Constipation is a common disturbance of the digestive tract. In this condition, the bowels do not move regularly, or are not completely emptied when they move. This condition is the chief cause of many diseases as it produces toxins which find their way into the bloodstream and are carried to all parts of the body.
Causes and Symptoms of Constipation
The most common symptoms of constipation are infrequency, irregularity or difficulty in elimination of the hard faecal matter. The other symptoms include a coated tongue, foul breath, loss of appetite, headache, dizziness, dark circles under the eyes, depression, nausea, pimples on the face, ulcer in the mouth, constant fullness in the abdomen, diarrhoea alternating with constipation, varicose veins, pain m the lumbar region, acidity, heart burn, and insomnia.
The most important causes of chronic constipation are a faulty diet and style of living. Intake of refined and rich foods lacking in vitamins and minerals, insufficient intake of water, consumption of meat in large quantities (See also : Benefits of vegetarian food), excessive use of strong tea and coffee, insufficient chewing, overeating and wrong combination of foods, irregular habits of eating and drinking may all contribute to poor bowel function. Other causes include faulty and irregular habit of defecation, frequent use of purgatives, weakness of abdominal muscles due to sedentary habits, lack of physical activity, and emotional stress and strain.
Constipation Natural Remedies
Bael Fruit: Generally all fruits, except banana and jack fruit are beneficial in the treatment of constipation. Certain fruits are, however, more effective. Bael fruit is regarded as the best of all laxatives. It cleans and tones up the intestines. Its regular-use for two or three months throws out even the old accumulated faecal matter. It should be preferably taken in its original form and before dinner. About sixty grams of the fruit are sufficient for an adult.
Pear: Pears are beneficial in the treatment of constipation. Patients suffering from chronic constipation should adopt an exclusive diet of this fruit or its juice for a few days, but in ordinary cases, a medium-sized pear taken after dinner or with breakfast will have the desired effect.
Guava: Guava is another effective remedy for constipation. When eaten with seeds, it provides roughage to the diet and helps in the normal evacuation of the bowels. One or two guavas should be taken everyday.
Grapes: Grapes have proved very beneficial in overcoming constipation. The combination of the properties of the cellulose, sugar, and organic acid in grapes make them a laxative food. Their field of action is not limited to clearing the bowels only. They also tone up the stomach and intestines and relieve the most chronic constipation. One should take at least 350 gm of this fruit daily to achieve the desired results. When fresh grapes are not available, raisins, soaked in water, can be used. Raisins should be soaked for twenty-four to forty-eight hours. This will make them swell to the original size of the grapes. They should be eaten early in the morning, along with the water in which they have been soaked.
Orange: Orange is also beneficial in the treatment of constipation. Taking one or two oranges at bedtime and again on rising in the morning is an excellent way of stimulating the bowels. The general stimulating influence of orange juice excites peristaltic activity and helps prevent the accumulation of food residue in the colon.
Papaya and Figs: Other fruits specific for constipation are papaya and figs. Half a medium-sized papaya should be eaten at breakfast for it to act as a laxative. Both fresh and dry figs have a laxative effect. Four or five dry figs should be soaked overnight in a little water and eaten in the morning.
Spinach: Among the vegetables, spinach has been considered to be the most vital food for the entire digestive tract from time immemorial. Raw spinach contains the finest organic material for the cleansing, reconstruction, and regeneration of the intestinal tract. Raw spinach juice-100 ml, mixed with an equal quantity of water and taken twice daily, will cure the most aggravated cases of constipation within a few days.
Other Remedies: Half a lime, squeezed is a glass of hot water, with half a teaspoon of salt is also an effective remedy for constipation. Drinking water which has been kept overnight in a copper vessel, first thing in the morning, brings good results. Linseed (alse) is extremely useful in difficult cases of constipation. A teaspoon of linseed swallowed with water before each meal provides both roughage and lubrication.
The most important factor in curing constipation is a natural and simple diet. This should consist of unrefined foods such as wholegrain cereals, bran, honey, lentils, green and leafy vegetables, fresh and dry fruits, and milk products in the form of butter, ghee, and cream. The diet alone is not enough. Food should be properly chewed. Hurried meals and meals at odd times should be avoided. Sugar and sugary foods should be strictly avoided. Foods which constipate are all products made of white flour, rice, bread, pulses, cakes, pastries, biscuits, cheese, fleshy foods, preserves, white sugar, and hard-boiled eggs.
Toning up the muscles also helps in the treatment of constipation. Fresh air, outdoor games, walking, swimming, and exercise play an important role in strengthening the muscles, and thereby preventing constipation.