Q. Which illnesses and chronic diseases result from unbalanced elimination?
A. Poor elimination will give rise to all sorts of problems. When people talk about unbalanced elimination they usually mean constipation.
So not eliminating enough will tend to cause a back pressure of Vata. So the downward Vata is not functioning properly so it puts more pressure on the other Vatas.
You can get toxins, or Vata and toxins, pushing outwards into the tissues in the low abdomen and into the pelvis.
So back pain would probably be the commonest sort of thing, but certainly arthritic strains of problems in the lower back would be one of the firsts things.
Also, women can get problems with periods.
Another thing that a block in the flow of downward Vata would do is to create a pressure upwards which would disturb the digestion.
This could also progress and go further up and into the head as well.
Too much Vata in the head shares anxiety, sleeplessness.
Lower down in the tummy it will cause tummy ache, wind in the tummy, incomplete digestion, build up of toxins, buildup of ama, which can go all round the body.
You can not exaggerate how important regular elimination is.
Daily, regular, easy elimination is central. When it goes wrong it can create all sorts of problems.
Q. What would be the first physical, mental, behavioral signs of elimination being out of balance? What would people notice first?
A. Probably irregularity in the elimination.
If it’s too slow, then these things I’ve said due to constipation would happen.
If downward Vata is too quick, then you may find you’re not getting proper digestion because things are going through the body too quickly and you will not get proper absorption of nutrients.
So people would be less nourished. They may lose weight, or they may not have good energy.
The stools would tend to be looser because if they are hurrying through there is not the water-absorbing function happening in the large bowl.
Q. How does Western medicine treat elimination problems?
A. Western medicine tends to treat with diet, so they would suggest giving a high fiber diet. Western medicine tends to use less laxatives nowadays, although they go in and out of fashion; And they tend to give bulking agents as well. Bulking agents will absorb water and will make more bulk in the bowl and therefore tend to create a more frequent urge to empty.
Q. How would Ayurveda detect the early signs of elimination imbalance?
A. You may find it from the history. The patient may tell you that they are not eliminating.
Most people do not realize they have an elimination problem.
If they only go to the loo every other day or miss a day now and then, most people are not aware that this is a problem. Most people think it’s normal, that it’s not causing any problems in their health.
So, from the history you would pick it up.
Q. But is that a problem, if they are not going every day?
Is that the first level of the problem?
A. Yes, you would think of that as an early stage.
But some people a doctor sees go to the loo once a week or even less than that. It can be quite marked.
Q. What is the Ayurveda approach to balancing elimination?
A. Again it is to do with diet. You would see it as a Vata disturbance so you would give all the normal Vata reducing advice in terms of routine, and food that is Vata-reducing as well.
So you would have more moist food; A little bit of oil, though not too much in the way of fat in the diet, because Vat is very drying, and have more warm drinks as well.
You would suggest foods which stimulate the bowel to move, such as some cooked whole grains; And also soaked and cooked dried fruit, such as raisins, prunes, figs, apricots, if they are appropriate.
And you would tend to think of suggesting people took some Triphala before bed. Triphala is a mild laxative made of three dried fruits and it also nourishes people, so it does not deplete people.
Also, in terms of diet, you would think about soups and yogurt lassi.
Q. How many people in the population have elimination problems?
A. Elimination problems are very common. Constipation is a common side-effect of allopathic medicines. All the pain killers will cause constipation.
It’s a bit of a paradox in a way. Some people will take a pain killer for back pain; The pain killer will then make the bowel move less regularly; And so a symptom of that might well be back pain itself.
Q. Could you estimate a percentage of the population with elimination problems?
A. I’d be plucking a figure out of the air, but maybe half the population will have trouble (with elimination).