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Constipation is the commonest complaint in elderly people, affecting seven out of every ten persons.


This is mainly because of lack of good eating habits like:

  • Absence of green vegetables in adequate quantity and fruits in the regular meals. This residue material is essential to form the 'base' of the stool.
  • Sufficient quantity of water must be drunk to keep the stool soft as the bulk of the stool is due to its water quantity.
  • Reasonable time should be given for passing stool. Most people, because of a fast life schedule, give very less time for proper defecation. People staying in crowded flats, where there is only one toilet for 5-10 persons, also are prone to this problem.
  • Also if one makes a habit of holding on and not attending nature's call in time, in due course, even a full rectum stops sending calls. This leads to development of chronic constipation.
  • Gastro Colic Reflex: This is the reflex phenomenon whereby, anything reaching the stomach, stimulates the colon, which results in a call to evacuate. Many people take a glass of water, a cup of tea, or a cigarette to take advantage of this reflex. Though this is not wrong, good eating and defecating habits are the only sure remedies.
  • In women the tone of the abdominal and pelvic muscles is lost due to repeated child bearing. Most of the women do not tone abdominal muscles through exercise.
  • Other common causes for chronic constipation are drugs taken for abdominal pain, hyperacidity, high blood pressure and headache. Strong purgatives also cause constipation.

Now-a-days because of aggressive advertisements in television many people indulging in daily consumption of some or the other of these purgative do so, by making the bowel completely empty, whereby there is not enough material (residue) for a stool to be formed the next day. The patient, so, gets dependent on the laxative/purgative for the next passage of stool, thereby setting off a vicious circle.

Herbal Medicines
  1. Take plenty of green vegetables and fibrous food regularly along with fruits/juices.
  2. Eat more rotis (wheat or jawar) and, less rice.
  3. Use whole meal flour, avoid refined ones.
  4. Avoid fried items like samosa, mirchi, masala etc.
  5. Above all, drink a glass of water in the morning.
  6. Do some abdominal exercises
  7. Try to establish regular bowel habits and always answer nature's calls promptly.
  8. Avoid excessive intake of tea & coffee.
  9. Reduce smoking/drinking.
  10. Avoid anxiety and worry.

Ayurvedic Remedies

  1. 1. Regular use of Triphala choorna is a popular home remedy, easily available in Ayurvedic stores. 1 tsf with lukewarm water at bedtime is recommended.
  2. Dry ginger powder & senna leaves' powder well mixed in equal quantity, is another popular home remedy. 5 gm of this powder should be taken along with a cup of lukewarm water before going to bed. This helps in easy passage of stools. Senna dry leaves are easily available as sonamukhi leaves at herbal stores.
  3. Sukhvirechan Vati taken ½ to 1 tablet with warm water or milk at bed time, is recommended for constipation.
  4. Herbolax tablet (Himalaya Drugs), 1 to 2 tablets twice daily for a period of 10 to 15 days, gives relief even in chronic constipation.
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