dehydration caused by carbonated drinks and alcohol may cause constipation
- Hereditary – Constipation is often found to run in families.
- Anatomical – Any malformation/abnormality in anus, rectum and intestines
- Physiological – Pregnancy, delivery and heavy exercises can cause constipation.
- Digestive tract – Anal fissure, fistula, prolapse, pelvic and rectal tumours/cancer, liver and portal vein disorders, large megacolon, Crohn’s disease, intestinal obstruction / stricture / adhesions, etc., can cause constipation.
- Nervous disorders – Multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease, stroke, spinal cord injuries, sluggish intestines, paralysis, etc.
- Hormonal – diabetes, hypothyroidism, hypoparathyroidism
- Psychological – Worries and mental strain can also cause havoc and lead to constipation
- Environmental – Unfamiliar environments and a hot summer can lead to constipation
- Move more towards greens and nature.
- Don’t be sedentary and sit idle for a long time.
- Eat fibre-rich diet for good digestion and easy defecation
- Take plenty of water
- Take plenty of fruits/fruit juices
- Follow regular bowel habits and don’t be in a hurry in the toilet
- Always answer the morning call/urge
- Try to lead life without tension
- Indian style closet is always better than Western since squatting is the apt posture to compress the abdomen to increase pressure for easy evacuation
- Suppressing bowel movements or urge
- Self-medication with laxatives
- Continuous use of laxatives / stool softeners / enema
- Don’t go for purgatives to clean stomach (if you are cleaning naturally everyday, it is unnecessary for shut down cleaning)
- Straining severely for defecation
- Spicy foods, meat and processed foods which need more time to digest
- Carbonated drinks, alcohol and smoking
- Lemon, honey, guava, grapes will facilitate easy digestion and defecation
- Paraffin oil, olive oil, castor oil will facilitate passing of stool by lubrication
- Vegetables, green leaves, cabbage, carrot, beans, grains, cereals can ease stool
Best results are often shown when one reverts to nature in foods and habits rather than treatments. Keeping soft stool is the key to success in the management of constipation. The mode of treatment usually varies depending upon the cause, severity, and duration. Treatment mode / method may also vary according to the doctor and system. In Homeopathy, constipation is well treated with total care for its cause and associated symptoms.