Almost everyone has had constipation and diarrhea at one time or another.
But many people have “Irritable bowel syndrome” which
includes both diarrhea and constipation. They are caused by two entirely
different mechanisms. Bowels habit is disturbed by diarrhea or constipation
occurring alone or alternating. Some forms of this IBS have in the
past been called spastic colon and idiopathic or nervous diarrhea.
Constipation occurs from a sluggish contraction of the bowel and diarrhea
by an overactive bowel.
are the causes?
Although the etiology of the irritable bowel syndrome is uncertain,
some relate this to psychological disturbances, especially anxiety.
Some relate their onset to an attack of infective diarrhoea or certain
foods may precipitate symptoms.
• It is true that stress can affect bowel function. It has been
demonstrated that the bowel can flush or become very pale in response
to emotional reactions. Severe acute stress may cause diarrhea.
• A close look at dietary factors is a must in evaluating the
cause for an irritable bowel, one cause i.e. lactose intolerance is
a very common problem. The inability to digest lactose sugar in milk
and dairy products. The undigested lactose acts like a laxative and
causes the symptoms of an irritable bowel.
• Another and less common is gluten intolerance. Some individuals
may have an allergic reaction to gluten protein, which is found in
all cereals except rice and corn. This can cause diarrhea.
• Fat may also be a cause of diarrhea, they stimulate strong
contractions of colon contributing to pain and diarrhea.
• Alcohol is another often-unrecognised cause for such symptoms,
particularly diarrhea. The patient may not think that his or her alcohol
habit can be the cause. Alcohol is a cellular poison. Its initial
contact with the lining of the bowel may cause some cellular damage.
As the alcohol in the blood is recirculated regularly and bathes the
intestinal cells, it creates further damage. Damaged cells mean inadequate
digestion, followed by diarrhea and IBS.
• Coffee, tea, colas and chocolate are all can cause IBS, as
they stimulate muscular contractions and acts as a causative factor
• Spices may also irritate the bowel. In some case it may be
due to food allergies or food poisoning.
• Diarrhea may also be a symptom of vitamin deficiency e.g.
niacin, B-12 or folic acid.
• Various infectious diseases may cause this but this is usually
of short duration. Parasites may be a cause like Giardiasis.
• The abuse of laxatives is a common cause, which is often overlooked.
• Disease of the pancreas may cause large, frequent, fatty stools.
The pancreatic enzymes needed for digestion and when these are in
short supply symptoms follows.
What are the symptoms of IBS?
• Diarrhea characteristically occurs in the morning, and almost
never at night.
• Urge to defecate after meals.
• Pain in the lower abdomen, pain often occurs in attacks usually
relived by defecation and sometimes provoked by food.
• Bowel habit is variable. All most all patients notice ribbon
like stools with or without mucus.
• Sensation of incomplete emptying of the rectum.
• Abdominal distension, excessive flatus, dyspepsia, heartburn,
increased urine frequency
How ayurved describes this symptom?
Ayurveda mentioned one disease known as ‘Grahani’. The
symptom of this grahani resembles most of IBS symptoms.
Grahani is the seat of Agni and is called so because of holding up
the food. Normally, it holds up the food (till it is digested) and
releases it from the side after it is digested. But when it is deranged
due to weak digestive fire it releases the ingested material even
in unripe condition.
Causes of deranged Agni -
Agni is deranged by fasting, eating during indigestion, over eating,
irregularly eating, intake of unsuitable, heavy, cold, too rough and
contaminated food, emaciation due to some disease, faulty adaptation
to place, time and season, faulty administration of emesis, purgation
and unction and suppression of natural urges. Agni thus deranged becomes
unable to digest even the light food and the food being undigested
gets acidified and toxic.
Prodromal symptoms are - thirst, lassitude, debility, delayed digestion
and heaviness in body.
Thirst, anorexia, abnormal taste in mouth, excessive salivation and
feeling of darkness, eructation’s have metallic or fleshy odor
and bitter sour taste, edema on feet and hands, joint pain, vomiting
and fever, cutting pain in abdomen, lassitude, debility, dryness in
throat and mouth, burning in cardiac region and throat, patient passes
stool as liquid, dried, thin & undigested with sound, broken,
mixed with mucus and heavy.
