Believe it or not, but 35 million people in the US suffer from symptoms of IBS or irritable bowel syndrome. The typical symptoms include constipation with intermittent episodes of diarrhea, bloating indigestion or flatulence, all of which can be greatly discomforting if not very serious in nature. According to the ancient healing science of Ayurveda, the symptoms of IBS can be due to imbalance of Vata dosha and weak digestive fire or agni caused over time by stress, emotional repression, sensitivity, improper sleep, Vata-aggravating diet and accumulation of toxins or Aama.
IBS is one of those quirky health problems that western medicine is yet to find the causes for, though patients are treated for the symptoms. Here the healing system of Ayurveda can be of tremendous help to us. It can take care of IBS symptoms by treating the root of the problem. Based on your dosha constitution, the current state of doshas, Ayurveda recommends treatments, dietary suggestions coupled with minor lifestyle changes that will help you keep Vata dosha in check. It has something to offer for not just the obvious digestive symptoms but it also has natural remedies, exercises, powerful breathing techniques, yoga asanas and herbs to deal with the stress that leads to the digestive conditions.
(Also read: 10 tips for the best bowel cleanse)
- Routine is important
To manage Vata, it is important to stick to a regular routine. Usually, people with aggravated Vata may have had an indisciplined lifestyle but it is also true that people with Vata dosha do not like to stick to a routine because of the restless quality. But routine is important to keep Vata dosha in check.
- Stress reduction is important
If you are someone who comes home with a head full of stress, it is very likely to start showing in your physiology as well. One of the ways it does this is by affecting your digestive function. This is because exacerbation due to stress can disrupt the brain-gut axis, leading to various problems related to the digestive tracts. IBS could be an indicator of underlying stress in your mind-body complex. Here’s how you can deal with the enduring stress as a result of work pressure, family obligations, demands, and expectations of modern living. As you do that, make sure you practice deep breathing exercises including powerful techniques like Sudarshan Kriya too that eliminate stress toxins from each cell of the body. According to a research paper published by experts from multiple premier yoga institutes, “The effects of these practices provide a short-term “time out” from stress and also by creating positive physiological changes in the whole body through modulating the nervous system. Sudarshan Kriya is a simple rhythmic breathing technique with specific natural rhythms of the breath, harmonizing the body, mind, and emotions. It is shown to alleviate symptoms of anxiety, depression, and stress-related ailments. Slow and deep breathing techniques could be used to minimize physiologic responses to stress by increasing the parasympathetic response.”
Here are a few yogasanas or postures that can help free up bowel movement and improve your digestive function.
- Importance ofPranayamas
Certain Pranayamas or breathing exercises can specifically to address digestive illnesses like-
–Agni Sara pranayama (To be learned from a Yoga expert)
Breathing techniques to strengthen your diaphragm and reduce stress by slowing down breathing and expanding the lung capacity.
-Abdominal breathing or Kapal Bhati
It works on the functioning of Samana Vayu, life forces that regulate digestion and Apana Vaayu that looks after excretory functions of the body.
- Have high fiber foods
The small intestine in our body assimilates nutrients from the food into our body and the rest is pushed into the large intestines and eventually thrown out of the body as waste. The ease of this process depends on what we eat and drink. High fiber food helps to speed up the movement of nutrients and eventually the waste through the body and out.
One of the major causes at the root of digestive problems is the accumulation of sticky toxins in the body in the form of aama owing to weak digestive fire or agni. Fasting occasionally can help the body get rid of the toxins that slow down metabolism. It can also be a great way to reinvigorate digestive Agni. (Also Read: Ayurvedic remedies to boost metabolism and lose fat).
Langhana chikitsa is also sometimes recommended in Ayurveda in the form of purgation, colon cleanses, de-nourishment, or any other process where the excess accumulation of body fluids or toxins is gotten rid of from the body.
Every morning you can practice gradual downward strokes on the stomach to facilitate proper bowel movement. Self-abhyanga with Shankara’s Calming Body Oil provides nourishment to the body, balances the vata dosha, speeds up metabolism, and moves the toxins into the intestinal tracts to be shuttled out of the body while detoxifying the digestive system.
- Herbs for stress
Ayurveda also has natural formulations made by drawing from the essence of many exotic herbs that aid healing of digestive symptoms by working on the agni or digestive fire, improving appetite and regularizing metabolism. Some of these formulations include amlapittari vati and to reduce stress, one can have medhyarasayan or jatamansi.
- Have aVata pacifying diet
To beat IBS permanently, it is of prime importance to get your diet right. You may do everything else right but if your diet is not Vata-pacifying, you may not help your body heal entirely. The food should be cooked, moist, warm, not very spicy and slightly oily. Try and make sure your food has a good mix of sweet and salty tastes. Here’s everything you need to know about vata pacifying diet.