Vata Issues — IBS, Hyperglycemia, Constipation, and relationships with Vata’s inherent Anxiety

In connection with my earlier post regarding some issues facing those whose predominant Ayurvedic dosha is Vata doshaI would like to briefly discuss some other things Vata very often has to deal with: in particular, constipation, IBS, and Hypoglycemia/Hyperglycemia.

*(Discussion of bowel issues is indeed taboo in most Western society: issues of “the Bathroom” are often thought off-limits to discuss in the parlour, or (god forbid) the forum. That said, I tend to believe these taboos may be less than helpful to our lives; for little is more natural than these natural functions, and it seems singularly unnatural to suppress advice or discussion of problems regarding them — in just the same way as it is unhelpful to suppress the functions themselves!)

I raise this issue not at random either; previously I blogged about scheduling difficulties facing many Vata dosha people, which is a problem I face every day in my life, and so too with this one — generally poor movements of the bowels (and hyperglycemia) are issues that have plagued me for much of my life.

Such bowel issues may be diagnosed, in Western medicine, as “IBS,” or Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Irritable Bowel seems to be largely a catch-all for those with various bowel issues. This can manifest as chronic problems with diarrhea, or with constipation, or with both (I have friends who speak of having IBS manifesting as both extremes).

One thing that interests me, is the strong Vata tendency towards constipation and bowel issues, as well as the Vata tendency towards blood sugar problems such as Hypoglycemia/Hyperglycemia.

In Western medical science, we would have a tendency to divide these up into separate and distinct issues — (say, IBS and Hypoglycemia) — but it often strikes me that Ayurveda tends to see them as all holistically linked — highlighting interdependent issues of body, mind, predominant doshas, lifestyle, psychological problems, diet, etc., etc.

Which is to say, that someone with Vata issues, both of the body and of the mind, is likely to have problems with Hyperglycemia, as well as a tendency to Constipation.

These may largely come from, or be closely related to, the leading “psychological” or “psycho-spiritual” issue facing Vata, that being the experience of Anxiety.

Dealing with Anxiety for Vata, as relates to IBS and Hyperglycemia

I know that the times I have anxiety or uncertainty in my own life, personally, are the same times I tend to experience the extremes of Hyperglycemia, Hypoglycemia, and issues with IBS/Constipation.

Maybe this is an obvious one — it sure seems obvious now that I read what I have written — of course the body works holistically, and of course our mental issues such as anxiety or uncertain situations, will impact on our physical organism.

That said, I think that this can be something useful for Vata in particular, to keep in mind — viz.:

*Vata must remember the importance of a (so far as is possible) calm and peaceful environment and lifestyle.*

Ayurveda highlights that Vata people, especially when they are experiencing problems with digestion, evacuation, or with metabolism (blood sugar), would do well to look at their problems not only from a physical point of view (e.g., look for physiological reasons and take medicines or supplements that address the issues of symptoms), but also from psychological, environmental, mental, emotional, or “psycho-spiritual” viewpoints.

This means, for Vata, in particular looking at what kinds of experiences, or elements of their lifestyle, may tend to make them feel scattered, nervous, over-stimulated or over-worked, or anxious.

And to consider these lifestyle elements carefully, and to consider whether it might be possible to eliminate them (or reduce their deleterious impacts) from their lives.  

My own experience: It is times of upheaval in my life (or, in particular, pertinent to earlier discussion, times when I have no set schedule and everything is uncertain…) that I experience the greatest issues with IBS/constipation, as well as Hyperglycemia.

Why should this be the case? Psychological elements of Constipation:

Psychospiritually, it may seem surprising that one’s body might react to times of uncertainty with Constipation. It might seem instead, that diarrhea should be the result — that so much “movement” is occurring in the consciousness of the organism, that this movement should also take manifestation in the physiological functions.

That said, we might cite a tendency of Vata anxiety to “hold on tight” to things — to try to keep everything held onto and “packed in,” in the primal anxiety of the organism for its own integrity and wholeness — and this can be seen to perhaps manifest as the organism (including the bowels) clutching onto everything, not releasing anything, largely as a reaction to this primal fear.

Vata — avoid stress during Meal Times! 

Perhaps I have already written far too much here.

But I wanted to make one further point, which is perhaps for me personally the most important point in this direction — which is the need for Vata, particularly for people with tendencies to Hyperglycemia (blood sugar spikes) or even Diabetes, to avoid stressful feelings during meal times.

Though it is of course difficult to avoid stressful feelings (though positive self-talk, and relaxation and particularly simple meditation techniques can be of great help — just prior to and during a meal) — what is (or can be) well within the Vata person’s control is the environment in which they eat. 

I find that it makes a world of a difference towards my physical well-being, how (relatively!) calm and peaceful is the environment and setting in which I take my meals.

(I could have a meal that would spike my blood sugar through the roof in a cacophonous, raucous setting, that might seem quite relatively easy to handle, physiologically, if I am eating somewhere that is tranquil, comfortable, and un-challenging.)

Eat Lunch or the Mid-day meal, in particular, in a calm and peaceful manner.  

Ayurveda recommends in particular, that Lunch or the Mid-day meal, be taken by Vata in a preferably calm, peaceful, and un-stressed way. Perhaps because this is the meal whose energy we partake of throughout the whole afternoon; (and much of the afternoon partakes of so-called “Vata time” (i.e.– the time when difficulties with Vata are most likely to arise).

Ayurveda speaks of the benefit of eating dinner perhaps in a more social way, with family and friends (it can be nice to have this camaraderie, and to look forward to a dinner with close ones, in the evening) — but Lunch, Ayurveda recommends for Vata (and also for other doshas, particularly Pitta), should be taken as peacefully and quietly as possible — even alone, and in silence, if this might be most comfortable for the individual.

Ayurveda recommends this as a good strategy for avoiding that whole constellation of Vata imbalances — issues with Blood sugar and with IBS/constipation.

Issues which Ayurveda sees as not merely physiological, but as informed by the major psycho-spiritual issues facing Vata, those of Uncertainty and Anxiety.

Eat peacefully; and avoid excess stress, Vata friends! 🙂

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