Frequent motions, which are of sometimes, dry & sometimes watery
consistency is the classical symptom
Can I prevent this?
As the name itself suggests, it is very irritable. There are plenty
of things you can do to take some of the irritability out of your
1. Try changing your diet.
2. Eliminate the use of milk and milk products from your diet. This
should be simply to test and determine if you do have lactose intolerance.
You should not eliminate milk or milk products on a permanent basis
unless you make sure you have other adequate calcium sources.
3. Avoid excess tea, coffee, alcohol, cola, and carbonated beverages.
4. You should eat slowly and in a relaxed environment as possible,
don’t eat during indigestion, or eating irregularly.
5. Avoid intake of unsuitable food, heavy, cold, contaminated or too
sweet food, which is heavy to digest. Ayurveda explains how to eat,
when & what? So follow such rules.
6. Omit strong spices; too oily i.e. fried food, fatty foods, and
flatus alleviating foods.
7. Tobacco should be eliminated entirely. Avoid all forms of tobacco,
including smoking, chewing or snuffing.
8. Diet adjustments are not enough to improve your bowel function
and avoid IBS. It is important to eliminate nervous tension if possible.
Relive your anxiety and stress by adjusting your life style. Most
of those measures are the things we should all do for better health
9. Train your bowel, as this is also an important part of managing
irritable bowel symptoms, when the problem is mostly constipation.
10. Don’t suppress the urge of urine & stool
11. Take fiber rich diet in case of constipation.
How Ayurveda help me for treating this disease?
Ayurveda suggests warm water for drinking first, when morbidity is
situated in grahani and is flared up with the half burnt food. Appetizers,
lightening and digestive measures like liquid gruel etc followed by
ghee mixed with appetizers, vata alleviating drugs and enema’s
is then advise as a line of treatment. If you have this problem, you
must consult your physician for proper treatment. Ayurvedic treatment
is based on semi digested (sama) or properly digested (nirama) stool.
According to this physician decides your treatment.
formulations that will help you in reliving symptoms
1. Powder of four sours (Vrukshamla, Amlavetasa, Dadima and Badara)
640 gm, trikatu 120 gm (Pippali, Shunthi, Black Pepper), and five
salts 160gm added with sugar 320gm should be used with vegetables,
pulses, cooked cereals etc. It is efficacious in colic, indigestion,
2. Panchakola is to be added in cereal soup, Radish soups with black
pepper are recommended as diet.
3. Buttermilk, sour gruel, and arishta should be taken as post meal
4. Buttermilk is specifically advised in this disease due to its appetizing
nature, astringency and lightness in all ways. This aids recovery
of disease. So take in profuse quantity.
5. One passing undigested diarrheic stools due to deficient Agni should
6. Dose of ghrita (ghee) mixed with appetizing drugs, as they are
excellent stimulants of weak fire.
7. Ayurveda advise ‘Parpati Kalpa’ in this disorder, which
is very efficient for treating this disorder, but strict dietary regimens
one has to follow during this therapy.
8. Various Asavas / Arishta’s, Medicated ghee & appetizer
drug formulations are advised some of them are -
Do’s & Don’ts:
Do’s - Eat old rice, jawar, gourd,
coriander leaves, lentil, green grams soup, black pepper, dried ginger,
wood apple, Pomegranate, nutmeg, skimmed milk, buttermilk, hot water,
complete rest, adequate sleep.
Don’ts - Eat wheat, maize, barley,
pigeon pea, pea, cow pea, spiked dolichos, black gram, gram, Soya
bean, saga, kidney bean, potato, sweet potato, navalkoal, onion, coconut,
groundnut, chili, oily food, chicken, red meat, crabs, prawns, fish,
leafy vegetable like sorrel, drum stick etc, mango, pineapple, apple,
watermelon, cashew, pumpkin gourd, papaya, fig, jack fruit, excess
milk, day sleep, awakening at night, tension, suppression of urges.