By Dr Harsh Sharma, DHMS, BHMS
Published July 18, 2014, Last updated October 21, 2016
The prevalence of constipation has increased over the ages and affects many more people than ever before. This is not just a coincidence but a clear indication that the present day lifestyle has to do a lot with it. Here one must understand what constipation is. Most people think that it is necessary to have at least one movement of the bowels every day. This is not factually correct. The normal number of motions vary from person to person. Some people may have two motions in a day while others may have a motion every alternate day. One should be called constipated if one has to strain at stool or has trouble passing stool; this trouble may be because of dryness or hardness of the stool. Also, if frequency of stools of a person tend to get lesser than than his or her usual frequency, one may be called constipated.
Cause of constipation
In most of the cases, there is no pathological cause that can be pinpointed . As mentioned earlier, it is the modern day lifestyle which is responsible for this increased incidence of constipation. It is ironic that the factors that have led to the remarkable progress of humanity have also led to a lot of diseases which have been aptly called lifestyle diseases. As we have progressed, our lifestyle has become more and more sedentary, which was not the case earlier. There is hardly any physical activity compared to mental activity which is at its peak. This has led to a less robust physical constitution, which is further ravaged by an increased level of mental stress. To top it, there is an increased usage of junk food and stimulants like tea, coffee, smoking and alcohol. The eating habits have become more and more irregular and are moving against the body’s natural circadian rhythm. The increased usage of aerated drinks and quick fixes such as fast food, which are high on calories and low on nutritive value as well as fibre content add to the strain on the digestive system.
One often overlooked cause of constipation is the use of laxatives, which are peddled around as a quick fix for the problem of constipation. One tends to get used to the regular intake of these laxatives and the natural peristaltic movement of the intestines gets weaker over a period of time. In the long run, laxatives end up doing more harm than good. On the other hand, a little effort can save one from this troublesome situation by changing one’s diet and improving physical activity.
Do’s and Don’ts
- Regular walk is the best antidote to constipation. One should walk around 4-5 kilometres daily and conver the distance in roughly 40-45 minutes.
- Avoid eating junk food as it is low in fibre content. Regularly eat fresh fruits and vegetables as they have high fibre content. It is very important to have a good amount of fibre in diet as it absorbs water and forms a solid mass, which is easily passed out by the digestive system.
- The intake of water should be good. Water is necessary to lubricate the digestive system and does not allow it to become dry.
- Avoid taking too much of tea, coffee and alcohol as they tend to act as diuretics and drain the body of moisture.
- Research has shown that the best posture to relieve the bowels is the squatting position.
- One should not resist the urge to defecate for one or the other reason as it tends to weaken the peristalsis over a period of time.
- It is said that man is a creature of habit. Therefore, make it a habit to defecate daily at the same time of the day.
Homoeopathic treatment of constipation
Homeopathic medicines like Alumina, Bryonia, Nux Vomica, Natrum Mur and Graphites have shown very good results in the treatment of this problem. A careful perusal of the symptoms, the constitution of the patient and the causes in each particular case is necessary to prescribe the correct medicine.